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CNN Larry King Live

Larry King Interviews Dean Cain

Aired January 03, 2002 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, death defying feats, amazing transformations, astounding stories about succeeding against all odds from "Ripley's Believe It or Not" host Dean Kane, and some one-of-a- kind folks you are going to be thrilled to meet all next on LARRY KING LIVE.

We have a very unusual show for you tonight. It's a salute to the No. 1 rated original series on cable television, that is "Ripley's Believe It Or Not." It is seen on TBS, our sister station, every Wednesday night at 8:00 p.m.. It is hosted by my man Dean Cain.

Before we meet this strange person and get into this whole concept tonight of "Ripley's," which I used to listen to on the radio, how did you get this?

DEAN CANE, HOST, "RIPLEY'S BELIEVE IT OR NOT": I what happened was I had a production company and we were looking for projects to put on the air...

KING: After "Superman?"

CAIN: After "Superman." I found out, after shooting "Superman" you really find out the business of making a television show. I wrote a lot of the episodes, I was slated to direct a lot of them and I was very involved in the creative process. My father is a director and I enjoy making shows.

What happened was they came to me, people at Sony, and said we have this show "Ripley's Believe It Or Not," would Dean like to host it? And I said no, not particularly. And they said well, come in and talk about it, we'll creatively have some ideas. So I came in and we sat down with my partner, Mike Carr, who runs my company and we had a very clear idea of what we wanted to do, how we wanted to change the show from a feeling of like, I'm going to scare you and shock to you, to, this is interesting, these are people who are all over the world, these are all the different things that are going on. And let's all take a look at it together and get educated and informed.

KING: No Ripley was a man, Robert Ripley, I believe, right? He went around the world looking for things that were off-beat.

CANE: Oddities, he called them.

KING: Are there still museums? CANE: Absolutely. Everywhere. This is done -- really a lot for -- everything with "Believe It or Not" it is a cashe name.

KING: It was a big cartoon strip on Sunday papers, and it was a radio show. We have examples and Dean's going to be with us throughout the show tonight of what you are going to see on the show. We have guests here, too. Here's an example -- watch -- of the cat man.


CANE: Dennis Abner was born into a mixed Native American heritage and his yearly class photos show up through high school he was a normal looking kid. But he was becoming more and more interested in his tribal conditions.

In 1977 in a ceremony that would change his life, Dennis was given the indian name stalking cat, an animal that following Indian tradition would become his spiritual protectorm, his totem.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People who are closely connected to their totems will react and view things the same as the animal that is their totem.

CANE: Soon he was even calling himself by the name "Cat."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was getting closer to assimilating the emotions and reactions of a cat.

CANE: But by 1980 simply feeling feline was no longer enough. Cat needed a physical transformation.


KING: Cat man, thank you for coming. You've been featured in "Ripley's Believe It Or Not," why do you do this?

"CAT," TRANSFORMED SELF INTO TRIBAL TOTEM: It's a very old Huron tradition. It's part of my heritage. It's something my people have done for generations, even though it's not done much to my knowledge anymore.

KING: So you have had to make changes, right? You had changes done to your face. You had surgical procedures. What did do you?

CAT: There are implants in my forehead and the bridge of my nose to change the profile to a more cat-like profile. My ears have been pointed. My septum has been relocated, my lips have been cleft, I had my teeth done. KING: All for the tradition of what was bestowed upon you as a kid? CANE: Yes, but modern procedures allow me to go a little further than what my ancestors ever did. But it's the same concept.

KING: How do you live? How do you earn a living?

CAT: I'm an electronic technician -- electronic and computer technician.

KING: And you go in looking like that?

CAT: Every day.

KING: You can't wear those things and hit -- those fingers, can you? CAT: I can't?

KING: You do?

CAT: I do microelectronics. Half the work I do is under a microscope on very small microscopic components.

KING: With those fangs or whatever you call them?

CAT: With my claws? Yes.

KING: Do you paint yourself every day?

CAT: It's not paint. This does not come off.

CANE: Tattoo.

KING: You have been tatooed?

CAT: Yes.

KING: You are permanently this?

CAT: Yup.

KING: Are you married?

CAT: no.

KING: Do you have a social life?

CAT: Yes, I have as much as I want.

