Thu, 05/10/2007 – 22:48
L A S T D R A G O N
R E L E A S E S F I R S T
D V D O N F I T N E S S
I recently was able to catch up with cult action hero Taimak Guarriello. His fame as Bruce Leroy in Berry Gordy’s The Last Dragon (1985) is being introduced to a whole new generation thanks to references in hip-hop and airings on channels with programming specifically for Black and action cinema. Younger audiences are now learning how to achieve “The Glow”.
Still in the final preparation for the release of his new DVD on fitness, the martial artist, personal trainer, fight choreographer and actor took a break to discuss his career.
Honorable: Tell us about your new DVD.
Taimak: It was shot at Fitness Concepts where I also work with my clients in physical training. We’ve worked with Robert Dinero, Madonna, Janet Jackson, Gwen Stefani, Li’l Kim and others. The DVD to be released this spring will have some one on one techniques, how to run, how to stretch. A lot of novice to intermediate level questions will be answered even if you already know things. But this one is for beginners to intermediate.
H: I saw you recently making an appearance at a comic convention in New York. Were you a comic book reader?
T: I did have a big box. I read mostly Spiderman, Batman, Superman, Richie Rich, Archie.
H: OK. Let’s go back to high school. You were training hard what were your days like?
T: Well I was captain of the fencing team, wrestling at 167lbs. (presently 175lbs. and 5’11”) and kick boxing waaay out in Queens while living in Manhattan. I worked with my father. At age 17, I bounced at Studio 54.
T: (Laughs) Yeah a minor bouncing around 5000 people at Studio 54, Steve Rabel…I have older brothers who were into boxing. Three older brothers and two younger brothers.
H: How did you get into the competition to become the New York State Kickboxing Champion at age 18?
T: I was training with Ron Van Cleef, full contact. I was in semi-contact karate and got into full contact. Most people enter the competition in their mid 20’s.
H: From there you were offered the Last Dragon role and became an action hero. What’s it like being a cult classic.
T: For me it gives me an opportunity to still contribute through entertainment. You are still of people’s interest 22 years later. Feels good to be able to contribute and entertain.
H: Name 5 of your favorite martial arts films.
T: Oh that’s hard. In no order: Enter The Dragon, Wu Tang Vs. Shaolin, Master Killer, The Five Deadly Venoms, Mad Monkey Kung Fu, Seventh Samarai….
H: Name some inspirations?
T: Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Bruce Lee, Mahatma Ghandi…
H: Are you sensitive?
T: Yes I think so but I have it in perspective. My sensitivity is my strength. People can be stubborn by nature. If you tell someone to look at something they might get defensive. This is how you are interpreting your environment.
H: You seem to be a very humble person in light of the cult status. How do you maintain?
T: Some may think I am not (laughs). For me it’s just being in touch with reality. Any moment it could be gone. It about respect and gratitude, nothing more nothing less.
H: Speaking of maintaining, you look remarkably well kept. Care to share some secrets?
T: Dieting, eating well. Exercise, my martial arts training and keeping stress free. In order to achieve that you create a circle of people and you believe that anything is possible. Anything. The exercise has to be specific to your body. You’ve got to know your body. How does one get to know one’s body? You just ask. Your body tells you.
H: Back to this diet. What are an average day’s meals?
T: Eggs with spinach, tomato and cheddar, whole grain bagel with apple butter. Later I’ll have a protein drink, tofu with cream cheese and a big salad. For dinner I might have eggplant parmesan with spaghetti.
H: I’ll be starting my diet tomorrow. I hope my body likes it.
T: I only eat fish as far as meat. Three good meals a day but I try to eat more or I’ll lose weight. I also love Indian food.
H: You’ve worked with some gorgeous ladies, who was your favorite female co-star?
T: I am split between Janet Jackson and Vanity.
H: Of course who wouldn’t be. I understand that you make an appearance in the Harlequin’s Song comic book. What was that about?
T: I played a villain named Kayin West. It’s a non-superhero story set in NYC 2017. We shot a lot of photos in the streets or wherever. Then all the photos are posterized for the published book.
H: Alright, next up Taimak the Pro Wrestler or shall I say “Striking Eagle”…
T: That was an experiment with Jimmy Yang and the Ring of Honor. I liked it but it wasn’t something I could put all my energy into.
H: You have a good sense of humor. Do you like comedy?
T: Yeah I did a comedic rendition of Road House. I played the Patrick Swayze role. I usually play the straight man with the comedy happening around me.
H: So you’ve done Road House and you were in another play recently. Do you like theatre?
T: Yeah I finished the play Cheaters last spring. It was based on Eric Jerome Dickey’s novel and produced by I’m Ready Productions. I shared a role with Michael Jai White. It was funny, people loved it. I’ve also done drama and studied Shakespeare. I would love to do Othello. The best part about doing theatre is the connection to the live audience. Being able to feel and the improv.
H: You co-starred in Cheaters with some singers including Brian McKnight. Did your role call for any singing?
T: No (laughs). That would have been funny. I sing in the shower. I would like to do voice-overs though.