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My Brilliant Encore Career – Body Triple

September 28, 2010

Mr. Cowley on set

A regular series in which we interview baby boomers who left their former professions for a variety of reasons – retirement, layoff, burn out, federal grand jury indictment, dissociative fugue – and found rewarding new careers with greater meaning and positive social impact. Join us as we hear their inspiring stories about this exciting, second act of their lives, and the unique rewards of “giving something back” to the world.

This week we speak with 53 year-old Sheldon Cowley, newly employed as a Body Triple, on the set of his debut production.

What exactly does a Body Triple do?

You’ve heard of a Body Double, right? They’re the unsung heroes of popular entertainment, the actors who stand in for the star performers during the best bits of the show, when a scene calls for a death-defying stunt or a close-up of someone’s junk. Body Triples are brought in when the Body Double requires a double of their own, usually scenes where nudity and dangerous activity are involved in combination. I’m basically a stunt man. A naked stunt man. The pay isn’t too great, but when I consider the contribution I’m making to society, that’s more gratifying to me than the money.

Tell us about your latest project.

It’s a new program for premium cable television, a reimagining of the 1970’s series The Love Boat as a nude cruise, complete with big, lavish Glee-style musical numbers. I’m no Nielsen family, but I think it’s going to be a huge hit. The character that I triple for is the Activities Coordinator, kind of the Lauren Tewes/Julie McCoy of the cast, only male, middle-aged, naked and accident prone. They tried to get Harvey Keitel for the role, which would have been a real casting coup from a ratings and Human Resources perspective, since Harvey works in the nude and does his own stunts. Unfortunately he wasn’t available, but they did manage to sign his cousin Corky Keitel to a 13-episode contract. I haven’t actually met Corky but his double, this fellow Dierks O’Boyle, is a sweet, sweet guy. There is more than a passing resemblance between us too, if you disregard the fact that he’s hung like a donkey.

What did you do for work before becoming a Body Triple, and why did it end?

I was a customer care representative with a pest extermination business on Long Island until an unfortunate and essentially unavoidable incident involving Ivanka Trump and bedbugs. With litigation pending, my attorneys have advised me not to say anything more about it.

We can’t help but notice that, during our interview, you’ve covered yourself up with a strategically placed copy of Stanislavski’s An Actor Prepares. You must be taking this work very seriously.

I’ve always dreamed of being in the entertainment business, ever since I landed the part of the tailor, Motel Kamzoil in a high school production of Fiddler on the Roof, and nailed the actress playing Tzeitel in the prop closet. L’chaim!

Stunt work is a dangerous business, more so when you’re naked. Do you have any previous experience working in the field?

None whatsoever. It’s a lot more demanding than setting off flea bombs or stomping on cockroaches, let me tell you! I chipped a tooth in a dance scene, doing the Surra de Bunda with an old lady extra. Still smarting from that. And did you know there’s a wrong way to do a somersault? I didn’t either, until I skinned my coccyx raw performing a scripted stumble over a tennis net.  I spent my first week’s paycheck on some cushioned floor mats so I could practice my tuck and roll.

What is the difference between Nudism and Naturism?

If I had a nickel for every time someone’s asked me that, I’d have about fifteen cents and nowhere to keep it.

How does your work as a Body Triple make society a better place?

Laughter is the third best medicine, after Oxycodone and Viagra. Well, Pepto Bismol is pretty effective, too. Laughter’s up there, though – top five, definitely. What I hope is that my body of work will bring laughter and delight to the recession-beleaguered families of America, and possibly Europe, too. I‘m pretty sure they have “Skin-emax at Night” over there. If all it takes is a few hundred naked pratfalls and a mild case of testicular torsion to help folks forget about life for awhile, then I’ve done my job. The world will also be a better place if I earn my SAG card, and win an Emmy.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. September 28, 2010 9:16 pm

    Thank you!!

    • sean tabb permalink*
      September 29, 2010 6:44 am

      To life! And you’re welcome.

  2. Bill permalink
    September 29, 2010 4:27 pm

    ‘body of work’

    Happy to spend 3 hours with you at Siano’s next week dissecting and re-assembling this into a Star Wars “behind the scenes” short film treatment.

    • sean tabb permalink*
      September 29, 2010 9:22 pm

      Count me in. I always thought Star Wars would be better naked. Especially Aunt Beru.

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