August 17, 2006

Snakes on a Fan

Jim "iBgerd" Dozier pledges permanent allegience to a film he hasn't yet seen.

Keith Huang

On July 22, Jim Dozier tattooed his left arm with a monstrous, four-color logo for the film Snakes on a Plane. For the uninitiated, Snakes on a Plane (SoaP), which stars Samuel L. Jackson, is the relentlessly hyped, action-thriller movie about hundreds of snakes smuggled onto a jet by a crimelord in an effort to kill an eyewitness who is prepared to testify against him.

Jim Dozier
Jim Dozier, in the running for Snakes' No. 1 Fan.
Because of Jackson's presence and its ridiculous title, the movie became an online sensation well before previews aired. Fans made T-shirts and mock trailers, and even suggested badass lines for Jackson's character to say in the film. (The moviemakers enjoyed the hype so much that they inserted some of the suggestions, including, "I've had it with these motherfucking snakes on this motherfucking plane!")

But Dozier, the 39-year-old Topeka, Kansas, resident who permanently inked the movie's logo onto his arm before even seeing Snakes—he has tickets to a 10 p.m. advance screening Thursday—has taken fandom the farthest. And that was before he learned about New Line Cinema's official "#1 Fan King Cobra Sweepstakes," which would be determined by daily votes.

When he found out, Dozier wanted to capitalize on his tat by going for the grand prize. (His handle in the contest is "iBgerd.") To do so, he turned to, a user-generated clearinghouse for interesting web links. Dozier has belonged to the site's forum for more than three years. "When I first saw the picture of the tattoo, I assumed it was just something he'd had drawn on to show his support for the movie," says Adam Brown, who runs Fazed. "It wasn't until [a Fazed admin] asked if she could post a link to the contest on the front page that I realized it was real. Once she made a post on the site, things immediately blew up, and the site's community got in line to support one of their own."

Though Dozier trails Max of the spoof site in the official standings, he is making the most of his online celebrity. In addition to raising $175 to cover the cost of the tattoo, Dozier has received attention from numerous media outlets (including, obviously, this one). In early August, Dozier was contacted by producers of the DVD for SoaP. They plan to feature a photo of his tattoo in the special features.

Gelf Magazine recently spoke to Dozier from his home about Snakes, Rocky Horror Picture Show, and the art of taking crap from strangers.

The Tattoo
"Get those motherfucking snakes on my motherfucking arm!"
Gelf Magazine: So how often do you look at your tattoo? Jim Dozier: About three or four times an hour.

GM: Have you been showing it off?
Doz: I've been keeping my sleeves down for now, because I'm not supposed to get a lot of sunlight on it. Pretty soon, with the news and everything, I'm gonna have to start showing it off—but that'll be cool. [Dozier's tattoo was recently featured in a local news broadcast (YouTube)].

GM: Which do you view more, your tattoo or the SoaP #1 fan standings?
Doz: The standings (laughs).

GM: So the contest has pretty much been on your mind nonstop, then?
Doz: Yeah, I'm kind of a compulsive person when it comes to things like this, so I'm checking back all the time, and I'm also checking the message boards.

GM: Fazed gave you a really big push in the contest. What sort of numbers did you have before and after they got involved?
Doz: Before Fazed, I'd say I was in the hundreds—I had maybe 200 or so. But once I got put up on Fazed, everyone there got behind me and started voting like crazy and putting me on MySpace and stuff like that. They helped out tremendously.

GM: So you went from hundreds to thousands in how long?
Doz: In a week or so. The first week I went up to about 2,000, and it's just been growing from there.

GM: You're clearly an easy target for crap from a lot of people. How does that make you feel?
Doz: You can't take anything like that personal because if you do you'll get all depressed. It's just their opinion—if they want to be like that, let 'em be like that. I'm happy with what I did. I have no complaints or regrets. I'm secure in myself knowing that I did what I wanted to do and didn't hurt anybody else, so that's cool.

