Croc show lures reptiles
November 10, 2003
THE line of American hopefuls for Steve "Crocodile Hunter" Irwin's new reality television show stretched along Hollywood's Sunset Boulevard for almost a block yesterday.
Some dressed as their khaki-clad Croc Hunter hero while others carried pythons, anacondas and rattlesnakes.
Irwin was there in person, looking for 10 Americans to compete in The Croc Hunter Challenge, scheduled to be shot at his Australia Zoo on the Sunshine Coast in February and March.
He didn't have any trouble attracting off-beat characters willing to risk their lives with poisonous snakes and crocodiles.
The most colourful among the 200 or so in line was a 25-year-old film actor and stuntman with the single name of Ton. Covered in tattoos and with six piercings in his face and eight on other parts of his body, Ton had with him five pet snakes - a Burmese python, green anaconda, sidewinder albino king snake and a Colombian red tail.
Apart from his film work - including a henchman role on the action movie Desert Heat with Jean-Claude Van Damm - Ton works as a fire breather, a body piercer, construction worker and an amateur wildlife rescuer.
"I had to tell Steve in 30 seconds or less why he should pick me," Ton, who lives in the desert about three hours drive north of Los Angeles, said yesterday.
"I said 'Have a little love for a fat kid!'."
First in the audition line was John Gale, a 21-year-old from Los Angeles and a Crocodile Hunter fanatic.
He arrived outside the audition venue, the Sunset Strip's famous Comedy Store, at 5am - four hours before the auditions began.
"I'm willing to do anything to get on the show.
Wrestle a crocodile or whatever," Gale said.
The show will take place at Australia Zoo for 60 days and contestants will live and work in the zoo, undertaking such dangerous tasks as mowing the lawns in the crocodile enclosure. After each episode one will be kicked off the show, with the winner getting a free trip around Australia.