In this special edition of 10 Questions to mark the beginning of wrestling season, Sun columnist Katie Schubauer sits down with the team’s legendary mascot, Redman. They discuss everything from his adopted son, to his rift with the Big Red Bear and campaign to get in contact with The New York Times. The one thing they don’t discuss? His identity.
1. Who is Redman, and how did he come about?
Redman is the newest member of the Cornell wrestling family. He appeared last season as the team’s trend-setting, hip-hopping, super-chic, overly enthusiastic, incredibly limber mascot (not to toot my own horn … ). Since Redman has no face, we’re hoping that his legacy will continue to grow and last for many years to come. He could possibly become the face of Cornell wrestling. I don’t want to take anything away from the Cornell wrestlers, though. They will always be the true face of Cornell wrestling. We have some of the best wrestlers in the nation: [sophomore] Kyle Dake, [senior] Mack Lewnes — they are the ones who fill the stands. So, I guess Redman is more of a zany marketing ploy to build our fan base and attract more of student body.
What are Redman’s origins?
It’s one of your classic stories. I was bitten by a radioactive spider in the Bio-Chem lab and was also raised by a family of bears. Being raised by bears probably explains my insane loyalty to the Big Red, considering their mascot is a bear and all.
Will Redman’s identity always remain a secret?
Yes. For anyone out there who knows who Redman is … zip your lips.
What is your relationship with the wrestling coaches like? Do they approve of your existence?
Remember when I said I was raised by a family of bears? I was actually mauled by a family of bears and head coach Rob Koll saved me. So yeah. I guess you could say they approve. I’m like a son to him. Well actually, I’m more like a red-bodied step-child to him.
2. Cornell Wrestling has been getting a lot of attention from some pretty major publications such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and of course, The Cornell Daily Sun. Is this your first feature?
Yeah, but hopefully it’s not the last. We’re trying to get in touch with The New York Times again to see if we can do a Redman exclusive.
Have you been successful?
Not yet, but we’re going to stay persistent. I’m sure they’ll come around. And if not, I’m sure some other major publisher will take us up on the offer. We may have to start looking into a reality show. Maybe E!, and squeeze Redman in between the Kardashians and Kendra. If not I’m sure we could follow the T. Ocho show on Spike TV.
That being said, you have been receiving a lot of attention due to your sudden rise in fame. How do you deal with it?
Well I try to take it one day at a time, I guess. It can be a struggle to say modest. But I’m trying to not let it go to my head. I hear I’m an ascending B-minus.
Well, you were on ESPN last March at the NCAAs. How has your life changed since your national television debut?
Well, I guess this goes for anyone who starts to knock on the door of superstardom (I mean I’m actually already inside kickin’ back with my feet up, making myself at home), but I deal with the same stuff every celebrity deals with: copycats, truck loads of fan mail, being chased down by mobs of screaming girls. Sometimes I feel like Justin Beiber. I would have to say that the copycats are the worst, though. Other mascots are always claiming they came along first, that they are a better color than me, that they are better dancers than me. And, well, let’s be honest: that’s just silly.
3. Speaking of your dancing, you have also become a YouTube sensation this past semester, which obviously has to do with your moves. What is your proudest moment on camera?
There have been a lot of fun moments. I don’t know how proud I am of most of them. But the YouTube experience has been fun. We’ve been trying to create YouTube commercial videos every week. It’s another great way to reach out to the fans. So far, I think the most popular one has been the one of me dancing around campus, which was by far the most fun to shoot. We got some good reactions from the Cornell student body.
How would you describe your unorthodox dance style?
In one word, I would say “awesome.” In two words, I would say “awesomely entertaining.” I honestly just let loose, and say “who cares if you look like an idiot,” then lay it all on the line for the fans. In the words of Ke$ha, “I’m dancin’ like I’m dumb, my body’s goin’ numb.” But most importantly, I like everyone else to have fun. It’s all about getting the crowd into it, entertaining people, trying not to be too silly, but still not being any bit serious at all.
4. As Redman Cornell, who are some of your biggest influences?
Let’s see. Ke$ha — she’s probably my No. 1 influence, even though I probably look better in a bikini than she does. And let’s be real, we all know I rock a white singlet better than she does any day of the week. Others include Lady Gaga, Beyoncé (love that Beyoncé), Flo Rida (not to be mistaken with the state Florida), Justin Kerber, DJ Meagher, Mike Grey — all the Cornell wrestlers. They try to be No. 1 at what they do, and they really put in a lot of hard work to be the best, so I get a lot of motivation from them. And Michael Jackson. Young Michael Jackson — not too young, though. Specifically, Michael Jackson in Thriller.
5. Your Facebook says you majored in “Mascotting” at Cornell. Do you feel you have an advantage over other mascots having done your training at an Ivy League institution?
Oh my Ivy League training has played a key role in my success. Any Ivy League student can speak to the strenuous curriculum, the busy schedules, and the all-nighters. But all that has contributed to my current stardom.
What advice can you give young mascots in training that strive to be like Redman?
I don’t want young mascots to concentrate too hard on trying to be like me. I want them to go out there and do their own thing. That’s what I always did. Go out there, be yourself, have fun. If you get into it, the crowd will follow.
There has been talk of a young Redman following in your footsteps. Any comment on that rumor?
Oh yeah. Redman Jr. (or RJ) is my protégée. He’s great. He’s added a whole new level to the Redman sensation.
Did you scout him out, or did he come to you?
