I wanted to tell everyone about a childhood trauma that used to haunt me. In fact, it still haunts me somewhat to this day. Your readers in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area will likely remember this, but I’m sure that everyone can appreciate this trauma no matter where they live.
In the DFW area in the ‘60s and ‘70s, we had two children’s TV hosts that were local celebrities. One was Mr. Peppermint – he was the kind, sanitized, completely safe children’s T.V. show host. And then there was Icky Twerp. Icky was the other children’s T.V. host. The one that pushed the envelope just a little bit. The one that parents secretly (and sometimes not so secretly) wished their children wouldn’t watch. And, of course, all the kids wanted to watch Icky.
Icky was huge in DFW, often packing local malls to the brim when he would make a personal appearance. Icky hosted Slam Bang Theater, a show filled with cartoons and old THREE STOOGES shorts. In between cartoons and Stooges, he would perform some wacky slapstick skits. Pratfalls happened, pies were thrown, and everything was fine…until Icky brought out the apes.
Icky had a couple of sidekicks named Ajax and Delphinium that scared the hell outta me. They were simply men dressed in gorilla masks, but it was creepier than it sounds. First of all, even though their heads were distinctly simian, the rest of their bodies were undoubtedly human. Secondly, I guess 1960s ape mask technology was not yet perfected, because something about these ape-heads just wasn’t right. It’s hard to place my finger on it, but these apes were super-creepy for some reason. Of the two, Ajax scared me the most. My 5 year-old eyes had an attraction/repulsion to these horrible man-beasts. Even though they scared me beyond belief, for some reason I was unable to look away from these unholy abominations.
For those of your readers who are skeptical about just how scary a man in a gorilla mask performing slapstick skits on a children’s T.V. show can be, I present to you Exhibit A – the attached photo. Take a good look at these ape-like hellspawns, and ask yourself if this is appropriate for a T.V. show targeted at the age 4-8 crowd.