My Life Story/ as it relates to costuming anyway, 1965-?
Paul Brian Roberts
I was born in Detroit Michigan, raised for a few years in a downtown city neighborhood on Montrose Street and then in a small suburb 20 miles northwest of there called West Bloomfield Township. I grew up on Walnut Lake near my grandparents and relatives. I was the son of German and English Welsch parents. I am 50% German.
I was raised in a Christian Pre-Methodist church and taught that God was good but I would go to hell if I was not a believer in Jesus Christ. I asked Jesus into my life as a boy because I was told to believe to do that. Later in my life I did it for real because I actually believed it on my own.
When I was finished with second grade my family, which consisted of my mom and dad and two younger brothers named David and John, (notice all bible names) moved to Florida where work hopes and a wonderful living held promise for my folks. I was yanked away from my roots in Michigan but happy for the new life and new experiences that Florida brought so I didn't mind and adjusted quickly. The church we went to then was Baptist. After being in Florida a few years my parents had me start in a competitive swim program. Around that time we got a pool in our backyard and a sail boat and we started living the Florida lifestyle to the fullest.
We moved to Sarasota after a few more years when I was going into 6th grade. I was really competitively swimming at that point and quite an athlete. At one point I was the seventh faster swimmer in Florida in the Breast Stroke. That is the only noteworthy fact I can remember about my six years of competitive swimming other than it was gruelling and long hard hours and like 10 practices a week and even before school early in the morning. I mean I was an athlete if there ever was one at that point in my life. It is too bad it was all before my adolecent growth spurt or I would be really superhero muscular and not just fit today.
I taught myself how to draw at that time also because I liked the attention and fantasy. Mostly I drew superheros. When it was time for the school play I was horrified I would have to get a part as everyone was forced to. Fortunately I lost my script which turned out to be in my coronet case which I had recently given up as musical instruments of that type did not appeal to me and thus I could not rehearse with no script and no way to get another one at that time the teacher said. I was passed over and given the job of stage manager instead and as a voice on the radio behind the curtain instead of out on stage. Whew! What a relief! I have spent my life in the shadows as an introvert ever since then and developed my artistic talents and skills in solitary. I was the editor of my high school yearbook, I was voted "Most Talented" at Sarasota High school, which is famous for being Peewee Herman's school. I studied with local artists and refined my early career further by going to Europe and drawing and studying there for two student trips.
I wanted to play football and date a cheerleader but my somewhat sheltering parents wanted to protect me and would not let me do that. I wanted to go to my first Kiss rock concert but they would not allow that either. I quit swimming and focused solely on my art all through high school. I wanted to go to UCLA in California but my mother and father would not let me and could not afford it anyway. I got scholarships for several east coast art schools and chose to go to the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore where I studied for four years and then graduated. During that time my brother and I both took up playing the drums and while we were not naturals, at least I wasn't at it, we learned fast and were both glad to be able to develop this unique talent and express ourselves in a very different way then we were used to.
After College graduation I started my first job as a senior illustrator at A&P Production Center in Landover Maryland for A&P Cooperation. I had to work somewhere up north instead of coming back to Florida then because my wife who I met In Sarasota and also went to my rival high school, but I didn't know it at the time, went to the same art school also and had two more years left to go after I graduated.
I hated the confined and structured world of corporate executives even though I had a prominent position and an easy job that required a skill which I was good at. I quit right after being promoted to senior advertising product illustrator after I put what was thought to be the minimum time in on a first job out of college, which was not quite a year. I left and began free-lancing from a Columbia, Maryland in a small apartment where I was living, supposedly in sin, with my future wife Mimi. We moved back to Baltimore and I got a full time job illustrating at an illustration studio called Bill Burrows & Associates and Mimi got a full time job as a designer at Treyhan Burden and Charles.
