Mike Kunda: My 15 Minutes of Fame
Philly’s Own Rocky Balboa Impersonator Wins Lookalike Contest
By Mike Kunda | TR.COM Contributor | September 9, 2006
Ya know, it seems my 15 minutes of fame is coming up on about 14 minutes, 30 seconds.
Before I continue, I must say how unbelievably dedicated and supportive my wife is about this entire event. Let me say that after all was said and done she had been under the weather the entire time – and I never knew. She was so happy and excited and when I was going through all these TV and radio interviews at 5:30am Friday morning at the steps near the statue; well, she had to get up at 2:00am with me get ready and drive 2 hours back to Philly from which we just got back from. She also had a very steady hand videotaping all of the interviews with me and the Adrian lookalike, Val.
After winning the contest I got a small taste of what it was like to have flash bulbs and press in your face as well as being pulled in 1,000 places at once. Not to mention stumbling over my own words or being off on one Rocky line or a bad picture of me from a bad angle that makes me look like I have more chins than a Chinese phone book.
Then you have to pose with all the judges and local dignitaries and whomever else is there. Yet the entire time you kinda have to be cool about the entire process.
Know this was all in maybe 2 hours but the stars have to do this everyday when they go out. The press is all over them and they are tired and just want to go home but they are so gracious and make it look so easy.
So we go home and when I do my neighbors have these banners all over the house of congratulations. My phone did not stop ringing with request for interviews from local stations and even my hometown of Scranton had stuff on the news. My dad went to pick up a pizza and was treated like a star. It was weird. A activity director of a retirement community called and asked if I’d come by to talk to the residents because they have been following my story and they all love Rocky and wondered if I’d come by and talk and maybe have a few laughs and give us all something to do for the day. That was special.
There was a guy Joe, who heard about the contest and jumped on a plane from Florida just to try out for the competition on a chance to meet Sly. He gets there and they tell him its by pre-qualification only. The guy’s heart sank. So he hangs around and before the judging was complete they let him dress up and try out on stage unofficially – he was so happy! The guy took a chance and did not even have a hotel room. That to me is a Rocky story.
The next day, Friday, we go down at 5:30am do all that then off to a breakfast with our friend Steve and then back to The Victors to hang out for 5 or 6 hours.
Now we go to the steps early for a good spot near the dedication site and were all hanging around taking pictures and what not. Well, all of a sudden the barricades go up. Now we gotta move from 2 feet from the stage to about 50 feet. That sucks, but what can ya do?
Now all the press is starting to gather and all the “special people” are there in the barricaded area close to the stage.
My wife said “Mike, tell them you won the contest!” I felt like a idiot but I wanted to get close so before the words were out of my mouth the people in charge said, “Hey, Rocky!” Yeah, I look around thinking its Sly but it was me they were looking at and asked how I’d been since the contest and said “How many people are with you?” I said 4 or 5 they said, “Go right up front, you deserve it.” Wow, star treatment and I’m still just a nobody.
So my wife looks at me and smiles and says, “Listen to your wife, we always know best.” What could I say? She was right.
I posted before about what happened next, with Joley Fisher and all that, shaking hands with Sly and all that.
The guy from Florida, we got him in dressed as Rocky close to the stage and next thing ya know he is being interviewed by all the radio and television stations. Then he gets invited to the after party with Sly. I didn’t get a invite to that! But I was happy for him.
At this point Val, the girl who won as the Adrian lookalike made it there with her husband Steve and their two adorable boys. They called and said they were stuck in traffic and that they may be late, and we were sick for them because they are all such fans and so nice. Well, they made it just in time.
We now see some people in charge and tell them who we are, the contest and all that and next thing we know we are going to the after party! It was great. We got to listen to Sly hold a press conference and talk about Rocky Balboa. I will say nothing more on that.
Then we walk around and oh, we had another friend there too, John Rogers from Chicago who was in town on a business conference who at the end of the night got a picture with Sly. He had no clue how his day was gonna end up. He was a good guy.
There were Rocky posters all over the place and a giant ice sculpture of the Rocky statue that kept melting. One of the greatest cakes I have ever had, free drinks and cases of Sly water of which I got 3 cases.
We mingled and I was introduced to Sly’s prom date from when he was 17. She had the yearbook with his prom pictures in it. Unreal. There was an entire story there. I had a great conversation with the mother of the kids Sly grew up with when he was an early teen. I got to talk to a guy who reps the Tiger Woods lookalike. That guy gets $1,500 per appearance to divert press so Tiger can get out of a situation. The guy asked if I was interested in work and he could hook me up. What a night.
Sly was so surrounded by people that you could not get close however I did and he waved and gave me a look like, “Sorry, I can’t talk but I got so much to do type of thing.” I totally understood.
By this time it was getting late and we still had a 2-hour drive so we start to walk back and as we pass the steps we stopped to watch Rocky on the big screen there with a few hundred fans. It was great. They went nuts when he was training. (Side note: Sly got so choked-up at the ceremony with the statue we all thought he was gonna loose it. He got so emotional but held it in check. He was truly touched.)
On Saturday, we go back down for the Thrill Show which was not so thrilling. I have seen church picnics that had more spark. Oh well, it was for a great cause.
Then my wife and I and our new friends (who by the way felt like old friends for 20 years) Val and her husband and two boys go to the Victors for a great dinner to which I wanted to pick up the check but they beat me to it. A very big thanks again if you guys read this.
We then spent some time with the staff and owners had a few drinks (I did, Sue had to drive so she had Pepsi) took some pics and then back to Camp Hill.
There was lots of other stuff and I’ll post when I remember them, anyways that’s the big stuff. Not to mention the Balboa and Rambo stuff I found out. But that’s all unofficial at this time and when all that’s cool to post I will, but not at this time.
Guess I just wanted to tease ya’s a bit. Sorry!