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I Am Sponge. An Interview with Trevor Eyster, Part III

Tim Eyster

Our dedication to Salute Your Shorts ends today with the conclusion of I Am Sponge. An interview with Trevor Eyster. Trevor has recently opened himself up to the fans on his Sponge Harris Facebook page. You may have only known him as the Sponge, but I think you’re about to learn a lot more on who Trevor Eyster is.

Read Part 1 of I Am Sponge. An interview with Trevor Eyster
Read Part 2 of I Am Sponge. An Interview with Trevor Eyster

Learn which cast members he has stayed in touch with, why he believes Sponge to be gay, and how you can help get Salute Your Shorts on DVD!

spongegay

Not to long ago J.K. Rowling revealed that the character of Dumbledore was gay. This caused an uproar in the Potter community. Now you just proclaimed that you feel Sponge was gay! You started a bit of a controversy with your feelings about Sponge’s sexual preference! What are your thoughts?

First, a big personal thanks to fan Shaundra Morton, for spreading the word on LiveJournal. (I’m going to be looking for more fans with her dedication, to help spread the word about the DVD Project!) However, it looks like there was a bit of a controversy over how I characterized Sponge as a “typical case” of a kid that could turn out gay. I’m so glad that people are out there that CARE enough about these things, and I’m glad to have the ability to clarify.

Perhaps I should start by saying – publically – for the first time – that I am Bisexual.

Frankly, I thought I was gay until my mid-20’s, when I met a girl that knocked my socks off (who was a lesbian until she met me). That changed everything. But THAT’s another story …

So, that said, it should be apparent that I’m all for Equal Rights, Gay Marriage, the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, the repeal of California’s Prop 8 and the silly homophobic Defense of Marriage Act… and didn’t intend to blanketly characterize what makes gay people gay.

So… look at each one of the S.Y.S. Characters? Aren’t each of them totally stereotypical in their respective roles? Part of what brought humor to the show – was … for example … just how stuck up “Dina”, the rich girl was. Does that mean that all rich, beautiful girls are stuck up?

In regards to my characterization of Sponge turning out gay because “He’s the perfect profile of a kid who didn’t play sports, had inattentive parents, didn’t get to bond with his male buds, felt misunderstood and often ignored or shoved aside … and often was rejected by the girls.” – I’m speaking for his fictional case specifically. Yes, it’s a generalization. But in his (fictional) case, those things were true. Not all gay people don’t play sports, don’t bond at a young age with members of their same sex, etc. Although, in my younger years – those things happened to be true for my own personal life.

spongebudnick

Looking back, what is your fondest memory of the show?
Hmm … feeling a sense of “family”… a connectedness to a singular purpose that I felt with all the cast and crew.

Having a regular schedule, showing up each week, getting the new script (which was always full of last-minute surprises), and bonding with the cast & crew. In general, the whole *creative process*…. the idea and execution of “co-creating” and collaborating with everyone. So it’s more a general feeling, than I specific memory.

Were their cast members that you were close with at that time then? Anybody you would hang out with off set?

Yeah, although crew members as well. At the time, Megan Berwick (Z.Z) and I had some laughs together … and bonded over being the youngest in the cast. Venus (Telly) and I were pretty swell then too. From my fading memory, there wasn’t a lot of off-set hanging-out – at least that I was privy to – I found out years later that some cast/crew parties went on that weren’t age-appropriate for some of us to be there. Aside from the fact that when you see these guys 5 days a week, you’d like to go back to your ‘regular’ life on the weekends …

As it goes for Geeks in general … I wasn’t particularly popular with some of the cast members. It’s important to note however that I was one of the youngest, at 11-12ish, and ‘Budnick’, ‘Pinksy’ (2nd season), ‘DonkeyLips’ and ‘Michael’ (1st season) were in their late teens or older… so I wasn’t exactly the cool one to hang out with. I wished we were closer but I understand that the age difference made that difficult.

zztelly

Are you still close with anybody in the cast?

Yes! I still keep in occasional touch with Megan Berwick who played “Z.Z.”, and I greatly admire the work she’s pursuing now. I’d like to stay in better contact, but I know in the future, our paths will cross again in a more significant way. She’s a fellow kindred spirit that I have deep love and respect for. I also am, more infrequently, in touch with Venus who portrayed “Telly”, and am happy her career on the other side of the camera seems to be going well.

