The 2005 San Diego Comic Con had been
an amazing adventure. I had truly made a new friend in Alex
who was my Robin for our costumed days there. I couldn’t
wait to work with him again, but he lived in Michigan and
that would certainly make any future outings costly and
rare. The pace of the convention trip left me feeling like
I needed a vacation or at least a few days to relax and
recoup. Still, I had a day job to get back into first thing
Monday morning. I had plenty of catching up to do at work
and sharing some of my adventure stories with more Batman
oriented members of the crew. Outside of work, I also had
quite a bit of video footage from the SDCC show to edit.
No, it looked like there was going to be very little rest
for me even if I wasn’t wearing a Bat-suit this week. I
guess I was just going to look forward to having a quiet
weekend at the end of Friday. Geez, I was already tired
just thinking of it.
Fate doesn’t work that way and it would be silly to
think that it ever did. Tuesday afternoon, I was working
with my warehouse crew on checking the outgoing UPS list.
Right in the middle of it, I hear the page over the intercom
that I had a call on line two. I picked up the phone and
heard the familiar voice of my favorite King of the
Customizers, George Barris.
He went right into the pitch, “Scott, we have a gig
this weekend for the start of the Bullrun. The Batmobile is
going to be at the front of the starting line and they are
going to have Hollywood Boulevard roped off…Chinese
Theatre...Roosevelt Hotel…bring Batgirl” Eventually, I was
comprehending every other word, because my head was telling
me that there would be no rest for the caped crusader this
weekend and I tried to think instantly if everything could
be arranged to make it happen. Finally, he asked,” So, do
you think you can do it?”
My answer was an obvious, “Yes.” I tried to confirm
the times and some kind of arrangement for costume changes
and such. He told me that Kathy would send me the itinerary
in the next couple of days. Everything else seemed to be
As soon as I hanged up the phone, I called Vickie at
work to tell her the news. She seemed as surprised and
slightly overwhelmed as I had been to the sudden upcoming
gig. After I got off the phone with her I thought that
would have been nice if Alex was still around to be at this
event. Then it occurred to me that he hadn’t left
California yet. I called him on his cell phone and asked
him if it was possible to extend his flight out. He said
that he’d look into it..
Wow, we were going to do an appearance at the Bullrun.
Cool! What was the Bullrun? I had no idea. So like
anybody else who doesn’t know about something, I looked it
up the internet. It’s an eight day rally of about sixty
very expensive cars and a handful of celebrities trying to
emulate the race from the “Cannonball Run” movies. It is
covered by Bravo television and beyond that I had no idea.
But their website could be found at
Fast forward to Saturday morning at about 5:30 am, Vickie
and I were packed up with our costumes and headed out on the road to
Studio City. We had to pick up Alex, who had managed to extend his
flight and was spending the weekend at Wally’s, and then go to meet
George at his shop by 7:00. The plan was to suit up there and then
follow them out to the Roosevelt Hotel where the Batmobile would be
out on display and much of the media coverage was to take place
before the rollout. I assumed this would be the main part of our
I had never been to George’s shop before but was
quite amazed when he let us in and opened up one of the back rooms
for us to change. He opened up his adjoining office so that Vickie
could have a bit more privacy. Not that I would have mind, but we
did have our boy wonder in tow. The main thing that struck me was
the sheer number of models, toys, statues, figures, games, artwork
and everything that had to do with George’s legacy that
covered the shelves and walls. Munsters, Monkees, Dukes of Hazard and the like
were everywhere. But none were as prominent as the Batmobile. It
was the single most reproduced item on display in his office. To
have that kind of a collection would have been something else. The
man was clearly a fan and very proud of his work, as he should have
Right after we got
ready, George’s crewman, Tony came in and brought the Batmobile out
from the garage to dust off and wait for the tow truck to take it to
the show. This wasn’t the number one car that I had seen at the
Petersen Automotive Museum, but the one referred to by many as the
“Return to the Batcave” Batmobile. This was the last Batmobile ever
made by the famous builder, Bob Butts. It really was a nice car,
and this is the one that they use as a show car now since the
original has gotten pretty beat up over the years.
