An Introduction To Dwarf Tossing
Dwarf tossing is a bar sport where a little person puts on a harness and a bigger, Greco-Roman wrestler type guy grabs said harness and throws the little guy as far as he can. It's usually a competition, much like the shot put, in which the goal is to throw the object (in this case a person) farther than anyone else.
I recently discovered that a friend of a friend, Jared Hess (not the same guy who directed Napoleon Dynamite), was making a documentary on the subject. After a few brief email exchanges I found out that dwarf tossing was criminalized in 1989, and the documentary chronicles the adventures of a dwarf named Dave who claims the law violates his first amendment rights and is determined to legalize tossing in spite of the LPA (Little People of America).
I recently called Jared to talk about chucking little people in bars.
Vice: What exactly is dwarf tossing?
Jared: It’s an event usually held at a pub or a bar. You have a little person who wears a harness and a helmet and, for a charge, someone gets to grab them and see how far they can toss them.
I see. How did dwarf tossing come about? Also, how could it ever have been legal?
Well, it's rumored to have started in Australia, but that isn’t really true. Originally, there was an individual named G. Michael Harris who was the partial owner of a club over in south Florida. He had a local who came in there all the time—a little person. They were looking for a gimmick to bring more people to the bar, so they claimed that they had an Australian dwarf and were going to do Australian dwarf tossing. His name was "Midge," which I thought was funny. Apparently he was an ex-circus dwarf, so he knew how to tumble and everything.
The catalyst for making it illegal was the death of Midge. He was an alcoholic and hit his head at one of the dwarf tossing events and ended up bleeding to death. So the LPA, the Little People of America, took that and said "Listen. Look how dangerous dwarf tossing is. It’s inhumane." Then they teamed up with Jeb Bush and made it illegal.
What’s the focal point of the documentary?
Basically, I’m following this guy, Dave Flood. It’s his story, and he’s trying to regain his fame in Tampa. He was a sort of local celebrity at one point, but he got into drugs and alcohol and now he’s kind of washed up. He’s like the Mickey Rourke of little people. He’s trying to use dwarf tossing to kind of get back into the full front of the media and regain his once celebrity status.
Is Dave an experienced dwarf tosser? Or tossee, I guess…
No, he hasn’t done the event yet. Actually he just put the harness on for the first time in a while to practice. We went out to Polk County, Florida, where his girlfriend’s relatives live, which is pretty much trailer park USA, and he did some practice tosses on a bouncy house.
That’s a hilarious image. In a way, this documentary kind of reminds me of The King of Kong. A semi to major failure who’s out to prove his self-worth again by accomplishing something that everyone else in the world would think is completely outlandish.
Yeah, it’s kind of like The King of Kong, meets The Wrestler, meets Rocky.
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