Where Have You Gone, Badaboum?
by Michael Dell, editor-in-chief
Do you feel it? There's almost a palpable sense of longing in the air these days around NHL arenas. Something is definitely wrong. The league is just not the same as it once was. While some scratch their heads in wonderment while contemplating the source of the discontent, LCS has the answer.
To us, the missing ingredient is quite obvious. And it has been missing since the end of the 1994-95 season. It's the one personality that used to energize fans from around the globe with wacky high jinks and kooky dancing, while all the while staying true to the tradition and spirit of the game. We are of course talking about Badaboum, the former mascot of the Quebec Nordiques.
Badaboum, our hero
He may have appeared to be a big blue furry freak to many, but to us he was a hero, a role model, a way of life. Badaboum embodied everything that was good about the NHL, without ever getting bogged down in the hypocrisy that often characterizes the league.
He was fun, exciting, and good-natured, everything a mascot should be. Whether it was dancing to the latest tunes or just goofing around with the kids, Badaboum always entertained. He was the personification of team spirit. Yes, he was the perfect mascot. Sadly, those glorious days are now just a memory.
When the Nordiques moved south following the 1994-95 season to become the Colorado Avalanche, Badaboum was left behind. While the team he so dutifully supported during the many lean years in Quebec was busy winning a championship, Badaboum wasn't there to sip from the Cup or place a ring on his finger. In fact, no one seems to know where Badaboum was. Or is, for that matter.
Almost faster than his rise to prominence in the field of mascots, Badaboum has seemingly disappeared from the pubic's consciousness. With the people of Quebec City still mourning the loss of their franchise and the citizens of Colorado busy celebrating their champions, Badaboum's plight has gone unnoticed. Where is he? What has he been doing? Is he in need of help? The questions come easily, yet the answers are hard to find.
Well, LCS is here to get to the bottom of the mystery. We have officially undertaken the "Search for Badaboum". LCS will not rest until he is found. Then it is our intention to make Badaboum the official mascot of LCS, that is if he's kind enough to have us.
We started our search by digging into Badaboum's past in order to try and find some clues to his current whereabouts. Unfortunately, there just aren't a lot of resources available on the subject. With the normal outlets exhausted, we turned to our pimp informants. As usual, they did the job. Of course, this following time line of events is built entirely upon pimp informant tips. So if some of the dates turn out to be wrong, blame the pimps, not us. I repeat, blame the pimps, not us.
As near as we can tell, Badaboum was born in Quebec City around 1960. There wasn't a lot of information available about his parents, but we're assuming they were circus people for the obvious reasons. It's not certain when exactly he chose to become a mascot, however, when one looks like Badaboum, the choices in life are rather limited.
While Quebec was always in his heart, there is plenty of evidence that shows Badaboum did live in the United States for several years. Most notably, his graduating from the Certified Mascots University (CMU) located in Fernwood, Ohio. After honing his craft in the specialized institute, Badaboum was quickly signed up by the Quebec Nordiques to become the club's official mascot in the fall of 1983.
His impact on the team, and the very league itself, was both immediate and profound. Badaboum elevated the entire mascot profession with his electric dance numbers and kooky shenanigans. With Badaboum quickly making Le Colisee the most exciting arena in the league, superstardom came knocking on his door. Offers to appear in commercials, television shows, and movies came rolling in by the truckloads. Despite the many lucrative offers, Badaboum refused to sell out, wanting instead to stay true to his art form.
In fact, few people, if any, knew Badaboum away from the rink. When he wasn't busy entertaining the crowds at Le Colisee, he was an intensely private mascot. He would normally spend off days held up in his downtown loft apartment, occasionally sneaking out after sunset to take a rare constitutional.
Traces of a personal life are scarce at best, although he was once romantically linked to Victoria Secret model Stephanie Seymour for a short time in the late 80s. The relationship didn't last long. Despite all her undeniable charms, Ms. Seymour could not compete with Badaboum's one true love... entertaining crowds.
