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May 19, 2006 7:52 AM   Subscribe

Zanta: The Movie. If you live or work in downtown Toronto, you've seen him. Shirtless, wearing a Santa hat, and most likely doing pushups, he's David "Zanta" Zancai, and one of the city's most enigmatic characters.
posted by Robot Johnny (38 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
Ha, I just ran into him at Yonge and College, flexing his muscles for the benefit of my lady friend and complimenting me on my choice of company. This movie should be interesting.

Honestly though, I prefer the guy that preaches at Bay and Adelaide wearing the amazing technicolour dreamcoat.
posted by loquax at 7:57 AM on May 19, 2006


Speaking of Toronto folks who are not quite normal, this made me think of this this woman interviewed on the street a few years back (youtube link, NSFW).
posted by dripdripdrop at 8:02 AM on May 19, 2006


Hah... Zanta is one weird dude. First time I ever saw him, he was being shooed away from the Hooters on John St.
posted by antifuse at 8:22 AM on May 19, 2006


Heheh. Sounds like quite the mensch.
posted by Drexen at 8:25 AM on May 19, 2006


During a trip to TO in February, I happened to catch a glimpse of Zanta doing pushups while I was taking a stroll along Front Street. He was shirtless, as usual, despite it being -29 C out that day.
posted by antifreez_ at 8:38 AM on May 19, 2006


Zanta.

ZARDOZ.
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:43 AM on May 19, 2006


Although watching the video, he is a bit... twitchy. Still, I gotta get doing some more push-ups!
posted by Drexen at 8:48 AM on May 19, 2006


I very rarely say this about a man, but I couldn't stop staring at his tits.
posted by WolfDaddy at 9:11 AM on May 19, 2006


I am very sad to say that I have never had a Zanta sighting.
posted by jacquilynne at 9:21 AM on May 19, 2006


More Zanta zealotry here.
posted by Urban Hermit at 9:23 AM on May 19, 2006


Hey! I've seen this guy. It was the night of the Toronto MeFi meetup that wasn't. The selected venue wasn't open and so I walked for blocks in search of an internet café. Several men hassled me, and I distinctly remember that he was one of them.
posted by orange swan at 9:29 AM on May 19, 2006


Reminds me of Tallahassee, Florida's own King Love. [geocities]
posted by NationalKato at 9:36 AM on May 19, 2006 [1 favorite]


Zanta annoys me.. and I've seen him scare people. I know he thinks he's doing some sort of attention-getting performance art or something, but a lot of people get very anxious when a muscular aggressive man gets up in their faces.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 10:41 AM on May 19, 2006


Frank Chu is still top dog in the 'ubiquitous urban nutters' category.
posted by jcruelty at 11:03 AM on May 19, 2006


He did/does hang out on John St. a lot, around the Hooters, and I would see him frighten/intimidate a lot of the women who passed by. Many would cross the street to avoid him. It was a long time before I learned he was a "performance artist" and not a "drunk asshole" or "crazy homeless person".
posted by The Card Cheat at 11:50 AM on May 19, 2006


I saw Zanta the other night. He's not a well man. Walking down the middle of Bloor West ticcing and growling isn't entertainment, it's Tourette's Syndrome.
posted by scruss at 11:51 AM on May 19, 2006


hm lived in this city for 6 years and never seen him. Next time i do though, i'll ask him for an arm wrestle. I need to find someone who is willing and can give me a good match. I think this may be it.
posted by spacediver at 12:02 PM on May 19, 2006 [1 favorite]


Just a few days ago I found was in a conversation trying to explain why he hasn't yet been locked up and treated.
I admit I don't really have a good explanation.
posted by Zetetics at 1:24 PM on May 19, 2006 [1 favorite]


El Circo Loco RIP
posted by sonofsamiam at 1:33 PM on May 19, 2006


It was a long time before I learned he was a "performance artist" and not a "drunk asshole" or "crazy homeless person".

Second that. I see this guy around sometimes. I thought he just enjoyed getting sauced up and wandering the streets in a santa hat. I probably would, given enough booze. I've always assumed that you actually have to be able to do something in order to be classified as a performance artist, though. Evidently, this is not true.
posted by Drunken_munky at 1:49 PM on May 19, 2006


Similar shtick, another city, different hat. For half-dressed street performers wearing interesting headgear, I prefer Thoth.

And my all time fav, Moondog, who wrote symphonies in braille.
posted by nickyskye at 1:58 PM on May 19, 2006


I've lived and worked in Toronto for almost twenty years and I've never seen or heard of him before.
posted by disgruntled at 2:00 PM on May 19, 2006


Stockholm, Sweden has a similar shirtless guy. He's a lot more Santa-like in the physique department, though.

