Page 1



march - april 2004

Life may be short ... but I’m not.


cars & trucks that fit YOU!


raising classical music to new heights

TALL, DARK, & FUNNY Brad Sherwood, Colin Mochrie, and the Improv Allstars


Display through May 2004

$4.95 U.S. $5.95 Canada/Mexico $6.95 Elsewhere

Tall Big Your spine protects your spinal cord, that vital connection between your brain and the rest of your body. Many problems are directly related to your spine and should be treated gently and precisely by a professional.

Gonstead Chiropractic Dr. Torsten Stein, B.S. D.C. 2735 W. Union Hills Dr. Phoenix, AZ 85027 Tel: 602.973.1630 Ext.5 Dr. Stein is also available for presentations and speaking engagements.

spines can cause problems

7’2” Dr. Stein knows firsthand what it means to have problems with one’s back. Having played professional basketball for more than a decade, he experienced his share of back problems. He ended up having a hard time finding a doctor who could handle his size. But he can definitely handle yours! Weekend appointments are available for out-of-state patients. Call ahead!



Table of Contents March – April 2004 volume 1 : number 1


Tall Tales Room to Move 30

Finding a car that fits YOU

The longest legroom, the healthiest headroom, the easiest entry, and the best overall bang for your buck. We went looking. This is what we found. TALL staff


Laughter from On High The Improv Allstars

Comedians Brad Sherwood, Colin Mochrie, Sean Masterson, Jeff B. Davis, and Chip Esten talk about airplanes, sleeve lengths, codependent dogs, and life on the road. The whole thing is made up on the spot, of course. M. L. Zambrana


The Eroica Trio Raising the bar on classical music

5’11” Erika Nickrenz, 5’10” Adela Peña, and 5’7” Sara Sant’Ambrogio are three classically-trained, passionate, and elegant women. Talented artists on their own, the three make truly beautiful music together. Everard Strong

Short Stories 18 2004 Olympics Countdown 6’8” Olympic volleyball hopeful Jeff Nygaard.

TALL staff

20 24


The Man Who Would Be Jaws Behind Richard Kiel’s famous metallic mouthpiece. C. Kirk

A Giant Roamed the Earth Celebrating the life of Robert Wadlow.

Kathy Witt


Regular Content Small Talk 4

The View Up Here




TALL online


It’s a Tall, Tall World


Tall Things Considered

Welcome to TALL magazine. We hope you enjoy your stay.


Words from our readers. See what’s new at News, views, and previews. The perfect office chair, Yoga in a Box, LugAssist, more.


Top Culture


Tall Teen Talk


Watch Your Back


Health & Nutrition


Exercise & Fitness


Heights of Fashion


The World’s Tallest ...


Size Matters

Here, there, and everywhere. My friends all wear cool clothes, why can’t I? I am 5'11", 33 years old, and six-months pregnant. Help! Yerba what? The weight room: It’s a whole new routine for tall folks. Peeks at new fashion for him, her, and teens. Our own Betty Johnson dishes out advice too. The Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. The giants are stirring.




6 feet, 9 inches above ground.


The View Up Here Publisher/Editor Everard G. Strong

y today’s fashion standards, over 23 million men and women in the United States alone—over 8 percent of the population—are labeled as “tall” (men 6’2” and taller, women 5’9” and taller). Standing 6’9”, I’m one of them. Chances are, you are (or someone you know is) too. So let me bid you a warm welcome to the world of TALL magazine. Though we all come from different ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds, are of different genders and age groups, and each of us has different tastes and politics, there is one common factor uniting us: we are taller than the average bear. If you go to your nearest magazine store, you will see publications serving almost every demographic in this country—except for the tall community. With a background in magazine editing and a lifetime of being tall, I decided it was time to fill that void. Now is the right time for TALL. A little over two years ago, we laid out the foundation for TALL magazine with a simple mission in mind: to create an entertaining publication that would enlighten, inform, educate, entertain, and amuse those of us who stood above the crowd. We would wrap this information in a professionally designed and attractive layout. The whole package would make TALL stand out from the others, just like our readers do. For example, our story on this issue’s cover gals, the very talented Eroica Trio (starting on page 44), touches on their music, life on the road, children, wine, designer clothes ... Oh, and yes, their height and how they’ve dealt with it. On page 38, comedians Brad Sherwood and Colin Mochrie talk about life as members of the Improv Allstars, codependent dogs, dating and marrying shorter women, and finding shirts that fit. On page 24 we give tribute not only to Robert Wadlow, the tallest man and gentlest of giants, but to the people of Alton, Illinois, who still pull out the stops each year to celebrate his life. We’ve also included some great new fashions,



car-buying tips, exercise advice, more interviews with athletes and movie stars, the perfect office chair (page 8), and lots more. Our content has been carefully selected to make sure that it appeals to our diverse audience while offering something you won’t be able to find elsewhere. Consider this magazine custommade just for you. Because it is. You must be at least this tall to read TALL magazine . In the fashion world, in the majority of cases these measurements separate the “regular” sizes from the “tall” sizes. So we followed suit. Does this mean that men 6’1” or shorter, or women who are 5’8” or shorter can’t read TALL magazine? Absolutely. In fact we visit every subscriber’s home, measurement tape in hand, to make sure they meet our height requirements. Only then will we hand them a magazine. We’re kidding, of course. We are not heightists (a word I personally detest and cringe when I hear it), elitists, or exclusivists. There is no sign outside our tree club with the words “No short people allowed” scribbled on it. However, you should realize that upon entering, most everybody inside will be ... well, they won’t be short. Thank you. Like any group activity, TALL magazine was a community effort, and credit needs to be given where credit is due. This gratitude extends to our contributing writers for giving so much for so little; to our advertisers, for believing in the same vision we do (show them your appreciation); our friends and family for kind words and deeds; and to you especially, our TALL reader: thank you. If you like what you see and read, pass on the good news to your friends and family. Let’s grow this community together! Sincerely,

Associate Publisher Christina Strong

TALL Sales Director of National Sales Peter Roehm 479.790.7993

General Sales Inquiries

TALL Editorial Fashion Editor Betty Johnson

Contributing Editor Dr. Torsten Stein

Contributing Writers M.L. Zambrana, Kathy Witt, Too_Tall Guy, Mike Werling, C. Kirk, Rabbit, and some interns

Staff Photographer Kelly Huber

Story Submissions: TALL magazine welcomes and encourages story ideas from its readers ... this means you! Send queries or completed manuscripts to the address below. Please enclose a selfaddressed, stamped envelope and contact information. Manuscripts will not be returned unless adequate postage is provided. All materials submitted without a stamped envelope will be considered property of TALL magazine.

Subscription Information: TALL magazine is printed and distributed six times a year. Individual copies are $4.95 (U.S.). Subscriptions are $24.95, and can be ordered by sending payment (checks or money orders) to: TALL magazine #474 360 Grand Ave. Oakland, CA 94606 You can subscribe via credit card or electronic transfer (Paypal) through our web site, Donations are encouraged and accepted. For Canadian addresses, add $10. European rate is $59.95 (in U.S. funds).

Legal Blah Blah: All material contained herein is protected by federal copyright law and cannot be duplicated or distributed, in whole or in part, without express permission of the publisher. Copyright 2004 Big E Productions. Number 1, Volume 1. March - April 2004. TALL magazine, 360 Grand Ave. #474 Oakland, CA 94610.

Everard G. Strong, Publishing Editor Life may be short ... but we’re not.

The TALL logo is a registered trademark of Big E Productions, Inc., 2004.


Feel free to contact me: My door is always open.

TALL magazine is distributed by subscription and newsstand, available wherever quality magazines can be found. Wholesalers contact us at

Talk back

Letters from our readers

“Where have you been all of my life? This is a magazine/event/epiphany I’ve awaited for a very long time.” In July of 2003 we printed a 24-page prototype of TALL magazine to test the waters and see what kind of response we would get. Following are some of the letters we received.

mostly “old lady” clothes and not much in the way of business and casual attire. I run a law firm and am always looking for clothes. — Georgia P., Grand Rapids, MI

Greetings, Where have you been all of my life? Having been very tall for all of my life, with my own firm which vests daily in people and their journey toward success, this is a magazine/event/epiphany I’ve awaited for a very long time. I commend your e-channel strategy for you certainly found me — kudos to your marketing group! Best regards, – Donna W. Dear Donna, An epiphany, eh? Well, I think that’s the highest compliment we could ever ask for, so thank you. Thank you very much. The Editor

TALL magazine: This goes under the “I should have thought of that!” folder. What a great idea. I have bookmarked your web site and will be coming back frequently. Thanks! – Joan A.

Dear TALL magazine, I just signed up for a subscription without even seeing your first issue. You are already my favorite magazine! – Kristin S, CA

TALL magazine: A friend e-mailed me a link to your site, and then called me to tell me about the e-mail. We chatted about your magazine while I looked at your site and downloaded the media kit, and we feel your

Dear Mr. Strong, I am extremely excited to hear of your publication. It is past time that tall people be supported. – Dan B, FL Dear TALL Magazine: I just found out about your magazine and am so excited! I’m from Grand Rapids, Michigan and am 6’ tall (female). Are there advertisements in there where men and women both can find tall clothes? Grand Rapids is most conservative, with currently only one place to shop for women, and it’s

Mr. Strong, I saw your magazine for the first time yesterday. It’s a wonderful resource for all things tall. I am 5’11” and you all make me feel short — and I think that’s great. I am looking forward to seeing the magazine and the community grow. – Cindy

We love mail!

efforts are long overdue. Our daughter (5’10”) hasn’t seen your page yet, but I expect she will be as delighted in your feminine fashion as I am. I can’t wait to read the rest of the article on airplane seating. – Joan A. Dear Joan: Thank you to you and to your friend for sharing her find. We would love to hear your daughter’s thoughts on TALL magazine as well. The Editor TALL magazine: I’ve been looking for the perfect gift for my 6’7” boyfriend. Problem solved! – Sarah B., CO Hi! I wanted to say “Thank You” to you and your staff for making a magazine geared towards tall people. I hope to continue to see you magazine blossom and grow. I wish you all the best of luck as well!! Sincerely, – Kristen Letters have been edited for space and readership.

Send letters, postcards, banknotes, photos, and whatever else you can stuff into an envelope to: TALL magazine ATTN: editor 360 Grand Ave., #474 Oakland CA 94610 or send us an e-mail at


TALL Online

What’s clickin’ at

TALL magazine Counts down to the 20 04 Olympics o honor the talented American athletes who will be competing in the 2004 Olympics, TALL will be running an exclusive series of interviews and articles focusing on the taller members of the Olympic team. We will be alternating these features between our web site and this magazine. An interview on page 18 with 6’8” volleyball player Jeff Nygaard starts things off. Other athletes you will meet along the way will include 6’1” softball player Jenni Finch, 6’4” swimmer Michael Phelps, 6’3” women’s beach volleyball star Kerri Walsh, 6’5” women’s basketball player Lisa Leslie, and other surprise guests. Along with these Olympic athletes, we will also be featuring stories and articles unique to our web site (not available in the magazine), and extended versions of printed content. Stay tuned.



Tall and single? eet others like you. We are pleased to announce the launch of our very own TALL personals at Enter your information, upload color photos, and meet new friends (and maybe more), or discreetly browse and see who else is available. Best of all, it’s free to post and browse. Happy hunting!

Our doors are open! here can I find suit pants for a 40” inseam?” “Where can I find capri pants in my size?” With our inbox filling up with questions like these, we decided to offer a couple different ways people can find the answers they’re looking for. Our goal behind, is to offer a hub for the tall community that would offer information, interaction, and access to resources, services, and products. A one-stop-shop for all things tall. Our TALL Marketplace, accessed directly from our home page, offers apparel for men, women, and teens. Constantly being updated with new options, each section is further broken down into clothing (shirts, pants, shoes, outerwear, intimated for the ladies, swim and athletic wear, hosiery for women, and clothing designed for young ladies), sports and leisure products (golf clubs, bicycles, kayaks, and the like), office and home furniture and accessories (beds, office chairs, desks, and accessories), and anything else that is either tailored, customized, built or offered for the tall community. Take a peek, poke around, let us know if anything’s missing that you want to see. We do our best to make sure your experience at is a good one.

Find clothes (and love) online!



Community Resources e compiled a list of non-commercial sites we have found to be useful for us tall folks. This is a constantly growing list, so if you know of other sites that you don’t see here, send us the info at and we will add it to the list. Interactive links for these sites are available at


AIRLINES The Fair Air Coalition

HEALTH National Marfan Foundation

An airline passenger advocacy group headed by Diane Fairechild that includes tall people's concerns. (You can also check out our July 2003 issue for a story on Diane and the Fair Air Coalition. The article is available on our web site.)

The Marfan syndrome is a heritable disorder of the connective tissue that affects many organ systems, including the skeleton, lungs, eyes, heart and blood vessels. No cure has been found yet, and the syndrome affects a large number of tall people. The NMF offers lots of resources, discussion groups, and other support.

Airline seating information This site offers an exhaustive comparison of the seat pitch (the distance from the back face of the seat in front of you measured to the same point on the back face of the seat you are sitting in — this is NOT the same as leg room) on most international and regional airplanes, broken down by carrier and airplane type.


Pituitary Network Association A non-profit site, it contains a wide variety of information on pituitary and hormonerelated disorders, including acremagaly (gigantism). For those across the pond, there’s a European-based site at

It’s a TALL, TALL world News from the world at large

Does more height equal more pay? hort people may be shortchanged when it comes to salary, status, and respect, according to a University of Florida (UF) study that found tall people earn considerably more money throughout their lives. University of Florida management professor Timothy Judge and Daniel Cable, a business professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, analyzed the results of four large-scale research studies—three in the United States and one in Great Britain— which followed thousands of participants from childhood to adulthood, examining details of their work and personal lives. Judge’s study, which controlled for gender, weight and age, found that each inch in height amounted to about $789 more a year in pay.


is on the job, but also objective measures of performance, including sales volume. Being tall may have the effect of boosting employees’ self-confidence, helping to make them more successful, as well as prompting people to ascribe more status and respect to a tall person, Judge said. For example, tall salespeople who are admired by customers may be seen as more persuasive leaders and thus may be able to negotiate more effectively. As a result, customers may be more likely to buy from them. “If height has the social status we think it does,” Judge says, “it stands to reason that tall people would sell more cars because

Tall salespeople may be seen as more persuasive leaders, and may be able to negotiate more effectively.




Objective Performance

Subjective Performance

Career Success Leadership positions Higher earnings Other findings from the Judge-Cable study. There also appears to be a direct correlation between a person’s height and his or her self-esteem, which in turn affects that individual’s social esteem, which in turn affects their job performance and career success (see graph). Photo credit: Jim Bastardo/Getty Images

“If you take this over the course of a 30-year career and compound it,” Judge said, “we’re talking about literally hundreds of thousands of dollars of earnings advantage that a tall person enjoys.” Height was associated with subjective ratings of work performance, such as supervisors’ evaluations of how effective someone

they’re seen as a more authoritative source on the matter.” The relationship between height and earnings was particularly strong in sales and management positions, Judge said. But the study also showed a correlation for employees in less social occupations, such as engineering, accounting, computer programming and clerical work, he said.

Your turn What are your views on the above story? Do you think it’s true that tall men and women are getting better treatment than their peers? Do you have any observations to back your claim up? Do you have any horror stories from work that deal with your height? Share them all with us! Write us at


Tall Things Considered “Here’s my credit card,” our good editor said. “Go find some products for the magazine,” he told us. So we did.

Meet your new best friend he Lifeform Executive Grand chair is so well tooled for tall physiques, your trips to the office will be something to actually look forward to. Available only through Relax the Back stores, this chair cradles your patooka while offering firm support for your back. It features several options: • Extended back rests with a ratchet-controlled lumbar system. • Pivoting armrests so you don’t have to slouch. • A contoured seat filled with pressure and temperature-sensitive LifeFoam that ... well, we’re not sure exactly what it does, but it cradles your rear in such a way that each time you sit down you’ll let out a long, comforting sigh. Maybe that’s just us. • Best of all, if you ask politely, the pneumatic height adjustment system can be replaced — for free — with one that can give you five more inches of leg room (when he’s actually in the offices, Everard, our 6’9” editor, sits comfortably with that option); or, if you really need it, there’s one that will give you eight more inches. That’s leg room, guys. The only downside is the price. The model we surprised our boss with tilted the scales close to $900. There is a basic model for $549, but the back support is missing. If you want style, they have the Ultimate Executive chairs, which start around $1,300. Considering that you are going to be spending most of your day, and maybe more (we find more and more excuses to sit in it) sitting in a chair, give yourself a treat that your body will thank you for. The store has a 10-day return policy, so you can test drive one before plunking down your hard earned dinero.


