As I often do, I was remeniscing recently about a bygone era (even if I was never there in the first place), and I submit that one of the most enjoyable jobs one could have had was being the dude who acted inside one of the rubber suits of Godzilla, Mothra, or any of their many colourful enemies in the Japanese films of the 1950s-1970s. What fun it must have been, climbing into these rubber suits, ambling your way about miniaturized sets of Tokyo’s street scape and Japan’s coastal islands, safe in the knowledge that your comical, blind stumbling would be made scary by overdubbed sound effects of serpentine slithering and screeching along with the fearful screams of the local paralyzed populace you were terrorizing. The only thing on your mind (other than “I can’t believe I’m getting paid for this!”) is the slight anxiety that one of the nearby FX explosions might spread to your rubber suit. And all in the name of reminding humanity of the hazards of nuclear war! (The whole subtext of the postwar Japanese franchise.) So not only was it fun, it brought the added satisfaction of contributing to social justice in the world.
And the wrestling!–we can’t forget that. As you-as-Godzilla took it to King Ghidora or Magalon, in hand-to-hand (or non prehensile lizard appendage-to-insect claw) combat, spicy fire breath being expelled all about, it must have been difficult to keep your claws from bouncing off the rubber suit of the other guy as you took a swipe, especially when you were supposed to be drawing blood (which would be added later). Not to sound homo-erotic in a wierd science fiction giant radiation-spawned creature sense, but it must have topped the scales of surreal experiences playing sumo with some other dude in a glossy green get-up or fuzzy king kong outfit sweating under the heavy lights of a sound studio, whilst not tripping over the two inch-high train set at your ankles. You gotta love the movies!
You think this all sounds easy? Then tell me how one prepares for the role of the larvae-staged Mothra? Being rolled in a sheet of mummifying toilet paper before sliding into this rubber encased sleeping bag? And then slithering around on the floor–man, there must be some kind of human ingenuity in that. Aah, the lost knowledge brought on by CG technology…
And where does one’s career go from there? Once you’ve been Godzilla or Mothra, been on top of the world, man, it’s only down hill from there. Only scraps left, like playing the Hamburgler or some such in those Saturday morning McDonald’s TV ads, whose bloated costumes never held a candle to the shiny yet mottled landscape of those rubber suits of Godzilla et al. When these ads came on around the late 70s/early 80s, you’d be an old man while doing them, left only to nostalgically daydream about the heady days of yore, when costumed creatures were constumed creatures!