CAT: I mean, like, do you go out to dinner?

CAT: Yes. Do anything I want to do.

KING: Where do you live?

CAT: I live in Pine Valley area outside of San Diego.

KING: What do people say, like, when you go into McDonald's?

CAT: I really don't pay that much attention. I hear good and bad comments. I've gotten to the point to where I could care less. I really don't pay that much attention to what other people think or do. Their life is their life.

KING: Dean, what do you make of catman, the native American? And the tribe medicine man changes?

CANE: Well, a lot of the things that we do, specificly on the show is we're not out to exploit anybody. Robert Ripley, he invented the show and the idea behind the show was, here we are in our little place in America or whatever part of the world we're in, and these are all the things that are happening and these are all the people we find odd or different in the entire world.

So we go out and find those people and we look at them and say, wow, this is what so and so does and this is what they do and this is why they do it. You know, I wouldn't do that to myself, but that's...

KING: It's amazing. Did you readily agree to be telecast and everything?

CAT: Yes.

KING: You're proud of this?

CAT: It's part of my heritage, something I had to do.

KING: I must say, the more I sit with you, the more impressive you look.

CAT: Thank you.

KING: You ought to be very proud of yourself. Thanks very much for coming aboard. The cat man, the native American. He's part of "Ripley's Believe It Or Not." As we go to break, we'll be showing you lots of people tonight and lots of tape.

Roberto Ramirez contracted a virus that bent and twisted his knees backwars causing feet to point behind him. He was left walking on all fours. A doctor in Orlando donated his skills to surgically fix and rehabilitate him. How did Ripley find this one? Watch.


CANE: When Roberto was a baby, his thigh bones stopped growing and as he got older his lower legs twisted to 90-degree angles. Remarkably, Dr. Peter Chase feels he can help where so many others have given up. The good doctor is convinced that amputation combined with custom made prosthetic legs might possible give Roberto the ability to walk upright.

It's a grueling 11-hour operation. Doctors do everything they can for Roberto. Nine months of painful rehabilitation have healed the amputation wounds. Now after gambling everything, if the prosthetics fail, Roberto will spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair. Amazingly Roberto adjusts quickly, even walking the rough terrain of his village streets with pride. (END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Back with more of Dean Cain and more of "Ripley's Believe It Or Not." Don't go away. ANNOUNCER: Next on LARRY KING LIVE, a unique and painful way to overcome the fear of flying. And a town in Uraguay gets a giant bubble bath. Stay tuned.


KING: Just as a reminder and a disclaimer, some of the visuals you may see tonight might be a little disturbing so, you know, be careful.

Joey Strange is next.

Dean, now he does what?

CANE: Joey Strange is a very apropos name. He does -- he put I think -- was six the number?


CANE: Put 12 hooks in his back through his flesh, hung himself from underneath a helicopter and went flying around the Los Angeles Basin, right over the Hollywood sign.

KING: Before we talk to you, strange man, let's watch the video.


JOEY STRANGE, HUNG FROM CHOPPER BY HOOKS IN SKIN: When I'm lying face down on the gurney and they're starting to pull the ropes up, that's another pain plateau that I have to cross.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just lay there, relax, don't hold yourself.

STRANGE: I'm trying to.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I know. Put your weight on them.

UNDIENTIFIED MALE: Let us know when to start. Everybody else clear.

CAIN: The 3,000-pound helicopter carefully positions itself above Joey's rack, gently lifts him in the air.


KING: Joey, Joey, Joey. Why?

STRANGE: Really, it was a singular chance to do something extraordinary in my life. And you know, as an everyday Joe citizen, you really don't have a chance to excel at something special. And so...

KING: How did you come up with the idea, though? I think I'll stick fish hooks in my back and get carried by a helicopter? STRANGE: Something about 72 hours of drinking.


KING: I mean, where did that -- why that?

STRANGE: Actually, what it was is Alan Faulkner (ph) I happened to know, and he had done a suspension for "Ripley's" before. And so, in a little bit of good natured one-upmanship, I, you know, off the top of my head, I was like sure, I'll hang by a helicopter. And nobody having ever done it before, it took a lot of planning, almost a year.

KING: Does it not, Joey, hurt?