Yoga in a box t’s yoga. In a box. For couples. Self explanatory, really. The box comes with a CD, a strap, incense, and a stack of 71 cards showing illustrations and photos of all these positions you can do with your partner. (That sounds kind of weird, huh?) We were going to test it out, but this office chair is really comfortable. Really comfortable. We did light the incense sticks though before our daily afternoon nappy time. Putting out a magazine is so much work, you don’t even know. $24.95



Pillow talk e were about to leave Relax the Back with the boss’s new office chair when we espied this pillow laying on top of a showroom bed. It teased, it summoned, it enticed. We were weak. Resting our backs on this ultra-comfortable slab of body-forming foam, our backbones melted, along with our powers of resistance. Simple in design, the BackSaver Wedge offers a variety of posture options that keep your back relaxed whether you’re sitting upright, laying on a slight recline, or fully supinated. We like it whether we’re in bed reading or sprawled on the floor watching our boss trying to do yoga (we didn’t tell him the instructions were meant for couples). $95.


Need a hand? ere, write about this,” our boss says, throwing ‘this’ into our laps. “I just used it on that trip to Veg... Vermont, and it works great!” Once we figured out what ‘this’ was, we reluctantly agreed. The LugAssist is a portable grip extender that you attach to the handle on your luggage. Adjustable, it can add up to 10 inches to your reach. (Or should we say, “It takes 10 inches away from your reach?”) Until manufacturers allow you to customize your handles as you order your next set of luggage, the LugAssist should be packed along for all your trips. At only $14.95 per, you can buy one for each item of luggage you own.



Top Culture

We have a good view of what’s going on.

She’s the biggest, tallest, longest, widest, and most expensive queen of them all he Queen Mary 2 cruise ship, launched this past January, has broken just about every record set for a cruise ship. 1,132’ long, 236’ tall, 134’ wide, and weighing in at 150,000 tons, the lady has earned the crown for the largest, longest, widest, and tallest passenger ship ever built. Costing $800 million to construct, her gold crown also comes with the biggest price tag attached to it.

ment company recently announced plans to build the “World’s Tallest Observation Wheel” at the Rio Hotel & Casino. The 600-foot structure will feature 30 "Orbitor" cabins and a 22,000 square foot nightclub, and will be positioned on the Southeast side of the Rio parking lot, visible from the Las Vegas Strip and Interstate 15. No date yet on when they expect to finish construction on the ride.

Why yes, the view up here is grand ou will soon be able to see a whole new side of Las Vegas, thanks to Voyager Entertainment. The entertainment develop-


Space Wasters Best songs about height: “I Can See For Miles” “I Can See Clearly Now” “The Tall Cool One” “Wish I Was a Little Bit Taller” “Ten Foot Tall and Bulletproof” “Long Tall Sally” “Big Tall Man” “Always Ten Feet Tall” “Tall Paul”

Best movies about height: “The Tall Guy” “Walking Tall” “Standing Tall” “Ten Tall Men” “She’s Too Tall for Me” Useless facts to impress your family and annoy your friends: • A redwood in the American Northwest measures 368’, making it the tallest known living thing. • In the Bible, the prophet Samuel names Saul as the first king of the Hebrew nation. According to Samuel 9:2 and 10:23, one of the reasons Saul was chosen was because he was “taller than any of the people.” TALL 10

Photo: Voyager Entertainment


Woolery Has the Biggest Bobblehead t's official. Game Show Network's (GSN) larger than life bobblehead created in the likeness of legendary game show host Chuck Woolery has been deemed the world's largest by Guinness World Records. The bobblehead stands 11’ tall and weighs 900lbs.



Teen Tall Talk

by Al T. Toode

Mr. Toode I am 15 and 6’6” tall. I hate basketball and am not much good at other sports. My friends expect me to join the team. My coach thinks

item on your To Do list, even if it means not playing sports for a season. Don’t worry, hang in there and things will come around!

that because I’m tall, I should be the next Michael Jordan. My

Dear Al T. Toode (is that really your name?): Help me! I am finding it very hard to find clothes that fit me. I am 14 years old (a size 16) and am too tall for anything I find. I can’t wear

parents tell me the only way I’m going to get into a good college is with a basketball scholarship. I used to like playing the sport, but I feel clumsy and uncoordinated and always feel this pressure like everybody’s watching my every move. Now I have come to dread putting my uniform on before a game. I want to quit. – Danny2Tall Danny, As unbelievable as this might sound to you, I’d be willing to bet that almost every adult reading this magazine has gone through circumstances similar to what you’re going through. It’s not fun. At all. Let’s tackle coordination first. You’re growing up fast, and your bones are growing faster than your muscles are learning how to move them. This is why you feel clumsy. Visit your local library and find some books on “isometric” exercises. These are routines you can do that will help strengthen and stabilize your torso and limbs, which in turn will help your coordination too. While you’re at the library, check out some books and magazines on running, and try to find a stride that works for your body type. Go to your school’s weightroom and start a basic muscle-building routine. Do three sets of eight reps of the following: bench press, curls, tricep pull-downs, all for the upper body; do squats, leg curls, and hamstring raises for your legs. Do daily sit-ups and push-ups. It’s natural for your parents and coach to put their expectations on you without understanding what you’re going through. They really want what’s best for you, believe it or not. As long as you know that each time you’re out on that court you are giving it all you’ve got, don’t worry about anybody else’s expectations but your own. All you can give is your best, right? If your parents are worried about scholarships, it makes me wonder if maybe your grades aren’t that good. If this is the case, make improving your grades the number one

anything! The only things I can find that sort of fit me look like they came from my mother’s closet! When I go to the mall with my friends, I hate it because they’re shorter than me and can wear anything. Grrr! And then I have to go buy school clothes with my mom, and she makes me buy this stuff that makes me look like a granny. We end up fighting every single time we go to the store. – Staying Home Forever Dear SHF (is that really you’re name?), My friend Linda, who’s 6’1”, complains to me all the time about the same thing you do. And she’s 32! How does she cope with the aggravation? I asked her for some tips I could pass on to you. “I am always on the lookout for clothes, shoes, accessories, anything that I fit in,” she says. “I won’t buy everything on the spot, but I keep track of who’s selling what where. And if I see something in a “normal” size, I’ll ask the salesperson or even the manufacturer if it comes in taller sizes. I’ve found a lot of in-style items by doing some research.” There’s your key word, “Research.” Go to the mall, go online (our web site,, has an online marketplace and other resources for you), sift through catalogs, write everything down. To please your mom, I would advocate that you compromise with her. Buy some of those specialty items you found (they are usually more expensive because of the length), and then give in to her wishes and buy some “granny clothes.” Make sure you can match all your clothes together, and no one will no the difference! Have a question? E-mail us at



may be short


I’m not A general lifestyle magazine for men 6’2” and taller and women 5’9” and taller. Featuring: • Celebrity interviews • Exercise and fitness tips • TALL Fashions (men, women, and teens) • Unique products for you.

Visit for exclusive features, personals, and our online shopping guide! Yes, I would like to receive

six issues of TALL magazine for only $24.95! Send subscription to: Name: _____________________________________________ Address 1: ________________________________________ Address 2: ________________________________________ City: ________________________________________________ State: ______Zip: ______________________________ Include payment for $24.95 (check, money order, credit card) and send to: TALL magazine 360 Grand Ave., #474 Oakland, CA 94610 Allow 3 - 6 weeks for delivery.


Find new friends ... or more!

TALL Personals Now online, exclusively at

Post your ad and browse others for FREE!

Easy and fun 誰 Sign up today! Only at

by Dr. Torsten Stein Mr. Stein I am 6’7”, around 250lbs, and 36 years old. I’ve been noticing lately that I’ve been wak-

ing up with my lower back very stiff and achy, where I have to get out of bed bent over. Slowly, and usually after taking a shower, it goes back to normal. My wife, who wakes up feeling great, thinks it’s time to get a new bed (our mattress is five years old and she wants to get a new bed anyway). We just bought new pillows too. What are your thoughts? – Mike L., Fond Du Lac, Wisconsin Dear Mike, In order to understand what happens in your lower back, let’s first examine how your spine works. There are five vertebrae in your lower back (lumbar spine) supporting your entire upper body. These vertebrae are connected by powerful discs that act as cushions. In addition, there are ligaments and muscles surrounding this area. This arrangement allows for a normal bending motion of the lower back, and a little twisting at the waist. The lowest lumbar vertebra (L5) sits on top of the sacrum, which in turn connects to the left and the right hipbones. This structure has one very important function: protect the central nervous system and the exiting spinal nerves. In between these five vertebrae, behind each connecting disc, there is a small hole called a foramen, where these nerves exit. From there they go everywhere in the body. If these vertebrae do not line up correctly (resulting in what is called a subluxation), the resulting inflammation can put pressure on one of these delicate spinal nerves. If this happens, muscles will tighten up to protect and prevent the spine from getting worse. Thus, your back pain. The nervous system does more than just transmit pain; 90 percent or more of most spinal problems can’t even be felt. So doctors have to look for other clues; lower muscle pains are often a symptoms of a misaligned vertebrae. When we are lying in bed, there is no pressure on our spine, and the discs between the vertebrae expand with fluid. This causes the pain you feel when you first get out of

bed. Once you start moving around, your body weight compresses the disc, eventually taking the pressure off of the nerve. Unfortunately, even though a lot of patients are told the opposite, this condition is not something fixed by daily stretching, though it does help. In time, your spine will get worse. This explains why many patients are so surprised to find out that they have a bad back, even though they only “hurt for a few days.” So to come back to your question, if you need a new bed: a good bed can’t hurt, it might even make you feel better, but it wouldn’t correct the problem I described. You should go to a professional and see what kind of shape your spine is in first. Mr. Stein:

I am 5’11”, 33 years old, and six-months pregnant. My back is killing me! I can’t sit down for more than 20 minutes without spasms starting in my lower back by my tailbone. When I stand up I am constantly shifting my feet and legs around or else I start feeling pain. The only relief I really get is from walking, but then my legs get tired after an hour or so. I was considering visiting a chiropractor or massage therapist, or even an acupuncturist. Julie A., Houston, TX Dear Julie, Obviously your body is going through a lot of changes right now, but it sounds like you might be suffering from a subluxation in your spine. Walking helps most of my patients, but make sure you don’t overexert yourself. Studies have shown that women under chiropractic care deliver their babies faster than the national average (26% faster for the first baby, about 40% for the next one). There are many good chiropractors out there. A good place to start your search is Good luck! Contact Dr. Stein at All responses by Dr. Stein should be considered suggestions only. Please consult a chiropractor, licensed doctor, or physician before attempting any of these suggestions. Neither TALL magazine nor Dr. Stein guarantee any results.



may be short


I’m not A general lifestyle magazine for men 6’2” and taller and women 5’9” and taller. Featuring: • Celebrity interviews • Exercise and fitness tips • TALL Fashions (men, women, and teens) • Unique products for you.

Visit for exclusive features, personals, and our online shopping guide! Yes, I would like to receive

six issues of TALL magazine for only $24.95! Send subscription to: Name: _____________________________________________ Address 1: ________________________________________ Address 2: ________________________________________ City: ________________________________________________ State: ______Zip: ______________________________ Include payment for $24.95 (check, money order, credit card) and send to: TALL magazine 360 Grand Ave., #474 Oakland, CA 94610 Allow 3 - 6 weeks for delivery.


Health & Nutrition It’s your body. Be good to it.

Yerba what? Photo credit: TALL staff

Meet Yerba Maté, the new health drink in town. It’s been around for centuries.

Yerba maté as is traditionally prepared. The leaves are inserted in the gourd, to which hot water is added. You sip through the “bombilla,” the straw. hrow away your coffee, your tea, your sodas, and all those supposed health drinks that are in fact laced with high fructose “fruit juices.” (Fruit syrups are more like it.) Make room on your shelf for something that really is all natural, and will pick up any grey morning you’re facing. It’s called yerba maté, and it looks like it was picked off the forest floor. But it’s good stuff. Crushed leaves. The leaves are called yerba maté, and the potion you make by steeping them in hot water is called maté. The feeling you get is called Wow! The drink originated in the southern countries of South America— indeed, maté may well be considered Argentina’s national drink, and any gaucho worth his leather will carry his own bomba (a gourdlike container), and his bombilla (a wooden straw to sip the concoction with.) Like the Japanese tea ceremony, there is a ritual involved in the making of the tea. The leaves are piled into a cup, about three


quarters full. The bombilla is inserted into the pile, and then hot, but never boiling water is poured on top. You steep the mixture for a couple of minutes, take a good sip or two, refill the cup, and then pass it to your neighbor. A green froth appears on top as the water is added. This is good. This means that all the nutrients locked inside the leaves are being released, and are passed on to you with each sip taken. Maté is now available in a powdery form and also in tea bags, so you don’t have to go through all the rigmarole if you don’t want to. But you can still buy it in loose-leaf form too. Good stuff. Why is maté the “in” health drink all of a sudden? Unlike coffee, yerba maté is packed full of nutrients that provide a wide range of vitamins, minerals, and—very important—antioxidants. Maté is also a stimulant, and even caffeine-sensitive people have found they can sip without the usual side effects of insomnia and irritability. If you are looking to watch your weight,

yerba maté is widely regarded as an effective appetite suppressor.


yerba maté is widely regarded as an effective appetite suppressor when consumed 15 to 20 minutes before meals. Maté contains a wide array of vitamins and minerals. including carotene, vitamins A, C, E, B-1, B-2 and B-complex, riboflavin, magnesium, calcium, iron, sodium, potassium, manganese, silicon, phosphates, and various acids and other things that we can’t pronounce. The taste. All this is well and good, you’re wondering, but what does the stuff taste like? Bitter, but not acrid. In fact sugar is recommended for the uninitiates until their taste buds adjust. Because of its questionable appearance, we recommend you buy the raw version of yerba maté and keep some in a plastic bag. Offer some to your friends next time they come over; a plastic Baggy full of herbs is always a good conversation starter. Where to buy.There are lots of options for buying yerba maté. We recommend you start your search at It’s a great site with a lot of information and lots of options. TALL magazine makes no guarantees about the claims in this article.

The 10 Commandments of Body Image It takes 30 seconds for someone to form a lifetime opinion of someone. by Delores Pressley hirty seconds - that's how long it takes a person to form a lifetime opinion about you. When you enter a room, even though no one in the room knows you or has seen you before, they will make many decisions about you based solely on your appearance. In just thirty seconds people have summarized your… • Economic level • Education Level • Trustworthiness • Social position • Economic heritage • Your success • Moral character • Level of competency Problem is, sometimes our vision can be a


little cloudy. We sometimes wear clothes that are too tight, skirts that are too short, sport jackets that are soiled. We offer the following 10 Commandments of Self-Image. Follow this advice and see the change in not only the way people you meet see you in a whole new way, but the way you start seeing yourself in a whole new, better way. The 10 Commandments of Self-Image 1. Thou shall use your first thirty seconds to command a presence. 2. Thou shall possess a positive selfimage and set image goals. 3. Thou shall wear appropriate clothes for the occasion.

4. Thou shall use non-verbal communication to reflect a positive image. (i.e. posture, eye contact, handshake, facial expressions and gestures.) 5. Thou shall forget your flaws and accentuate your assets. 6. Thou shall let your clothes work for you, rather than you work for your clothes. 7. Thou shall dress as if you are being judged, because you are. 8. Thou shall wear well- maintained shoes. 9. Thou shall not forget your hair, hands and feet. 10. Thou shall speak proper grammar. Stand tall, stand proud, and let the world rise to meet you.

