Santa Ana's Pope Avoids Just One Topic in a Lucrative Stand-In Role: Religion

Eugene E. Greytak, a Roman Catholic, has a holy presence about him. It's enough to make you go to church. Or confess your sins. All of them.

The kids on his block in Santa Ana call him Mister Pope and by God (pardon the expression), he looks just like him. So much, in fact, Greytak gets $100 an hour and more just to show up in his papal get-up and pretend he's Pope John Paul II.

"One thing I don't do is talk about religion," he said.

When the real Pope visits Los Angeles in September, Greytak, 61, hopes for a face-to-face meeting, "but if it happens I probably wouldn't know what to say. Every Catholic would like to meet the Pope."

He said he would like to (but probably wouldn't) poke his finger in the Pope's stomach and say "you have to lose 15 pounds because I can't gain it." Greytak weighs 175 pounds, 15 less than the Pope, and is an inch taller.

With the impending visit, Greytak expects to receive appearance offers, including commercial ads, "but it would have to be proper."

He has been with Elvis Presley and Marilyn Monroe imitators on a telethon and recently appeared on the Johnny Carson show as part of a skit giving the news. As the Pope, he gave the weather report.

"That was exciting," he said.

While working as a papal pretender at such affairs as ground breakings, church events and private parties, Greytak makes sure he doesn't offend the church, which has written him acknowledging his role but without approving or disapproving it.

Regardless, he said he donates all money he earns from his appearances to Catholic Charities.

When Bullock's was planning a party to show off a renovated store, an executive looked at the vast invitation list and said everyone was coming but the Pope. "The secretary said she knew one and they hired me," Greytak said.

On another occasion after an appearance and still wearing his white papal outfit, he stopped at a coffee shop and bought hamburgers. "This fellow came back three times and kept asking the waitress, 'Are you sure that's not the real Pope?' " he said.

Although Pope John has been in office for seven years, Greytak, a retired real estate broker now working for a legal consulting firm, has been the Pope's look-alike for just two years.

"People kept telling me I should do something with the fact that I look so much like him," he said, "so I finally decided to take some pictures and hire myself out."

His wife, Dorothy Greytak, likes his role but feels awkward at functions when he's dressed in white robe, sash and small cap.

"She feels she should dress as a nun," he said.

Caesar is just 12 years old, but it's retirement time for him from the Huntington Beach Police Department, a victim of arthritis that robbed him of the quickness and speed needed in his work.

The oldest working police dog in Orange County now will take life easier as a house pet of Officer Tom Lovin, who worked with him for three years.

The city sold the German shepherd to him for $1.

Vic Prior, 52, and Steve Guccione, 27, early this year created a business from their hobby, no doubt the dream of countless others.

"We've both been interested in model trains since our childhood," said Guccione, born and schooled in Brea, "so what better way to make a living." He also owns a poster distribution company.

The idea for the business, he said, developed after Prior, a design engineer in Brea, taught a model railroading class for the City of Brea that attracted nearly 30 people. After Prior and Guccione opened Discount Train Warehouse in Brea, he continued the eight-week class in the store.

He said early business signs are better than expected.

"Model railroading is a bigger hobby than most people think," said Guccione, who is host for weekly meetings of the Rusty Rails Train Club with Prior, "and model trains have been going strong since the 1930s."

Both have working model railroads set up in their homes; Prior's layout with sidings and multiple trains takes up his entire garage.

"It's fun," Guccione said.

Acknowledgments--Elgitz J. Baldonado, 12, of Cypress, daughter of immigrant Filipino parents, was named Miss California Pre-Teen Hostess and will compete in November for Miss America Co-Ed Pageant in Florida. A first-time pageant entrant, she is a student at St. Irenaeus Parochial School in Cypress.

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