It all began with Murph, the “Muffler Prince,” who posed on his backstreet billboard clad in only a diaper and a pair of fancy cowboy boots. The beloved Aurora Crimpanfortis transformed this hayseed into an international icon by relocating to the busy I-5 corridor and transforming the display into a 350-foot hydraulic lift, just like in the garage. As the gargantuan billboard went up and down, diaper-clad stunt people bounced on bungee cords onto the Interstate. And that was how “Live-Action Billboards” got their start.

Mufflers and Diapers: The Evolution of Live-Action Billboards

Muffler Prince Hits Staggering International Stride

It was only fitting that Murph the “Muffler Prince” would provide the prototype on which the framework of the world-renowned “Live-Action Billboard” concept would be built. The South Seattle impresario, who mainly kept to himself and sold automobile after-market products under the radar with little to no fanfare, was suddenly thrust onto the world stage with a diaper, a fedora and staggering international sales figures. This, of course, was after online retail had already hit its stride, and Murph, hardly an early adopter, was suddenly wondering why he was paying commercial rent and on-site staff when sales were pouring in from halfway around the globe.

Where Showmen Come to Rock their Diapers

Being a showman at heart, Murph was very amenable when Aurora Crimpanfortis (you all can just keep calling her Mama), approached him about taking his billboard campaign to the next level. Mama, bless her, could be quite persuasive. I sometimes wonder where I’d be in my career today were Mama still around. Something tells me she would have dissuaded me from producing that truly unfortunate infomercial in Burbank,

I digress. I try not to think about that now, even though it’s landed me in the middle of Podunk Flats But that’s a conversation for another time.

My Loincloth Ultimately Won Out

Mama took old diaper-clad Murph under her seasoned wing and pledged to make him an even bigger star than he already was. Make no mistake Murph was already doing quite well for himself, thanks to the night I ran wind sprints on his catwalk wearing only a fur-lined jockstrap (my lion loincloth). Murph already fashioned himself a celebrity which was fine, but he was talking about ditching the diaper. He claimed that it had outlived its purposefulness and was demeaning to the social causes he now wished to champion.

Thankfully, Mama talked him out of that nonsense. At the heart of it, Murph was a hard-working muffler salesman from south Seattle. He’d probably listened to some consultant at a long-forgotten trade show and figured it was a good idea to do an outdoor campaign wearing only a diaper and a fedora. The bulldog “Muffles” was a nice touch, and someone should get credit for that, but let’s be clear on this: it took a night of heavy news coverage starring me and my loincloth for this small-time peddler to see the light of day.

Working out the Kinks of a Pure Genius Approach

The plan Mama hatched made Murph go from static to dynamic overnight. In her vision. Murph would lead a group of other diaper-clad men in regular routines on the catwalk. The other men would come from an agency and cover Murph’s blunders with their stage presence. They would do things like line dance, joust with the mufflers, pretend to be playing the mufflers like musical instruments and twirl them like batons. Everything would be synchronized and cut to musical beats that could be heard along that stretch of the 509.

Once they got the kinks worked out, the whole act moved to a far more visible location in Tukwila at the 405 cutoff approaching the Southcenter Mall on northbound I-5. There, Murph’s services were no longer required as the troupe was performing 185 feet up and trading out shifts and bathroom breaks across a nonstop, 24-hour cycle.

The extravaganza garnered rave reviews from various quarters, but it was only the start.

The Crimpanfortis family was just getting rolling, and promised much, much more.