In order to try and get to know Badaboum a little better, LCS attempted to track down some important people from his past. While most leads only brought dead ends lined with aggravation, we were able to contact Professor Charles Robinson, the headmaster of CMU.
"I still remember the day he arrived at the steps of the University, a naive innocent from Quebec City," remembered Professor Robinson. "It's hard to believe that youngster would one day become the greatest mascot in the world."
Badaboum's adjustment to college life in Ohio was a smooth one. It wasn't long before he was a big man on campus.
"He was well-liked by every one and an excellent student," proclaimed Robinson. "He graduated at the top of his class with honors. I think few in attendance will ever forget his valedictorian address. There wasn't a dry eye in the house... it was just that funny"
Badaboum attended CMU from 1978-1982, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in General Tomfoolery. While at school, Badaboum harnessed the skills that would one day make him a legend in the field.
"He was a rather quiet kid, kept to himself a lot," remembers Robinson. "Yet put him in front of an audience and he'd illuminate even the darkest of rooms with his personality and showmanship. He was just a natural performer."
One day in particular stands out in Robinson's mind. It was the day that he knew his prized pupil was on the threshold of greatness.
It was March 23, 1977. Badaboum was representing CMU in the finals of the North American Mascot Challenge. On this occasion the competition, which is held annually to recognize and honor up-and-coming mascots, was being held in the gymnasium of CMU's local arch-rival, Mascot Tech. The room was packed to the rafters with rowdy Tech fans screaming for the hometown favorite, Bippy the Snow Elf. But that didn't bother Badaboum.
"I can still see Badaboum strutting out on stage with courage in his heart and defiance in his eyes," tells Robinson. "Most mascots would have been terrified to try and entertain such a mob, but not Badaboum. He wasn't intimidated by the crowd's harassment. In fact, I think he fed off it."
As soon as the first chords of Disco Inferno hit the air, Badaboum was a dancing blue blur of brilliance. He performed with such ease and grace that even the staunchest Mascot Tech supporter soon fell prey to Badaboum's greatness. In a matter of seconds, the entire auditorium was won over behind the strength of his creative genius. A new convert was made with each new hand jive or pelvic thrust the furry blue Astaire put forth. It was obvious to Robinson at the time that the crowd was witnessing something special.
"It was simply amazing. Even now it's hard to put into words. I remember one sequence where Badaboum did two cartwheels into a handstand and then three forward somersaults before hopping in the air and landing in a split. The real effective part tho' was when at the end he turned and sold it with a look. All this while wearing a dress and playing the trumpet... like I said, it was amazing."
By the end of Badaboum's spirited routine, the outcome of the competition was a foregone conclusion. With the once hostile crowd now chanting his name and urging him on with rhythmic applause, Badaboum displayed his professionalism by politely bowing to the masses and then quietly walking off stage.
The magnitude of the performance was not lost on the other finals participant, Bippy the Snow Elf. Once considered the favorite on his home turf, Bippy was reduced to a quivering sack of insecurity by the dazzling display he had just witnessed. His coaches and teammates tried to reassure him, but the words rang hollow. Everyone in attendance knew who the true champion was. Bippy never did take the stage that day. Sadly, the now fanatical pro-Badaboum crowd didn't even notice.
"Yeah, I really felt bad for Bippy the Snow Elf," admits Robinson. "Everyone was so excited by Badaboum's performance, that Bippy sort of got lost in the shuffle. Bippy never really was the same after that."
Truer words were never spoken. Just as fate brought the two together on that day in 1982, the same mystical force soon had the two mascots traveling in distinctly opposite directions. While Badaboum skyrocketed to superstardom with the Quebec Nordiques, a far different hand was dealt to Bippy.
After having his confidence shattered and his sole meaning for existence questioned, Bippy became reclusive and dropped out of Mascot Tech. With nowhere else to go, he turned to the one friend he had left. The bottle.
"I was a mess," confesses a now sober Bippy. "I just wandered around from town to town getting plastered and picking up loose women. Basically my life was a series of honkey tonks and one- nighters with no place to go when the bars closed."
