Hurricane Bear’s introduction to the world came when Channel 11 news anchor Greg Hurst switched to a live shot along the Galveston seawall, hoping to get some information on the condition of a fishing pier. Instead, Hurst saw Hurricane Bear, not in the background, but as the focus of the cameraman’s lens. “…and we see some clown who’s out there trying to enjoy what’s left of a nice day…,” Hurst said.
The phenomenon was born. Hurricane Bear has since been featured in the Wall Street Journal, on CNN and VH1, alluded to in a Ralph Nader campaign commercial, and the Channel 11 video has been posted on countless blogs.
Turns out, Hurricane Bear is Jacob Calle, a guy from Houston who made What the Hell: The Ultimate Stunt Movie and who appeared on Hair Balls about two months ago after a leg injury in an air guitar contest kept him from attending his own animal-rights protest.
On the day of Hurricane Bear, Calle had driven to Galveston to shoot video of himself and friends hanging from bars underneath the Flagship Hotel for a project called “Vacation Disasters.” The bear suit, which Calle had used before, was brought along.
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“We were just out there having fun, out there entertaining ourselves as well as the reporters. I was just strolling around,” Calle says. “But after that, that really got us hyped up, so we got all cocky and arrogant and went up to CNN and said, ‘Hey, do you want to interview us,’ and they told us to go find entertainment elsewhere.”
The same guy who cashed in after Hurricane Katrina with Looterguy has created the Hurricane Bear Web site.There’s Hurricane Bear merchandise and photos, and starting next week, there will be new Hurricane Bear videos. At the end of October, Calle – as Hurricane Bear – is going on tour with the bands MC Chris and Lisa’s Sons.
“Now it kind of sucks because I feel like I’m stuck with it. Now I have to be Hurricane Bear everywhere,” Calle says.
-- Paul Knight