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NEW ORLEANS – The mysterious man who is draped in black and gold beads– the woman with snakes in her hair and a stone-cold stare– the black and gold Phantom of the Opera — who are these Saints Super Fans?
You might glimpse them in the stands but they’re given their full glory in a new book by local photographer Ron Calamia.
Calamia’s “FAN-tastic Saints” features 50 Super Fans in full-color photographs, with brief descriptions about each, revealing the real people who transform themselves on game day.
Some of the alter egos, like “Mack the Quack,” “Da Pope,” and “Whistle Monsta” are familiar to Saints fans, but others in the book– “Dr. Who Dat” ? –are not.
Most people “have no idea there are so many,” Calamia writes in the book’s preface, and he says his goal is to share “their spirit with sports fans locally and globally.”
Calamia is a long-time commercial photographer who specializes in portraits. For the book, he photographed each Super Fan in front of a blank screen so that he could give each a distinctive background. Calamia says he sifted through “hundreds of stock photography backgrounds” until he found the ones that seemed to be “perfect.”
To make the portrait of “Dat Fireman,” Calamia used “multiple layers of stock photography flames, one on top of another,” creating the illusion that the Fireman is standing in an inferno.
For the portrait of “Black & Gold Phantom,” Calamia says he concentrated on “chandeliers and curtains.”
And for the portrait of the mysterious “Bead Man,” Calamia used a photo of a medieval arch and tinted it purple, “to complement his gold costume.”
Tammy Duvic did research for the book, Chris Henneman designed it, and writer Angela Cave added the Super Fans’ stories.
Cave writes that Saints pride is the motivation for most, but in a few cases the showmanship comes from sorrow.
Phillip Davis, the “Bead Man,” created his first costume in honor of a brother “who passed away on Super Bowl Sunday.” Davis looks like a ghostly knight in “fitted armor” that he made on a “special weaving loom” with more than 30 pounds of beads.
Under the mask of the “Black and Gold Phantom” is Minh Toan Pham, who combined his love for the Broadway “Phantom” with his devotion to the Saints. In fact, Pham has “six different versions” of the phantom face mask, and he wears a black cape with a “custom-crafted” fleur de lis.
And beneath a crown of gold snakes, Greer Griffin gives the stare that can turn opposing teams into stone. Griffin’s “Saintsdusa” is just one incarnation of her “Fleur de Gris” persona. Look for her in Champions Square “dancing and socializing in true Who Dat style before the game.”
Photographer Ron Calamia praises the Super Fans in his book for donating much of their time and talent to local charities, and he says a percentage of the proceeds from sales of the book will be donated to charity as well.
This Saturday, August 12th, the Jefferson Parish Performing Arts Center will host a book release party for “FAN-tastic Saints,” with Calamia and some of the Super Fans signing copies. Poster-size prints of the photos will be available for purchase also.
The book will be sold initially at “Who Dat Shoppe” in Slidell, and “Garden District Books” in New Orleans. The price is $35.
For more information, or to buy the book online, go to fantasticsaints.com.