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At Arm’s Length

by Dr. Paul Kennedy

You go to the gym on a daily basis, lifting weights until your limbs fall off. But you still can’t get your body to look like that 5’5” bodybuilder next to you. Why? It’s a matter of physics. esistance training—training with weights—is not always fair to everyone, especially tall people. Competitive weightlifters, most of whom are shorter in stature than the readers of this magazine, have a distinct advantage when it comes to the leverage involved in working out with weights. This is because in weightlifting, as compared to general strength training, shorter people carry with them a tremendous biomechanical advantage. Put simply and with no disrespect intended, a shorter person’s muscles have a lot less road to travel than a taller person’s muscles. The photos I have included in this article amply show the difference between a 7’2” individual (who happens to be Dr. Stein, author of the “Watch Your Back” column on page 13 of this magazine) and a “normalsized” person, who happens to be me, standing at 5’6”. Weighing the options. Tall individuals should realize that if they decide to embark on a strength-development program that emphasizes single repetition maximum lifts (regardless of the modality), instead of one that emphasizes gradual weight gain over several repetitions, this decision may not only be dangerous (especially to the joints) but may be viewed as frustrating and disconcerting in the long run. You might not even see any real muscle development for all your hard work. Two principles need to be understood for any strength training program, particularly for those long of both limb and torso. First, strength training and weightlifting are not the same thing. They are two different endeavors and should be viewed from two completely different angles. Weightlifting. Weightlifting is a competitive endeavor that engenders a quest for an ever higher single repetition at maximum weight. It requires jerky, ballistic


Simply put: A shorter person’s muscles have a lot less road to travel than a taller person’s muscles. TALL 16

movements that can (and frequently do) produce joint injury and, therefore, should be carefully considered by those persons with distinct leverage disadvantages: tall men and women. Strength training. On the other hand, strength training focuses on increases in muscle strength that can be improved and measured using higher and more optimal repetition ranges (generally in the range of 8 to 12 repetitions). These repetitions also involve more controlled movements and more realistically applied exercises and/or lifts. To thine own self be true. The second principle states that any individual engaged in a well designed strength-training program should compare himself to himself. Strength training is not a competitive sport. Weightlifting is. You are not at the gym to see if you can outlift the guy next to you, you are at the gym to see if you can outlift what you did last time you were there. Every individual has a different genetic disposition when it comes to strength performance. Limb length, as previously noted, is one of the most important factors in how your body will react to weight training. For tall people, total workloads in any given set of exercises is always going to be more difficult. Why? The laws of physics say so. For example, a 200-pound bench press lifted 10 times by a 6’6” person weighing 180lbs will require a much higher total workload when measured in foot pounds than that same weight lifted 10 times by a 5’9” person weighing 180 pounds. The reason? The taller participant’s arm length is longer than the shorter participant’s arm length. This means that each repetition completed by the taller strength trainer must be moved a greater distance for each repetition and, therefore, represents a greater total workload. Simply counting resistance and repetitions will not disclose this major difference. In fact, the taller individual in the case just described has probably accomplished a greater workload than his shorter counterpart. But on paper, the results appear identical. If you were to squish your body and muscles down to a shorter counterpart’s size, you would actually be able to lift a lot more than you can presently. So don’t get caught up in those single repetition/maximum weight exercise programs you see a lot of your friends or gyms clamoring about. You don’t have to lift heavier to lift smarter. Gradually increase your general

strength for all of your major muscle groups and you will experience less joint pain and more sustainable progress. Good luck with your program. I know you can do it! We will be following up in the next couple of issues with routines and advice to help tall men and women work out better in the gym. TALL

Dr. Paul Kennedy is the author of Be Fit, Stay Fit (Cardinal Books, 2002), and the host of Be Fit, Stay Fit America, a nationally syndicated television show. Dr. Kennedy, who has also served on the American Council of Exercise, received his doctorate of Exercise Science from Pennsylvania State University.



hen applied to lifting weights, the laws of physics state that each repetition completed by the taller strength trainer must be moved a greater distance for each repetition, representing a greater total workload.

20” reach Measuring the distance from his chest to the bar shows that Dr. Stein is pushing the barbell 20” during a full extension of a bench press.

14” reach In contrast, measuring the distance from Dr. Kennedy’s chest to the bar shows that he is pushing the barbell only 14” during a full extension of a bench press. So there.


The 6’8” athlete has been to the Olympic Games twice before, returning both times without a gold.

Will Jeff Nygaard Photo courtesy AVP

Make it in Three? TALL 18

To honor athletes who will be competing in the 2004 Olympics—held August 13-29 in Athens, Greece— TALL magazine will be running an ongoing series (both in print and online at, featuring these talented and hopeful contenders. hird time’s a charm, so the saying goes. Beach volleyball player Jeff Nygaard is hoping there is some truth behind the cliché. Having returned from both the 1996 and 2000 Olympics without a gold medallion around his neck, Nygaard has set his sights on this year’s Olympic events, held in August in Athens, Greece. He was so devastated by the 2000 loss that Nygaard left Sydney with honest thoughts of retiring from the sport. Luckily—for him, the sport, and the United States—he realized where he belonged. “After 2000, I moved back to California to live with friends and maybe return to school,” he admits. “I happened to play a little beach volleyball one day that rekindled my passion for the game. From there the interest just kept growing and still does.” He has one goal now: winning the gold in Athens, Greece. “The focus is on 2004 and going back to give it another try. And if I’m not successful on any level of that goal, I’ll reset it on 2008 and go after that.” Partnering up with 6’3” returning goldwinning beach volleyball player Dain Blanton, Jeff has been practicing at his home beaches of Los Angeles and at various national and international tournaments. The pair have been on a winning streak, and odds are stacked strongly in their favor for the Olympics. Nygaard knows there will be stiff competition waiting for him. “The Brazilian team will definitely be our biggest challenge,” he admits. “They have shown dominance in the sport. There is no question that we’ll have to be playing our best to take them down.” Along with strengthening their game, the duo have also been doing some reconnaissance on their competition. “We have some great scouting information about them that if we utilize to the fullest, we can get them flustered and take them out of their game.” Looking back at the last two Olympics in which he competed, Jeff can easily recognize the one shortcoming he believes both times prevented him from reaching the gold. “For 1996, I think that I actually set my bar too low,” he says. “I went in just being happy to have made the Olympic team and get the chance to compete there. That wasn’t high enough. “A lot of people try to placate my memories by saying that I should be happy getting there in the first place, but that is small consolation to a person that harbors a single thought: going for the gold. 2000 was much the same, with me being satisfied in making it to Sydney. Both times, my expectations from that viewpoint were met. Unfortunately, I


fell exceptionally short of the success that I hoped to have.” Sharing the court with Dain has definitely elevated Jeff’s hopes. The two met at the beach as both began practicing for the 2003 tournament season. It wasn’t long before they started sharing court time together, both on the same side and opposite sides of the net. “We could see that we made a dynamic pairing every time we played together,” Nygaard recalls. “From there it was simply the decision of whether I wanted to strive towards the Olympics or not. To play toward Athens, the only logical and plausible choice was playing with Dain.” Coincidentally, if Dain wins a gold medal this year, he will be the first beach volleyball player to win two golds in a row. It’s not only this experience that gives Nygaard confidence; Dain has a work philosophy that drives Jeff as much as it does Dain. “He brings a personal barometer with him that does not allow his level of play to drop below. Couple that with a work ethic that has a never-say-die attitude, and you have a force that I want on my side of the net.” And what does Jeff bring to the equation? “I offer a big presence at the net for him to focus on defense around,” he explains. “Also, I too like to put time into our performance by training and working on developing our game, complimenting the work that he does.” Graduating from UCLA in 1995 with an undergraduate degree in English, he played on the volleyball team all four years, waking out with a slew of honors, including being named Player of the Year twice and All-American four times. Being a member of a six-man volleyball team, however, is not on Jeff’s agenda anytime soon. If ever. “I never again will play six-man volleyball indoors,” he states. “It is just too hard on the body. I know that I could play through the pains earned from the indoor game, but I don’t ever want to again. I see no reason to go back. I feel that I am moving forward along a path that is positive.” For a man determined to grab gold and who has been involved in the sport for most of his 32 years, volleyball is not an all-consuming interest for Nygaard. “I’ve always felt that as soon as I’m off the court, I no longer want to think about volleyball. I step outside of that to focus on the other things in life. After a practice or match, I’ll just be an average tall guy cruising through.” Beyond having to play volleyball in front of millions of people, just being in the Olympics demands another level of emotional and physical duress. Having entered the Olympic village twice before, Nygaard knows what to expect this time around. “The surrounding hoopla of the Olympics is not only easy to get into with its worldwide appeal, but the tangible energy felt from every facet of the games will serve as a distraction if you allow it to. “Prior to the games, the athletes will actually be lectured in classes on particular pitfalls encountered there: from the interview requests to the ravenous fans to the pulls of familial concerns — there is so much happening at one time that you can lose yourself in the circus.” What advice then does Jeff have for first-time Olympic hopefuls? “From my own experience, the discipline on the games is to focus on the task at hand. Boil down everything about the Olympics and you simply find another tournament, just like we have played hundreds of times before.” TALL

“There is so much happening at one time that you can lose yourself in the circus.”


“As you’ve never seen him before!” - Fizziculture Magazine

“The tallest performance of his career!” - The Bayou Picayune

Written by Everard Strong produced by TALL magazine


e may be go down in the annals of movie history for his portrayal of platinum-toothed Jaws, the villain from both The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker, but 7’2” Richard Kiel has had a much longer and diverse relationship with Hollywood. The 65-year old actor has been appearing in TV and movie roles since 1959 and hasn’t stopped yet. In between writing a new movie project and attending various movie conventions, Mr. Kiel found time to talk to TALL magazine about his past success, future projects, and current state of mind.


TALL magazine: Rumors abound that James Bond has not seen the last of Jaws. However, the last time we saw him, Jaws had changed sides and became a good guy. Richard Kiel: I don’t know. I am willing, but it would take a

lot of imagination on the part of the Bond writers to bring me back, as I did turn into a good guy and helped Bond in Moonraker. TM: How did you land the role of Jaws for The Spy Who Loved Me and then for the same character in Moonraker? RK: After 17 years of being a successful actor, I did not try out for parts much. In this case I met with the producer, “Cubby” Brocolli. After meeting his family and one of the movie’s writers at his home, it was decided to cast me as Jaws. TM: How would you rate today’s James Bond movies? Are they more glitter than substance? RK: I think that the James Bond you grow up with will be your

favorite. The same was true with the Tarzan series. TM: Did you find yourself typecast after appearing in the films? RK: Not really. In between The Spy Who Loved Me and

Moonraker I had four diverse roles, appearing in Force 10 from Navarone, They Went Thataway, The Humanoid, and a fantasy film in Taiwan. TM: Being 7’2”, did you have much of a decision during your career in picking and choosing roles? RK: Normally the roles offered to me would be stereotypical

stone-faced killers or dummies. In my career, whenever I did a role

richard kiel: his movies and more

RICHARD KIEL Born: September 13, 1939 Birthplace: Detroit, Michigan Height: 7’2” Married to: Diane Rogers (5’1-1/2”) Children: Four



• Richard Kiel was originally supposed to play the title role in The Incredible Hulk TV series, and can actually be seen (very briefly) in the first episode. The role was eventually given to Lou Ferrigno because Kiel wasn’t considered bulky enough for the role. • Richard met his wife while on location for The Longest Yard. • Kiel has written a book about his Hollywood experiences, titled Making it BIG in the Movies (Reynolds & Hearne, London). • He has often gotten confused with Fred Gwynne (the actor who played Herman Munster), and Ted Cassidy (Lurch, from The Addams Family).

Inspector Gadget (1999) Happy Gilmore (1996) The Giant of Thunder Mountain (1991) - Screenplay by Kiel Think Big (1990) The Princess and the Dwarf (1986) Mob Busters (1985) Pale Rider (1985) Our Man From Bond Street (1984) Cannonball Run II (1984) Hysterical (1983) So Fine (1981) Phoenix (1979) The Humanoid (1979) Moonraker (1979) They Went ThatAWay (1979) Force 10 from Navarone (1978) The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)

Gus (1976) Silver Streak (1976) Flash and the Firecat (1975) The Longest Yard (1974) Deadhead Miles (1972) On a Clear Day You Can See Forever (1970) Skidoo (1968) A Man Called Dagger (1967) Lassie's Great Adventure (1965) Brainstorm (1965) The Human Duplicators (1965) Two on a Guillotine (1965) The Nasty Rabbit (1964) Roustabout (1964) The Nutty Professor (1963) House of the Damned (1963) Eegah (1962) The Phantom (1961)


that was more than these kinds, I spent a lot of money on trade ads to let the industry know. TM: Do you find James Bond fans to be on par with Trekkies in their obsessiveness? RK: Nothing matches the Trekkies in their desire to believe it is

all real. I remember a Trekkie offering to teach actress Lois Chiles (Dr. Holly Goodhead in Moonraker) Klingon. There are some Bond fans who take it all too seriously as well. For the most part, the legions of Bond fans enjoy the entertainment, the terrific locations, the beautiful women, the great gadgets, and superb action. TM: You’ve managed to play a wide variety of roles in your career. Which ones were your favorites? RK: I have several, for different reasons. Jaws because it made me

an international star. [Playing Mr. Larson in] Happy Gilmore expanded my popularity with the younger crowd. [Captain Drazak in] Force 10 From Navarone because it was a great role with a wonderful character and wardrobe; So Fine because of the same reasons. They Went Thataway because it was so much fun. And The Giant of Thunder Mountain (for which Kiel wrote the screenplay) because it gave me a chance to be creative and see a film that I envisioned come to life on the screen.

pushing me on a platform and having people run beside me while I moved my arms in football slo-mo. TM: You’ve recently written a screenplay about one other Cassius Clay. Can you give us an insight into who he was? RK: It’s not about Muhammed Ali, but rather a white man who

freed his great-great grandfather [a slave] way before the emancipation proclamation or the 13th amendment. It’s like Shindler’s List, but about a great and obscure American who faced assassination attempts, the killing of his son, courtroom trials, and losing his family. All because he stood up for what he believed in—putting an end to slavery. TM: The TALL question: Where do you buy clothes, shoes, business suits? RK: Now that they have 4X tall shirts and 60XL suits available at

big men’s stores (if you look hard through their catalogs), I am able to find things. I recently had a friend pick me up four custom-made longsleeve dress shirts and three custom ties in Bangkok, all for $150! TM: At what age did you become comfortable with your height? RK: When I realized that there was no changing it and I better

make the best of who I was.

TM: Are there any projects or new roles we should be keeping our eyes open for? RK: I am somewhat retired because of physical handicaps caused

TM: What advice would you give other tall men, women, and teens reading this magazine? RK: Think positive. Don’t wait for others to offer opportunities,

by an auto accident several years ago. I did Happy Gilmore after the accident and they worked with me by letting me lean on things. For the scenes where it looked like I was running, they were actually

make opportunities for yourself. Make being tall pay off and refuse to accept the negatives in life that will be handed to you. “For what a man thinketh, in his heart so will he become.” TALL


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Photos courtesy Greater Alton, Twin Rivers Convention & Visitors Bureau

One town’s tribute to the

Gentlest of Giants by Kathy Witt


Alton’s native son may be the world’s tallest man, but to the town’s residents, Robert Wadlow is nothing short of a hero.

“What gets lost in Robert’s story is that he was a person, he was someone’s boy. “

obert Pershing Wadlow was born in Alton, Illinois, on February 22, 1918. An average-sized baby at eight pounds, six ounces, he would grow to (and surpass) adult size before his 13th birthday. Robert’s fantastic size was attributed to an overactive pituitary gland that produced much higher than normal levels of growth hormone. Today there is treatment for this condition, but in the 1920s there was no therapy available and so, by the time Robert reached adulthood, his nearly nine-foot-tall, 490-pound stature was elephantine. Yet the man whose life ended at 22, an age when life is just beginning for most, was as gentle as a lamb. “He was the ‘Gentle Giant,’” says Doug Arnold, president of the Alton Regional Convention and Visitors Bureau. Arnold delights in showing visitors to this historic river town the bronze statue erected in 1985 on the campus of the Southern Illinois University School of Dental Medicine. The sculpture captures in perfect verisimilitude the benign demeanor and posture of Wadlow. “He was revered in this town and by everyone who knew him, and he still is.” His parents, Harold, and Addie (Johnson) Wadlow, tried to maintain a “normal” life for their son. Robert, a voracious reader, particularly fond of boys’ adventure stories, also enjoyed stamp collecting, photography, and scouting, just like any other young boy. He was a member of the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA), the Order of DeMolay, and later the Franklin Masonic Lodge in Alton. He had two younger sisters, Helen and Betty, and two younger brothers, Eugene and Harold, Jr., all of average size. The children grew up quite companionably in a typical post-World War I Midwest household. “His family really tried to make his life normal and to protect his image,” says Dan Brannan, executive editor for the Alton Telegraph and author of the just-published book Boy Giant (see side bar on page 46), a chronicle of Wadlow's life. “They didn't want him to be seen as a freak. Of course, no matter where Robert went, people looked at him. People heckled him. “He was such a good guy. He never lost his temper. He couldn’t go to the mailbox without stares, but he had a lot of grace. Robert was a kind soul. Anyone who has heard the story of Robert Wadlow has a positive image of him.” “There are fewer and fewer people in the community who actually knew Robert, but his legend lives on,” adds Robin Karpen, administrator at the Alton Museum of History and Art. The legend extends far beyond Alton's city limits. “Visitors from all over the world come to Alton just because they've heard of Robert Wadlow.” One person who does remember Wadlow is Robert K. Graul, the man responsible for most of the extant photos of young Robert. A photographer at the Alton Evening Telegraph in 1936, Graul's first encounter with Robert was when he photographed the senior class party at the local YWCA for the newspapers’ 100-year anniversary section. Standing head and shoulder above the crowd at 8’4” was 18-


year-old Robert. “That was the first time I saw Robert, when the students lined up and there’s this tall guy in the back row, towering over all his classmates. “The next time I saw him, he was playing with a train set on the floor of his living room. He was sitting on the floor with little Harold in his lap.” Graul recalls a gracious young man who remained steadfastly so from their first encounter to the last time he saw him, just weeks before Robert died. Graul photographed many events involving Wadlow, including what would result in his favorite photograph of Robert on his 20th birthday.

