Once the situation had calmed down from the Jimmy debacle,
the director asked me what iguanas should be used. I started with my first and
well-socialized iguana, Noel. I took her
out of her carrier and placed her on the table. She immediately tried to leap
off and back to the carrier. Despite her willingness to be the star of talks
and parades, Noel didn’t want anything to do with filming.
That left us with Algae and Jubby, both very calm iguanas. Jubby
was bigger so I placed her on the table,
where she sat quietly. So far, so good. I placed Algae on top of her, as
if they were mating. (If they had been mating, Algae would have been farther up
Jubby’s neck, but this was acting, so Algae’s position was acceptable.) We all held
our breath and Jubby and Algae held their positions.
This was going to work—in 15-second segments, because then each
iguana went her own way, flipping up a bit of moss each time. I moved to
replace the dislodged articles, but the scenic designer had that under
control. Over and over again, I placed
Algae on top of Jubby and each time they stayed while the director moved the camera on rails behind them.
Everyone was fascinated by these wonderful, incredible creatures. This went on
for three hours and the director was very pleased.
The Corazon Tequila
commercials were made to introduce different drink recipes. Jubby and Algae
were the stars of, “How to
Make a Green Iguana.” Not only were the iguanas
consummate performers, they were also the right colors for the ad. One iguana
was supposed to be blue and the other yellow. Jubby was a dark bluish-green
color and Algae had always been yellow-green. This made it easy for the digital
technician to further color them the appropriate shades.
The commercial starring my girls was aired nationally and was very popular with the viewers. I was paid a set amount for their participation. Next time I think I’m going to ask for residuals. 😊
Along with science, I enjoy performing, singing and acting.
I always toyed with the idea of getting an agent, but it simply never happened.
And despite all my performances, it was my iguanas who ended up with the acting
I lived in New Jersey at the time with several pet green iguanas. Corazon Tequila was filming four commercials, two of which would feature live animals. An educational program in the town up the road got a call to use one of their iguanas, Jimmy. The owner suggested that my iguanas would be more suited to the work, since they were well socialized. The director, however, really wanted to give Jimmy, a magnificent full-sized male, a chance. I was asked to bring Jimmy and my own iguanas, as well.
I selected Noel, Algae and Jubby, my most friendly and
cooperative girls. I got permission from my supervisor to take the day off. The
owner of a macaw picked us up early in the morning for the trip into Manhattan
to a real film studio. I had each iguana in a separate pet carrier for easier
transporting, which turned out to be a good thing as we wound our way through
the building to where the commercials were produced. We were settled into the
green room to wait our turn before the cameras. It was 8:00 a.m.
I decided to explore the facility. I had been in television
and radio studios before, but never an actual movie studio. An incredible buffet was set out for the
crew. Off in one area, a man was creating a delicious looking margarita with
non-edible ingredients. People were either very busy or waiting around. I
returned to the green room to wait my turn.
The green room had doors so after a while, I let the iguanas out of their carriers. They each found a place on the back of the sofa and hung out. The macaw sat in her cage beside the owner. Time ticked by and I had to use the rest room. I asked the macaw man to watch my igs while I was gone and he agreed. I made a quick trip, but when I got back, he told me never to leave my igs alone. They had panicked when I left the room! The next time I needed to use the restroom, I took them all with me.
The macaw’s appointment was first and off she went. Each commercial had a desired script. Unfortunately, the macaw hadn’t read the script. She just wouldn’t do what they wanted. Over and over the director tried—but nope. So, they changed the script and recorded what the bird was doing. It worked out well, but it did take ALL morning.
While we continued to wait, a hand model came into the room.
He was doing a final manicure of his nails. We talked about the iguanas—they
are always a conversation starter—but I wouldn’t let him near my igs. These are
animals known for their scratching and biting prowess and I didn’t want to
destroy his career! A little while later he went off to have his hand filmed
picking up that fake, but tasty looking, margarita.
In the afternoon, it was finally our turn. The four iguanas and I proceeded to the set. A table was set with rocks and moss in front of a blue screen. I was introduced to the animal welfare officer, who was on the set to ensure no harm came to the animals. The irony of this will become clear in the next paragraph.
I suggested using two of my females, but the director really
wanted to give Jimmy a try. I really tried to talk him out of it but as they
say, actions speak louder than words. Jimmy was a six-foot iguana who was not
socialized. He know how to use his four-foot tail effectively. I cautiously
picked Jimmy up to place him on the table. As soon as his feet hit the table,
he exploded. Thrashing iguana body, flying rocks and moss bits, with the startled
As Jimmy launched himself, I caught him mid-air and deftly
placed him back into his carrier. Of course, I had received a severe shredding,
but that can happen when you handle lots of large, tree-dwelling lizards. The
animal welfare person was concerned about my bleeding arms and insisted the
production stop while I received first aid. Despite assuring him I was fine,
that is what we did and this gave the crew a chance to rebuild the scenery on
Green iguanas are tree dwelling lizards. They are very good climbers and will climb on anything to get to a high location, like book shelves, windows and heads—and by heads, I mean mine. People often ask me why I don’t have pierced ears. It’s because when climbing to the top of my head, the iguanas use my ear lobes as convenient toe holds. My lobes have been ripped open three times by long claws attached to strong leg muscles. I don’t want them to have an existing ear-hole for better ripping.
I often find my iguanas hanging out on top of window blinds, display cases or on my piano. When I want to find them, I know to look up, since the iguanas are usually nestled among the display items. Interestingly, the green iguanas can climb over breakable objects without disturbing them, but if they know you are coming to pick them up, they’ll send everything flying with a swoosh of their tails!
The most impressive climbing was done by my iguana, Algae. Being a young iguana, she had sharp, pointed claws. One day, I looked all over the house but couldn’t find Algae. Had she gotten out or slipped down a vent somehow? After searching everywhere I thought she could possibly hide, I looked up.
She was hanging upside down from the ceiling! After the surprise passed, I have to say that I was very proud of my young friend, Algae.
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