Sports

MIAMI DOLPHINS: GORILLA LUKE

Luke Quave loves football, gorillas and dolphins. Constantly battling the Miami heat, he consumes large quantities of electrolytes before game day so he doesn’t melt. So far he has only had three heat strokes. Created by Bud Light & VICE Digital...

by Bud Light and VICE Digital Services
Sep 27 2016, 8:15pm

CREATED BY BUD LIGHT AND VICE DIGITAL SERVICES

Luke Quave loves football, gorillas and dolphins. So he naturally merged the three into a superfan persona. Constantly battling the Miami heat, he consumes large quantities of electrolytes before game day so he doesn't melt. So far he has only had three heat strokes.

How did you fall in love with your team?

I have been a Dolphins fan since 1983. That's when I went to my first game and I've been going ever since. My first memory of the Dolphins is from when I was five years old. I was at the game and I remember the Dolphins defeated the undefeated team of 1985. The Dolphins gave that team their only loss of the season. That's the very first memory that I have of being at a game.

How, when, and why did you start dressing up, collecting, or becoming more than a regular ordinary fan?

I started out simply. I would just paint my face and wear the team jersey. Sometimes I'd wear a funny hat, just showing my pride a little bit. Then I noticed that all these other people were dressing up in these elaborate costumes. I thought - that's so cool! When I was a little kid this guy used to dress up by painting his face and wearing a big helmet. Everyone called him a superfan. I always wanted to be like him. I decided since I really love gorillas and dolphins as animals, I should merge the two into something that could become a superfan persona. I went to a Halloween costume store, saw the gorilla costume, and bought it. I can do anything I want in that gorilla suit. I can pay my taxes in the gorilla suit! I wore it to the game one weekend and it was a huge hit! I've built it up more and more every year. What's funny is the guy that I used to look up to as a little kid still goes to the game and he still dresses up. He and I are awesome friends now.

I can do anything I want in that gorilla suit. I can pay my taxes in the gorilla suit!

I chose the gorilla because I love them and they're dominant. They're basically human beings: gentle, graceful, real alphas. I'm a big animal person, I always have been. My mother used to be a dolphin trainer so I've always had an appreciation for dolphins from her.

What is your favorite NFL moment or team memory?

Anytime #13 threw the ball. There's not one memory that really stands out. I would say the most fun times were as a kid watching him quarterback our team. Also, in 2008 when we unleashed the Wildcats Offensive. That was an amazingly exciting season.

What distinguishes you from other fans of your team?

To be honest, I really don't think there's a point of difference. I truly believe that a fan is a fan. Yeah, they call us superfans. It's kind of a fun title to have for us, because we take that extra step to look over-the-top. It's just a way to express how much we love the team. Dressing up is a way to channel my emotion, my excitement, my way to root for the team, and I can use that to excite anybody else who wants to get really excited and unleash their gorilla. It's just another channel to get hyped and make it a more intense environment and enhance our team advantage.

How did you develop your costume / superfan persona?

As I said, the persona grew over time. Beyond being Gorilla Luke, I've got 13 Miami Dolphins tattoos on my body under the suit. Die-hard to the bone. Even my knuckles.

What is your favorite keepsake or piece of memorabilia?

I've got some things that I collect. I'm in the process of doing my actual Tree House. I call it the Tree House. I have all kinds of memorabilia that I've collected since I was a little kid. Anything that they would give out for free at the games I would take it and keep it. I'm not an autograph guy I don't care too much for them. I'd rather take a picture with the person. That lasts; that's more personal than somebody just scribbling something when they really just want you to get out of their face.

To be honest my favorite thing right now is my old seat back from the stadium. They gave it to season-ticket holders who had been season ticket holders for many years. We got to get our seat if we wanted it. It's in my room up at my wall.

When did you start collecting / building your fan cave?

I have been collecting since I was a kid.

What is your game day ritual? How do you prefer to watch the game?

I go to every single game, home and away. My preferred way to watch is from the stands. When I'm at home, I'm first row, in the back of the end zone. I watch with a group called the Deep Ends. We are all hard-core fans who always dress up. For away games, I usually try to get tickets in one of the first couple of rows back in the end zone. I'm an end-zone-guy. I like to watch the game from there.

As to physical preparations to be Gorilla Luke at all the games, well, it's 110° out there in the suit. The night before a game I have to drink these electrolytes for kids and water, tons of water. I drink that all night into the next morning. I'm in the gorilla suit at 7:30 a.m. and I don't get out of it until 5:30 or 6 p.m. that night. I've been doing it since 2010. I've had three heat strokes that were so severe that the medics had to come give me an IV out on the field, because I was close to passing out. I used to wear a one-piece gorilla suit. And then I modified my outfit. I've had no heat stroke incidents at all since 2013.

Game mornings I have one real ritual thing that I do. I brush my teeth with this certain toothbrush that I always use only on game day. I always brush my teeth in a certain way. Then, sometimes I've had to switch-it-up and brush my teeth the other way when we're on a losing streak. That's my only real superstition around the game.

How does it feel to be known by your friends and peers as a die-hard fan?

It's cool. I spend hours every game taking pictures with people I don't even know. The most fun thing is having people come up to me and say things like, "Oh it's my first game. I have only seen you on TV." It's so cool! But then, in some aspects, I'm very humbled by it, because I'm really no different than anyone else. I'm a fan. What I'm really effected by are the kids who've had cancer and sickness. I've had a couple of instances with that and that's where it really touches me to be a superfan for their sake.

What is the best thing about your team?

The Dolphins have always been there for me since I was a little kid. No matter what I was going through, I always had football on Sunday. They've always been there for me no matter how crappy my week, my day; they are there for me every Sunday during the football season. Win or lose they are there and I can escape my reality for four hours.

All images by Stephanie Mei-Ling.

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