George and I looked through some pictures taken at the auction
gig that I did with him back in May while Vickie took the
opportunity to take some pictures of Alex with the Batmobile. I
eventually joined them and she took some great shots of the two of
us with the car. Alex kept staring at the car and soaking in the
details of it. I think this was the first one he had ever seen.
Well, at least while in costume. This was going to be a fun day.
Batgirl and Robin got into our Saturn while I left my cape,
cowl, gloves and belt off in order to drive. We waited for the tow
truck to pull out of the back of George’s shop so that we could
follow it to the show. The truck pulled out and we were right
behind it the whole way. It was funny to see the many heads turn
along the sidewalks and in other cars as the flatbed carried the
Batmobile. We saw some driver’s pull out their cell phone cameras
to take a picture while driving. I wasn’t much different, taking
pictures with my digital camera along the way.
The journey wasn’t far
and we arrived intact at the Roosevelt Hotel on Hollywood Boulevard.
People automatically reacted to the Batmobile and suddenly us as we
appeared shortly after it was parked. A short media blitz occurred
and then Tony and George suggested that we go into the hotel for
some breakfast. We were joined by one of George’s staff
photographers as well as a fellow shooting video. I had packed my
camcorder, but didn’t really have anybody to shoot footage for us,
so I was just going to have to hope that Bravo or possibly George’s
guy could get some good footage for the future. The waitress came
by and took everybody’s order. I opted for just a glass of orange
juice and water. Batgirl and Robin declined a full meal as well but
definitely got some fluids. It was going to be a scorcher outside.
The earlier part of the week had already seen triple digits and it
didn’t seem to be letting up.
Back outside, the weather was already brutal. The photo ops
started to happen instantly, and various video cameras seemed to be
rolling. Robin was in perfect form as was Batgirl, but this was
different kind of experience for Alex than Comic Con. He was now
acting as an official representative of George Barris Kustoms while
standing next to a Batmobile. This was my first true Batmobile gig
and only my second official George Barris outing, but it was a big
kick to see Alex go through the experience.
The sun continued to beat down on us. There was a small shaded
area near the Batmobile, and we would take short little breaks there
between photos. By this time a muscled guy in a white tank top came
up to us and introduced himself as “Radio” Bob. He was there to
help out George and assist us. He asked us what we needed and he’d
take care of it. We asked for water, we got it. I asked for him to
take some pictures with my camera, we got it. But don’t get me
wrong, this guy was no pushover. He took care of us with an Italian
tough love. Either we followed his instructions to take care of
ourselves or he’d have to rough us up.
The promotional part of this rally included making the cars
look like they were race cars, complete with decals of the sponsors
all over the vehicles. The decals were non stick temporary ones and
wouldn’t cause damage to the paint so George and Tony started to
cover the Batmobile accordingly. Hotwheels was a key sponsor, so
they were shown very prominently on the fender of the car. We had
to make sure not to block the logos when standing for “official”
pictures. It didn’t matter when fans and kids were involved and
there were plenty to go around.
George had Robin and I stand up in the car parade style for
some of the photos. They were starting to rollout the cars out onto
Hollywood Boulevard for the start of the rally. We were to be the
last to go out, but were to be at the front of the starting line. I
assumed that our part of the gig was pretty much over. I figured
the three of us would probably be by the sidelines since we clearly
weren’t going to drive it out. Tony is the only person covered by
the insurance to drive the Batmobile and it was George who was
supposed to be in the passenger side at the start off.
But as the Batmobile was getting called to rollout, George
stood up in the passenger seat and had Batgirl and Robin get in the
car around him. He then told me to get on the driver’s side and
stand next to Tony. That was going to be a bit of a trick since
Tony was a big guy and I couldn’t put my leg completely behind the
drive’s seat and we couldn’t close the door all the way since my
other foot was planted on the running board. I would simply have to
keep one hand on the door to keep it from flying all of the way open
and my other hand holding onto...well, I’d have to find something.
