The fur flies
By William Glanz
September 16, 2005
Stan Rosen is living proof that one can make
a living at monkey business. But it is hard work.
That's why Mr. Rosen has the air conditioner
in his van turned as high as it will go. He is parked at a
strip mall outside a Long & Foster Real Estate office
in Clarksville, Md., preparing to sing "Happy Birthday" to
an unsuspecting employee there.
First he must put on his gorilla suit.
"I usually wait as long as I can before
I put it on," he said.
Mr. Rosen has delivered singing telegrams,
often dressed as a gorilla, for more than 20 years.
The gorilla suit is covered with black
synthetic fur. Mr. Rosen, 46, slips it over his T-shirt, blue
jeans and black socks and zips it up the front. He puts separate
pieces onto his feet and hands and waits patiently for a signal
from Steve Lenet, a real estate agent who helped orchestrate
the high jinks.
Gray shades are pulled down over windows
in the van so no one sees Mr. Rosen make his simian transformation.
He wants to preserve the surprise.
"Secrecy is key," he said.
With cold air surging through the
van and the head of the gorilla suit resting beside him, Mr.
Rosen explains that he pulls on the ape costume and delivers
a singing telegram about four times a month.
It supplements his primary business,
BallroomBalloons.com, which he opened in 1986 and runs out
of his home.
Mr. Rosen delivered his first singing
telegram when he moved to Chicago in 1983 to attend the Illinois
Institute of Technology. He worked part time at the Crystal
Balloon, singing and delivering balloons, while studying to
become a clinical psychologist.
He didn't become a psychologist, but
when Mr. Rosen returned to the District, he opened his own
retail shop. He has sold balloons and delivered singing telegrams