GM: I've noticed on the message boards that you catch a lot of shit for being so hairy...
Doz: I get teased by friends and family for being an orangutan or a sasquatch. To my friends' kids, I'm "Uncle Fuzzy." It doesn't really bother me. When complete strangers can't get past the fact that someone has a "fur coat from the Darwin collection" (thanks, Robin Williams), and that is all they want to make snarky comments about, then, yeah, it gets rather old. I stay covered up so I don't offend the fair sensibilities of the faint-hearted out there but, damn, I don't have the time or the money to make the razor makers rich!

GM: Do you have any other tattoos?
Doz: No, this is my first one. I had always thought about getting one. I'm a Rocky Horror Picture Show fan so I always thought about getting the lips tattooed on my arm, and now that I know that getting a tattoo doesn't hurt that bad, it'll probably be my next one. That, or a Tiki statue or something.

GM: That's interesting because Rocky Horror is one of the biggest cult-movie classics in history. It owes its very existence to its diehard fans (Wikipedia).
Doz: Yeah, in 1985 I went to New York for the 10th anniversary of Rocky Horror Picture Show, and I got interviewed about it on TV. I was really proud of that because I'm really into Rocky Horror. There were five of us from Kansas who went up there to see it and I guess it was weird for the TV people that we had traveled that far to see it. I remember them asking me how many times I'd seen it. I said 42.

GM: Do you think SoaP has the same potential to become a cult classic like Rocky Horror?
Doz: It has the potential. I mean, we're not expecting Citizen Kane or anything like that, but it's gonna be fun. I don't know if it'll reach—nothing has really reached the status of Rocky Horror—but it might come in a close second.

GM: Why do you like Rocky Horror so much?
Doz: I guess it's all the audience participation. That you do things you're not supposed to be doing in a movie like the yelling, the screaming. And the music is great. It's just a fun movie. And then there's the main theme of the movie which is in one of the lines: "Don't dream it, be it."

GM: So what initially drew you to SoaP?
Doz: I saw all the Internet hype about four or five months ago when people were really getting into it, and I was like, "No, that can't be real." But then I found out that it was real and I was like, "That is awesome." Then I heard that Samuel L. Jackson wasn't going to do the movie unless they kept the title. And then I was listening to a podcast called "Winging It" on and they were always talking about how "Snakes on a Plane" was like a new way to say things were cool, and they were going on about the movie on nearly every podcast they did—and they did about two a week. So that just got me even more into the movie.

Then one night, my friend's younger daughter said she thought Snakes on a Plane sounded stupid, and she didn't understand how anyone would be into something like that. So I just started yelling, "It's snakes on a plane! You have snakes. You have a plane. It doesn't get any more simpler than that! You know what to expect when you get into that movie."

So the next day I was driving down to Kansas City with my friend Bill and telling him that story, and he turns to me and says, "You should get [SoaP] tattooed on your arm." Well, I had been thinking about it a little beforehand, so when my best friend said he thought it'd be cool, I was like, "Yeah, okay, I'm gonna do it."

GM: Do you think you're too old to be so infatuated with movies?
Doz: I don't think I'm too old. We all have our fads as we go through life—remember Beanie Babies, Cabbage Patch Dolls (I NEVER got into either of those!)? It's just human nature. This was just something that struck a nerve in me and sounded like something fun. And I'm always looking for fun things to occupy my time with.

GM: If you could have a different 15 minutes of fame, what would it be?
Doz: I can't really think of anything. Maybe saving somebody's life? Maybe something a little more worthwhile—something not as crazy as this (laughs).

GM: What would you do if someone else got a SoaP tattoo?
Doz: Hey, more power to 'em—they'd be copying me. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

GM: You have to believe Sam Jackson has heard about you.
Doz: Yeah, that's cool. If I could get a phone call, that'd be really cool. He'd be like, "What did that stupid idiot do?"

GM: Or if he screamed and cussed you out…
Doz: That'd be awesome.

Doz watches the movie and tells Gelf what he thinks of it.

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Article by Keith Huang

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