I’d would like to be in touch with Blake Soper “Pinsky”, to talk to him about how to pursue a career as a musician, which is my current major project… But we were never very close on the set. Keep in mind, that I was the youngest member of the cast, and not exactly the cool one to hang out with. But I looked up to his coolness-factor, and wished I’d been part of his posse.

Salute Your Shorts has a very large cult now almost underground following. Are you surprised it was such a phenomenon?

Yes and No.

Yes, because, looking back, none of us had any idea just how our work would later be so beloved, cherished, and burned in the psyche of a certain generation of now-grown kids….. somehow, that show was their innocence. They’d watch it with a grilled-cheese sandwich in their hand, while plotting to annihilate their brother/sister on a Nintendo Game after the episode was over … It was their escape from homework after they’d get home from school. It was something that they could find a temporary truce with their sibling(s) and agree to watch together in peace and laughter. The feedback I get, was it was an outlet for them to bond with their friends and siblings, with good, clean, uncomplicated fun.

No, because, given today’s hectic environment, and the increasing need for writers to be more and more controversial to be funny, comedians to be gossipy and raunchy and sensationalistic…. This was a show that was good clean fun.

It was a classic that will stand the test of time. It stands on its own, and I am so proud to have been a part of it. And so humbled by the comments fans make on my site, and the autograph request letters I still receive, all these years later.

A fan recently said to me something that gave me chills:

“hell you and the other nickelodeon actors, were there for us…
on rainy days, on nights…
in the summer when it was too hot and humid to play outside…
when our parents were fighting and they told us to go watch TV down stairs…
when we were watching SNICK with all our friends…
or just my brother with a huge thing of popcorn out…
you were there for us…
where we could go away to camp for 30 minutes a day and forget everything else…
… there is no reason in hell we should not be there for you and the other actors now”

Why was the show ultimately canceled? Was there ever talk of a third season?
Probably other cast members have kept up on the actualities of this – especially Michael (DonkeyLips), who really embraced carrying forward the image of his role after the series ended… But here’s what I can tell you. After the second season, during our hiatus, there was a big corporate shift going on. The way I understand it, MTV Networks bought Nickelodeon, (which are now both under Viacom, International). And during the land-grab of corporate intellectual properties and copyrights and budgets, and management shifts, SYS simply fell through the cracks.

Beavis and Butthead

I remember something about them having to cut the budget somewhere, in order to launch a show on MTV called “Beavis & Butthead” (oh, and what good THAT did for the world….). So, the memory that sticks with me is that I ended up on the unemployment line because of two animated characters, that don’t exist in real life, that took our jobs. :o) That’s Hollywood! I don’t profess to the accuracy of this memory, because, remember, I was all of 12 when this all went down ….

Hey, at least our show, and individual cast members were nominated and won “Youth In Film” Awards.

Did you hear any discussions of what might have happened in a third season?
I’m sure the writers had plenty of material for it. But it all banked on us getting “word from the Network” if we were being “picked up” for a 3rd go-around, which, ultimately, we weren’t.

I have heard rumblings for years about a possible reunion with the cast of Salute Your Shorts. Were any of these rumors true?
Sorry to report that I know absolutely Zilch about that. But how much fun would that be??

We are all waiting for the show to be released on DVD. Any word on this ever happening?
Ahhh yes, the big question of the past 15+ years. In fact, Yes. I have actively been pursuing it, and am finally in touch with the right sub-department of the big Corp I need to negotiate with. It’s going to be an uphill battle – that is – it’s going to require fan involvement.

You see, it’s about the numbers. Nickelodeon felt it was a great show, but didn’t feel like the numbers would work out (that enough people would purchase) to justify the cost to obtain the distribution rights (music/actor royalties,etc).

Well … I *know* the numbers, and I respectfully disagree with this.

I know there is an ARMY OF FANS really to follow Spongey’s lead.

So, Campers, here me now: Sponge is going to rally the campers (with help from the fans) and finally make it happen. It’s not gonna happen overnight, but I’m committed to the project, and seeing an official high-quality DVD set finally released.

I’m going to need some assistance in this effort – in various and still undefined ways. I know for sure I’ll need someone to volunteer some time posting on all the various Nick sites, Petition Sites, Bulletin Board Groups, the Salute Your Shorts Wikipedia (and the Nickipedia), etc to get a centralized list of people willing to purchase a copy, because I just don’t have the time to do it. But the fans are fierce, loyal, and loving, and I know they’ll step up to help. (To Volunteer, email: spongeyharris@gmail.com)

On another note, I’d like to address the issue of people selling really poor-quality copies of the show on DVD through the Internet. While I appreciate the enthusiasm and efforts to keep the spirit of the show alive – if you are selling SYS DVDs, you are doing something that I (and other cast/crew members) find to be kind of objectionable.

