Elementary school was easy, when the topic of television was involved. Everyone watched Nickelodeon, and everyone saw every episode of every show that was broadcast. If there was any controversy, it was over who preferred Hey Dude over Salute Your Shorts. I, myself, was a Salute Your Shorts fan – I remember when Michael accidentally sat on Thud Mackie’s brownies, and when Donkeylips had the crush on Dina based on accidental love notes, and when Michael had the chicken pox and couldn’t come back to camp, and the campers were stuck with new-addition Pinsky, who has some type of love for salami. I remember it all!
The series, filmed at Franklin Canyon Park and the Griffith Park Boys Camp in Los Angeles, was based around the hijinks of summer camp. While it only aired on Nickelodeon from 1991 to 1992, it aired for two seasons of thirteen episodes each.
So – Where are our favorite campers today?
Kirk Baily as Kevin “Ug” Lee
Being the lovably clueless Ug was Kirk’s only steady role, but he’s been in a ton of television shows since – including Melrose Place and Star Trek: Voyager in 1999. (You might have also caught him as the Ref in Soccer Dog: The Movie that same year. It’s unclear if there was ever a Soccer Dog: The Television Show. Note that Soccer Dog: The Movie has no relation to Air Bud: World Pup, which was released just a year later.)
Since the early 2000’s, Kirk has been better known by his voice, doing some vocal work for films like Yogi Bear and ParaNorman.
Tim Eyster as Sponge Harris
Every show from the 90’s needed their brain, and that was Sponge’s role – nicknamed because he soaked up facts and knowledge just like a sponge.
While Tim was Tim back then, he’s since changed his name to Trevor. He disappeared from the world of acting after the show wrapped, sans one episode of Babylon 5 in 1998.
In one interview with Millionaire Playboy, Tim/Trevor speculated that Sponge was gay, admitted he – himself – was bisexual and a big supporter of equal rights and gay marriage, said that he felt that the cast worked well as a family, still keeps in touch with Megan Berwick – who played Z.Z., and mentioned how he wanted to get into the music industry.
Here’s his explanation that he gave to the website over that whole name change thingy:
“Perhaps most primarily: the name Timmy/Timothy is, what I feel, a very diminutive name in our society. Think about it: Tiny Tim …little Timmie and Lassie … oh poor Timmy… I just felt it was a name that didn’t resonate with who I am at all.
Also, there were some WEIRD fan letters I got… kinda scary ones… from pedophile types… so it was a way to separate from that.
I did not change my last name, out of wanting to respect my heritage, and my Father.
And, since I’m estranged from my whole mother’s side of the family, it seemed silly to keep the name my mother gave me… that I never liked… when it became clear that she no longer cared at all about maintaining a healthy relationship with me.”
Megan Berwick as Z.Z. Ziff
Z.Z was always my favorite camper – she was so eclectic and naïve.
Megan was only in one thing after the show ended, which was a TV movie called The Positively True Adventures of the Alleged Texas Cheerleader-Murdering Mom. Sounds uplifting! From 1996 to 2000, she attended Colorado College and went on to study at Stanford University, receiving an M.A. in International Political Economy in 2010. She currently works at a non-profit company called Kiva, and here’s a short video she did for them in 2011.
Venus did pretty good for herself after playing Telly. She was in more than a few episodes of Family Matters, played two different characters throughout the history of Sister, Sister, and was in 18 episodes of The Bold and The Beautiful, playing Alexandra. She also had a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it appearance in the movie Ghost World, right in the beginning of the film. While attending Loyola Marymount University and concurrently working at The Thomas Talent Agency, she realized she had an even greater interest being behind the camera. In 2011, you might have seen her (credited now as Venus DeMilo Thomas) in this Pine Sol commercial, where she’s nearly suffocated by a landslide of lemons.
Michael’s chicken pox wrote him off the show, but is he still suffering? Michael, are you okay?!