While it may sound glamorous at first, the appeal of Bippy's self-indulgent lifestyle quickly faded. He poured a little bit of his soul into every glass. Each bottle emptied was another step down the path to self-destruction. While it didn't take long before he hit rock bottom, it took many years before he realized it.
"I was so drunk that I don't remember how I got there, but I do remember waking up one morning laying face down in the gutter. I always thought that was just an expression, but there I was in the gutter. So I guess it really does happen."
Having no desire to pull himself from the filth, Bippy continued to remain motionless in the watery grime of the city street waiting patiently for the icy cold grip of death to free him from his mortal hell. Thankfully, a different hand reached forth to offer help. This one was blue and furry.
"At first I thought I was hallucinating, I did that a lot back then. But there he was, Badaboum in all his glory. It had been almost ten years since the competition, but there he was standing over me reaching out his hand. I was too wasted to stand, so he picked me up and began carrying me down the street. He saved my life that night. Badaboum saved my life," recalled a tearful Bippy.
From that point on, Badaboum took Bippy under his wing and gave the lost mascot the guidance he so desperately needed. The two became inseparable as Badaboum slowly helped Bippy rebuild his fractured life.
"I'll never forget what he did for me. He nursed me back to health and got me to kick the bottle for good. I've been clean ever since. Without Badaboum doing what he did, I wouldn't be here today. He was just a wonderful... wonderful... well, whatever the hell he was, he was wonderful."
The reason that Badaboum was able to help Bippy was that he traveled a similar road earlier in life. It seems after one particularly strenuous performance during his early days as a mascot, Badaboum was turned on to pain killers by a colleague.
At first he just used them to get through the rough times, but soon he was popping them even on days when he didn't perform. Since he was always somewhat aloof, no one noticed the addiction taking root. After months of denial, Badaboum finally admitted he had a problem when he no longer felt the passion to go out and excite crowds with his wacky antics.
Once he recognized the problem, Badaboum conquered his addiction thanks to his strong will and the ability to throw himself into his performing. Even so, it was a painful battle that he had to fight by himself. In helping Bippy, he was trying to make sure at least one other mascot wouldn't have to go it alone.
"Whenever I came close to falling off the wagon, Badaboum was there to catch me. He was a tremendous example of what clean living could do for a mascot. After all, he was in a similar situation to myself not long before, and he made it back. And I knew if he could do it, then it was possible. Once I knew that, and with his constant support, staying sober was easy."
With Bippy's alcoholism put behind them, Badaboum then set his attention towards rebuilding Bippy's career as a mascot. It wasn't easy. Word had gotten around the mascot community of Bippy's battle with the bottle. Even though he was now clean, there wasn't exactly a line of employers throwing contracts Bippy's way. And when Badaboum was able to convince someone to give his apprentice an audition, things didn't always go as planned.
"Those first few job interviews were tough. Badaboum had helped me get my timing back and even wrote a few killer routines for me, but getting over the fear of taking the stage again was extremely difficult," admitted Bippy.
After several failed attempts, Badaboum finally got Bippy over his stage fright during an audition for the organizers of the Quebec City Winter Carnival.
"It was really kind of ironic that the one guy that made me feel so inferior and not worthy of being a mascot all those many years ago, was now urging me back on to the stage. He just kept telling me that I was a great mascot and that I could do it. I didn't believe him at first, but then I realized, hey, this is Badaboum talkin'... he's the greatest mascot in the world... he can recognize talent when he sees it."
His spirits lifted by Badaboum's words of encouragement, Bippy did indeed retake the stage. Drawing from the strength of his friend waiting in the wings, Bippy impressed the organizers of the Winter Carnival so much, that they signed him to a contract on the spot. The long journey back was complete. Bippy was once again a true mascot.
"I was so excited to be a mascot again, you wouldn't believe it. It was such a great feeling. Yet it couldn't compare to the feeling I got when Badaboum put his arm around me afterwards and said how proud he was of me. That was special... that was something special..."
How proud was Badaboum? Well, a few nights later he brought Bippy out to center ice at a Nordiques home game to take part in a ceremonial faceoff. The occasion? To commemorate Bippy's return.
