By James Casey
Interview with the Ghost
To be honest, it was actually rather intimidating, as the most quick-witted superhero ever would listen to my questions and most likely give extremely ridiculous answers to them. This call with Space Ghost was the brain-child of Rhino Records, the company responsible for the Space Ghost's Musical Bar-B-Que album. The conference call promised interviews with not only Space Ghost, but his co-star Brak and voice artist George Lowe as well. It would be a chance to find out more about the great Cartoon Network shows "Space Ghost: Coast To Coast" and "Cartoon Planet," as well as the album and the people behind it.
4 p.m.: I got the call. It wasn't actually Space Ghost, though, but other college students from around the country on the line, who, like me, were anxiously waiting to speak to the animated legend. First up was the briefing from the call's mediator: Space Ghost would talk for 30 minutes, Brak for 15 and then Mr. Lowe for another 15. It was promised to be an hour of hilarity and madcap tomfoolery.
Finally the call was connected to Space Ghost's "house," where the hero was waiting, coincidentally, with George Lowe in the same place, at the same time. It was obvious what we were in for when one of the first things said was that we were his type of crowd, a bunch of "complacent zombies." This resulted in uncontrollable laughter on the line.
Here, then, is some of the wisdom we received over the course of the next hour.
If you've ever wanted to become a superhero, "You must be able to fly, turn invisible and sound butch," according to Mr. Ghost, who told us that "everyone on Ghost Planet has a special power, be it being able to sing well, or sounding butch, or both."
On "Space Ghost: Coast to Coast," celebrities are interviewed every week by the animated hero and questioned in the most ridiculous of manners, similar, in a bizzaro way, to normal talk shows. "We are better than Letterman," Space Ghost exclaimed, without being prompted.
"My favorite celebrity. That would be young Michael Stipe. You know Michael, he's what's known in the industry as a mover and a shaker. The man could go and buy mink pants if he wants, but he's just a regular guy. He chose, with all his wealth and success, to stay a regular guy."
It's true that Space Ghost, with all his super-powers and comic panache, still likes regular guys and, who knows, he may even be a normal guy himself.
Like regular guys, Mr. Ghost enjoys the finer things in life. The Spice Girls are a favorite of his. "Cumin, paprika, cayenne. I love them Spice Girls. They've got that peppy song, 'if you wanna be my lover.' That's peppy. It's no Michael Stipe but, you know, anything zippy, with a beat - Space Ghost loves to groove. Makes you wanna do the Froog. Makes you wanna put on your p.j.s and dance around the house doing the Froog."
It's up to you to figure out exactly what the Froog is, of course.
Amazingly, I commented, age hasn't seemed to effect Space Ghost's appearance. He looks better now than he did 30 years ago. "It's a little thing we like to call animation," he smugly replied.
Thinking better of himself, however, he went on. "You know why I don't age? Because I work out, I try to watch the fatty foods and try and get a little exercise in everyday. It's important, you know, you kids, do you do your squats? You gotta do your squats."
A true fan might ask what happened to the monkey and the kids, Jan and Jayce, from the original '60s Space Ghost adventure show. "Did anybody see the movie 'Outbreak'?" he quipped, in regard to his old furry friend.
As for the kids, he informed us that they have been lowered to working at one of those giant cookie stands in the mall.
But how low is the Ghost himself willing to go?
"I will take whatever work I can get. If I've learnt one thing in broadcasting, I don't care if it's Scruffwitz 2000, I'm taking it."
Anything? Even the Space Ghost porn movie?
"I didn't say I'd take that!" he replied. Which reminded him, "I made a terrible mistake, I walked in on that 'Boogie Nights ' ... It's not about dancing!"
Still, the man shops in Home Depot and his power bands are, he told us, made from products found there. "I build them myself. You gotta know the right ingredients. The fine folks at Home Depot can help you with just about anything.
"I can't tell you kids how to build them," he went on, much to my disappointment. "College campuses will be in a complete state of upheaval. And who knows better about upheaval than college students? ... I was upheavaling all night."
At one point, we were treated to impromptu bursts of song and jingles from the man who is not only a comedic, but a musical talent in his own right. That, plus a recitation of the classic performance piece, "Minky Boodle," which can be found on the new album.
And then there was the revelation about what became of the chicken from the earlier episodes of the Cartoon Network shows. "He tasted great," said our hero.
Brak, Space Ghost's supposed prisoner, didn't actually make the interview and it was put forward that he had to step out of the Ghost Planet offices at the last minute. Apparently Space Ghost doesn't run the tightest ship.
No problem though, since George Lowe, who remained on hand, took over for Brak and told us some of the most interesting things I've learned all semester.
He does indeed watch his own show and thinks that it would be a great idea if Space Ghost interviewed him sometime. "That would be a neat thing. How neat would that be?" he said in a voice suspiciously similar to his companion's.
Someone actually tried to ask another question of Space Ghost at this point, but Mr. Lowe informed them that he wasn't there anymore, putting all suspicions to rest.
George just turned 40, which he was reluctant to admit, calling it "the age where you shouldn't trust people anymore." Aside from work on the Space Ghost show, he does a lot of voice-overs for what he called "quality products."
"It started with radio in high school," he said. "I was always interested in doing animation, though."
If you've ever wanted to have a similar profession to Mr. Lowe, take his advice, he knows what he's talking about: "If that's what you want to do, follow through, don't let anybody talk you out of it."
All along, the secret to success was that simple.
5 p.m.: It's over.
So that's it, a meeting with Space Ghost, entertainer of children and adults alike for over 30 years. The chance to ask a fictitious character a question is one of the rarest experiences around, but also one of the most amusing and entertaining. Chatting with the brains behind the brawn, George Lowe, revealed both the complexity behind the shows and the devotion that these people have to entertaining the masses.
Kathy Lee, eat your heart out.