Robert's high school graduation gown on exhibit at the Alton Museum of History and Art.


A Tall Tale hen Dan Brannan sat down to write his chronicle of Robert Wadlow's life, he had the blessing of none other than Robert's beloved baby brother, Harold Wadlow, Jr., 14 years younger than his big brother. Harold, in his mid-sixties at the time Brannan began work on the book, titled Boy Giant, wholeheartedly approved of the project. “I sat down with Harry — the only surviving Wadlow family member. He was open to the idea of the book and wanted me to do it. After a good start with him, I started rolling.” Brannan, author of three other books, including the inspirational Everyday Angels, took almost four years to complete Boy Giant. He waded through mountains of clips on Wadlow in the files at the Alton Telegraph and talked to as many sources as possible that knew and remembered Robert. On December 31, 2000, while Brannan was in the midst of writing the book, Harold Wadlow, Jr., passed away at 68 years old. “Thankfully, I had taken pictures of him. Without talking to Harry and without the photos, I don’t know if I could have written the book.” Boy Giant tells Robert’s story through his own words and the words of his brother Harry, as well as other family members and lifelong friends. According to Brannan, Harold Wadlow, Jr., shared some family secrets never released to the public: about the Wadlow family’s fear of a graveyard robbery and the family’s constant attempts to have a “normal” life despite the public curiosity in their son. Harold, Jr., also discussed the Wadlow’s two famous libel suits that drew national attention in their time. “The book has memories of people who knew Robert Wadlow when he was at Milton Grade School, Alton Junior High, and Alton High School,” says Brannan. “A chapter is also devoted to legendary Alton Telegraph photographer Bob Graul, who took about 80 percent of all Wadlow photos in the 1930s and early 1940.” Mainly, Brannan’s book is the story of Robert, the world’s tallest man, and the manner in which he brought a grace and dignity to the role he only played for 22 years, but for which he would be remembered for nearly 65 years after his death. You can purchase Boy Giant directly from the Alton Museum of History and Art, located at 2809 College Ave., Alton, IL 62002. You can also purchase the book from the museum’s web site:


“He was sitting in one of his big chairs at home and little Harold was on his lap and he looked so happy. I photographed Robert separately after little Harold got up and he had this big smile on his face.” Graul’s photographs can be seen in Brannan’s book and in the Robert Wadlow gallery of the museum, along with a timeline which puts the incredible growth of Alton’s favorite son into perspective: On his first day of kindergarten in 1923, Robert was already a strap-


ping 5’6-1/2” tall and wearing clothes that would have comfortably fit a 17-year-old boy. He topped 200 pounds and measured 6-1/2” tall by his tenth birthday in 1928. As a teen-aged Boy Scout, Robert required 14 yards of materials to make his uniform — three times the amount of cloth typically needed. His shoe size was a substantial 17 and a half, and he hadn’t yet experienced his growth spurt. By the time Robert was of voting age, his feet had grown to fill a size 37 shoe. At a cost of $100 a pair, they were a small fortune in Depression-era America. Robert graduated from high school in 1936, attended Shurtleff College (now Southern Illinois University School of Dental Medicine) for a semester and then decided to accept one of many

company. “Robert would tell people, ‘If the International Shoe Company can make shoes for me, they can make shoes for anybody!’” When he was just 20 years old, Robert traveled the country with his father as the shoe company’s goodwill ambassador. Traveling in a car modified by removing the front passenger seat to accommodate his 8’ 11.1” frame, Robert visited over 800 towns and 41 states in a 300,000-plus trek, including a stop in Hollywood. “The national perception of Robert is that of a shoe salesman, who went from carnival to carnival, town to town, and his presence was enough to attract attention,” says Don Huber, Alton's township supervisor and unofficial city historian. “The image of Robert outside of Alton is almost always accompanied by a photograph of him at a fair or a homecoming where he was a representative of the shoe company — a ‘Come meet the tallest man in the world’ event." Robert was traveling for the International Shoe Company when, in the summer of 1940, in the town of Manistee, Michigan, he developed a serious infection in one foot. Dan Brannan describes the fatal condition in Boy Giant: “The infection was caused by a blister that had been noticed before he left Alton, but there was little concern because A bronze reproduction of Robert’s favorite chair was added to the memorial site at the Southern Illinois University Robert didn't normally have to School of Dental Medicine in 2002. stay on his feet much while traveling. But a brace worn on his ankle chafed him, and the infection offers to tour the country as a “curiosity” to earn money. He was set in once they arrived in Manistee.” under contract for a time with Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Robert died on July 15, 1940, and was buried on July 19 in the Bailey Circus. He also worked for the International Shoe Company, Upper Alton Cemetery. All businesses in Alton closed on the day of which was based in St. Louis at the time, just across the river from his funeral; over 40,000 people signed the guest register. Today, nearAlton, earning free shoes as part of his remuneration. ly 65 years after his death, Robert remains a beloved hero, his legacy Doug Arnold likes to tell the story of Robert’s pitch line for the


Travel Planner or more information on Robert Wadlow and the city of Alton, Illinois, contact the Greater Alton/Twin Rivers Convention & Visitors Bureau, 200 Piasa Street, Alton, IL, 62002. Call them at (888) 227-9612 or visit them online at For details about the annual Robert Wadlow birthday celebration, taking place on Sunday, February 22 in 2004, contact the Alton Museum of History and Art, Loomis Hall, 2809 College Avenue, Alton, Illinois 62002. (618) 462-2763. E-mail: Dan Brannan's book, Boy Giant (Alton Museum of History and Art, 2003), is available through the museum. More information can be found on Brannan's web site at Brannan continues to collect personal accounts and photographs involving Robert Wadlow for display at the museum. Submissions can be sent to him at 2611 Dennis Drive, Alton, Illinois 62002. Another book, The Gentleman Giant, a biography of Robert Wadlow written by Fredrick Fadner in 1942 and then reprinted in 1998, is also available through the gift shop at the museum.


of fortitude and kindness so far-reaching that his birthday continues to be celebrated locally each year. Karpen says the museum annually pulls out the stops for Wadlow’s February fete. Students from a local school come to the museum and sing “Happy Birthday.” They make birthday cards for their hero which are then displayed in the Robert Wadlow gallery of the museum, and they participate in other planned activities. A local bakery gets into the spirit by donating a suitably sizable birthday cake. “One reason why Robert’s birthday is still marked is because it was such a big deal to his family when he was alive. Robert lived his life with such spirit that people noticed that. He was clean-cut, but he liked to have fun, too. He did not expect his way in life to be paved for him because he had a ‘disability.’ People remember how he lived his life and respect and admire him for it. “We want everybody to be able to experience a sense of that spirit and we wish that everyone could have that spirit that Robert always showed. He lived his life to the best that he could despite what limitations he had.” This year, Karpen is planning a community celebration to mark Wadlow's birthday on Sunday, February 22. Singing, eating birthday cake, and taking part in themed activities will be part of the day. Participants will most likely cross the street to the campus of the Southern Illinois University School of Dental Medicine to visit the bronze statue of Robert, as well as his oversized bronze chair — a


second memorial that was added to the site and dedicated in October of 2002. “Robert standing up straight is one thing,” says Huber. “The chair is a perspective thing — it really puts his size into a new light.” Soon, a new chapter in the Robert Wadlow story will be added. The house at 1421 Monroe Street where Robert was born has recently been moved to a site just behind the statue and is currently under extensive renovation to prepare it for public tours. Karpen says the home will be furnished to reflect the era in which Robert grew up, a period that will also be documented through accompanying photography of Robert’s life — many of the them taken by Graul. “It would be wonderful if the house were to be open in six months, but it will be at least a year before it’s ready for touring, and may take even longer than that,” admits Karpen. “We do not receive any city or state taxes, and so are relying on grant money and donations to get the job done.” Brannan feels that Robert Wadlow may be what Alton, Illinois, is most known for and acknowledges that he leaves a very large pair of shoes to fill. “He was the world’s tallest man and he handled his tallness with such grace. Sometimes, I think what gets lost in Robert’s story is that he was a person, he was someone’s boy. He was very bright and died very young when most of us are getting started, getting married, and planning our futures. “He was a giant, but he was also very normal.” TALL

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Photo: Courtesy each respective auto and truck manufacturer.

wh ere



Our first annual car and truck roundup. TALL 30

fit in?

When it comes to buying our vehicles, it’s what’s inside that really counts


he following car reviews have nothing to do with how fast a car accelerates from 0 to 60, how short of a braking distance it needs, how many liters the engine holds, what its cornerhandling abilities, the number of optional speakers you can purchase, or the amount of gas the vehicle burns per mile traveled. These reviews were written by and for individuals who are looking for that something extra in their vehicles, namely extra legroom and headroom.

e have no driving professionals giving us their expert opinion on how the torque ratio for the turning radius of the rear wheelbase didn’t adjust for whatever it is it’s supposed to adjust for. If you are looking for a car or truck, and one of your main criteria to purchase it is whether you can drive the vehicle without having to crane your neck sideways, push the backrest all the way to the reclining position, have your knees up higher than your wrists, or only drive with the convertible top down, you’re in the right place. Separating ourselves further from the pack, we are not limiting our reviews and opinions to only the 2004 models, though the guys over at contributed their top 4 of 2004 choices. We realize that not every reader is yearning to splurge on a new model. For some of us, a car that is two, five, ten, or even twenty years old is worth the money as long as we can drive it comfortably. These reviews were contributed by readers of our tall community.


In some cases they had just bought a car and wanted to write about it. In other instances, they had test-driven a model and thought others might value their reaction. Most of our “reviewers,” however, wanted simply to share the make and model of their favorite ride. You may notice that very few reviews are from women. This is not a slight against the fairer sex, but common logic: If a 6’8” man can fit into a car or truck, chances are good that a 5’10” women will too. To make this guide easier to use, we included each driver’s height, weight, and inseam length. We limited our search to cars, SUVs. and trucks available in the United States, though we did include some popular foreign imports too. Our special thanks to all those who volunteered this information. TALL magazine accepts no liability for the reliability or factual authenticity of any

information contained herein. These opinions do not reflect those of TALL magazine or any of its associates or advertisers.


really like this car. Loads of leg- and headroom. Seat can be adjusted many ways. DRIVER’S HEIGHT: 6’6” INSEAM: 37” M/F: M WEIGHT (LBS): 227


The Toyota Matrix: Colorful and roomy! TOYOTA MR2 GT


YEAR: 1992 LEGROOM: !!!! HEADROOM: !!! ! OVERALL: !!!! COMMENTS: I can drive this two-seater comforably without any modifications. DRIVER’S HEIGHT: 6’6” INSEAM: 34” M/F: M WEIGHT (LBS): 252

YEAR: 2001 LEGROOM: !!!! HEADROOM: !!!! OVERALL: !!!! COMMENTS: I like this car because there are several ways I can adjust the seat and back and steering wheel. DRIVER’S HEIGHT: 6’6” INSEAM: 37” M/F: M WEIGHT (LBS): 225

BMW MINI COOPER S YEAR: 2001 LEGROOM: !!!!! HEADROOM: !!!! OVERALL: !!!! COMMENTS: Yes it’s a Mini. And yes, I fit great in it. This is a very nice car to drive overall too. No backseat room if I’m driving, though. DRIVER’S HEIGHT: 6’7” INSEAM: 37” M/F: M WEIGHT (LBS): 238




YEAR: 1998 LEGROOM: !!!! HEADROOM: !!!! OVERALL: !!!!! COMMENTS: I live on the West Coast, and I LOVE this car. There is nothing like putting down the top and cruising by the sea. The Sebring rocks! DRIVER’S HEIGHT: 6’8” INSEAM: 37” M/F: M WEIGHT (LBS): 233


YEAR: 1990 LEGROOM: !!!! HEADROOM: !!!!! OVERALL: !!!! COMMENTS: Lots of headroom. Wide footwell with large pedals that are far enough apart for my big feet. DRIVER’S HEIGHT: 6’9” INSEAM: 38” M/F: M WEIGHT (LBS): 215

YEAR: 1996 LEGROOM: !!!! HEADROOM: !!!!! OVERALL: !!!! COMMENTS: The pedals are a bit too close together, but other than that I

YEAR: 2002 LEGROOM: !!!! HEADROOM: !!!! OVERALL: !!!! COMMENTS: This is a workhorse. I do lots of daily driving with this to construction sites and my legs and knees have never bothered me. DRIVER’S HEIGHT: 6’4” INSEAM: 35” M/F: M WEIGHT (LBS): 211

HONDA ACCORD YEAR: 1995 LEGROOM: !!!! HEADROOM: !!! OVERALL: !!!! COMMENTS: Good for the legs, not so much for the head. Have to lean the seat way back. Nice ride anyway. DRIVER’S HEIGHT: 6’3” INSEAM: 31” M/F: M WEIGHT (LBS): 185

CITROEN 2CV (IMPORT) YEAR: 1975 LEGROOM: !!!!! HEADROOM: !!!!! OVERALL: !!!!! COMMENTS: For me, this is the best car ever for tall people. The inside headroom leaves room to spare! DRIVER’S HEIGHT: 6’4” INSEAM: 33” M/F: M WEIGHT (LBS): 245

BMW 528i SE YEAR: 1999

RATING GUIDE: All ratings are based on a thumbs-up system, with the maximum number awarded being five, and one the lowest.

LEGROOM: !!!! HEADROOM: !!!! OVERALL: !!!! COMMENTS: Believe it or not, this is a nice car for tall people. The gears are on a raised central divide, so they don’t get in the way of your knees. Room for my head too. DRIVER’S HEIGHT: 6’7” INSEAM: 38” M/F: M WEIGHT (LBS): 249

FORD ESCORT YEAR: 1991 LEGROOM: !!!! HEADROOM: !!!! OVERALL: !!!!! COMMENTS: I have big feet, but the pedals are nicely spaced so I can drive pretty comfortably. Not the best car for long trips though. DRIVER’S HEIGHT: 6’10” INSEAM: 38” M/F: M WEIGHT (LBS): 276

CHRYSLER PT CRUISER YEAR: 2002 LEGROOM: !!!! HEADROOM: !!!! OVERALL: !!!!! COMMENTS: The good news is that I really fit nicely in this car. Loads of legroom, and I don’t need to scrunch down to look out the windshield either. The bad news is that the car doesn’tt handle as well as I was expecting. DRIVER’S HEIGHT: 6’9” INSEAM: 38” M/F: M WEIGHT (LBS): 235


TOYOTA ECHO YEAR: 2003 LEGROOM: !!!!! HEADROOM: !!!!! OVERALL: !!!!! COMMENTS: I test drove tons of cars before settling on the roomy echo. Worth every hard-spent dime! DRIVER’S HEIGHT: 6’6” INSEAM: 35 M/F: M WEIGHT (LBS): 185

PONTIAC TRANS AM YEAR: 1987 LEGROOM: !!!!! HEADROOM: !!!!! OVERALL: !!!! COMMENTS: This was my favorite car I ever drove. The footwells were under the engine, so I had a full legstretch when I drove. T-Tops gave me more headroom too. And man was it fast! Sight ...

The new VW Tuareg gets three thumbs up!

CHRYSLER NEON YEAR: 1999 LEGROOM: !!! HEADROOM: !!! OVERALL: !!!! COMMENTS: I found out an LX version of this car, which gives me a little bit more room. Not the spaciest ride, but Cont’d on page 36

Photo: Nissan Motor Company

The 20 04 Nissan Murano: Top choice!


The Top

of 2004

2004 HONDA ELEMENT STYLE: 5-door, 4-passenger SUV MSRP Range: $16,100-$21,100 HEADROOM: 10 out of 10. VISION: 10 out of 10. LATERAL SPACE: 10 out of 10. Your legs don’t rub against the center console. HORIZONTAL SPACE: 5 out of 10. Great movement of steering wheel up and out of the way, but still not enough to accommodate knee clearance. LEGROOM: 2 out of 10. Seat pitch is perfect, but the low marks come from the limited amount of movement available to push the seat back. COMMENTS: 6’5” Guy: It’s got great cargo capacity, and I don’t mind the boxy look. 6’7” Guy: Doable, but not for long distances. The boxy look is lame, too. 6’11” Guy: 64 seat configurations and not one will give me the seat position I need to increase the available legroom.