Turns out that “chicken pox” was code for “I don’t want to act anymore”. After leaving camp, he moved back home to Hawaii to be with his family and finish high school.
He took on a few roles after that, including a small role in the 1998 movie Pleasantville, and 2002’s We Were Soldiers. Also, he’s done some occasional writing and directing and producing.
And, I guess he’s a nice guy. I don’t know.
Blake Soper as Ronald “Ronnie” Pinsky
Blake (Also known as Blake Sennett) was on another big show in the 90’s, playing “Joey The Rat” on Boy Meets World. When both shows wrapped, he focused on music – and was pretty darn successful with it. Indie rock fans might not know that Blake is the the lead guitarist for the band Rilo Kiley, as well as the lead singer and guitarist for his alt-rock side project the Elected. In 1996, he composed the score for the film Don’s Plum which starred his bandmate Jenny Lewis, but the movie failed to be distributed throughout the United States or Canada based on a lawsuit by Leonardo DiCaprio and Tobey Maguire, who also appeared in the film. DiCaprio and Maguire claimed they made the film as a favor to friend, but never actually intended it to be seen. Rumor has it that the movie only gained interest after the success of Titanic, and while rumors were flying for awhile that Leo had a few nude scenes in it, it turns out that he just thought the movie was pretty terrible.
Michael Bower as Eddie “Donkeylips” C. Gelfen
I always wondered who’d want to audition for a character named Donkeylips. Turns out, Michael Bower did.
Michael has been all over the place. Like, seriously, he’s been in everything. If you were ever watching an episode of something on television and said “Isn’t that Donkey Lips?” it probably was. Unlike a lot of the Shorts alum, he’s pretty active on social media, even running (kind of) his own movie review blog. He really likes Die Hard, and he really hated Captain America. (In his words, “It sUCKS ”)
Recently he was in a rap video for a song called “No Bueno”. If you look for it online, I have a feeling it might be not safe for work. Here’s a screencap.
And for the low price of 5 bucks, you can get an autographed picture of him on eBay.
He also had a few words for Miley Cyrus, via twitter.
As of the time of this being written, Miley has yet to respond. (She was probably busy hosting SNL or something.)
Heidi Lucas as Dina Alexander
Dina was the popular girl on camp. In the mid-90’s, Heidi was featured on an episode of Boy Meets World, as well as Saved By The Bell: The New Class. In 1996, she appeared as Noriko ‘Max’ Matsuda on a short-lived TV series called Hypernauts, and later decided to end her acting career with an appearance on The Wayans Bros.
She got married in 2008, and prior to that, graduated from the Indiana University School of Law in 2005 – rumor has it that she’s currently an attorney.
Danny Cooksey as Bobby Budnick
Who could forget that bully with a mullet? Formerly known as “That redheaded kid who they brought in to try and save Diff’rent Strokes”, Cooksey started his acting career as a young boy. These days, he’s more vocal than ever. Doing voiceover work since the 90’s, he’s been in Pepper Ann (voicing Milo), Invader ZIM, The Lorax, and the Pound Puppies TV series – just to name a few. Oh – and remember Montana Max from Tiny Toon Adventures? That was him, too.
Just like Pinsky, he’s also been in a band or two – notably Bad4Good ( a teenage heavy metal band formed by guitarist Steve Vai – and yes, you totally have permission to laugh over that) and currently – as in, this year – a band called Shelter Dogs. Shelter Dogs is so new that their twitter currently has 16 followers. Cooksey fans, jump on the bandwagon now. If you like self-described “Ass kickin’ rock and roll with heart”, you might dig them.
Winner: From an industry perspective, Donkeylips has been the most visible. Sure, maybe I gave him a bit of a hard time in his paragraph, but he seems to be more than enthusiastic to take on a bunch of different projects and interact with his fans.
Image Credits: millionaireplayboy.com (Eyster), Buzzfeed.com (Bower), topcultured.com (Lucas), brooklynvegan.com (Soper), amazon.com (featured)