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We have had many interviews from contestants who appeared in the third and last international Takeshi's Castle special from 1988. Another to add to the list is Russ Price who was a sailor from the US. He talks about his experience of playing the games, keeping clean after getting muddied, and other off camera moments. A massive thank you to Joshua Murphy and Russ Price for the interview and photo. This interview is not to be used outside Takeshi Kingdom or Keshi Heads without permission.
Joshua: Why were you In Japan at the time?
Russ: I was a US sailor, stationed at a US Navy base in Japan near the Naval Air Station at Atsugi.
Joshua: How did you end up being a contestant on Takeshi's Castle?
Russ: My division officer (who also appeared on the show) was approached by TBS (the Japanese network that broadcast the show) and asked to solicit volunteers to play on the show. Nine of us and my ex-wife accepted.
Joshua: Had you seen the Show before you were on it?
Russ: I had not seen the show before I was asked to play on it. I watched an episode before we went to appear, but my Japanese wasn't very good at the time and I thought it was just people making fools of themselves.
Joshua: Do you remember when the episode was filmed?
Russ: About the closest I can remember for a time frame was some time in the year 1986. I had gotten married a few months before that, and my ex-wife appeared on the show with me.
Joshua: Did you speak Japanese or did you use the assistance of translators?
Russ: My Japanese at the time was not very good, but I knew some polite phrases and how to ask where the bathroom was. The people at TBS spoke pretty good English, at least enough to basically communicate what they wanted us to do and where we should go.
Joshua: You competed in the opening Game "The Wall to Freedom", What do you remember about that?
Russ: If I remember correctly, all of our group competed in the Wall challenge. We all made it through with no problem. We had to run a short distance to a series of doors, only a few of which would open to let you through to the subsequent parts of the challenge.
Joshua: How was it that the contestants got so muddied after the first game but were clean when they appeared later?
Russ: Those of us who got muddy at the Wall were allowed to use one of several open-air showers placed throughout the complex, which were basically fire hoses on a pole up in the air. There was also an open shower in the hospitality tent where we waited for the rest of our group to finish their competitions if they kept going. I used this shower to clean up after I fell off the surfboard, which was near the end of the evening.
Joshua: You played the "Beach Boys and Gals" surfing game, what do you remember about that?
Russ: The woman who rode the surfboard before I did was from Portugal (not one of our group). Her English was pretty good, and we chatted before the surfboard challenge. When I came out of the little hut and yelled "KAMPAI!", that was an inside joke because "Kampai" is like saying "Cheers" when you take a drink, and I pretty much knew I probably wasn't going to make it to the end. I did OK until I got to the platform. I fell to my hands and knees and knew that I wouldn't have enough time to stand up and walk over to the other side and jump back on the surfboard, so I just crawled to the other side, misjudged when the surfboard passed under me, and fell in the water.
Joshua: Were you hurt when you fell off the surfboard?
Russ: I was not hurt when I fell off. The water was as warm as bathwater and was a lot less gross than it looked on TV. I did lose my dark prescription sunglasses though (they made me get out of the water immediately so I didn't have time to dive down and get them.) I could not have gone any farther without them even if I had successfully completed the surfboard challenge as my eyesight was very bad.
Joshua: Was anyone that you know of hurt?
Russ: My ex-wife pulled a calf muscle in the Wall challenge, but limped through to the end. That was the only injury in our group that I know of.
Joshua: Did you get to play any other games that weren't shown?
Russ: No. My only involvement was the Wall challenge and the surfboard. Members of our group ran the big vertical spinning drums and the rocks on the pond challenge.
Joshua: Did you get to meet/interact with any of the cast members and if so what do you remember about them?
Russ: Beat Takeshi was very personable and spoke enough pidgin English to communicate with us. I got his autograph but it and the rest of my autograph book were lost along with the rest of my household goods during the Loma Prieta earthquake in San Francisco in 1989. The Nordic-looking woman (Eliska Noselli) in the uniform was nice as well - her English was very good, and she told us several stories about production foul-ups on the show while we waited to play the various challenges.
Joshua: How long were you on the set of the show?
Russ: We got to the show at about 7 AM, the Wall challenge was at about 9 AM, and my surfboard fiasco was at around 7 PM. We all left about 9 PM.
Joshua: On a Scale of 1 to 10 How would you rate the experience
Russ: A definite 10. Our entire group had a blast, and we all received around the equivalent of about $40 appearance fee. They also fed us (sushi and sandwiches of course), and their entire staff did everything they could to make us comfortable.