Those that are selling-for-profit ($30-$40 a copy) home-made copies of the show are directly profiting off of the work of countless others. Including myself. (Not to mention that it’s illegal and Copyright Violations laws in the US are really strict, and you’re really taking a big risk). To boot, they are mostly very poor quality, and you’re apt to be disappointed.

If you get the rights to distribute would you release both seasons on 1 DVD? Cast Commentary?
That’s a good question. It really banks on a lot of variables that aren’t tied down yet. Such as a distribution company, cost analysis, procurement of rights to both seasons simultaneously (which might not be possible if I don’t get enough moola from investors).

Cast commentary would be wonderful. But I’m not optimistic on it happening – because, from my understanding, it would be a separate “copyright asset”. It would involve hiring a film crew, post-production team, the willingness of all cast members to participate … I’d love to see it happen – but first things first. None of it will happen if I don’t land the distribution rights.

Do you know if any of the other cast members would be interested in seeing the show hit the DVD market?

I haven’t had individual conversations with them about it, as this is a fairly new endeavor of mine. But I imagine they’re all just as curious as the fans about why it was never released.

trevornow

You were always credited under Tim Eyster, now you go by Trevor. Why the name change?

I legally changed my first name in or around 2002, for several reasons.

Perhaps most primarily: the name Timmy/Timothy is, what I feel, a very diminutive name in our society. Think about it: Tiny Tim …little Timmie and Lassie … oh poor Timmy… I just felt it was a name that didn’t resonate with who I am at all.

Also, there were some WEIRD fan letters I got… kinda scary ones… from pedophile types… so it was a way to separate from that.

I did not change my last name, out of wanting to respect my heritage, and my Father.

And, since I’m estranged from my whole mother’s side of the family, it seemed silly to keep the name my mother gave me… that I never liked… when it became clear that she no longer cared at all about maintaining a healthy relationship with me.

So, like many Native American cultures whom send out their young men on a Vision Quest, to find their identity and purpose – the name “Trevor” found me in a similar Rite-of-Passage. And it resonates. And I own it. And those around me say it really fits.

trevorbike

What are you personally interested in? Any hobbies?

My goodness, how much time have ya got? I struggle with ADHD, so by my very nature, I gravitate towards new things all the time, and there is SO much out there to be interested in.

Hobbies:
Anything that fosters growth by removing me from my comfort zone: That’s how I ended up jumping out of a perfectly airworthy helicopter in Switzerland, taking up Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, launching a small retail company in Chicago when I got furloughed (laid off) during my 4-yr stint as an “Inflight Beverage Technician” for United Airlines …

Riding my Motorcycle up Angeles Crest Mountain or Ortega Hwy or Pacific Coast Hwy: I recently sold my last motorcycle… here she is …  She was a beauty. Her name was Marigold. A classy name for a classy gal.

I’m a singer, and play piano, and am looking to collaborate with a songwriter, a composer, and a little bit later, a publicist.

I have an exclusive song titled Pittsfield, Ma that you can download.

Interests:

  • The pursuit of Universal Truth
  • Mentoring Youth
  • Volunteering my time to non-profits I care about
  • Studying Jungian & Ancient Mythical Archetypes
  • Astrology: There is a great deal of hard science behind *real* astrology that gets thrown out with the bath water. It’s a whole separate interview to talk about the intricacies of this, and debunk untruths …
  • 2012/Sacred Geometry/Law of Attraction/The Power of Authenticity: Another very in-depth topic…
  • Exploring the meaning and implications of today’s definition of Manhood, and how masculinity has shifted in the last 10 years, and what is a real “Man” supposed to be now? My gosh, I worry about boys growing up now – and the broken homes, the mixed messages, the lack of a set of well-defined core values. Masculinity in itself, should not be a pejorative word. Nor something to throw away. Our world needs balance. Men provide a balance. And we need to carve out our place in the world again. This time, without misogyny or immaturity, but with brotherhood, ritual, accountability, and, yes, good beer and big-screen TV’s.

trevor_tat

What does your tattoo say?

It’s a personal mantra that I wrote and had tatt’d when I was 19, on New Years Eve. It’s a reminder of my value-system, to hold me accountable (since others can see it) to the way I wish to live my life. I believe words are very powerful. It reads:

Let this man-made scar
Serve to remind of my vows:
To Live of Humble Thoughts
To Live of Will and Instinct
To Live to Conquer and Embrace Challenges
And … To Live to Find and Serve my Purpose…

What projects do you have coming up in the future?