STRANGE: It hurts, but can you pass through it, just like anything else. It's the endorphins and the adrenaline that help you through, and a little bit of meditative practice.

KING: And you flew over the Hollywood sign.


KING: Look at that scene.

CAIN: That's not something you see every day.

KING: No. Now, you're also -- what are you wearing in your eyes? What are those? Earrings? What do they call those?

STRANGE: Well, these are eyebrow rings, and this is a post.

KING: Is this just to make yourself different with all the tattoos and everything? You just like being different?

STRANGE: Actually, if you look at me comparatively to some of my friends, I'm relatively normal.

KING: Why don't we bring them over.

STRANGE: You know, I -- I'm not into modifying as I want to set myself away. It's just when I see this, I happen to like the way it looks, and so I wear them.

KING: What category is this, Dean?

CAIN: This is what we call...



CAIN: No, this is what we call -- it's basically what people -- I'm looking for the word. But it's obsession. We call it a magnificent obsession.

KING: How often do you do that?

STRANGE: When I first got into it, I did it pretty frequently. It's like anything else, I, doggone it, I wanted to show everybody. But now that I've been doing it for a while, I really pick and choose what I want to do and I try to make each one special.

KING: Can you make money with this?

STRANGE: You can, but I prefer not to make a living out of this. It's something special to me.

KING: How do you make a living?

STRANGE: I work in the adult industry.

KING: You make movies, or you?

STRANGE: I direct, I act in non-sexual roles. It's not something I'm willing to take on to myself. Right now, I work (UNINTELLIGIBLE), and I conform porn for satellite.

KING: Did you feel, Joey, that you just had to live up to your name? What was it, a compulsion with you, you had to do it, right?

STRANGE: Well, actually this is a stage name, kind of persona and alter ego.

KING: Good name. Thanks, Joey. Another star of "Ripley's Believe It or Not."

We're going to show you something weird. This doesn't involve a person. It involves weather. Sea foam, a weird weather phenomenon causes a small town in Uruguay to be covered by sea foam. Watch.


CAIN: The strange tale all began with a little bit of bad weather. Along the coastline here, storms are not uncommon, but soon it began to take a very strange and unexplainable twist. Within hours, it had become a truly surreal scene. Dr. Sidney Perkowitz is the author of the book "Universal Foam" and a leading expert on the strange phenomenon referred to as sea foam.

DR. SIDNEY PERKOWITZ, AUTHOR, "UNIVERSAL FOAM": I'd seen it off the Rocky Coast of California, but never anything that had this kind of overall magnitude. It even surprised me. I'm supposedly I'm some kind of foam expert, but this blew my mind.


KING: What do you make of that one, Dean?

CAIN: One of the weird things you see. And they can't even explain what happened, to be honest. They don't know what happened. All of a sudden, the town was covered in sea foam.

KING: A lot of these phenomena, I remember reading in "Ripley's" over the years are unexplainable.

CAIN: Absolutely.

KING: Joey may be unexplainable.

But nevertheless, we carry on. With us now -- by the way, do you go and meet all these people, Dean?

CAIN: Sometimes yes, sometimes no. It really depends.

KING: They just tape them and you narrate, right?

CAIN: Very often.

KING: Jim Goldman is with us from St. Louis. Jim was born without arms. He can hold a bat to his neck, hit a fastball thrown by a semi-pro ball player. Watch the tape.


CAIN: Jim goes through his warm-up before facing his latest challenge. He's taking the plate to face the current starting pitcher of the Wayne City high school baseball team. Placing the bat through his neck and shoulder, Jim squares off.

These fastball pitches are coming in at over 60 miles an hour. And while it takes Jim a couple of pitches to get the feel, the crack of the bat tells the story. And this inspirational athlete starts sending them deep.


KING: We're back with Jim Goldman. He's in St. Louis. Jim, you faced a life without arms. How did you get to do this?

JIM GOLDMAN: It just all just came naturally to me, because I was born this way, and I just did it like you did with your hands.

KING: Were you a baseball fan?

GOLDMAN: Oh, I'm a big Cub fan.

KING: Living in St. Louis, and you're a Cub fan?

GOLDMAN: Yeah, but I live on the Illinois side.

KING: Now, you can also shoot hoops, play billiards, thread your fish hooks, shoot skeet, drive a car and a boat and many other things. All of it self-taught?