2004 NISSAN MURANO STYLE: 4-door, 5-passenger 4x4 SUV MSRP Range: $28,199-$30,599 HEADROOM: 9 out of 10. VISION: 9 out of 10.


by 6’5” Guy, 6’7” Guy, and 6’11” Guy

LATERAL SPACE: 10 out of10. HORIZONTAL SPACE: 5 out of 10. Floor pedals are spaced nicely and proportional. Knees can still get in the way. LEGROOM: 5 out of 10. COMMENTS: 6’5” Guy: I fit O.K. This car would work well for me. 6’7” Guy: If the driver’s seat could go back an inch more I’d be comfortable. 6’11” Guy: I really like the instrument panel layout. This is the closest thing to a proper fit I’ve had all day.

2004 TOYOTA MATRIX STYLE: 4-door, 5-passenger, XR 2WD wagon MSRP Range: $14,670-$18,750 HEADROOM: 7 out of 10. VISION: 7 out of 10. LATERAL SPACE: 7 out of10. Because the gear shifter sits on a lower portion of the dashboard, there is no leg rubbing against the center console. HORIZONTAL SPACE: 5 out of 10. Steering wheel tilts enough to accommodate the required knee clearance. LEGROOM: 7 out of 10. Seat pitch is good and legs feel comfortable.

COMMENTS: 6’5” Guy: Love the mirror placement; I can see more of the road in front of me. 6’7” Guy: Comfy. I love the gearshift on the dash instead of having a center console. 6’11” Guy: It's way too cramped for me to seriously consider ever driving it.

2004 TOYOTA RAV4 STYLE: 4-door, 5-passenger 4x4 SUV MSRP Range: $16,525-$17,925 HEADROOM: 7 out of 10. VISION: 7 out of 10. LATERAL SPACE: 7 out of10. HORIZONTAL SPACE: 5 out of 10. Steering wheel was a little too low, but still up enough to accommodate the required knee clearance. LEGROOM: 7 out of 10.. COMMENTS: 6’7” Guy: This my best pick of the day. 6’11” Guy: The fit is way too tight to make this car work for me.

Reviews graciously provided by the guys at TALL magazine holds no guarantee and accepts no liability for any information contained herein. Buyer beware.

WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN? VERTICAL SPACE: Manufacturers measure from the floor of the vehicle to the ceiling to get their headroom measurements. Unfortunately, they never tell you how thick the bottom of the seat is. Electric motors in the seat can sometimes eat up valuable inches that taller drivers might need. The same is true of sunroofs. SLOPE: The slope of the windshield is a major factor for driver comfort and safety. If you have a longer torso, you'll have to sit in a lot of vehicles to find the one that works best for you. Try to narrow your list by looking at the angle of the windshield from the outside; examine how the windshield looks in relation to the roof. LATERAL SPACE: Lateral space isn't as dependent on a driver's weight as one might guess. The biggest thing that literally affects lateral space is the placement of the center console. A leg rubbing against it might not bother some drivers, but a testdrive can help determine how much rubbing you can handle. If your leg feels wedged in, or pressed against the con-

sole, move on to the next vehicle. Even if you don't have to deal with much startand-stop traffic on a regular basis, your leg shouldn't be crowded or uncomfortable. Your foot should move easily between gas and break pedals without the risk of falling asleep or going numb. Other factors that affect lateral space include the center armrests the thickness and placement of the doorhandles, and even the width of the map holders. Most people never notice how much space these “comfort” items take up. For taller drivers however, they are possible nuisances and obstacles to comfortable and safe driving. HORIZONTAL SPACE: The tilt of the steering wheel is the most important factor affecting horizontal space. Getting it up and out of the way so your knees can be comfortable is only half of the equation; the other half is the way it affects your arms. Holding your arms in a certain position through extended bouts of traffic may affect your circulation and could cause excessive fatigue and even numbness.

LEGROOM: For some reason shorter people think this is the biggest concern of tall drivers. Retailers may brag about how much legroom a car has without realizing that the previously mentioned spatial criteria can totally negate any supposed gains. Legroom only takes into account the space between a foot on the pedal and the butt on the seat. Taking this into consideration, it’s important to know how much a seat can be moved back. If you do decide to purchase a new vehicle, DO NOT let a dealer talk you into removing a seat from the rails. Even if the dealer does it for you, it could nullify your manufacturer's warranty and your insurance policy. Seat pitch can also play a roll as it determines the angle of your thighs. If you've ever flown economy while being tall, you'll know how quickly the angle of your thighs can affect comfort. As previously mentioned, manual seat adjustments can add some valuable space for taller drivers, but unfortunately they don't offer the same nuances of pitch.


Cont’d from page 33 not that expensive either. DRIVER’S HEIGHT: 6’1” INSEAM: 30” M/F: F WEIGHT (LBS): n/a

JEEP LIBERTY YEAR: 2003 LEGROOM: !!! HEADROOM: !!!! OVERALL: !!!! COMMENTS: This is a solid car. I drive with the backrest way back. Having a stick doesn’t bother my knee either. DRIVER’S HEIGHT: 6’7” INSEAM: 35” M/F: M WEIGHT (LBS): 219

TOYOTA CELICA YEAR: 2001 LEGROOM: !!!! HEADROOM: !!!!! OVERALL: !!!! COMMENTS: Best car I ever bought. DRIVER’S HEIGHT: 6’0” INSEAM: 32” M/F: F WEIGHT (LBS): 135


Photo: Getty Images

YEAR: 1993 LEGROOM: !!!! HEADROOM: !!!!! OVERALL: !!!! COMMENTS: I had one with a moonroof, which added more room. Cozy but comfortable. Took it on a cross-country trip without any real fatigue or leg problems. Good performer too! DRIVER’S HEIGHT: 6’6” INSEAM: 35” M/F: M WEIGHT (LBS): 198

FINDING A CAR THAT FITS IS NOT A MODERN PROBLEM. Bulgarian Assen Ivanov Giorgiev, who weighed 564lbs and was close to 9’2” tall, next to a car that he probably wouldn’t have fit in.


VW TUAREG YEAR: 2004 LEGROOM: !!!! HEADROOM: !!!!! OVERALL: !!!! COMMENTS: A local dealership was offering sneak peaks at this new VW so I sat inside. It looks roomy enough. Didn’t

get a chance to drive it but really want to! DRIVER’S HEIGHT: 6’3” INSEAM: 33 M/F: M WEIGHT (LBS): 137

MERCEDES SLK KOMPRESSOR YEAR: 2002 LEGROOM: !!!!! HEADROOM: !!!!! OVERALL: !!!! COMMENTS: No headroom problems, I can eve drive with heels on! DRIVER’S HEIGHT: 6’1” INSEAM: 34” M/F: F WEIGHT (LBS): 149

DODGE RAM YEAR: 2002 LEGROOM: !!!! HEADROOM: !!!! OVERALL: !!!! COMMENTS: This is a workhorse. I do lots of daily driving with this to construction sites and my legs and knees have never bothered me. DRIVER’S HEIGHT: 6’4” INSEAM: 35” M/F: M WEIGHT (LBS): 211

JEEP GRAND CHEROKEE LTD YEAR: 1997 LEGROOM: !!!! HEADROOM: !!!!! OVERALL: !!!! COMMENTS: Seats are adjustable to go down and back, and the wheel goes up too. Result? Lots of headroom! DRIVER’S HEIGHT: 6’9” INSEAM: 37” M/F: M WEIGHT (LBS): 247

VW PASSAT YEAR: 1999 LEGROOM: !! HEADROOM: !!!! OVERALL: !!! COMMENTS: My seat is very short for my long legs. The good news is that there is decent headroom. I wouldn’t buy this car again.


HONDA ACURA NSX YEAR: 1996 LEGROOM: !!!! HEADROOM: !!!!! OVERALL: !!!! COMMENTS: I am long in the torso, but this car has plenty of headroom. DRIVER’S HEIGHT: 6’ INSEAM: n/a M/F: F WEIGHT (LBS): 135


VW BEETLE SUZUKI WAGON YEAR: 2000 LEGROOM: !!!! HEADROOM: !!!!! OVERALL: !!!! COMMENTS: For a guy who’s seven feet tall, I can fit comfortably in this car for long stretches at a time. DRIVER’S HEIGHT: 7’ INSEAM: n/a M/F: M WEIGHT (LBS): 265

YEAR: 1970 LEGROOM: !!!!! HEADROOM: !!!!! OVERALL: !!!!! COMMENTS: I have really long legs, and I really like driving this car. Lots of storage too! DRIVER’S HEIGHT: 5’10” INSEAM: n/a M/F: F WEIGHT (LBS): 125

JAGUAR S TYPE TOYOTA ECHO YEAR: 2003 LEGROOM: !!!!! HEADROOM: !!!!! OVERALL: !!!!! COMMENTS: I test drove tons of cars before settling on the roomy echo. Worth every hard-spent dime! DRIVER’S HEIGHT: 6’6” INSEAM: 35 M/F: M WEIGHT (LBS): 185

YEAR: 2001 LEGROOM: !!!!! HEADROOM: !!!!! OVERALL: !!!!! COMMENTS: It’s a Jaguar! I think I just make the cut because a lot of my taller male friends can’t fit in too well. Oh well! DRIVER’S HEIGHT: 5’11” INSEAM: n/a M/F: F WEIGHT (LBS): n/a



YEAR: 1979 LEGROOM: !!!! HEADROOM: !!!!! OVERALL: !!!! COMMENTS: This wasn’t so much a car as a tank! It was one of the first models with electric seats, which would go waaaay back. Very reliable. Finally got rusted out and had to be replaced. DRIVER’S HEIGHT: 7’2” INSEAM: 41” M/F: M

YEAR: 2002 LEGROOM: !!!!! HEADROOM: !!!!! OVERALL: !!!!! COMMENTS: I would give this car ten thumbs-up if I could. There is nothing I don’t like about sitting in it or driving it. Pure pleasure. DRIVER’S HEIGHT: 6’7” INSEAM: 36” M/F: M WEIGHT (LBS): 225


Brad Sherwood, Colin Mochrie, Sean Masterson, Jeff B. Davis, and Chip Esten: collectively known as the Improv Allstars

Laughter from by M.L. Zambrana


ney aho 'a M ean it: S red to c Pho

On High

“Shirt sleeves.” hen 6’4” actor and comedian Brad Sherwood is asked about one of the downsides of being tall, clothing is the first topic that comes to his mind; and he has no hesitation in letting you know what it is about clothing he doesn’t like, either: Shirt sleeves. “I wear XXL shirts. Extra-large shirts fit in the body, but they don’t fit in the sleeves. But then,” he adds, “a double extra-large shirt tends to be a little big on the body.” Best known for his appearances on both the British and American versions of Whose Line Is It Anyway?, as the nanny on the NBC drama L.A. Law, and for his hosting duties on The New Dating Game, the 39-year-old Brad Sherwood wears a plaid yellow Dickies long sleeved, button-down shirt. The shirt is a tad too short in the cuffs, but this doesn’t appear to be enough of an inconvenience for him to be concerned with. But it doesn’t quite fit in another direction, either; the slightly wrinkled material balloons out below his chest to make this handsome, physically fit man seem a little larger around the waist than he is. It might be time for a few alterations. Brad is seated at one of the small wooden tables at Aromas, a small coffee shop inside Caesar’s Hotel and Casino in Lake Tahoe, California. With a fresh cup of coffee in front of him and one arm hooked casually over the back of his chair, you’d never guess by his calm demeanor that he is due to step onto a stage and perform in front of several hundred people in less than an hour… without a script and without a clue as to what is going to happen. Such is the beauty of improvisation. It is Saturday, August 24, 2003 and Caesar’s is hosting the Improv Allstars — a group of talented, and very funny, men and women who specialize in making things up on the spot — for the second time this year. The Allstars converged on the beautiful city of Lake Tahoe to relax, go on day trips together, gamble, hang out with one another before and after the shows, and do what they do best: make people laugh. Though ABC TV currently lists the show as being “on hiatus,” reruns from the 1998-2002 Whose Line Is It Anyway? tapings air during the week at 10 P.M. on ABC Family. The original British 1989-1998 episodes also appear regularly on the Comedy Central cable network. Since its inception in 1988 as a radio program, the show has received harsh criticism from the “legitimate” theater world for its shallow, game-like format, but the success Whose Line? has achieved in bringing improvisation into modern culture is an undisputable fact. Another undisputable fact is that the show has made celebrities out of its main players. Due to prior commitments, three of the most prominent members


of the Improv Allstars cast were not available for the weekend’s activities. Drew Carey and Ryan Stiles, co-executive producers of Whose Line? were not present. Also missing from the lineup is San Franciscobased comedian Greg Proops, whose schedule took him to Scotland and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. While Carey, Stiles, and Proops did not make this Tahoe performances, the rest of the troupe—Colin Mochrie (currently one of the biggest celebrity in Canada), actress Kathy Kinney (who plays “Mimi” on The Drew Carey Show), Julie Larson (an improviser and writer on The Drew Carey Show), Sean Masterson, Jeff B. Davis, and Charles “Chip” Esten—reunited for the Saturday night show. Oh, and of course, Mr. Brad Sherwood. At the moment, however, Brad’s mind is not on the impending show, or on the whereabouts of his fellow performers, or even on his attractive girlfriend, Sean’a Mahoney, who has joined him in Tahoe for the weekend. No, it’s on shirts. About the only reprieve Brad enjoys from the constant sleeve length and shirt size battle occurs during the Whose Line? tapings, when the wardrobe people avoid the issue entirely by putting him in short sleeves. “Just finding sleeves that fit is tough,” Brad continues. “I can’t imagine what somebody who’s got longer arms than I have would do at a store, because I only rarely find sleeves that fit me. Someone else with slightly longer arms would always have to buy custom. I think Ryan has to do a lot of custom, but he has people who work on The Drew Carey Show who do a lot of clothes shopping, and they have a lot of sizes, so they bring clothes that they know are going to fit, and then when he sees stuff he likes, he just buys it from there. It’s like the show finds and purchases clothes for him.” A look of mild envy creeps across his serene expression. “I wish I had someone purchasing clothes that I could just pick out.” Clothing problems aside, Brad’s height is a matter of obvious pride to him. In fact, almost all of the men in the Improv Allstars share not only a phenomenal, top-notch talent for improvisation, but they also share the height advantage. “We have the tallest cast in show business,” Sherwood boasts. “We’re trying to get [6’8” actor] Brad Garrett from Everyone Loves Raymond to join,” he adds with a deadpan expression, “just so we can officially have the tallest people in Hollywood. That’s my hope.” If the Allstars aren’t the tallest cast in show business, they’ve got to be pretty close. Ryan Stiles is 6’5”; Jeff Davis describes himself as being “just a hair” under 6’4”; both Sean Masterson and Colin Mochrie stand 6’2”. Chip Esten is 6’1”, and he was shocked (and even a little hurt) to learn that he missed being considered tall by only an inch. Greg Proops is 6’ tall, while the superstar of the bunch, Drew Carey, is a mere 5’10”.

“We have the tallest cast in show business,” Sherwood boasts.


“I lived in this basement apartment and it had this low wooden beam, and, like clockwork, I would get up and smack my head into it every morning.” - Colin Mochrie

Jeff Davis, who this season will star as “Todd,” the oldest son in NBC’s Happy Family, has definitely noticed this relatively new trend of tall performers in Hollywood. “Television actors used to be a little shorter, but now that’s starting to change, particularly with shows like Whose Line? and Everybody Loves Raymond.” And Happy Family, he adds—in reference to both himself and his 6’4” costar, actor John Larroquette. Fellow improviser Sean Masterson, who honed his skills with Second City Chicago, agrees with Davis’s observation. He, for one, is glad that changes are taking place to accommodate those of greater stature, particularly in terms of sets and wardrobe. And at least in the Improv Allstars, he gets to experience the odd but pleasurable feeling that, for once, he physically fits in. (Although Masterson did confess it was a bit strange for him to be in a performance situation where he is a man of average, if not below average, height.) Masterson may be less familiar to Whose Line? fans than the other performers, but this doesn’t mean he’s a stranger to the world of comedy improv. He joined Drew Carey on stage for live shows throughout the United States and Canada, appeared in two Las Vegas pay-per-view specials with Carey and the Allstars, and joined several other members on a USO tour in 2002 that took them to Bosnia and Kosovo to entertain the troops. He and Ryan Stiles even collaborated together on a script called “Live Bait,” but after a twoyear delay in production, the story appears to have been lost in the movie-making system.