  1. I’m working on the beginnings of a solo album, and, in conjunction, will be doing upcoming live performances in the Los Angeles area in the next several months as things progress.Initially, I’ll be on Santa Monica Promenade (because I love the sheer grit and reality and intimacy of it). Later – larger venues, perhaps opening for my friend’s band Trespasser Williams sometime, if she’ll let me. Or Rilo Kiley….? Who knows …!SO – if you’d like to get alerted about the album release (which could be a year away), or soon-to-come live performances, or meet-n-greet opportunities, click here to be added to the list
  2. The long-awaited, much anticipated *Official* Salute Your Shorts DVD Release:
  3. Best way to stay up to date on this, is to do FOUR SIMPLE THINGS:
    1. Since Facebook has limitations on being able to contact fans, once a page/group exceeds 5,000 members, please submit your email here: (also great for non-Facebook users)
    2. Join Sponge’s Facebook Fan Page,
    3. Join the “100,000 Fans Strong for Salute Your Shorts on DVD” Group
    4. **** Click on ‘Invite Your Friends to Join’. *****

It’s gonna take help from the fans, but I’m looking at the numbers, and it’s DOABLE, and I’m committed to seeing it through.

Anything else you’d like to say?

Yes! Since this is my first interview since the show’s cancellation, I do! I’d like to thank ALL the fans out there, who have sent letters, emails, shared their stories & memories, and taken the time to read this interview. Keep ‘em coming – they brighten my life, in ways unexplainable.

Also, a big shout out (can I still say “shout out” or is that so 2007?) to a couple of recent online fans that have become new friends – that are working in various ways to help keep the Spirit of Anawanna Alive: Adam Dodd & Benjamin Buckley – you guys rock.

In addition, I would like to publicly thank and honor the following individuals, in no particular order, for the various ways that they have individually and collectively supported me, and my endeavors, during a recent and continued difficult transition … I endearingly refer to them as my “Trevor Triage Team” …

William Randolph Harrison – an amazing sculptor, photographer & close friend
Barry Schoenfeld – a mentor, collaborator & friend
Shane Bruce, MFT – Counselor, Singer/songwriter, Playwright
Edward Clark – Playwright, Composer & Songwriter
Kerry “Owlwoman” Shehorn – Healer & one of my many “surrogate” mothers
Robert Saslow – Graphic design artist extraordinaire
Alan Chhith – Nurse administrator
Chuck Allen – Life Coach & sooth-sayer
William Eyster – Father & Fierce Unconditional Supporter
Jason “JJ” Jenn – Multimedia Performing Artist & writer
David Pisarra, Esq; – Family Law Attorney & trusted friend & personal mentor
Ross Frankel & Michael Hagar – Unconditional Friends & Supporters
James Holloway – My Arbiter of Emotional Guidance
Nicole Ploesch – An old friend and Kindred Spirit

trevor_jump


Millionaire or Playboy? Which and why?

Hmmmm. Neither.

Millionaire? Millionaires have, what I believe, is a quickly devaluing currency: Money (not just the US Dollar, but money as the concept in general). I believe, and so does the amazing intuitive Astrologer that I seek counsel from, that the Old Paradigm Currency is Money, but the Currency of the New Paradigm – is Love. (part of which is Barter)

Playboy? Ehh … too many STDs. Too many people kissing your ass so they can tag along to your cool parties. Too many “YES men” around that are not gonna tell you what’s best for you, when you really need someone to ground you and give you a reality check.

Instead – I think maybe I’ll take Tori Amos’s advice … and become a Flying Dutchman. Or, at least cover her universally-timely song soon … on the Promenade.

Thanks for you time Trevor. Good Luck. As a fan of the show, this was really cool.


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Comments: 4 Comments
  • Fun interview! Thanks Trevor for sharing from your heart!
    Namaste,
    Lee

  • Monie MoreNo

    Hey, I guess I didn’t make that aknowledgement page but I still love and support you! Best of luck to you . I really enjoyed reading this article

  • Ross Frankel & Michael Hagar

    Cool interview! And good questions! I liked the true stories behind the scenes at S.Y.S. May Sponge Fans unite to promote the release of S.Y.S. on DVD!

    Your segue into music is promising, and you have much talent, positive energy, and unique perspective to offer everyone.

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