The George Barris Auction
at the Petersen Automotive Museum
Where to begin on such a day? I was slated to arrive at the museum and start at 12:00. I arrived at about 11:30 but was unable to find anybody who could tell me where I could change into my Bat-suit. With much wandering, I eventually bumped into the museum director, Dick Messer, who led me upstairs to their offices where I could change and keep my personal items behind. The rest of the people in the office had no idea what was going on, so when I emerged from the bathroom as Batman, heads certainly turned.
The event itself was supposed to be a two day affair. Friday was to be the VIP press conference preview of the items going up for auction from George Barris’ collection as well as a few added in items. Then Saturday would be the day of the auction itself. At first I thought it was going to be held in the museum in the wonderful air conditioning that protected us from the dismal Los Angeles heat we were experiencing. I was wrong. It was going to be held in a new annex that basically a permanent tent with NO AIR! Good gosh, I was committed to eight hours with Barris and I had never been in the suit for more than the four hour sweat fest in San Diego last year.
I arrived to the tent of doom and met the Barris people at the table just inside the door. There, I met up with Kathy who was the lady I had been talking to on the phone in arrangement of the whole escapade. Ever since George approached me while I was waiting in line in costume at a Burt Ward signing a few weeks earlier and said, “I need you for a gig at the Petersen Automotive Museum…Call me,” my days have been one voice mail after another getting the details and agreements together. She seemed to be very impressed with my costume and seemed somewhat stunned when I started talking in what has become known as “the voice.” Us die-hard Adam fans would easily say that I don’t sound a thing like Adam, but it’s the rhythm, delivery and more importantly the things that I say in character that seems to pay off.
I was led to where George was on the floor and he was quite happy to see me. “You made it! Great!” For those of you who have never had the honor of meeting him, let me just say that he is enthusiastic, energized, excited and other words that start with the letter “E” on just about anything. He pointed over to a stage across the way where I saw a Batcycle on it flanked by some Dr. Suess style vehicles. “We’re going to do some press stuff over there in a second so stand by when I call to you.” This was very different from any other outing that I’ve done in the suit. All the other times, I was simply a fan walking through conventions or Halloween parades and walked around as I pleased. Here, I was now a person representing and working for a client and needed to perform on call. Would the press talk to me? What was I suppose to say? What was I NOT to say? At least Adam had a script and a teleprompter.
My fears soon went away. George was sitting on the edge of the stage in front of the cycle and talking to KABC Channel 7 for the local news station. Other press photographers were milling about the rest of the enormous tent and looking at various other cars like “Grease Lightning,” the “Back to the Future” Delorean and the Flintstone’s mobile. George motioned to me to come up and I walked up to the stage to take my position in the driver’s seat of the bike. I walked up the steps and went to the bike that I had only seen in the movie and show and had to look like I owned it and knew it as part of my personal crime fighting arsenal. Heck, I’ve never even rode on a motorcycle in my life. But I quickly thought that Adam would probably swing his leg over while throwing his cape over it as well as if he was Zorro getting on a horse, so I tried to do the same. As soon as I sat and looked up, I was blinded by the twenty or so flashbulbs that all seemed to be going off in rapid fire at once. All the photographers had congregated in front of the stage by the time I had gotten to the bike. Boy, they were quick. George came over and sat down in the Robin side card “go cart” and then the flashes went off all over again.
George came over and suggested that we go over to the stage for another photo op with Jason in the cycle. Another volley of flashes took place and various people were coming and going from the stage for photos with us. Wally managed to take a few pics between my camera, his camera and Jason’s own camera while he was holding his huge Starsky sweater. Whattaguy.
I couldn’t seem to find a moment to really break away to help Wally with getting his picture taken with the Grand Torino, but he did manage to rope Jason to help him out. I was told that Jason even shot some video of Wally around the car as well.
