Drip Dudes Aim to Save the Planet

Move over, Ninja Turtles. Wet Willy, Frosty Freddy and Drippy Dan have landed on Earth and are here to teach children about cleaning up the environment and saving the planet.

The life-size characters are part of the "Drip Dudes," who look like big drops of water, wear neon clothing, colored sunglasses, are very hip and entertain through singing and dancing.

The Drip Dudes will be the halftime act at the Rams and Atlanta Falcons game Sunday at Anaheim Stadium.

The Dudes, who are played by teen-agers, will be joined by the Recycled Kids, a troupe of 35 children who will also dance and sing in the six-minute show.

"Their mission is to educate kids on saving the environment because they feel that the kids have the most to lose," said Ben Mittleman, who produces the live appearances of The Drip Dudes.

"The real key to the characters is their music," said Mittleman, who's president of Los Angeles-based Action for Kids, which produces live children's shows on drug abuse, racial prejudice and other social issues, using "action without violence."

Mittleman said humorous characters such as the Drip Dudes are effective in educating children.

"We feel kids look up to characters as role models and they should deliver substantial messages to the kids," he said. "We think that saving the environment is the most important message we can get across."

The Drip Dudes, which also includes Josie Jose, Leaky Lee and Sweaty Sam, were created a couple of years ago by Gerald Henderson, 37, of Huntington Beach.

His partners in the venture also include co-creator Ken Sweat and Joe Kaufenberg, owner of Kaufenberg Enterprises Inc., a T-shirt manufacturer in Huntington Beach.

"We were just sitting around like everyone does with an idea and discussing what it would be like if someone from another planet came here and what they'd think of the things we do to ourselves and how we handled our environment," Henderson said.

Originally, or so the story goes, the Drip Dudes were balls of energy that had lived on a planet that was destroyed by pollution, toxic waste and ignorance about ecology.

Before the planet died, the Dudes were blown by solar winds through the Earth's ozone layer, crashed into a lake and turned into these big drips of water.

The characters have ethnic identities--such as a Latino Dude and an African-American Dude--to demonstrate that no matter where someone is from "people are the same," Henderson said. There's also the surfer Dude, Wet Willy, who coined the phrase "Dripacious!" which means great, terrific or awesome.

Henderson said a cast of female characters, the "Dripettes," are in the works. "We're trying to establish Earth's first outer-space family."

The characters first appeared on T-shirts, but now their likenesses are on water bottles, dolls, watches and other merchandise.

Henderson said the Dudes sing original songs, including rap, country-western and surf music of the '60s; an album is expected soon. Next year, they will tour major shopping malls, visit elementary schools nationwide, theme parks and make appearances at special events, including Anaheim's Earth Day in March.

Henderson hopes it all turns into national recognition--perhaps even mega-success such as the Ninja Turtles.

"But most important, it's that (we're) doing something that will benefit kids," he said, and that "when you hear their name, it's associated with saving the environment and that the kids really understand the message."

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