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

Tim Eyster

Hope your enjoying our dedication to Salute Your Shorts this week. Of course I’m sure you have been waiting for part 2 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

Part 2 of our exclusive interview deals completely with Salute Your Shorts. Enjoy!

You have recently re-emerged embracing the character of Sponge. How do you feel about actors who don’t want to be known for characters they have portrayed?

Hmm … this is a complicated one. Well, I re-emerged because I would really like to build a “platform” of people that respect my prior work, and that care about what I have to say. I have a lot of opinions, and a lot of ideas – about broad and urgent worldly concerns – and I’d like to be able to have an audience that wants to listen. And, my real name is not a “household name”, so I either embrace the recognizable name “Sponge”, or lose the exposure it can bring. So, there’s my motivation.

As far as other actors go, not wanting to be known for their character – I think it’s simply because they fear (rightly so) that it will box them in to certain types of roles in the future, which can really stunt the growth of an actor’s career. Also, fans tend to project the qualities of the character, on the actual person, which can be quite uncomfortable and hard to live up to.

For instance – here’s a personal example. I played a Geek on TV. So therefore I (personally) should know everything about computers, electronics, HAM Radio, Thermonuclear Warfare, speak Latin, be able to solve ANY computer problem … build websites in HTML, CSS, Flash, Java, blah blah blah …. I feel a certain expectation to know these things. And guess what? Technology moves so fast, I simply can’t keep up – as I’ve chosen not to make a career in computers, or web design, so I’m constantly trying to catch up to the expectations of others. Geeks are great resources of information, but we can’t be expected to know everything!!!

sponge_movie

What is your favorite episode of Salute Your Shorts?

This is a particularly tough one. Because I’m not sure if I should pick a favorite based upon the experience of _creating_ it, or the experience of _watching the finished product_. And it’s been so many years since I’ve even seen an entire episode.

Do you know that I’ve been trying to buy one of those pirated hocked fan-created DVDs for a couple of months now and every time they see the name on the order they get scared off and won’t sell it to me??? I actually DON’T have a copy of all the episodes. My mother has them on VCR tapes, and we have not had an amicable relationship since I was 15… so I don’t have access to them. Isn’t that ironic?

OK, Sponge, focus – answer the question. My Geeky tangential mind just shoots spitfires into all kinds of directions. So, I suppose, to best answer your question, I would say the episode “Sponge’s Night Out”

It was a great deal of fun to see my character, the geeky so-called un-sexy out-of-the-“in-crowd”-loop, go on a DATE and KISS A GIRL! *GASP!* I felt like I was winning one for the team – for geeks everywhere. And, Olga wasn’t a half-bad kisser after all :o)

Was Olga your first kiss?

Nope. I was an early bloomer. That started at 8. :o)  She was a fellow actress that I met on the stage of that first play I did, at the Showboat Dinner Theatre, where I was “discovered”. We still keep in touch, she’s a fellow kindred, and a brave strong woman.

In the episode “Donkeylips and Sponge Weigh In” how many actual hamburgers did the cast have to eat?

Hahaha. Usually I get asked how many BANANAS did *I* have to eat. But, in both cases… and here comes a spoiler … we had “spit buckets” right off-camera. So we did a lot of chewing, but not a lot of swallowing.

sponge_kirk

I got the impression that Kirk Bailey (Kevin “Ug” Lee) was a fun guy to hang around. How was his relationship with the cast?

Being the oldest member of the regular cast, he was a great rock for all of us. He was an absolute pleasure to work with, and a really great character actor. When I wasn’t busy shooting a scene, I often enjoyed sitting off-camera watching him shoot his scenes – he has a great skill for comedic improv and timing. Many of the things he did that are seen in the final cut, were un-scripted ‘experimental’ takes. He is a brave actor and was a well-respected one on the set.

When your recorded the opening song how many takes did it take? Did you get sick of hearing it? Did they pick out the part for you to sing or did you just sing the whole song?

I think we did 4 or 5 “coverage” takes, where we all sang together in a group. And then individually, we were all shot singing the whole thing, spliced together the way you see it now. From what I recall, the director didn’t anticipate us having such trouble staying “on key”, and we all joked about singing not being in our job description. So finally, some of the actors just resigned themselves and started making up new lyrics out of frustration, and ultimately, the director/editor/producer decided that the authenticity was funnier!

What do you envision Dr. Kahn to look like? I always imagined a lot like Dr. Claw from Inspector Gadget!