GOLDMAN: Yes, sir. I taught himself everything.

KING: How did you find him, Dean?

CAIN: Well, again, we have segment producers all over the place, and these people are out searching out people like Jim. Jim falls into the category we call "Triumph Over Tragedy." You know, he's placed in a situation where, you know, a lot of people wouldn't do the things that he does. I mean, seeing him shoot shotguns and pistols and things with his feet and being a very good shot, that blows me away. And that sort of thing to me is extremely inspirational. And that's the kind of stuff I really get a charge out of on this show.

Again, we had segment producers out there, and somebody heard of Jim, and somebody went to Jim. Jim probably knows better.

KING: Jim, did you go for it right away? Did you say, OK, show me on television?

GOLDMAN: They called me on the TV -- or called me on the telephone and they come out and looked at me a little bit, and I guess they believed everything I told them I could do.

KING: But I mean, you had no qualms about going on television?

GOLDMAN: No, I've done it before.

KING: Boy, I tell you, where do you explain where that determination came from to do this?

GOLDMAN: It probably come from my dad. When I was real little, he told me one day he wasn't going to be around my entire life to take care of me, so I better take care of myself. So I decided I better do it.

KING: Born that way, what was the condition? What caused that, to be born without arms?

GOLDMAN: They really don't know, because I fell on (UNINTELLIGIBLE) baby era. I was born in the '60s, my parents were in the military. My mom never took it, so they really don't know whatever caused it.

KING: Hang in tough, Jim. It's a great story.

GOLDMAN: Thank you.

KING: Jim Goldman.

Now we're going to see a patient. Bozhenias Nazarek (ph) blinded at the age of 13 when an angry neighbor threw hot lie in his face. His cornea is destroyed. A doctor puts a periscope only nine millimeters in length through his eyelids and cornea. Watch.


CAIN: Dr. Cotlier (ph) is a leading ophthalmologist in New York, and a pioneer of a rare and radical procedure that uses a device known as a caroteau prosthesis (ph). Containing three small high-tech optical lenses, it works like a periscope, redirecting light after being implanted directly into the damaged cornea.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The eyelids are actually fused or closed at the time of surgery, with the prosthesis behind the eyelid.

CAIN: Today with just his one eye, Bozhenias Nazarek (ph) has near perfect 20/50 vision, and unbelievably he can see clearly the distance of an entire city block.


KING: That's amazing.

CAIN: Yes, I mean, he -- this is someone who can see now.

KING: Do you get as much kick out of this as acting?

CAIN: For me, I would watch this show. So every time I go and do the show, I'm watching and, wow, look at this.

KING: Since you would watch it -- you're still acting, though?

CAIN: Oh, absolutely. This takes about two weeks out of my entire year to do an entire season.

KING: Back with more of Dean Cain and more of "Ripley's Believe It or Not." Don't go away.

Coming up, how does this guy eat with no esophagus? And dead bodies as art really possible? You'll be the judge when LARRY KING LIVE returns.



CAIN: Throughout his life, 43-year-old Jonas Scott was always a man with a hardy appetite. In fact, Jonas had no problem packing away the food until the day a tragic accident destroyed his stomach.

Jonas's incredible ordeal began in 1988. The factory worker was left near death after being exposed to industrial cleaning fluid that literally ate away his insides.


KING: We're back with Dean Cain, the host TBS's "Ripley's Believe It or Not." Well, the show is the number one rated original series on cable television. Joining us now in Salt Lake City is Jonas Scott. Before we talk with Jonas, we'll tell you what Jonas has. Jonas is a man with no esophagus. Watch the tape.


CAIN: Left confined to a bed, Jonas had to be fed intravenously because without a stomach, Jonas had absolutely no way of digesting regular food. After three years of never swallowing a single solid bite of food, Jonas' body began to grow dangerously weak.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As good as the science is in artificial nutrition, it's not as good as eating regular food.

CAIN: To try and give Jonas back a somewhat normal life, a team of 14 specialists from around the country convened at Salt Lake City's Veteran's Hospital. They begin a staggering 36-hour life-or-death operation, attempting to connect the remaining seven feet of Jonas' small intestine directly to the base of his throat, so he could once again eat solid food.


