The 1970s have been the decade of exotic sports. Cascading at us were a number of unique pastimes—hang gliding, parakiting, windsurfing and orienteering, among others. But what makes these sports exotic is that few of us have seen—much less experienced—them. Now, thanks to the Exotic-Sports Expo, some far-out sports of the 70s may become commonplace in the '80s.
The Exotic Sports Expo opened at the Los Angeles Convention Center in late October and will travel to seven other major markets over the next two years. After L.A., it will be seen in Chicago, Detroit, San Francisco and Philadelphia. An unusual combination of merchandising, exhibitions, demonstrations and participant activities, the Expo is a device for showcasing selected minor sports. Ron Tepper, promoter of the L.A. show, offers a sampling: "A guy who hang-glides indoors; a mountain climber who scaled the 65-foot wall of the Center in L.A.; an expert in Hwarangdo, a form of martial arts, who lies on a bed of nails with a brick on his stomach while another practitioner breaks the brick, none of the nails cutting into the subject's skin; a demonstration of trick pool shots; a four-man wet-submarine performance; and movies of sports such as chariot racing that can't be done live.
"We've got manufacturers representing 60 sports, holding exhibitions in about 400 booths. Some of the sports, such as kayaking, scuba and ballooning, are already starting to catch on. Others, like black-powder shooting, have a good future."
For those wishing to participate instead of simply watching, Tepper recommends a number of diversions: acquiring gambling tips from a Las Vegas expert; a test run on Walk-on-Water, a device that enables people to cross a body of water without getting wet; or Hi-Ball, a new game that combines the best of trampoline, volleyball and basketball. For the daring there are also schools teaching activities that range from mountain climbing to buffalo hunting.
If all this sounds extravagant, it is. The Exotic Sports Expo is the brainchild of Chase Revel, a 42-year-old millionaire entrepreneur who has owned 18 businesses in the last 22 years. In Los Angeles he was charging $375 to $475 per booth and $3.50 admission in an effort to offset his expenses of $210,000. "It's a crap shoot," said Tepper.
That sounds like an appropriate metaphor for any exotic sports expo.