Well, I suppose my answer will be somewhat boring here, as since I was on the show, I know who did the vocals for it. It was the show’s writer, Steve Slavkin, so anytime I heard the voice while watching the show, I just pictured him in a sound booth … I suppose I was tainted by the inherent knowledge I had about the inner-workings of the production. All of these questions are giving me quite the urge to have a few close friends over, and have a Salute Your Shorts Marathon!

Where was the TV show filmed? It would be awesome to find these locations!

It’s funny, I’ve browsed the web sometimes when I’m just curious about what fans are coming up with on this one, and let me debunk first – that it was NOT shot in Florida at all. There were two primary locations … one was a Sound Stage in Sun Valley, CA on Lankershim Boulevard… (in which the set designers built mock-cabins that were all housed under the roof of the sound stage), and the other was various locations in Griffith Park. If I made a few calls, I could probably track down more exact locations … I was contacted by a fan recently who was going to be visiting LA and asked me where we shot, because he wanted to visit, and I felt bad because I really didn’t keep track of that stuff at 12 years old … :o)

What was the fascination Pinksy had with his salami? (this was just a stupid question that my friends often discussed)

Don’t all boys have a fascination with their salami? I know I sure love mine. We should ask Dr. Freud about this one.…

How do you envision the character of Sponge Harris, all grown up? Would he have put Budnick in his place? Married Dina? Any thoughts?

Hahaha another great question … it’s not something I’ve ever thought about. And also, since I feel I was just magnifying a very authentic Geek quality in myself, it can be hard to separate the character from my own identity. I consider myself a (former) character actor. I was type-cast, because I AM a Geek. We just took extra steps to make sure I LOOKED like one for the role… (I really hated that bowl haircut … lemme tell ya!)

I suppose, since the show was a “Kids” show I have typical answer, and an my more honest answher … But, I’ll go out on a limb and give you both:

Politically Correct Answer:
Sponge, now all grown up, would have launched a parent company called “Sponge, Inc.”, under which he would be taking on many projects, simultaneously. I envision him as a definite ADHD Geek… or at least a kid with a brain that worked so fast, others couldn’t keep up, or understand his big words, so he just had to make friends with the only things that could keep up with him: his computers.

Geeks have trouble finding others to relate to, because others can be intimidated by their keen, sharp intellect … so they have trouble making friends. Aside from which, they’re too smart to cater to the needs of whatever the current zeitgeist dictates should be the hip way to dress/interact with others. Geeks are inherently authentic, which does not necessarily mean popular – so he poured all his joie de vivre into his company Sponge, Inc.

Budnick? He had all kinds of schemes to make money at camp, but he was a jerk! So he begged Sponge to build him a website, manage his contact database, get him a Facebook Fan Page, and help him take his scheming businesses to hock things at camp, or wherever, to another level. Of course Budnick would try to low-ball the worth of Sponge’s services. But Sponge grew up, learned how to research his worth on Salary.com, and presented hard objective evidence that Budnick didn’t have the smarts to refute. So yep, Budnick works for Sponge now.

sponge_dina

And who did Sponge marry?
Well, Dina was really concerned with image, and even though Sponge would be a Billionaire by now (a la Bill Gates or Steve Jobs), he’s still a short skinny guy with a horrible fashion sense that would rather be at home reading up on how to save the world, then out at the socialite parties where she’d want him to buy expensive dresses for her.

However, Z.Z. – is another story. See, Z.Z. and Sponge were late bloomers – not really interested in dating, other than topically. They were interested in saving the world/environment and the pursuit of knowledge (Not “Stupid Girl Trivia!!!”). And, firstly, I perceive they felt very competitive with each other. But as they got older, they fell in love with each other’s brains’ and passions’ and dedication to helping the world through their sheer collective brain power. It also didn’t hurt that they were both kinda quirky and misunderstood. So I’d see them as married now, and using the income from the various ventures under “Sponge, inc.” to take on a full schedule of philanthropic activities – to save the world – which, more than ever – needs saving.

My Honest Answer:
I think Sponge would have turned out gay. 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. Whom really only saw him as valuable when they needed something from him – like the answer to a radio contest so they could win $$$.  Not to say that being gay is solely the result of environment, I believe there’s a very strong genetic component at play. But yep, I think my real honest answer here – is that he’d end up finding a nice guy to love him and help him solve all the worlds problems.

sponge_gay

…to be continued


And with that we’ll conclude our interview on Friday, August 28th when we will post part 3 of I Am Sponge. An interview with Trevor Eyster. We will learn about his quest to release Salute Your Short on DVD (and what you can do to help), which of the cast he keeps in touch with, and why the show was canceled. I will give you a hint. “Fire, Fire, FIRE. Umm yeah”

Trevor would love to read comments about the interview. Please feel free to leave them below.


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