One of the very first things people ask me is, “how did you get started in stunts?”. It all started when I was a kid. I was always into sports, it didn’t matter what sport, if I had a chance to compete then I was there. Ofcourse some activities were more “attractive” to me than others. I loved BMX as a kid. I wasn’t allowed to have a motorcycle (even though I went riding with the neighbors in the desert on a regular basis). Everywhere I went was on my bike and there was nowhere we wouldn’t ride. The bigger the hills or obstacles, the better. This was also something I could do outside of school. Most of the sports were associated with my schools, except the typical American sports like Football and Baseball which I played.
As I grew older, so did my interests. It didn’t take long before I was racing karts. My first races were in 100cc Yamaha Novice class. I started traveling to all the tracks, not just in the local area. From the local tracks in Southern California all the way across the nation to Daytona, Florida. I would show up in my Chevy Chevette (a small 2 door car with a hatchback) with my kart hanging out the back and all my supplies stacked in the front seat. Everyone else would come to the track with large trailers or even semi trucks with full shops in them. I couldn’t afford those luxuries, but I was fortunate to work at a go kart race track as shop foreman (still in high school). I would work Friday nights, prep my kart after work and load up. It was while working at the go kart track I met Mike Vendrell. We would drive the karts around the track, in the grass with the sprinklers on. Always a thrill and no easy on slick tires, but it never stopped us. Mike Vendrell was the stunt coordinator on a popular TV show named “Buck Rogers”. As we got talking, I told him I always wanted to be a stuntman and I thought I would make a good one because of my athletic background. He invited me to a film shoot so I could see what it was like. The movie was “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” and they were doing all the football stuff at night. All night long, I moved pads, asked questions and watched the stuntmen’s every move. As the sun came up and we wrapped, Mike asked me what I thought. I told him this was what I did on weekends for fun. The thought of being paid for this was the most exciting thing I could think of. Mike later moved and I lost track of him, but the seed was planted and I was on my way to becoming a stuntman. For three and a half years, I did anything and everything I could to be on a movie set. I was a grip, electrician, production assistant, camera man, etc. Nothing was too much, as long as I could be on the set and meet other stunt guys. I actually got my SAG card (Screen Actors Guild) while working in the art department, helping decorate a set in a grocery store.
Once I got started, I quit all my other jobs and focused 100% on stunts. While the road was rough at times, it was what I wanted and nothing would stop me. To this day, I would not change a thing, I still love my career as a stuntman/coordinator as much as the day I started 30+ years ago.