It was a thick air in there. That was the only way to describe it. His friends had told him that no fewer than fifteen other boys had worn the suit that year, and that no fewer than ten had taken the opportunity to urinate, vomit or otherwise disgrace themselves inside it.
Werner thought constantly of the jar of pickled sardines he knew was waiting for him on the kitchen bench at home. While this thought may not have comforted many young boys about to climb inside a thoroughly fouled cat costume, Werner was made of sterner stuff. This internal fortitude was to serve Werner so very well when, twelve years later, in a completely different country, martial arts movie star Steven Seagal was to kick him in the face to see if was wearing a mouthguard. They would not even be on set—in fact, On Deadly Ground was deep into its three day post-production—but Werner would take the kick, smile, and spend many months in an orthotic surgeon’s care.
Werner stepped inside the costume, almost folding his large frame up in order to get inside. The trick was that you had to peer out through the mesh in the cat’s mouth, and not out its eyes. It was dark. So dark. But Werner simply waited for his eyes to adjust and waited for his first cue, not complaining. This, of course, was just the sort of temperament needed when Werner, rehearsing a stunt on Seagal’s 1996 action smash The Glimmer Man was forced to wait for twelve hours in freezing water while Seagal had a pair of gaffers hold up a procession of naked Vietnamese women to his face for approval and gentle licking.
The cat costume, was of course, meant to represent “Geschmackvolle Katze”, the mascot of Cologne’s favourite breakfast serial 1981-84, Misstrauisch Sprödes Kleieprodukt! Werner had auditioned a total of five times in order to get the coveted role. The costume’s original inhabitant, Detlef Schrempf, went on to complete a successful career in America’s National Basketball Leage (NBA), winning the coveted NBA Sixth Man Award in both 1990-91 and 1991-92. Luckily, Werner’s lack of basketball skills in no way hampered his performance in the breakfast cereal performance, which many hailed as the finest ever portrayal of Geschmackvolle Katze. Unluckily, Werner’s ability to inhabit and animate a cat costume helped him in no way when—during the wrap party for Steven Seagal’s as-yet-unreleased vanity project Price of Pistols—Seagal plunged his hand deep into Werner’s chest cavity and plucked out his heart.