"That's when I knew I was back for real. That night was so special to me. There I was at center ice at an NHL hockey game with all the fans at Le Colisee cheering for me and welcoming me to the city. It was a dream come true."
Badaboum proudly watches Bippy's return
Soon Bippy's gig with the Winter Carnival led to bigger and better things. This combined with Badaboum's duties as the Nordiques mascot meant that the two friends began to see less and less of each other. Although his mentor wasn't always around in person, Bippy always carried Badaboum's spirit with him wherever he went and stayed true to the clean-living example his blue buddy offered.
It appeared both mascots were at the top of the hill when disaster struck in the summer of 1995. The Quebec Nordiques were sold to the Comsat Corporation and the franchise was being moved to Denver, Colorado. Bippy received a desperate phone call.
"I was living in Malibu at the time, doing some work on Baywatch when I got the call. I'll never forget the fear in his voice when he spoke. He was so scared. He knew the club wasn't going to take him with 'em. He was just so scared. I was due on the set and told him to just sit tight and I'd call him later that night, but I never did get a hold of him again. That was the last time I talked to him. Now I'm the one that's scared."
It's been nearly 18 months and still no word from Badaboum. Bippy fears that the sudden shock of the Nordiques leaving Quebec may have sent his friend back down the path to drug abuse.
"The move had to be just devastating for Badaboum. He lived and breathed Nordiques hockey. He bled baby blue. Being tossed aside like that had to be terrible for him. I just hope he's alive and okay. Not a day goes by that I don't think about him... and miss him."
Considering Badaboum's troubled past and the concerns of Bippy, LCS thought it might be a good idea to talk to an expert on such matters. So we contacted Greensburg, Pennsylvania's own Dr. Martin Abernathy, who is a practicing Psychologist specializing in depression. Dr. Abernathy helped the staff of LCS through a very troubling time in our lives, when the Starsky and Hutch reruns were taken off the air, and we were hoping he could shed some light on Badaboum's current state of mind.
"It's not uncommon for people to fall into a deep depression upon losing employment," explained Dr. Abernathy. "I'm not familiar with the workings of a mascot's brain, having never treated one myself, but I would imagine it would be quite similar to that of a human's."
"The key is to empathize with Badaboum and his situation. One has to actually go inside his skin, or fur as the case may be, and feel what he must have felt. There he was performing his heart out in order to try and cheer up the Quebec crowds and urge on his team, and he gets rewarded with the loss of his job. But it just wasn't a job to Badaboum, it was his life. And to make matters worse, there was absolutely no chance of him ever getting it back. The Colorado Avalanche will never return to Quebec and be the Nordiques. Those days are gone forever. There's nothing Badaboum could do to set things straight. Not only did he lose a job, he lost his whole world."
When told of Badaboum's past addiction to pain killers, Dr. Abernathy's outlook on the situation became even more bleak.
"Unfortunately, it is very common for past drug abusers to return to the safety of their addiction when faced with times of adversity. The fact that he has been missing so long, and has been known to succumb to such dangers before, is very disturbing."
LCS feels it's our duty to try and find Badaboum before it's too late. Perhaps we're overreacting. Maybe he just got a gig pumping gas at a petrol station in some Quebec suburb. Then again, he could be huddled up in the corner of an abandoned warehouse with a glossy look in his eyes and a needle sticking out his arm.
LCS will not rest until Badaboum is found. We are begging you, our valued readers, to please help in our quest. If you have a tip on the current whereabouts of Badaboum, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Even if you don't have a tip on where we might find Badaboum, please feel free to write with your fond memories of the gentle blue giant. Next issue, we hope to compile a list of memorable Badaboum moments so that it may help comfort his many fans in this time of need.
It's LCS' dream to once again see Badaboum strutting his stuff to the delight of a frenzied arena crowd. If we all pull together and do our part, LCS knows its dream will become a reality.
Stay true, Badaboum... wherever you are.
LCS: guide to hockey © copyright 1996 all rights reserved