But we were going to go out into the streets parade style in the
Batmobile. What an unexpected surprise!
As we pulled out of the back parking lot of the
Roosevelt Hotel, the nose of the Batmobile scraped the pavement and
almost threw me over the windshield. That would have been a
disaster, but I held onto the back bubbled glass well enough. We
got over the hump and made a smooth drive to the pavement of the
side street adjoining Hollywood Boulevard. People instantly dropped
their jaws and started taking pictures. Some started to already
flock to side of the car while we were moving to get to the main
street. We pulled onto Hollywood, and I couldn’t believe my eyes
what we entered into. Flocks of people, a huge sound system blaring
music, and a huge media truck with cameras perched on top. We were
positioned right in front of the famous Mann’s Chinese Theatre.
We maneuvered around to back up into position and then the car
was surrounded by people. These weren’t car enthusiast or comic
convention goers. Most of these people on the street didn’t even
know what the Bullrun was. They were average Joe America, families
spending their summer vacation out in Hollywood and they KNEW Batman
and the Batmobile when they saw it. They went nuts. Even people
from China and Italy came up to the car for a picture with us.
Press and populace alike were clamoring for pictures. I knew where
they were from because they would tell me.
This went on for a while. George and Tony eventually got out
of the car and left us with the Batmobile and the people. COOL!!
Folks were trying to get to pose with Batgirl and Robin from one
side of the vehicle while others were getting pictures with me.
Even still, I tried to interact with the people that came over to
my side. Many times, they didn’t speak English, but the happy faces
and joy I saw told the story plenty.
During this time, some of the street characters that often
populate in front of the Chinese Theatre started to appear. When I
say street characters, these are people dressed in various costumes
ranging from Superman, Darth Vader to Big Bird and pose with
tourists for tips. It provides some color to the boulevard
landscape and gives tourists a bit of the Disneyland effect. I
happened to like what they did in general but some of them could
come across too aggressive. One lady came up in a Catwoman style
outfit and had a bit of an Eartha Kitt look to her. But after she
came up to the Batmobile and stood in front of it she said to the
various photographers, “you have to PAY me for my picture.” People
ignored her pretty much but she kept saying it after a while. She
eventually came next to my door while I was still standing and I
heard her say it again to someone. I leaned down and whispered
(still as Adam),” Excuse me, Catwoooman. But you’re standing in
front of the subject they want pictures of and we’re not charging,
unless of course you want us to charge you for using the Batmobile
as a prop. Please stop.” She seemed to quiet down for a bit, but
then Radio Bob, who was never far away, heard her say it again and
he went up to her and told her in a not so delicate way to …well, I
can’t repeat that sort of thing on a family sight. Let’s just say,
she never brought it up again.
Eventually, we had Superman, Darth Vader and all sorts of
characters coming around, but none of them showed the tacky
exhibition that the Catwoman did. Superman was clearly a fan and I
had met him at the Comic Con the week before. His name was Chris
and he was a professional Christopher Reeve look alike. He didn’t
seem to remember me from San Diego though we had our pictures taken
together. But while we were standing with the Batmobile he turned
to me and asked quite honestly,” So will he let you keep the suit
after this?’ I guess he figured that George provided the suit. It
turned out that most of the street characters thought I was a
professional actor pulled in for the appearance. When I told him
that the suits were our own and that we were just fans, his
expression was priceless. We were truly very lucky fans.
The heat was just starting to get
the better of us when it was time for the cars to start out. The
Batmobile wasn’t really going to go on the eight day rally across
country, but merely a fun piece to include in the program. But we
needed to get out of the vehicle while George and Tony climbed into
the car, George stood up in the passenger seat and told us to flank
the car as it processed down the street and then let it turn off on
its own. Radio Bob came up to me and asked what was going down,
because he was insisting that we get out of the sun ASAP. I told
him that we would shortly.