Cowriting, coproducing, and costarring situations are a common occurrence for this close-knit group. The actors have all known each other for many years and often join one another on various projects, even welcoming the occasional unexpected appearances of one of their friends while on the road. Earlier in the year, Drew Carey made an unscheduled appearance at Caesar’s Hotel in Atlantic City, New Jersey and joined Sherwood, Mochrie, and Proops for two nights of fun and gambling. Sherwood and Mochrie spent parts of November and December 2003 touring the Midwest and the East Coast—Ohio, Illinois, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Maryland—to soldout venues. Off the stage, the gang also spends their spare time together on a regular basis; before performing in the Atlantic City show, the four men went down the street to a neighboring hotel, the Tropicana Casino and Resort, to see a Cher concert together. It’s a tough life, but Chip Esten revels in his current career situation. “My work is my vacation!” he exclaims. “I’m in a nice hotel, hanging out with my friends (where I) do an hour and a half, hour and forty-five minute show, go relax, go have dinner. It’s when I get home that the work starts with all the kids, all the soccer teams, school, and stuff like that, but that’s the part I love. But in terms of what’s more relaxing? My work is more relaxing than my free time.” Brad Sherwood also appreciates the nationwide improv boom that has enriched his life, even though he finds that personal time is harder to come by these days.

“Before I started going out on tour and I was just doing Whose Line?, there was such a small time commitment shootingwise—we’d shoot on the weekends and we could do the whole season in five weekends. So I had all the free time in the world to do everything, and now that I’m out on the road all the time, three times a month, I don’t have a lot of downtime. I don’t do as much of my hobbies (which include writing music, playing guitar, and painting) because I’m just relaxing and hanging out with my girlfriend.” But is this whole improv thing really hard work? You’d better believe it. Anyone can go on a stage and try improv, but not many actors can make it flow and hold an audience’s attention at the same time. Even fewer can make it funny. The Improv Allstars have taken this form of entertainment one step beyond humor. Their repertoire incorporates acting, singing, dancing, and even the occasional gymnastics moves when the scene demands it. What looks easy to the average audience member is actually a rare and wonderful blending of timing, talent and personalities that continues to defy the odds. When professionals are this good at their craft, the hardest thing to realize is that improvisation isn’t a consistent art, and even these seasoned pros can’t predict when they’ll have a good or a bad show, or how their onstage relationships will pan out on any given evening. Chip Esten is very aware of the shifting dynamics of his craft, and not even years of working with the same people can give him a clue as to which direction a show is headed. “Any particular pairing can work on a night, and any particular pairing might not work on a night. You can’t predict it. You can say, ‘Yeah, Jeff and I work great together. Brad and I work great together.’ And then that won’t work as well as something I do with Sean or Greg, so there’s no telling, really.” Outside job pursuits, whether they are done either by the men to further their careers or to use their time constructively, are a necessity. When they’re not hooking up for improv shows, each of the performers has their own agenda, usually involving auditioning and finding roles in television or films, or doing additional live shows with other people or in different combinations between themselves. Success outside the companionable world of the Improv Allstars has turned out to be a fickle thing. Esten’s appearances in the motion pictures The Postman and Thirteen Days, his roles in the cable production 61*, NBC’s JAG, and ABC’s L.A. Dragnet have been strokes of luck, but two pilot sitcoms he filmed weren’t picked up for the 2003 fall TV season. Apart from his obligations to Whose Line? or the Improv Allstars, or pursuing his acting career, Brad Sherwood is known to make an occasional appearance on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. He also pops up in two-man shows with his friend, Dave Bushnell; the two have performed improv together for 11 years.

Sometimes, success hits on a bigger scale. Forty-six-year-old Colin Mochrie might not be as popular in the United States as Drew Carey, but he is one of the biggest stars in his home country of Canada. He’s had a string of appearances to his credit, including “This Hour has 22 Minutes,” “Blackfly,” as well as guest appearances on a number of CBC programs. Mochrie’s brief appearances in bigbudget films like John Travolta’s Lucky Numbers and Jackie Chan’s The Tuxedo are a sharp contrast to his roles in independent films such as Jane White is Sick and Twisted and Expecting, where he proves that his acting skills are as great as his talent for improvisation. For Mochrie, the luck train keeps moving forward. Mochrie and his wife, Debra McGrath, recently sold a project to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation based on the behind-the-scenes action on a 1960s variety show. They hope to secure the lead roles in it as well. Along with all the abilities that these men possess, there is that one unique shared feature— height. The performers’ genetic makeup played no small part in their stature, as most of them anticipated their own accelerated growth based on the appearance of their relatives. Colin Mochrie’s 5’10” mother and his 6’2” father shared the height advantage, while the paternal side of Brad Sherwood’s family also exceeded six feet —from his 6’3” father to his two uncles, one who stands 6’2” and another at 6’6”. “I was pretty sure I was going to be tall,” Sherwood remarks. “When I was really little, I already had really big feet. I had size twelves when I was in sixth grade, so I was like 5’6” with size 12 shoes. I looked like the letter ‘L’,” he adds with a smirk. Luckily, the accelerated growth of his feet halted soon after and he now wears size 13 shoes. “That’s the largest size they have in the stores,” he says. “They usually only have one pair, so if you’re the first one to get there when a lot of shoes come in, you’ll get a pair of shoes. Otherwise you have to order them. They order hundreds of pairs of size 9 through 11, but the big 13s, they usually only have two in that size.” Sherwood notes that height is not an issue for him most of the time, but it can become one in certain situations — particularly when it comes to automobiles and airplanes. “I recently went car shopping. I bought a car last November, and I looked at lots of nice cars and most of them I had to rule out just because they didn’t have enough legroom or headroom. Most of them have enough legroom, but then they don’t compensate for the fact that you have a long torso, and if you hit a speed bump, you’re going to smash your head on the ceiling. I don’t want to name names, but a lot of the upscale brands of cars do not have enough headroom for people my height and taller.” Because their job requires them to do a lot of travel, flying is a necessary burden that all of the performers face. Brad Sherwood hates flying

“The worst thing you can do is to think, ‘Be funny. Be funny. Be funny.’” - Chip Esten


“She was laughing so hard that she passed out and they had to call the paramedics (she’s fine now). That’s how I define a successful show!” - Jeff Davis because of the tight quarters involved, particularly in coach, where he requires an exit row seat. Even then, he says, space becomes a critical issue when the person ahead of you leans their seat back, or when the tray table won’t go down because it’s hitting your knees. Colin Mochrie admits that he faces the same adversities, particularly in the back seats of small cars. Whenever he flies, he makes every effort to secure either a first-class ticket or a bulkhead seat to minimize his discomfort. But for thirty-year-old Jeff Davis, the youngest man of the Improv Allstars, there is one more height-related drawback worth mentioning: roller coasters. “They’re not made for anyone over 6’2”,” he remarks with disappointment and mild frustration. Even though he is “bummed out” about being too tall to ride on certain roller coasters, he maintains a positive outlook on his stature and is adamant about the fact that he “wouldn’t trade being tall for anything.” And just when you think that these men would be comfortable in their own bodies, even the performers themselves have been surprised by their own dimensions. “I never really noticed it that much until I lived in this basement apartment in Vancouver,” Mochrie remarks, “and it had this low wooden beam across the ceiling and, like clockwork, I would get up and smack my head into it every morning.” If architecture and product design aren’t enough of a problem, society doesn’t always make tall people feel comfortable in their bodies, either. “I feel guilty at a concert if someone sits behind me,” says Sherwood. “I always go to movies early so that I can get my seat, so I don’t get there late and sit down in front of someone so that I have to hear that…” He rolls his eyes and releases an impatient sigh, in a perfect imitation of the irritation expressed by an imaginary movie patron. “If I’m there first and anyone sits behind me, it’s their own problem. So that’s what you have to consider when you’re tall — to be considerate. Like if you’re that person that walks in during the previews and you sit down in front of some petite woman, and then that


whole group has to shuffle and then the tallest of them has to sit behind you, and you hear the groaning and the complaining…” He shrugs. “They take it personally. It’s like, ‘Sorry, my torso is longer than yours. Pardon my calcium intake!’” Speaking of calcium, health is also an issue among this thirty- to forty-something group. Carey, Stiles, Mochrie, and Proops are all in their mid-forties now, and their bodies are not able to keep up with the physical demands of improvisation like they used to. Even Sherwood, Esten, and Davis, all in their thirties, deal with the strain of their chosen occupations. Height just adds another complication. And while Sean Masterson is aware of the health problems associated with tall men, particularly the recently publicized dangers of prostate cancer, he is first and foremost a comedian… and he can even find humor in his own mortality. “Shorter people have less risk of getting cancer,” he says as he stretches out his index finger and grins. “That’s why I check myself daily.” But sometimes the humor fades when physical problems begin to rule your life. Colin Mochrie and Ryan Stiles have both suffered for years with persistent back trouble, relying mostly on the adrenaline and focus required during performances to ignore the pain. But like Masterson, Mochrie also manages to find a humorous side to the discomfort—some activities, he notes, are easier to perform than others. “It’s funny how those back problems disappear when we have Playboy bunnies on the show,” he remarks with raised eyebrows. Or cheerleaders. During one taping of Whose Line?, Mochrie and Stiles were joined by cheerleaders for “Living Scenery,” a game in which the performers utilize other people as props. Mochrie used one girl for each leg as chaps, hooked another one around his throat as a neckerchief,

used another one for a gun belt… by the time he finished “dressing,” he had several women hanging off of him. The physical sacrifices can be demanding, but as he once commented during a taping of the show, “anything for a laugh!” Out of all the other Improv Allstars, thirty-eight-year-old Chip Esten is perhaps in the best shape, and as a result he concerns himself less with the physical side of improv than with the mental discipline needed to do his job. “I’ll do a small amount of just stretching out,” Esten says. “Mostly just try to relax. The worst thing you can do is to think about trying to be funny. ‘Be funny. Be funny. Be funny.’ That’s just death. What I always think of is ‘Have fun. Have fun. Have fun.’ Because the only thing the audience doesn’t want to see is you afraid. They’ll put up with a lot of other things but they don’t want to sit through that because they feel too badly for you.” Besides, insecurity is unattractive… especially when it comes to the opposite sex. All of the performers have wives or girlfriends, but the inevitability of having to be with shorter women has affected each of them in any number of ways. Jeff Davis found his height to be beneficial in the social scene. “I used to do a lot of swing dancing, and all the girls wanted to dance with the tall guys. Women like to… well, it seems to me, anyway, that they like to feel petite. Tall guys put women at ease.” Intimacy with a shorter woman can sometimes be a bit of a challenge, however. Colin Mochrie has been married for 14 years, but he admits that sometimes walking side-by-side with his wife is more of a conscious effort than he wants it to be. “You can’t make out very well,” Mochrie remarks. “And there are different things, like walking around and holding each other around the waist. It’s not easy to do. There’s a certain rhythm that you have to get into.” The dilemma of dating took on other dimensions for Mochrie, who confesses that every woman that he ever dated usually wavered between five feet and five-foot-two, and he commonly found himself pursued by what he describes as “aggressive short women.” To complicate matters, he says, “I was always the last to know when anyone was interested in me.” Not all dating experiences are created equal, but neither is popularity, and celebrity status among this group varies as much as their life experiences. Drew Carey and Kathy Kinney are by far the most well-known individuals in the Improv Allstars, thanks to the phenomenal success of The Drew Carey Show. From there, however, names become a struggle for the improv layman. The most frequent comedians on Whose Line Is It Anyway? are often referred to by their physical appearances — the “tall guy” (Ryan Stiles), the “bald guy” (Colin Mochrie), the “black guy” (Wayne Brady), and the “guy with glasses” (Greg Proops). This can give the performers without such immediately recognizable characteristics a tougher time in the notoriety department. “I’m sort of semirecognizable,” Sherwood admits. “A lot of people will see me and think I look familiar, but they won’t instantly place where they know me from. Other people know me immediately and

know who I am. But I think that I’m at a very good level of being recognizable, because it’s not the way Drew and Kathy Kinney are recognizable, where people constantly come up to them and talk to them all the time which—in a normal day if you’re really, really famous—having had that all day can be a little irritating. Not any one of them is irritating,” he stresses, “but it’s having it happen forty times a day… that’s why people become reclusive when they’re really recognizable.” And how does he handle the situation? “I’m nice. I’m at that place where people recognize me sometimes and they’ll say ‘Hi,’ but people don’t feel the need that they have to come over to say hello to me. I get to enjoy the benefits of having a career and doing what I like, but not any of the drawbacks of what being really famous are. In the scheme of things, it’s nothing to complain about, anyway, but I have a lot of friends who go through that. I understand how they tend to want to then get away and not be in crowds because of it.” Being in a crowd, however, is one place where an extra few inches in the vertical direction pays off. “When you meet friends in crowded places,” says Davis, “they can spot you and you can spot them easier.” Sherwood also shares that viewpoint. “When you’re in a crowd, you don’t get claustrophobic. Because your head is above the crowd. You don’t feel like you can’t breathe, like when you’re in a subway or something. I’m still up above everyone and don’t feel completely trapped, which I like, and you can see when something is going on in a crowd.” What’s next for this talented group? Tours, for the most part. Chip Esten grins. “We’re starting to really pick that up a lot more. It’s just a lot of fun getting out to see the people who love the show, and it really picks us up. We’re having a ball. I just ran into a couple of ladies, and they were all laughing at their friend who was a little older than they were — they can laugh now, ‘cause she’s fine — but apparently she was laughing so hard that she passed out and they had to call paramedics. So that’s how I define a successful show! As long as they survive and they’re fine, I guess that was saying something, like we were doing good. And how lucky I am just to hang out with my friends on stage.” The double blessings of a good profession and a good height are shared by Brad Sherwood as well. “I like being tall,” he says with an emphatic nod of his head. “The positives of being tall far outweigh (the negatives). I mean, really —buying shirt sleeves that fit and buying an airplane ticket are the two true drawbacks. The rest of the time, it’s great.” TALL

RESOURCES Find out more about the Improv Allstars, including upcoming tour dates, by visiting the following sites: (the official What Line web site)




Eroica the

Moving the masses, one concerto at a time.


by Everard G. Strong


nce upon a time there were three very talented young musicians. One day, they decided they were going to rock the conventional world of classical music.


ot only were New York-based Eroica Trio’s three members — 5’10” Adela Peña (violin), 5’11” Erika Nickrenz (piano), and 5’7” Sara Sant’Ambrogio (cello) — born into families of strong musical heritage and skill, their lives intertwined in such a way that the idea of them evolving into one of today’s best-selling and often sold-out chamber ensembles not only makes perfect sense, it would seem illogical if it happened any other way. Here’s how it goes: Erika and Adela have been performing together since they were both nine years old. When she turned 12, Erika studied both piano and chamber music with Isabelle Sant’Ambrogio, who happened to be Sara’s grandmother. Sara and Erika would often practice and attend instructions together. As a teenager, Adela coached chamber music with Sara’s father, John Sant’Ambrogio, who was also principal cellist of the St. Louis Symphony. In their early years, the three women were coached by both Mr. Sant’Ambrogio and noted violist Scott Nickrenz, who also happened to be Erika’s father. Erika’s mother also happens to be three-time Grammy Award winning pianist Joanna Nickrenz, who has produced five of the Eroica Trio’s albums. Further examine their DNA lines and family backgrounds, and you might think the three were predisposed to be talented classical musicians from the beginning. While both Sara and Erika have musical blood flowing through them thanks to their parents, Adela’s parents—who were big fans of accomplished violinist Jascha Heifetz—noticed that their infant daughter would cry whenever they would turn off a recording of his Beethoven violin concerto. Ardently practicing and performing when and where they had the opportunity, the three soon started getting recognized for their individual talents. Deciding it would be a great idea to combine friendships and talent into a chamber ensemble trio, the Eroica Trio was born while all three were attending Juilliard School of Music. Their approach to the music draws from the emotional quotient of each piece they choose for their live performances and recordings. Though deeply rooted in Beethoven, Brahms, Vivaldi, Dvorak, and Rachmaninoff, the trio can effortlessly delve into the worlds of Argentine tangos, theatre music, and contemporary composers like Paul Schoenfield. It is this reverence for the old with their excitement for trying new pieces that enlivens each Eroica Trio appearance. As the Wall Street Journal noted of their 1997 debut at New

York’s Carnegie Hall, “It was obvious that all three musicians were having as much fun as the audience.” Releasing their sixth CD, a recording of the Beethoven Triple concertos they performed along with the Prague Chamber Orchestra in October 2003, the three—along with the Prague Chamber Orchestra—have been on the road supporting the album. On such a tight schedule, it was impossible to get these three busy women together for a realtime talk with TALL magazine. Thanks to the wonders of the Internet, however, we were able to rope them in via e-mail, and allow Erika, Sara, and Adele to give us a glimpse into their world.