Wally eventually left but was going to return that evening for the VIP party/shindig. No more than fifteen minutes after he left did things slow down for a bit and George and I decided it was fine for me to go for the day an rest up for tomorrow’s event. And then he said, “Do you want to go over to the Batmobile now?” He then looked over his shoulder to his two photographers that had been following and documenting his every move, Lance and Christina. They were two very nice people to work around and with. I told George that would be great without somehow jumping out of my skin in the process. But before we went into the museum, I went back to the place where I stored my camera and a little something I brought with me to show George. It was a copy of Keyboard magazine that featured my “Bat-controller” keyboard that I made based on George’s Batmobile and was featured as “Keyboard of the Month.” I also included two prints of the Keyboard to give him for his archives. He was very impressed and autographed the page in the magazine and had me autograph the pictures that I was giving to him. That was a much cherished moment in itself. Who knew that when I was inspired to build the thing that I would ever get to share my creation with the man who created the Batmobile and that he would like my adaptation as well. WOW!
I went back down to the tent area and took the time to check
out the wide variety of the collection of cars. There was the
“Starsky and Hutch” Grand Torino, the “Dukes of Hazard” General Lee,
the Delorean from “Back to the Future,” Kitt from “Knightrider” and
even a Green Hornet “Black Beauty.” The list just kept going on and
on since there were eighty or so cars that were going to be
The party itself was quite enjoyable and fun. It would be very hard to not have fun when Wally’s around. George was still in full swing and being the ever diligent host and promoter. I hope I have that kind of energy when I get to be his age. He is a true example of age is only a state of mind. I occurred to me as well that George had never seen me out of costume before and wouldn’t recognize me at all. So before we left to go to a restaurant, I went up to George to do the ceremonial shaking of hands as so many people had been doing with him that evening and I told him I was Batman. He was floored and laughed, “GET OUT OF HERE!!??” He pulled me over to get a picture with me as myself. I got him good.
After a fun evening at an Italian eatery with some entertaining Karaoke, it was the long drive home to get a little rest for the Saturday event.
The next day came and I was ready to tackle another day as the caped crusader. I washed up the tights and packed my cape again for the day of the auction. Vickie came along to help out with any costume needs I might have during the event. It’s always good to have somebody near who is familiar with the suit in case capes go askew or belts need extra tightening in the back. It’s especially helpful when getting ready because the cape needs to be snapped in seven places in the back and is quite difficult for some and impossible for others by your self. My left arm was still sore from trying to the day before. I eventually had to ask Wally to snap in the final two snaps when he arrived on Friday.
We arrived at the museum again and with Vickie’s help, I was dressed in record time to fight crime. We met up with the Barris people and checked in. In talking with Christina, she asked me if I would be interested in participating in the upcoming Joyride charity event. I told her I would be interested, so stay tuned…
Since this wasn’t specifically a promotional day but a selling day, the emphasis was on the auction itself. But before the auction took place, George and I made our rounds and mingled and posed for pictures with friends and buyers together. One particular lady whose age was undeterminable but she should have stopped dying her hair red at least twenty years prior was quite “amusing.” She said to me, “Hey Bat-guy! You’ve got cute legs, but do you know what you’re doing wrong? You’re too stiff and proper and polite. You should be flapping your cape and scaring people. You’re BAT-GUY!!”
The layout for the auction was where the tent structure served its true functionality. Sections of the canvas walls would be pulled away to create openings on opposite sides of the stage area. The Batcycle was still on the stage, but vehicles would drive in and stop in front of the stage to the sound of each piece’s appropriate theme song since they were all film and TV cars. The cars would then kill their engine for the auctioneer to announce the car as described in the auction catalog. George would then tell a little more about each vehicle and then the bidding would begin. As each bid was finished the car would then be pushed out the other end on the tent by a crew of five or six guys. Possibly to avoid any engines that wouldn’t turn over again to exit or plumes of exhaust. Then the next theme would ring out and so on…
I stood on the sidelines and watched for any cues from George if he needed me while occasionally taking time for the usual, “Excuse me, but can we… “And “Would you mind if we…” I never minded, of course. But then, one of the auction house’s people came up to me and said, “We’re going to be selling that motorcycle on the stage next. We need you to go up on the stage and sit on it since we can’t bring it down.”
On the cue of the Batman theme, I came running ( more of a jog) from the sidelines and up onto the stage where I once again got on the Batcycle and once again got blinded by the many camera flashes and saw video camera after cel phone camera emerging from the audience. It seemed to go over well.
After another hour or so and I had a moment to check in with
George while the auction was still going on, we both figured it was
probably fine for me to go. But he added, “Don’t forget, there’s
that other gig with a Batmobile I wanted to talk to you about.”
website owned and maintained by Scott Sebring