KING: Now Jonas, do you eat normally, or is it always different every time you eat?

JONAS SCOTT: Well, I eat six times a day, every two and a half hours.

KING: The food passes through very quickly?

SCOTT: Oh, about six or seven minutes.

KING: Wow. Are there certain kind of foods you can't eat?

SCOTT: I have to stay away from steaks and chicken breasts, because they won't digest correctly.

KING: All those years when you couldn't digest, when you couldn't swallow, what was that like?

SCOTT: It was terrible. Because I couldn't even swallow my own saliva. And I had to take a spit cup and spit in the cup, and it was terrible.

KING: Now, when you swallow something now, the food goes down how?

SCOTT: It goes down into my small intestines, and it just goes through. It will stay for about six or seven minutes, and then it will just flow through.

KING: And it's enough by doing it six times a day to nourish you?

SCOTT: That's correct. It will nourish me and last me. I eat from 12:30 in the evening -- 12:30 a.m. until 10:30 at night. 10:30 at night, I quit eating, and then I'm good until the next morning at 12:30.

KING: Does it feel weird going down?

SCOTT: Yeah, you can kind of say that, because it's just like a snake swallowing a frog. It goes down and I swell, my system swells up humongously, and then I just have to push it down sometimes, because it gets too much.

KING: Jonas, I salute you. It's an amazing story.

SCOTT: Thank you.

KING: Stay well -- and no steak, Jonas.

SCOTT: No, I'm not going to do that.

KING: Jonas Scott.

Let's take a look at anatomic art. Dr. Gunther Van Hagen (ph), he injects corpses with silicone to make art. Watch this.


CAIN: A recently opened art show has been shocking spectators with a graphic new series of sculptures. But these are no ordinary museum pieces. Believe it or not, all these works of art are created using actual human bodies. And some, like the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) body of an infant, are so shocking, they're far too graphic for television.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They are all so lifelike that visitors forget for a moment that they are dead.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I hope no one does that to me.


KING: Are there things you turn down, Dean?

CAIN: Yeah, there are. There are.

KING: Because it don't look that way.

CAIN: There are things that we turn down. And there are also some things -- we get inundated with a tremendous number of requests and people saying, you know, come take a look at us. So much so that we have created a new segment called "Spot the Not." Believe it or not. Everything that's on the show is 100 percent real and validated.

KING: But you'll have a not.

CAIN: We'll have a not, which we'll show three stories, and say one of these three is not real. And then you can take a look and guess, and come back after the commercial and you come up with one. Just because we get so many things that come in. And there are things -- yeah, there are things we can't show.

KING: Amazing. You involve your audience?

CAIN: Yeah. That's the whole idea.

KING: And we're going to get a lot more of an audience for him after tonight. We're only halfway through. We got things coming. You think you seen tattoos? Wait. This is LARRY KING LIVE with Dean Cain. Don't go away.

ANNOUNCER: Next on LARRY KING LIVE, meet a woman with permanent sunblock. And a dangerous and sometimes deadly log ride.


KING: We're back with Dean Cain on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE. He hosts TBS's "Ripley's Believe It or Not," seen every Wednesday night at 8:00 Eastern.

Do you ever think from this show before we meet our next guest that people might be induced to do weird things to get on?

CAIN: Well, maybe to get on. We say very clearly, don't do these things at home, don't try this and don't try that. And sometimes people will try to come up with something. It's not about, you know, some wacky, crazy stunt or anything. We're looking for what people really do.

KING: Unusual is what this is called.

CAIN: Absolutely.

KING: Speaking of unusual, our next guest is Julia Gnuse. She is covered head to toe in tattoos. We'll find out why. Watch this video.


CAIN: Julia was on a mission to become the world's most tattooed woman. The legs were just the beginning. The inking continued, spreading to her stomach. Then her arms, and then her back. Now Julia's body art depicts everything from jungle scenes to her favorite actors.


KING: And here she is, Julia Gnuse, covered head to toe in tattoos. Why?

JULIA GNUSE: I have a skin disorder called porphyria, which is similar to lupus, but it is not a life-threatening disease. It's a disorder of blistering of the skin from sunlight.

KING: So meaning you can't go out in the sun?

GNUSE: Right.