“When I play Brahms, I realize I must take a chance on love and live every moment to its fullest. When I play Bach, I find peace. When I play Schubert, I know there is a God.” - Sara Sant’Ambrogio


TALL MAGAZINE: Let’s get what is probably an oft-asked question out of the way first: How often does “Eroica” get confused by audiences and the press for “Erotica”? ADELA PEÑA: We saw it for the first time in print years ago, and

ironically it was in an ad for a concert at a church! A serious proofreading oversight. The funniest story about being misinterpreted as "Erotica" took place in a very conservative small city, where a large roadside billboard (with photo) announced our performance. The box office received an irate message from a woman protesting "this Erotica show" being flaunted in front of her children—we wondered what was really on her mind! ERIKA NICKRENZ: When we chose the name “Eroica,” it never occurred to us that people would add a “t” to it. After all, Beethoven’s Third Symphony (for which the group is named after) is never misspelled. People mention the Erotica word like they were the first to think of it, which does get boring. TM: What role does each of you play within The Eroica Trio? AP: Although we have very different methods of working, we

always share a vision of what the end result should be. Being aware of this keeps us from driving each other crazy, and also inspires each of us to expand her point of view. Erika is always conscious of the details— the conviction of a turn of phrase or a quality of sound. Sara is a problem solver, she's passionate and analytical at the same time.

I think of myself as sort of the mad scientist of the group—sometimes batty, but often inventive. Our lives seem to imitate our art; Erika masterminds web site and hotel details, Sara is a business genius and very effectively steers the progress of the trio's career, so I guess I'm the happy-go-lucky one! EN: I am often referred to as the mediator—I tend to have the coolest head during disagreements. Sara is our business manager, she’s brilliant at making key career moves and finessing things. Adela is more temperamental and fiery (half Colombian, half Sicilian). SARA SANT’AMBROGIO: Since I don’t have any children, I would guess I am more the partying type. Always have been, even before the girls had kids. I tend to be the visionary of the group; I come up with the big projects—like our documentary project that aired on PBS on December 9, 2003—and make them happen.

thing—I have less time and energy to wallow in nerves, etc. TM: What are the personal differences you find between the works of composers like Beethoven, Brahms, Bach, and Chopin, to name but a select few? AP: In a nutshell: Brahms has a heart-wrenching conflict of long-

ing and pure exuberance; Beethoven, an insistent motivation that never strays from the tightly woven plot; Bach, an architectural grandeur that is passionately romantic underneath it all; and Chopin, a captivating intimacy.

Cont’d on page 49

TALL MAGAZINE: Speaking of children; Adela and Erika, you both are mothers of twoyear olds. How has having children altered your view of music and how you play it? AP: My son Neal has made

me a better person, musician, you name it. I have such a sense of fulfillment when I go on tour (he often comes with me), whereas before he came along I sometimes felt lonely and estranged from being on the road so much. One of the dangers, at least for me, of being a performer is that you get very focused on yourself, both your successes and failures. Now, being a parent and having to focus necessarily on someone else gives me a much clearer perspective. EN: It was amazing to have my son Zachary inside me when performing—he moved to the music, especially during Sara's melodies! Having a child shifted my ego away from myself, which has deepened my playing. Touring with a two-year-old has also certainly changed every-

“The challenge is making it work well with each of us playing the same phrase together.” - Erika Nickrenz


The Eroica Trio Files SARA SANT’AMBROGIO | CELLO ant’Ambrogio’s surname comes from the Italian translation of Saint Ambrose, the patron saint of the arts. This was an omen for Sara. Born in Boston, Sara’s father played cello for the Boston Symphony before relocating the family to St. Louis. Her father taught Sara until, at the age of 16, she was invited to study with world-famous cellist David Soyer at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. Three years later she was invited to the Juilliard School. Within weeks of arriving at Juilliard, she won the impressive all-Juilliard Schumann Competition, resulting in her first performance at the Lincoln Center. Sara traveled to Moscow in 1986 to compete in the prestigious International Tchaikovsky Cello competition, returning home with a bronze medal. In 1991 she had the rare opportunity to perform on the Grammy-winning Koch International recording of Bernstein’s “Arias and Barcaroles.” Outside of her commitments with the Eroica Trio, Sara manages to play cello in ten to fifteen concerts a year, and has been featured on several movie scores. She also likes to write fiction. She broke her elbow in 1991, and while recovering, landed a role in the feature film Winning Colors. She has also expanded her playing base by appearing on a CD by the one-man rock group VAST.


ADELA PEÑA | VIOLIN art Colombian and part Sicilian, Adela has been described as the feisty member of the trio. According to her parents—both fans of the great violinist Jascha Heifetz—Adela was drawn to the violin at an early age. When they would turn off a recording of Heifetz playing a Beethoven concerto an infant Adela would cry. Sensing an affinity for the instrument, her parents sent her off to the Henry Street Music School, and to the Greenwhich House, where she would meet pianist Erika Nickrenz. Along with Erika and Sara, Adela attended Juilliard, studying with some of the masters of the violin like Ivan Galamian and Margaret Pardee. She won Juilliard’s Mendelssohn Violin Competition and was chosen to represent the United States in an international festival for young violinists. Adela also walked off with the first prize win at the Washington International Competition. Adela has played solo recitals at Carnegie Hall and throughout Europe and South America. She was also featured in a broadcast of the European “Live From the Sorbonne” television program. Apart from her duties with The Eroica Trio, Adela serves as a member of the New York Philomusica Chamber Ensemble, as well as the Orpheus Chamber Ensemble, where she served as concertmaster. Adela’s violin was made in 1846 by Jean-Babtists Vuillaume.



ERIKA NICKRENZ | PIANO rika comes from a musically rich family. Her mother is concert pianist and Grammy-winning producer Joanna Nickrenz. Scott Nickrenz, her father, is a violist and founding member of the Lenox, Claremont, and Vermeer String Quartets, and the Orpheus trio. Erika began playing the piano at age six, and she was sent to study with German Diez of the Claudio Arrau School in New York City. She met violinist Adela Peña soon after at the Greenwich House Music School, and they both started playing sonatas together. The seeds of The Eroica Trio were sown. At the tender age of eleven, Erika made her major public debut, performing the Mozart Piano Concerto in A Major at New York’s Town Hall. She attended the Red Fox Music Camp one year later to study under the tutelage of Isabelle Sant’Ambrogio, Sara’s grandmother. All the pieces for the Trio were in place. Apart from the trio, Erika has many solo accomplishments under her belt, including playing at the Marlboro, Tanglewood, and the Spoleto Festivals in both Italy and America. She has also appeared in the Backstage at the Lincoln Center television series. Along with her music performances, Erika also served as chairman of the music department at Saint Ann’s School in Brooklyn Heights from 1991-1997, creating chamber music programs for students.


EROICA TRIO DISCOGRAPHY Beethoven - Triple Concerto (EMI/Angel - 2003) Brahms Trios in B Major and C (EMI/Angel - 2002) Pasión (EMI/Angel - 2000) Baroque (EMI/Angel - 1999) Dumky (EMI/Angel - 1998) Eroica Trio (EMI/Angel - 1997)

EROICA TRIO VITAL SIGNS Official web site: Official wine: Seattle’s Chateau Ste. Michelle has introduced their Eroica Riesling wine.

Cont’d from page 47 EN: As the pianist I love the challenge of making composers from 300 years ago all work on the modern Steinway piano. When I play Bach I use the pedal very sparingly to get the effect of a harpsichord's dryness and clarity; the piano writing for Brahms is very symphonic and fits very well in my hands. I feel like I am a whole orchestra playing; it's magic. Beethoven takes a lot of physical power and character directness. SS: When I play Brahms, I realize I must take a chance on love and live every moment to its fullest. When I play Bach, I find peace. When I play Schubert, I know there is a God. TM: What secrets do the three of you utilize to keep a piece of music you’ve played many times before still sounding fresh and vibrant each time you play it? AP: Every performance has a unique set of

Once you have slid across a stage on your stomach and then gone ahead and played well, you can pretty much recover from anything. TM: How did the three of you come about the decision to pursue and play modern composers while keeping the faith, as it were, with the classical classics? AP: We always enjoy having a variety in our programs, and feel

it's a responsibility of ours to share with audiences the really great music that's being written right now. I think our audience has

“Johnny Cash is just about the most sincere artist I've ever encountered in any genre.” - Adela Peña

circumstances. The audience's mood, the spontaneous moves of my colleagues, and even the shape and size of the hall all come together to cast what feels like a magic spell. No matter how many times I've played a piece, I walk out on stage filled with anticipation and excitement, wondering what kind of magic will happen this time. EN: The neat thing about playing so many concerts is to be able to try different things each night and see what works best. We are always trying new musical ideas. Also the fact that there are three of us means someone is always different. The challenge is making it work well with each of us playing the same phrase together. SS: When you play with two other players of such a high caliber, two thirds of the performance is out of your control. So you are constantly responding to new ideas and stimuli, which keeps you on your toes, very fresh and jazzed.

TM: Give us the dirt; what are some embarrassing moments from your past live performances? AP: At a performance, the piano lid was not attached properly

to the piano, and came crashing down onto the floor during the climax of Gershwin Prelude No.1, nearly decapitating Sara. We all screamed at the top of our lungs and leapt out of our chairs. An early intermission was called while repairs were made. EN: Even though I'm 5’11”, I love wearing spiked heels that are about three inches high. A couple of years ago, on stage, my heel went right through a hole in the floor and got stuck. I had to bend down, lift my gown up, and pull the shoe out with both hands because it was so stuck. For comic effect, I held the shoe high in the air all the way to the piano where, with great show, I put it back on my foot. SB: Once when I was little, I was wearing my first long dress [for a performance], and I got so excited when I was entering the stage, that I tripped and fell and slid on my stomach ... all the way across the stage, hitting the conductor’s podium with my cello endpin. My only concern was that the audience had seen my underwear! Once I was told that they had not, I went ahead and performed my piece.

come to expect a discovery along with an “old friend.” EN: We are on a mission to expand the piano trio repertoire as much as is possible. We were the first to record and perform Baroque trios with a modern piano; we also commissioned and arranged many works. We are attracted to music with melody and rhythmic excitement—not so much the very avant-garde or 12tone scene at the moment. SS: We are expansionists! We want to leave the trio repertoire significantly larger than we found it. This means commissioning new works, digging up old works that have fallen out of the rep, and arranging jewels for the piano trio. TM: You mentioned in earlier interviews that you are working with fiddler and composer Mark O’Connor on a project related to Johnny Cash. Can you give us more details on what sounds like a very exciting future project? AP: We're really excited about this piece. I admire Mark

O'Connor as a brilliant violinist and composer, and Johnny Cash as just about the most sincere artist I've ever encountered in any genre. There is such conviction in every word he delivers, and his style is absolutely distinctive. EN: We met with Mark and he has great ideas, but we haven't seen a note yet! I think the inspiration of Johnny Cash will be so interesting and fresh—his music was always very honest, strong and to the point. SS: We are just waiting to see how Mr. Cash will fit into our repertoire. I’m a big fan of both of them, so I can’t wait to see how it all turns out. TM: Adele, does this mean we will see you performing solo at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville? AP: I actually was on the stage of the Grand Ole Opry, observing,

not performing. It was a rush to be up there, though. I could whip out a snippet of "Orange Blossom Special" upon request, though!


TM: The Eroica Trio brings a lot of glamour to your genre. When in the group’s timeline was there a conscious decision to present itself in that fashion (pun intended)? AP: It was never a conscious decision, but I would say that it

evolved at about the time we ditched our puffy prom dresses and grew into more stylish tastes in every aspect of our lives. EN: I think the evolution of our group becoming more glamourous came naturally as we went from being preteens to teenagers and into young adult. We love dressing for the concert stage in beautiful clothes that are also comfortable. We figure if people drag themselves out of the house to a concert they should enjoy what they hear and see. TM: You are three very charming, talented, and attractive women who also add an unabashedly glamorous element to your playing. Most ensemble groups are more somber and understated in their emotional displays. How hard has it been for you to be taken seriously from critics and classical music diehard listeners? AP: Even when we were very young and still in the above-men-

tioned prom dress phase, (decidedly un-glamourous) the fact that we were three girls did cause certain presenters to question our seriousness and ability. We didn’t let it bother us, though. If anything, it made us work all the harder and established a bond amongst us—an unspoken agreement to prove them wrong. Now, we're certainly flattered when we're referred to as attractive, but the diehards know we've got the goods, and that our musicianship is the bottom line. EN: In the beginning it was very hard to be taken seriously and to be given chances. Presenters (male) would sometimes just say we were too pretty to play well, and this was without even hearing us play. After years of going out there and showing that we could play and compete with the “big boys,” they backed off and gave in and started giving us chances. Winning the Naumburg Award (in 1991) gave us a big push, as well as being chosen by Carnegie Hall to represent them in the Great Hall of Europe tour (1997). SS: Like everything else in life, it’s been a double-edged sword. It brought us tighter together and made us play at 200 percent every night out. Now it sometimes gets us more publicity, so we draw a larger audience.

the next night. That is the beauty of music, it can always get better. TM: The three of you are known for wearing designer clothes for your performance. Who is your designer and what kind of relationship come about? AP: We had the good fortune of connecting with designer

Carmen Marc Valvo at the photo shoot for the Baroque album, in which we wore his absolutely gorgeous gowns. He very generously donated many gowns for our ensuing performances, and also dressed us for the Grammys. EN: Valvo’s line is available at Saks and Neiman Marcus. I was lucky enough to wear a gown designed for Salma Hayek on the cover of our Pasión CD. The trio also has fun thinking up different design combinations, like a black-and-white geometric idea, or we all wear red, or something like that. TM: Adele, you’re 5’10”. Erika, you’re 5’11”. Has your height affected your playing style in any way? AP: When I was in school and used to play in orchestra, I always

needed extra space around my chair so my right elbow wouldn't nudge the violinist sitting next to me because my arms are so long. Now I just have to be careful not to whack the back of the chair with that same elbow! EN: Actually my fingers aren't particularly long. Sara, who is the shortest, has the longest fingers! All of my height is in my legs, which combined with high heels means I have to wedge my legs under the piano. I have long arms as well, so to get the correct angle of elbow above wrist I have to sit very high above the piano and actually use wooden platforms under my bench, which I bring with on tours. I have to say I wouldn't trade being tall for anything, I love it. My husband is 6’2”, so I imagine Zachary will be pretty tall too. TM: Where do the both of you usually shop and what are some of your favorite designers? AP: For day wear, I love Nicole Miller. Also Max Studio. And I

can't live without my Levi's. EN: I love shoes — Stuart Weitzman, Cole Haan; I live near the Short Hills Mall in New Jersey, apparently one of the most tony malls in the world. Neiman Marcus has some great buyers; I love Armani for trousers because they are longer; I found a jean for tall women sold at Nordstroms. I also love Max Mara.

TM: How hard are you on yourselves, and each other, after a performance? Do you tape and critique each show? AP: We rarely listen to tapes unless we have to approve a perfor-

TM: What does 2004 and beyond hold in store for The Eroica Trio? AP: In the immediate future, we're hoping to stay close to the

mance for radio, but we're rehearsing the second we walk offstage, remembering what we could improve while it's still fresh in our minds. EN: We are pretty critical, and often "rehearse" right off stage in between pieces, even in between bows! Once in a while we have to review a tape for broadcast, and we are pretty merciless with our comments—this honesty makes us much better musicians. If people are too nice all the time nothing gets better! SS: I tend to walk off the stage and immediately assess the performance for five minutes or so, and then I let it go. I know I did the best I could that night, and that I will try to do it even better

top of the Billboard Classical Chart with our Beethoven Triple Concerto CD with the Prague Chamber Orchestra (on Angel/EMI). Later on, we will tour with the Cincinnati Symphony, and perform in Asia and Europe, including the Musikverein in Vienna. The big picture? To keep on mixing the familiar with the new, to keep on doing concerts for young people in schools, to inspire and be inspired by all the audiences with whom we're privileged to share this great music. SS: We’re also working on a music video for Classic FM-TV in Europe. TALL


Photo: Maartje van Caspel

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Tailored Advice

by Betty L. Johnson

Q: Along with my tall body comes larger feet. Why does it seem that all the hottest shoes come in small sizes? A: Funny enough, but those with smaller feet (size 4-5) often wonder why they can’t find shoes either. Shoe manufacturers create most of their product in an average size, but many Americans are not average. Shoes can be tricky. Shoe fit is extremely important. Permanent damage can be done to your feet by cramming them into a shoe that is too small. Be fit professionally

for your size, and pay specific attention to the width of your foot. Many times, we buy the right length, but settle on the width, and end up with shoes that make us cringe at every wearing. Be sure to shop for quality and support. Look for natural materials that will allow your foot to breathe. Q: I’m 17 and 6’ tall. My mother tells me that I’m wearing my dresses too short and they make me look funny, but I’m wearing the same dresses that my friends do! I say I want to look like my friends, but she says I’m showing too much. Who is right? A: You both might be: If you are wearing exactly the same dress that your petite friend

is wearing, hers could be below the knee and yours could be considered nearly mini! You don’t have the same body type as your friends, so you need to find the same styles, but in a tall version. For those times when you really want to look alike, you might consider skirts that

can be slid down the hips a bit to a junior version. These will give you a bit more length. Skirts are more versatile than dresses, so you could end up with several outfits from one skirt. To be honest, however, the best answer is to find the same style but in a tall cut. You wouldn’t try to fit into the same shoes your girlfriend wears if you wear an 8 and she is in a 6, would you? Of course not. You are unique. Buy apparel that works with your body type, and your friends may be wishing they had your style! Q: I’m too busy to shop in the mall. What is your opinion of buying clothes online? A: The Internet is a fantastic place to find apparel of all types, from designer labels to basic tees, but you do need to be careful. Order an item or two to check quality and fit, as some of the online specialty stores do not

buy in the quality that their prices would lead you to believe. First, check for tall labeling. Be careful

with sections labeled “Big and Tall,” as many time, this is really only a euphemism for “Big.” Next, look on the site for a size chart. Actual sizes should be listed there along with the measurements included in that size. These charts are not always 100% accurate, but they do serve as a guide. They are also helpful should you have to return an item that does not “measure up,” since you purchased the item based on their measurements. Look for a liberal return policy. Some niche sites (and TALL, much like plus or petite, is a niche market,) are shoestring businesses, and offer credits only. A credit isn’t helpful if you find their entire product line is less than quality. You want your money back. Shop by credit card only. If your product does not arrive, or if it is not of the quality you desire and you have problems with returns, you will have additional recourse through your credit card issuer.

