In June, the hit television show America's Got Talent held open auditions in front of a live audience at the Paramount Theater in Seattle. Among the group of hopefuls was a long-haired Alaskan man dressed in high heels who introduced himself as "Alaska" and announced that his performance would consist of "freestyle."
Alaska, whose real name is Simeon Mountain and who moved to Seattle from--where else?--Alaska at age 21, proceeded to perform a simple, spiritual dance to Irene Cara's theme from Flashdance. Ultimately, Alaska didn't make the cut, but he made quite an impression, as the pursuant footage attests (fast forward to 1:10):
While judge Piers Morgan was, predictably, an asshole, Howie Mandel responded warmly--if a tad sarcastically--to Alaska's performance. In letting the gentle giant down easy, Mandel told Alaska: "I'm saying no to here, but I want you to flourish someplace else."
Alaska has taken Mandel's advice to heart and become something of a local celebrity ("Everywhere I go, everybody knows who I am," he says) in the wake of his tryout, dancing in the crowd at the Fremont Fair and onstage at a recent C89-sponsored event at Neighbours. Organizers of this weekend's philanthropy-minded Goddess Festival were sufficiently impressed with his moves in Fremont that they invited him to "dance and stuff" this Saturday at Wallingford's Meridian Playground, where attendees are encouraged to dress like "tribal warriors."
"We wanted him to be a presence in the audience," says organizer Tara Babette Shuttleworth of Alaska, who will be on hand for the festival's full moon ceremony at 8 p.m.
Hence, what might strike you as a mellow, well-intentioned walk in the park could turn into a Yukon dance frenzy.