I can't find a picture of him, but I usually saw him here:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/egs/35935163/

Santa Cruz, California has one of my favorite guys:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/mindmob/7369551/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/joereifer/38456343/

My absolute favorite is this guy we used to call the "Weight Belt Guy". He hung around Santa Monica Blvd in West Hollywood ~1998. Looked like a ~40yo bald Eastern European with a tank top and a big leather weight belt. He liked to supervise construction work very, very closely.
posted by redteam at 2:29 PM on May 19, 2006


Jesus Christ

First link (Stockholm)

Second link (Umbrella Guy)
Third link (Umbrella Guy)
posted by redteam at 2:44 PM on May 19, 2006


For half-dressed street performers wearing interesting headgear, I prefer Thoth.

THOTH IS THE MAN !

he came to edinburgh during the festival and did a performance at the forest cafe , he was very tolerant of a bunch of loud scottish drunks that took their tops off and came on stage with him till the police arrived and ushered them away....

THOTH really is THE MAN , with his ullalating and his violin thing going on , he's wonderful - he should be the official mefi mascot or something , well he gets my vote anyway.

I'm so pleased to see him mentioned here , he's such a trouper.
posted by sgt.serenity at 2:54 PM on May 19, 2006


but a lot of people get very anxious when a muscular aggressive man gets up in their faces.

Not to mention when he does this on the subway platform.

disgruntled: Do you live and work downtown? I can't seem to go anywhere without seeing this guy.
posted by Adam_S at 3:30 PM on May 19, 2006


This is not someone that needs more attention.
posted by Evstar at 3:51 PM on May 19, 2006


sgt.serenity, pleased you like Thoth too. :) What a fun idea, Thoth in Scotland. Apparently, he went to attend the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. His video on the home page is good, a brief look at his solo opera with him 'playing' the different voices, gungaroo jangling ankles, balletic violin playing, eerie falsetto and an odd whirring instrument. At the end seeing the audience slack-jawed and amazed gave me a good laugh. He's an elegantly entertaining street performer who deserves the attention he receives.
posted by nickyskye at 4:06 PM on May 19, 2006


Did the "Zanta" persona emerge after the injury? I'm wondering if Mr. Zancai suffered a blow to the head in the fall and "Zanta" is the result of brain trauma a la Phineas Gage.

I have to agree with those who've said the man is not well. The "Yes-yes-yes-yes-yes!" tics, constant flexing and posing, and spontaneous push-ups--surely his lawyer warned him such behavior would not help his custody case.
posted by fandango_matt at 4:07 PM on May 19, 2006


Dr. Ikkyu2, paging Dr. Ikkyu2--medical opinion needed in thread 51725.
posted by fandango_matt at 4:12 PM on May 19, 2006


He's an elegantly entertaining street performer who deserves the attention he receives.


Oh aye , he was here , i've got the photos ...


thoth3

complete with the guy who stripped to the waist in the background , theres more on my flickr page...( i dont know if youre meant to post an inline image but its on topic and flickr say you have to)
posted by sgt.serenity at 5:51 PM on May 19, 2006


Thoth is amazing! And entertaining in a midly disquieting way. He engages and attracts while Zanta (who I always knew as "Buff Santa") frankly freaks people out with his flexing and yesyesyessing.

Any Toronto people recall the "Swedish M.P."? Or the woman who used to wander the viaduct? Or the guy from my old 'hood, the late Gordie, who showed up in Spencer Rice and Kenny Hotz's "It Don't Cost Nothin' To Say Good Morning"? And, who knows, maybe me one day.

Good times.
posted by hobocode at 6:03 PM on May 19, 2006


Regarding Zanta, from the small amount of evidence referred to here: the repeated word, "yes", the inappropriate boundaries of approaching people too closely, repetitive exhibitionism and exercising, the disturbing impression, it sounds like he has the thought disorder, echolalia, mania and tics associated with a neurological disorder, like Tourettes. Or he may have bipolar mood disorder.
posted by nickyskye at 8:02 PM on May 19, 2006


Crad Kilodney.
posted by stinkycheese at 12:25 AM on May 20, 2006


i've seen this guy. he was on the platform at st. george subway, being totally obnoxious and scaring the hell out of a couple of women who were waiting for the train.

seems like pretty much any kind of acting-outside-the-norm can get passed off as street performance. want to act like an asshole but don't want to own up to being one? call it performance art! it's postmodern!

ugh. my vote's for dickhead on both counts.
posted by sergeant sandwich at 5:30 AM on May 20, 2006


The movie is really sad. Sad in every concievable way, really.
posted by Hildegarde at 9:23 AM on May 20, 2006


hobocode writes "Or the woman who used to wander the viaduct?"

I do! She used to stand on the, what, Eglinton overpass or something, blessing the traffic.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 10:32 AM on May 20, 2006


i see this guy all the time, flexing on street corners or getting kicked off of the ttc.

man, i hate that guy.
posted by chumptastic at 1:04 PM on May 22, 2006


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