Fashion questions? Send them to Betty at


The Fitting Room

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Jog into Spring We’re not sure what’s going on in this photo, but we dig the outfit. Top by Nike, bottom by Russel Athletics.

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The TALL Stars Our star this issue: Teria Fields



On men’s clothing from famous national Big & Tall catalogs! Shirt sizes Large - 10X Pant sizes 34” and up

Denim and Leather Meet Ohio resident Teria Fields. A 6th grade math teacher, she stands an even 6’ (without the heels).

“The jacket that I’m wearing, I purchased online from Newport News. It was about $25. I love the jacket! Everywhere I go I receive compliments on it. The shirt (which you probably can’t see) was purchased at Lerner’s, and the skirt at Old Navy. But what I like the most is the jacket. Thank you for the opportunity!” No Teria, thank you! And for being so courageous, we’re sending you $25 worth of TALL stuff! Want to be next? Send us a photo of yourself wearing the newest outfit you purchased, including all the info (your height, where you bought it, etc..), and send it to us at TALL magazine, 360 Grand Ave., #474, Oakland, CA, 94610. Or e-mai it to us at You could win $25 worth of TALL stuff! Electronic photos must be at least 300 DPI. Unless you include a self-stamped, self-addressed envelope, all materials are non refundable. No guarantee is made of inclusion. Final decision rests on what mood our cat is in.

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The Fitting Room Putting Fashion in Perspective

by Betty L. Johnson

very year, she sends sweaters. Every year, I attempt to explain to my beloved aunt that my husband’s size has a “T” in it. Every year, he tries on the gift and finds that, while a bare belly look may be stunningly appropriate for Britney Spears, it really isn’t flattering to him personally. It really isn’t my aunt’s fault. The growing (no pun intended) tall market in America is seldom addressed specifically by the major manufacturers. If garmentos have yet to wise up about cutting for tall customers, how would a lay person expect to understand it? It took years for the industry to notice that plus sizes were the largest growing segment in America, and they had organizations, lobbyists, and fashion magazines to carry their banner. If we hope to enlighten the industry on the needs of their consumers, we must first realistically evaluate our actual needs. We must understand fit and figure.


Consumer, Know Thyself. Being tall is not a “one size fits all” term. You may be long waisted, and in need of more length in your shirts and jackets, but have average or even short legs. You may have longer legs, with a short torso. In this case, a shirt with a tall cut may hang like a dress on your frame. Begin with measurements. You will need an actual tape measure; guessing will not suffice. If necessary, utilize the services of a tailor in order to assure accuracy. Measurement is the only accurate way to find apparel that will fit.

The only constant in the fashion industry is that sizes mean virtually nothing. Every woman knows that a size ten in one brand is a size 6 in another. Many men don’t realize that though their products are sized in inches, every manufacturer cuts differently. Some have more allowance in the buttocks, which can add to the total hanging length. Check It Out. The fitting room is a necessity if you want your clothing investment to pay dividends. Measurements will get you close, but the final judgment requires inspection of several areas of your body, due to differences in style and cut.


When trying on garments, start with a foundation to smooth out your appearance. Men, this applies to you as well as to the ladies. An undershirt is not just for your father, it’s a necessity for today’s fashion apparel. Button up, zip up, and center the garment correctly on the “hang” points, such as shoulders, waist, and hips. Now inspect the garment from top to bottom. Do the shoulders set evenly? Does the shoulder seam fall on the outer edge of your shoulder? Is there tightness or pulling across the chest or stomach area? Ladies commit this fashion faux pas most often, but even men are known to wear shirts with the button line gapping and the fabric strained so tightly it creases. There is a difference between

a fitted tight look and a shirt or blouse that is too small. Waistbands should be comfortable with a bit of room, but the sag style is so last century. Low waists should rest on the hipbones, and the crotch of the pants should be at your crotch, not your knees. (Hint: Low waists look fantastic on tall women. If you haven’t tried one, do!) Fabric should not be too taut across the hip or stomach area; it should lie smoothly across your frame. Why be concerned with overall fit when you are most concerned about torso or leg length? If a garment is too tight, they will ride up and bunch, impacting the garment length. When you are tall, total fit is key. The Long and Tall of It. Length is where we begin to get into grey areas. Shirts that are meant to be full-length should hit your torso a few inches below your belly button. If you want a bare belly, then wear a half-shirt, but don’t settle for a shirt that is supposed be full-length but shows your stomach every time you stand up straight. If you hope for your dress shirts to remain tucked during a hectic day at the office, make sure they have their side cuts at or below hip level. While you are in the dressing room, sit down, check for comfort and fit by sitting, moving, and twisting as you would at the office.

can leverage that brand to a time advantage by shopping there first. Know the cuts of different brands. Cut is the reason why some men have been wearing the same brand of jeans since high school. They know that it fits when they put it on, but they don’t know why. Each brand will emphasis different body areas, and you’ll find quickly which ones work best on your body type. Buy Classic—And Dress It Up. Both men and women

should have a classic wardrobe that is then accented with pieces from the current season to add style. Your classic wardrobe—which should include both casual and career pieces—should last for years. Since you intend to keep these pieces for a while, buy quality, and buy only pieces that fit your stature and figure perfectly. It’s All About You! As you shop, let the salespeople know if you like their product, but need a tall fit. The more that customers demand apparel that fit their bodies from head to toe, the more manufacturers will rise to meet that demand. Your style, your fit, and your look are unique to you. You don’t settle for the short end of the stick in life, why should you settle on your apparel? Make your wardrobe all about you! TALL

Woman Plus

Although you might look like a fashion model when you stand straight up in the mirror, your clothes are for living in. Pant length is more difficult. Women’s apparel is experiencing a resurgence of the Capri and flood length pant, but this does not mean that it is appropriate to make every pair of pants into Capris so you can buy off the rack. Capri pants are cut for your legs for pockets, knees, and hem to hit at a particular point. If you try to wear short pants as Capri’s, you’ll be forced to sacrifice comfort and fit. A pair of dress pants or jeans should slightly crease or break at the top of the foot. Splurge a Little. The time and money that you will be investing in your wardrobe, both for career and casual wear, are best utilized on quality products. Saving a few dollars on a pair of pants that either doesn’t fit correctly or that will only last a few wearings before appearing worn or misshapen isn’t really savings. A lined product will generally be better quality than an unlined product. Look at the stitching and the detailing. Are buttons securely sewn or merely tacked on, destined to disappear during the first trip to the cleaners? Are hems flat and smooth, and is it fabricated from quality materials? Know your labels. Not every quality brand is a designer label, but if you find that custom-fit L.L. Bean dress shirts work for you, then you

A more fitting approach

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The World’s Tallest Putting everything into perspective

Photo: Joe Wallace

The Cape Hatteras Lighthouse The World’s largest brick lighthouse and the tallest lighthouse in North America. Location: Buxton, North Carolina Height: 208 feet Year built: 1854 (current structure) Cost: $150,000 (in 1870 dollars) Number of bricks: 1.25 million Weight: 625 tons Beacon visibility: 20 miles out to sea Number of tourists: 175,000 per year Number of steps to the top: 268 For more information on the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, visit them online at


(cont’d from page 59) at least once in their lives. Literature? No. In the lexicon of tall-insensitive terms? Certainly. Perhaps it is allowed to stand as fact to offset the fact that statistics show that tall men have advantages when it comes to getting promotions. And women. I’ve not been the recipient of any of that genetically induced goodwill—you must have to be tall and good-looking—but more power to those people who have. Even with perceived advantages going to tall people, short people have both edges of the sword covered against their counterparts. If a short man starts something against a tall man and wins, everyone says, “The bigger they are, the harder they fall,” and a rush of ancient power surges through the diminutive as if screamed directly from David’s mighty maw. If, however, the big guy pounds the little guy into a quivering mass of Napoleonic goo, everyone says, “Why don’t you pick on someone your own size?” As if picking on someone who is one’s own size is justification for violence toward another human being.

THE BIG OLE GAL CHRONICLES n my 30-some years as a tall person, I have, on many, many occasions, been described by adjectives that deal mainly with my height. No surprise, we all have. Typically, it's something to the effect of, “Boy! You’re TALL!” For years I struggled with just exactly how to appropriately respond to such an exclamation by a complete stranger or a brand new acquaintance. Many times I simply smiled, and nodded in agreement. There have been times when I replied with, “Observant, aren’t you?” or some other such remark. Lately, I have taken to touching the tip of my nose and pointing at that person at the same time. (“Right on the nose.”)


Saying “He started it” seems to make not a whit of difference. “You need to be bigger than he is,” is what the tall person hears from the cooler heads, meaning, of course, bigger than he is in an intangible way. “I am,” the big person replies, meaning, of course, bigger than he is in a tangible, don’tmess-with-me-if-you-can’t-finish-the-job way. “Why do you think he’s now whistling through the gap in his teeth?” The next time you hear “The bigger they are, the harder they fall,” just imagine landing on several of them on your way down. Smile. It is estimated that tall people, men 6’2” and over and women 5’9” and over, comprise less than five percent of the citizenry, so why do nontall people send them to their literary graves at a rate seemingly out of proportion to that? Words speak louder than actions? Literary Bizarro world? An overabundance of short writers is the most logical answer. Do we have to take it? No, but if we do, we’ll seem magnanimous and gentle, the latter of which is apparently a sought-after trait in the tall. Gentle giants go to their graves

There is one phrase that, all my life, I have never been able to receive with much more than a raised eyebrow and a half-smile. “Big ole gal.” *sigh* That is my absolute least favorite way to be described. I'm not sure why exactly. It conjures up images of a woman in overalls with a sack of feed slung over her shoulder. Someone who could beat the other farm hands at arm wrestling. Not what I was looking to convey on a first impression. What I want to convey is similar to most women I know; I want to be irresistible! Not too much to ask, I don't think. It's just a little harder to pull off sometimes when you are taller than most of the men in the room. It's not like I get described that way all the time. There has been “Amazon,” “statuesque,” “striking,” “tall drink of water,” etc. I can see

more often due to heart attacks and forgotto-look-up head injuries and such, than at the hands of overzealous compact crusaders. Had Goliath shoved that slingshot up…well…had he defeated the boy warrior, David’s counterparts (and probably a few vertically underachieving Philistines) would have shouted (repeat after me), “Pick on someone your own size!” Had the Giant whose address was at the top of the beanstalk tossed trespassing Jack over the edge of the cloud, had Gulliver stomped the Lilliputians like elves running at Pamplona, had Grendel devoured Beowulf like an all-youcan-eat buffet offering, these tales would be listed as horror stories, not the epic triumphs of the human spirit, the defining moments for entire cultures, the sagas of the savvy underdog that they are now. The slights would be directed toward the slight. TALL Mike Werling writes and lives in the shadow of Colorado’s tallest mountains. He can be reached at The views expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those by TALL magazine. So don’t sue us.

their point. I am, in fact, tall for a woman. Not super-tall, but more like out-of-the-ordinary tall. I measure in at 6’ without my shoes. Of course, I refuse to wear flats most of the time. Legs look so much better in a heel, don't you think? Of course, there was that whole platform trend there for a while. But back to "Big ole gal." Most of my close friends know my disdain for that particular phrase. A good friend of mine and I were having this discussion one night at a bar and grill. She found it humorous and assured me that I was not, in fact, a "big ole gal." Not long after, we were headed to the ladies room and were stopped by an acquaintance of hers. He greeted her with a hug, and looked at me and said, "My goodness! You're a big ole gal!" My friend walked away laughing. Me? I ordered another drink.


Size Matters

by Mike Wering

The Giants are Stirring iterary slights come in all contexts and forms. Tell-all tomes expose people who don’t want to be exposed, critics pan books for whatever reasons critics pan things, people get left out of acceptance speeches, glitterati who cannot string two sentences together (“Like, it’s just so, like… pretty!”) get book deals, and “Where’s Waldo?” went out of fashion before the poor boy could be found safely. (For his sake, I hope he’s trapped in one of those beach scenes, and not in the Arctic somewhere.) Treatment of demographic groups in all forms of literature is going to vary, and everyone is not going to get a fair shake; that is just the way of the world, and people deal with it. The tall, however, have been summarily selected for shoddy treatment on too regular a basis to ignore, and while we deal with it just fine, this unfair treatment should be pointed out. (Hell, even tall tales are considered untruths.) Speaking of tall tales, it was Odysseus who outsmarted the beastly Cyclops. In the oldest surviving English-language epic poem, Beowulf smacked the taller Grendel around and sent him to his grave. Jack got the best of the giant at the top of the magical beanstalk. Dr. Frankenstein’s creation was called a monster. Hulk Hogan (no small man himself) finally pinned Andre the Giant. And North Carolina State University slam-dunked mighty Houston. Short people cling to these stories like they clutch the side of the pool when they get lost and venture into the deep end. The stories are short people’s chance to look down at people they normally have to look up to, or at least look up at. Literature and folklore have provided the opportunity to cut the tall down to size. Odysseus, Beowulf, David, and the rest employed Hollywood endings long before the first movie studio suspended its first reality. Biblical David and little-known Bob Fitzsimmons are responsible for the two biggest anti-tall sentiments still in popular use.



When David slew mighty Goliath, he did more than lead the Israelites to victory over the Philistines; he continued a literary tradition that no doubt began with the oral traditions of the earliest humans to have language and braggadocio: He killed the giant. David didn’t knock over a slightly larger man with the help of his older brother. He didn’t put the huge enemy in the hospital with a serious head injury. He didn’t kill a behemoth by using superior weaponry and advanced battlefield techniques.

Little David slew the Giant with a slingshot, something we consider a children’s toy, and in the process, introduced into the canon of figurative language one of the longest-standing—and overused—metaphors. College basketball analysts still get mushy at the prospect of a David defeating a Goliath when the NCAA tournament brackets are announced. Guys, it’s been 3,500 years; let it go. Clearly since biblical times, and by extrapolation for much longer, the fantasy of the little guy defeating the big guy has driven the dreams of the unfortunate undersized, the genetically gypped, the height harried. They can’t dunk, they can’t reach the top shelves at Wal-Mart, and they can’t see the stage at Lollapalooza; but they can dream as big as their imaginations will let them. Their stories and legends are better than their real lives. William Wallace, he of Braveheart fame, was supposed to have been a giant of a man, but the movie cheated the tall by letting Mel Gibson, better sized for a star turn in Waterloo, play the lead role. We did get Paul Bunyan, but even he was chopping down tall, majestic trees for The Man, who was no doubt average sized at best. Bunyan has his bit of American folklore to be remembered by, which is nice, but three men who never met David—three of history’s greatest artists— created everlasting images of him for his monumental accomplishment. Only Goliath’s head made it into any of the statuary, and then merely disembodied and under the foot of David, apparently to better pose his genitalia. He must have had small feet. “The bigger they are, the harder they fall.” The aforementioned Bob Fitzsimmons is to blame for this little bit of puerile propaganda. In 1896, Fitzsimmons defeated heavyweight champion Jim Corbett in a boxing match, uttered those inspirational (infamous) words, and ensured that all tall persons would have to hear them Cont’d on page 59

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TALL MAgazine, February issue  

TALL magazine's second issue, featuring an interview with Eroica Trio, fashions, advice, travel tips, and more.