Meet the Statue Man of Sarasota

Arts & Culture

Pictured: Joe Abel as Happy Stillmore. Photo by Wes Roberts.

Meet Joe Abel--Sarasota’s own living, breathing statue. Plated in gold and silver, Abel is known for his sport-inspired character statues, like “Happy Stillmore”, “Gold E. Glover”, and “Goldie Howe”.

Abel began his entertainment career at the ripe age of six years old. In his hometown of Baltimore, Maryland, Abel found himself bored at a craft fair his parents were running. “My mom didn’t have time for me, because she was getting all the vendors checked in.” Abel recalls, “So she told me what any good mother would say, ‘Go streaking’. I went into the bathroom and ran out wearing only underwear.” The following year, Abel performed as a clown for the first time, quenching his thirst for activity and occupying his passion for a lifetime.

After a decade of craft fairs and haunted houses, Abel developed the ability to stand still for hours on end, hardly moving or blinking. During his career as an independent wrestling manager, Abel would visit downtown Sarasota on Halloween dressed in various costumes. “After three years, I decided that I wanted to do something different,” Abel recalls. “I like the attention, but I wanted a change.”

Recalling a human statue performance he saw in Mexico, Abel was certain that his skill set could be capitalized on. Only anxious about his ability to garner outfits, Abel trusted his creative ability and returned to downtown Sarasota the following Halloween dressed as a statue. By the end of the night, Abel left with a cup full of cash. Halloween fun turned into more than $100.

Abel knew he had struck gold. Before he knew it, he had a cast of characters, ranging from baseball players to a rock and roll guitarist. Fed up with his 9-5, Abel quit his job as a wrestling manager and fully committed to his characters. “I’m making more money, and I’m having more fun.”

Abel performs as Gold E. Glover, a gold baseball statue, at professional matches. This prompted him to be featured on Bally Sports, a television provider of sports media. Interviewed at a game between the Orioles and Rays, Major League Baseball took an eight second clip of the interview and uploaded it to their YouTube page. The video garnered over 96,000 views.

“I’ve never had anybody look at anything I did. You know a couple hundred, maybe a thousand. To go from that to 96,000 is amazing.” It was especially exciting for Abel, fueling his dream of working for a major league baseball team.

What’s next for Sarasota’s savviest statue? This Memorial Day, Abel will be appearing in the Lakewood Ranch Memorial Day Parade to raise money for the Wounded Warrior Project. On June 8th and 9th, you can see him in St. Augustine at the wrestling convention taking place at the World Golf Village Renaissance Resort.

Pictured: Joe Abel as Happy Stillmore. Photo by Wes Roberts.

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