Even though my wife was raised a Catholic, we got married in 1989 in Florida at my family's presbyterian church right after she graduated. I didn't know what denomination I was and still don't. I am just a follower of Christ and exist in his global church with no building. We lived in Baltimore until we could save $6000.00 to move back to Florida. We lived with my mom and dad who also moved to Orlando as development in Sarasota was slowing down at the time and my dad was an architect who regretably was partly responsible for the over development of Siesta and Lido beach condominiums on the gulf. So we lived in Orlando while I entered into the movie business and worked on feature films, television shows, and in scenic shops which was the main reason for choosing Orlando instead of our home of Sarasota. Orlando was opposed to become the new Hollywood they were saying at the time. It didn't.
Eventually I disliked the fact that I was always stuck in the art department on films and never on production crews because as soon as anyone found out what I was good at they wanted me to keep doing it even though I wanted to be a director. In hindsight, am glad I did not get what I wanted because it forced me to find another way. I left the movies and scenic shops and rededicated my life to God for real as a man at that time. I also asked in his name for the gift of wisdom and the responsibility to handle it well. With some major money in my pocket after only a few years in the entertainment industry I spent it all on video production equipment and a van so I could start Televisionaries, my own video production company. I did this for many years but only found that I kept doing the same thing over and over. If I was gonna do another promo or training video I was gonna bust. So I worked with my wife and her Disney and Universal studios clients a few years and did anything I could to keep from being at that darn drawing table the rest of my life like my conservative father because I was an active sort and it didn't fully agree with me. I saw it as a ball and chain that was holding me down and I wanted to develop my talents in other areas. We were able to get a house in downtown Orlando finally and after ten years of marriage and the growth it caused in both of us we finally worked through our differences and grew together in the covenant we made with God and decided we were worthy to have kids if God was willing.
It so happened I had made a custom batman costume many years earlier because I had always wanted a Batman costume and to live that fabulous life style since I was a little we boy. It simply appealed to me as I watched the first run 60's show episodes as a little toddler and "Was BATMAN". It meshed with my life in so many ways, some of which I am only now beginning to understand almost 40 years later, I was an athlete, behind the curtain, behind the drawing table, behind the wheel of that Dodge Charger General Lee I drove in high school, behind the drums, behind the movie scenes, behind the video camera, behind the editing studio, and so much more but I was about to come out. I was behind the mask and behind the internet face that I met the public with. So, anyway, I had made a Batman costume years ago and never did anything with it or the molds and I had an extra set of boot spats I was storing in the closet that I thought I would use one day maybe, but I never did so I put it on Ebay to see if I could sell it and generate some badly needed income. That was when I found out that the world had others in it that liked to be like and dress as Batman. That one lousy set of latex boot spats I made sold for 640.00 bucks. That was good cash. Turned out the world was a vacuum for this sort of stuff at the time and it sucked it up as fast as I could turn it out because it happened that I was one of the only ones on the planet at the time that did my own stuff and happened to be high quality unlike the junk the company that owned batman had been so shortsighted to issue licenses to so they could mass produce cheap crappy bat costumes. So I was one of the few on the planet to the extent I did this unique thing that appealed to a ridiculously small percentage of the population and I became publicly know for it over night it seemed. Funny, I had been sitting on it for like 5 years at that point not knowing.
So a nice guy named Jude who called himself a bat brother introduced me to a message board called Brotherhood of the Bat which was an innovative design and concept by a great guy named Brin Holland who was a big a Batman fan as me, but he was not a "Behind the mask type" personality like me but a flamboyant social guy who, as it turned out, was also an artist and musician like myself. So I went to his board on a daily basis for a while and got to know the other people around the world that had similar interests and wanted Batman gear too but could not because it did not exist and the fact I was an artist and also a Batman lover who applied that art to what I loved was apparently exceedingly rare.
So I met the people in this wonderful costuming internet community and have been spending time with them since and helping them put together costumes with some of my generic parts. It is a fun hobby to have.
This was written up to 1999 or so..