Dan Lee Clark “Nitro”
Is there anything more nineties than watching spandexed jocks dueling with oversized q-tips for a studio audience? Not if you remember American Gladiators, the TV show where amateur athletes performed feats of strength, agility, and yes, some strategy, against superhero-bodied “gladiators” whose job it was to deliver beatdowns, all on a chintzty studio set that possibly came from Tron.
We were just obstacles—big, bad, motherfucking obstacles,” says Dan “Nitro” Clark, one of the original Gladiators who debuted with the show in 1989. Nitro’s persona was the trash talking ex-footballer. (Colleagues included the Whitesnake-haired mailibu and the amped-up, Apollo Creed look-alike, Gemini). “At the heart of it, Gladiators is an athletic competition, but to bring it to the next level you had to have the largeness and theatrics of the show,” he says. Today, at 43, Clark maintains his chiseled physique, but he’s feeling the attrition that all athletes face as they age. “If there’s a morning I get up and something doesn’t hurt, I know something’s wrong,” he says.
When he’s not pushing his body to the limit, Clark focuses on creative output as a writer-director-actor who has sold screenplays, and who mentors elementary-school kids in creative writing with an outfit called The Young Storytellers Foundation.
When American Gladiators returns to television, in 2008, on NBC, Clark won’t be stepping back into the old Atlasphere. But he’s glad Gladiators is back.
“I think it’s taken ten years for this to become cool again. There’s this warrior and champion inside all of us, and it was a creative outlet for those who had that champion inside of them.”
-Drew Tewksbury (Flaunt Magazine 2008)