It was a cool fall morning, the dew stood on the grass like little tear drops mourning the passing of the summer months. I was at the Cayuga lakefront that Saturday watching the sun rise over the distant hills, as I did every weekend. However, this morning was to be different from all those before it because as I sat there in the sand, I noticed a small wicker basket wash ashore. I was curious to its contents and cautiously approached it. I was taken aback as I heard the crying of an infant coming forth from the basket and inside was a Redman Jr. I took him home and raised him to be my mascot son.
Being so famous at such a young age can often prove to be very trying and difficult. How is RJ coping with all the attention?
He was a little shy at first, but he’s really come out of his shell. There have been times when I have had to take a break or go get props, but the show must go on. I look back and RJ is out there tearing up the dance floor. Who would have thought? From the wicker basket to this.
6. Do you have any specific rivals, Redman?
Not yet. I don’t think anyone’s up to the challenge. As soon as somebody gets the courage, I’ll be ready to take them on.
What type of relationship do you have with Cornell University’s mascot, the Big Red Bear?
Remember the whole bear mauling that Coach Koll saved me from? I think me and the Big Red Bear have some issues to sort out … on the mat. So Big Red Bear, if you’re reading this, consider this an official challenge. We should most definitely be able to work something out for halftime at the next home match.
Looking at your costume, I can’t help but notice a certain similarity between your appearance and that of the famous Blue Man Group. What are your comments on that?
Well if you wanted to see how deep my colors truly run, there’s a simple test. If you are going to compare me to the Blue Men, their costume just washes away. If you were to just sit there and hose them down they would just turn into normal people. Look at me. You can’t just wash this away. I’m here to stay.
7. Now that Cornell wrestling is ranked No. 1 in the nation, do you think you’ll be able to step up your entertainment to be the No. 1-ranked mascot?
I’ve got to draw from the motivation of the guys around me. If they’re putting in all this hard work to be No. 1, I’ve got to do the same. It’s just all the more motivating for me. I mean, let’s think of my competition as a mascot. As far as wrestling goes, who could even name another mascot?
I certainly couldn’t.
Exactly. So I think I already take the cake on that. I guess we’re going to have to start looking for competition elsewhere — football maybe. There are some pretty big football mascots. I think it’s only a matter of time, though, before Redman takes over.
What can we expect from Redman this season that we haven’t seen before?
I would say this year the big thing has been the videos. We’ve made some changes here in the offseason and that’s something I’ve picked up from the guys. You get a lot better during the season and we bank on that, but if you really want to make those big gains you have to put in your time in the offseason. So we’ve made some investments, both time and money-wise. We upgraded our cable plan so we have more access to some of these inspiring music videos. And I don’t know if you’ve ever seen Lady Gaga music videos before, but she only has about five, so 12 hours of Lady Gaga music videos is a lot of the same thing. It can be tedious, but if I pick up one dance move from those 12 hours, it’s so worth it come game time.
8. What will it take to be the NCAA champions again this March?
We have all the talent, it’s a very hard-working team and it’s a great team dynamic. The team is currently ranked No. 1 overall, and when March comes around, the guys tend to perform. As long as the guys stay healthy, we should come out on top.
Do you think the No. 1 ranking is adding more pressure on the team?
At this point, all the guys have been at the top in their respective levels and most of them were top wrestlers in high school, so they are used to being in those high-pressure situations. They’ve already learned to cope with it. Now, it’s just more competition. Yeah, it’s a bigger deal, but they’ll all deal with it fine. A lot of the upperclassmen are starters. We have some underclassmen starting, but we’ve got a pretty experienced team. So I think they can handle it.
How have you specifically been helping the team prepare for their upcoming matches?
Just trying to keep them sharp. Helping out any way I can, on and off the mat. I mean, they already do such a great job preparing themselves. When I come into the picture is game time. A lot of our guys are gamers already, but when I can get the entire crowd behind it, it’s really something. When you’re out there on the mat and you hear the entire crowd cheering for you, you get that rush of adrenaline. So when it comes down to those key moments and I start the “Let’s go, Frankie” chant, that’s where we’re going to see those extra two points come in. I’m not as much into the preparation thing because I know the coaches have that covered; I’m more of a game time guy.
9. How is Redman’s love life going?
You know, I didn’t realize it when I first got into the business, but this whole mascot thing takes up a ton of time. It’s one of those classic cases of being devoted to work and not having a whole lot of time to get out there, but I will say this: yes, I am seeing someone, but we won’t get into details on that right now. I’m sure she’ll be making an appearance here and there sometime in the near future. And you know … I think she’s pretty without any makeup on. It’s like a teenage dream. She makes me feel like the only boy in the world. Her love is my drug … [laughing], I think you get the picture.
How does she cope with your demanding work schedule?
Well, she’s pretty busy herself. She’s new to the whole mascotting thing.
She’s a mascot as well?
Yeah, so she may be a little overwhelmed right now. But it’s good for her because since I’m so busy and I’ve been in the game for a while now, I’m helping her cope. It’s working out.
Can you describe a perfect date?
We’d probably go to Red Lobster.
10. What are your predictions for tonight’s match against No. 6 Central Michigan?
Pain. I think it’s going to be better than Avatar in 3D!
Rumor has it the match was sold out on Wednesday. Is that true?
Whether it’s sold out or not, there’s always room for some more. The back door opens nicely.
Thank you, Redman, for your continuing support of Cornell wrestling. How can readers follow you in the future?
That’s easy. They can just add me on Facebook. I’m under Redman Cornell. I leave weekly updates about the wrestling team and what Redman is up to, and I will also have Redman’s weekly videos posted. This is a huge match for us tonight. Come see the show. And for those new wrestling fans that I’m sure I’ve recruited through this article, don’t show up tonight expecting the WWF. Those guys are a bunch of freak sideshow clowns. Stay classy, Cornell.