Four guys. A dorm. And an entire night to kill. What an equation. Fortunately, these particular gentlemen knew how to make the most out of their free time. They decided to do something hilarious, yet slightly dangerous; side-splitting, yet slightly cracked; extremely amusing, yet lacking good sense. Thus, Project Gaidaros (Greek for "idiot") was born. But carrying it out - well, that's a whole other story. As founder Big Pete puts it, "We wanted to do something fun with a sense of danger. Not necessarily by putting ourselves in physical danger, but the danger of getting caught. I think that's what makes it the most interesting, because we have gotten caugth twice already, with the potential for a lot more...It's a great non-partying, sober way to wreak havoc, and it's a lot of fun."
Most of the Project's current and upcoming stunts involve quite a bit of forethought; some are on-the-spot. But that usually isn't a factor in the quality of the clip, just the response. "Sometimes we're looking for a relationship between the viewer and whoever is involved in the stunt," says Big Pete. "And sometimes we want to pull in some strangers."
New York City is arguably the best place to pull off stunts - but not the smartest. Increased security, constantly heavy traffic, and the sheer number of people make street stunts potentially dangerous. As Pete puts it, "The opportunity is there, but there's also an equal chance that you're gonna get chased, threatened, or the cops called on you, and you have to accept that. Because when you accept the dangers, it becomes a whole different game, and it's a little more fun, too."
Not all of Project Gaidaros's stunts take place outdoors. "There's a lot of stuff that we can pull off inside the dorm that works just fine," says Pete. "We may soon incorporate other parts of the dorm, but the hallway has served us well for now. The recycle bins were our first conception and they went over great. There are public parks pretty close by, but they're not the best place to do anything crazy."
The members of Project Gaidaros aren't exactly stunt professionals, but they do know what they're doing and they are aware of the consequences. "oh, there are dangers - lots of them," admits Pete. "On one [of the stunts], we were chased into a subway station and narrowly escaped without getting our asses kicked." And it's not just about the violent aspect of things. "Getting in trouble with the school is a big no-no. We stay far enough away, ideally a half-mile or so, which keeps us far enough away and yet close enough if we need a quick escape route. It works out perfectly."
So what does Project Gaidaros use in their stunts? Anything that's around. "We have a very tight budget, being college kids," Pete confesses. "Basically, we tape on a DV [Digital Video] camera with no fuss. Mr. Tim does a great job of editing, and all his software is loaded in his computer. There's ample space in the dorm and a whole city outside, so needless to say, there's abundant space. It's actually more brains than brawn. We do as much time thinking and planning as we do performing." Members have a great time thinking of what can be used in a specific location and how it can be obtained. And there's really very little limit on what can and will be used. Laughs Pete, "If it can be climbed, hid behind (or in), thrown, wheeled, pushed, moved, or anything else - and if it's funny - then it's an official Project Gaidaros prop."
Many people, such as critics of MTV's "Jackass" and like shows, wonder what the purpose of pulling off such stunts is and what their redeeming value is - if any. "Self-expression," claims Pete. "That's our motivation. What we do defies the norm - it makes things more interesting. We don't 'go with the flow'. We're the type of people that won't adhere to an unjust rule, no matter what the consequence." But there's more: "Ironically, there is also a sort of satirical thing involved," he adds. "The people who scoff at us never stop and think that they have this wild side in them, too. We all do. Our members, though, are the ones with the guts to bring it out. When 'Project Gaidaros time' arrives, we shun our everyday routines - our actions are taken over by spontaniety. Fortunately, there are many that appreciate this, but those who don't understand also don't realize that they're taking life too seriously. It's weird."
Project Gaidaros urges viewers NOT TO RE-CREATE ANY OF THIS. "New members are thoroughly briefed on what to do and how to do it," Pete emphasizes. "They take chances, but with exercised caution and common sense. The four of us [the original members] - well, we're just crazy. We're the ones who made the rules, and we follow them, too."