You may recall this previous post where I shine a light on my Seattle Met cover shoot with Jermaine Kearse, star wide receiver of the NFL Champion Seattle Seahawks.
In addition to the cover, I had the distinct honor of shooting an extensive feature on the city's legion of diehard superfans as a visual guide on Seattle's unique brand of 12th Man culture.
Over a two-week period, I documented the odyssey of seven "12s" as they transformed themselves to the distinct and recognizable alter egos we've come to love.
If you're wondering about the meaning of 12th Man, it could loosely be interpreted as the mutual camaraderie shared by a group of football fans whose collective cheers and boos from the stands directly influence the outcome of a game. Of course it is way deeper than that, but our crowds are known for pushing the idea of the 12th Man to Richter scale tipping proportions.
As I learned from all of the superfans, 12th Man culture is a kind of magical place. Ruining an opposing team's snap count is seen as a higher calling for true 12's and on a completely different level from, say, the peewee league cheers that ask for a defense to push em way back.
In November 2012, when Brad "Cannonball" Carter put a knee on the fifty-yard line at CenturyLink Field and popped the question to his longtime partner, Laura Healy, better known as "Hawkychick," he was capitalizing on a certain electricity that seemed to be in the air.
They wed in 2013 and count the team's Cinderella season, and eventual Lombardi win over the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII, as the most immaculate wedding gift a couple could receive.
Over pizza and pints, they coached me on what to expect from their next door neighbors — the superfan-juggernaut couple, Jeff and DeDe Schumaier — more affectionately referred to as Mr. and Mrs. Seahawk.
The morning of my shoot, Jeff had already slipped into his Mr. Seahawk persona. He showed me around the home - decorated floor-to-ceiling with Seahawks memorabilia — all the while enjoying his signature cocktail, A Blue One, a 50/50 blend of Gatorade and Vodka.
They spoke candidly about their undying allegiance for the Seahawks, and how it was customary for them to start their transformation on Sunday mornings as early as 5 a.m.
In 1998, they wed on the 50 yard line of the Kingdome, and have been referred to as Mr. and Mrs. Seahawk ever since. Their Campbell's Chunky Soup commercial with standout cornerback, Richard Sherman, and his mother, Beverly, ranks as one of the most exciting opportunities to arise from their years spent supporting the team.
I had wanted to try an option of Jeff and DeDe perusing the wardrobe racks at Fred Meyer, but I didn't have much hope because it was a Sunday and locations like that tend to require liability insurance.
Grinning as he picked up the phone, he stated, "They love me down there."
Years of being a respected, wig-wearing member of your community means you're afforded certain luxuries that we commoners aren't often given. After a five minute chat, Jeff said, "their corporate lawyer is sending you an email, but I think we're good."
Better known as Seahulk, Tim Froemke, takes the idea of fan devotion to a completely different level. On gameday, he drives some 220 miles from Ritzville, Wash., to the home of his body artist outside Seattle.
So it was no wonder that after a week-long series of texts, he and I finally met in Mt. Vernon, some 60 miles north of Seattle.
In two hours, an already muscular Froemke transforms into the Seahulk, a persona Tim debuted at the 2005 NFC title game.
After a chat about our favorite records, I scheduled a date with Kiltman.
When I met Neil in Everett, he quickly jumped in my car to show me all the bars that were hawk-friendly since he had a long drive ahead of him back to his home in Bremerton, Washington.
A few darkly-lit bars declined our offer of repeatedly-flashing strobe lighting, so we took the show outside and let Neil do his thing.
I bid him adieu and prepped for my meeting with the most enigmatic superfan of the bunch, Mr. Mohawk.
After a couple of false starts, I met Phil Andruss at his girlfriend's home on Queen Anne Hill.
The only portrait subject ever to help get all my gear into a location, Phil waxed philosophic for a three hour period about the advantages of being gifted with good hair and height.
The only disadvantage seemed to be when his 6 foot, 5 inch frame contorts through doorways to accommodate the new, footlong spikes atop his head.
An absolute dream assignment, I'd like to thank James Ross Gardner, Matt Halverson and Jane Sherman of Seattle Met for the opportunity to show the culture of 12th Man through my lens.
For all the long days and nights, I extend my deepest gratitude to the crew of Gretchen Hilmers, Brian Jones, Nicolas Carle, Oliver Ludlow and Easton Richmond.
Stay tuned to the blog as I continue to highlight other 2014 projects for Esquire, Lucky Peach and Scientific American.