The flag girl waved the starting flag and we were off keeping a
brisk walk next to the Batmobile as it made its final parade down
the stretch with George standing victoriously on the passenger seat
and then turned off to the Roosevelt Hotel. I motioned Robin and
Batgirl to quickly run across the street with me so we could clear
the way for the rest of the vehicles.
Radio Bob instantly met up with us and pushed water bottles at
us. He insisted that I undo my cape and cowl, but I told him that I
wouldn’t in front of the public that we would make our way back to
our car in the parking structure. He told me that he wasn’t leaving
our side until our little “hinnies” were in that car and driving
off. We slowly made our way to the parking structure, but always
took time to pose for pictures with the people. Radio Bob saw me
take the time to run back to a kid that thought he had missed me and
was sitting in a stroller looking dejected. I went up to the child
and mother and she asked if they could still get a picture with us
and if it was not too late. I told her we always had time. I shook
the little boy’s hand and he smiled from ear to ear. I got Robin
and Batgirl to join me and we posed for a few more people as well.
Radio Bob, said that sight made his day when he saw me take the
time for the kid. I told him that I would always try to make time
for kids and adults alike.
We got into the car and said our goodbyes to Radio Bob, for the
moment. I was sure we would meet again. But our adventure was not
over, yet. We were going to go down the road to Bronson Cave! One
HAS to do this sort of thing when they’re this close to it and in a
We took our time sitting in the wonderful air conditioned car
as we drove to the park. Even after we got there, we stayed in the
car a while to cool down before taking on the trail to the cave in
the afternoon heat. Vickie figured that Batgirl had very little to
do with the exterior of the Batcave and figured she would take the
pictures and video. She peeled out of the Batgirl bodysuit with
little risk of being exposed since she had a black bodysuit
underneath. She did a quick change into a sundress behind a trusty
tree and she was good to go. Meanwhile, Batman and Robin sat in the
cool comfort of the air conditioned car.
It was time to get busy, so we made our way up the hillside
trail to the cave. Alex had been to the cave site before but never
in costume. As soon as we made it to the cave, we walked in to get
in the shade. As we began to take pictures, we would step out, take
a few shots and then say, “Cave break!” and go back into cave to get
out the heat. We got some good shots and did a little improv bit
for the video camera.
Vickie was hoping to get a shot of me falling down the steep grade.
Instead, this is one of my favorite shots
The trip back down the trail almost seemed longer than the trip
up. It must have been the heat. But we made it back to car and
everybody yelled, “AIR CONDITION!” We were done with costumes for
the day. But we did tell George that we would stop back at his shop
to change back into our street clothes. A quick stop through a
Tommy Burgers for some refreshments and we were back on our way to
We arrived back and George was there with his photographer
and crew checking out the various pictures on a laptop slideshow.
Alex and I changed back into our street clothes and checked out the
slideshow ourselves. Everybody looked a bit beaten by the heat,
including George. Man, it was a rough day to do this sort of thing.
But we were all glad that we pulled it together. I asked George if
I could buy an 8x10 for him to sign for Alex before Alex went back
to Michigan. George said, “Sure…uh, which one?” I said anyone with
him and the Batmobile would be great. He then told me that there
was a stack of them behind the passenger seat of the Batmobile. I
didn’t see the Batmobile outside and he said it was in the garage,
so I found the door to go in the garage and the first thing I came
across was the Munster Coach. Next thing I saw was the Monkee-mobile.
I was teleported back to my childhood at the site of these vehicles
and of course here they were with a Batmobile. That was too cool.
I found the stack of pictures and brought them back to George.
He signed it, "To Alex, Thanks for being my Robin with my
Batmobile, George Barris.” He never did try to collect a dime from
me for that though I had offered.
Conversations took place between the group of us and even Radio
Bob joined us in the festivities. Radio Bob wanted Alex, Vickie and
I to make another appearance the following weekend, but I told him
that I really couldn’t because I would be filling in for somebody at
my work and Alex HAD to get back to Michigan. But we had his card,
so you never know.