KING: So if you were to not have done -- you can go out in the sun with tattoos then, right?

GNUSE: Yes. But the tattoos do not prevent the blisters from coming back and especially appearing in the same place on top of the layer of the skin. I did this for the reason of covering scarring from the blisters. They get as deep as three degree burn.

KING: Whoa.

GNUSE: And you will feel them, believe me, just like the blister on your foot that you would get.

KING: Was there any other answer other than this?

GNUSE: You could take medication but you're risking blindness, you know, just bad results from the medication.

KING: Did you have this as a baby?

GNUSE: Yes, baby. I had a friend who is a plastic surgeon, who suggested tattooing my skin the same color to the scarring that I had, seeing if we can match my just pale-looking skin that I had. That didn't work. We tried it. It was very difficult to match that. So I had the idea of a colorful tattoo, then I got hooked. I got addicted.

KING: Is this all over your body or just the part that the sun sees?

GNUSE: Yes. From head to ankle.

KING: Are you married?

GNUSE: Eighteen years of relationship on and off. Very understanding man.

KING: Is he tattooed?

GNUSE: Not one. He's a computer programmer.

KING: What do you make of this story, Dean? This is amazing. Now, this was a need to do this, and then she became obsessed.

CAIN: Exactly. It stemmed from a need, a way to cover the scarring that she said she didn't want to see. And then it became more. It became much more. And, again, you know, this is -- when you see her, you're automatically -- you look and you want to know the story.

KING: You're shocked, yeah.

CAIN: And you want to know the story.

KING: Julia, you go out, you go to dinner? You go to?

GNUSE: Oh, yes.

KING: What do you get? What reaction do you get from people?

GNUSE: Well, I love people, and I've had a lot of psychology in my life, and I'm very understanding of what reactions will be, responses and so on. So I'm able to take it, you know, however it comes out of someone's mouth. You know.

KING: You have one person do all the tattooing?


KING: You have a tattoo artist?

GNUSE: Yes. His name is Art Godoy (ph) and he is a twin, he has a twin brother Steve, who now is sharing part of the work.

KING: Everything on you you chose?


KING: You chose. You have actors. Who's on you?

GNUSE: Yes, Lucille Ball, the Three Stooges. Just -- any cartoons.

KING: Grouch Marx used to do a song.

GNUSE: Pardon me?

KING: ... about the tattooed lady. Yeah. It was a funny song he used to do about a tattooed lady. How old are you, Julia?

GNUSE: 46 years old.

KING: Well, you look great. You really do.

GNUSE: Well, thank you.

KING: You look younger than 46. Now, will you have a normal, full life span?

GNUSE: Yes, yes. And I have goals in my life now. I've had a bakery business for eight years. Now I'm tired of the baking and cooking. I would like to possibly do what something like what Dean's here doing, meeting people and host a show, be a hostess, or work for Ripley's. The hostess, go into the museum. I did have an offer in the Museum of Taiwan, but I thought that was a little too far to be from my boyfriend.

KING: Too far. Thanks for coming, Julia.

GNUSE: Well, thank you, Larry.

KING: It's a great story.

GNUSE: Thank you.

KING: Julia Gnuse.

By the way, let's show you something now. Log riders. Every seven years, these men of Nagano, Japan test their bravery and risk by riding enormous 50-foot, 13-ton logs down steep slopes at 30 miles an hour. Watch.


CAIN: For over 1,200 years, the men of this shrine in northern Japan have gathered in a life-threatening reenactment to honor their brave forefathers, holy men who once conquered monster logs just like these to construct their temple.

The ceremonies begin late in March, with the selection of eight huge trees. Once blessed, they're stripped and prepared for a brutal 10-mile journey where, amazingly, the logs are dragged by hand.

The courageous souls reach their first dangerous hurdle while attempting to cross the Mayagao (ph) river. Plunging into frigid waters, they risk drowning to tug the heavy load to the other side. Once reaching their destination, the monks must decide which men are worthy of risking death.


KING: We are always puzzled, Dean, by the -- the plaudits of men.

CAIN: It's the strange cultural things that happen all over the world. This particular one, I mean, these guys ride these logs -- they can get crushed. But, again, it's based on something that culturally goes back 1,200 years. And going down the logs like that, I mean, people easily can get crushed -- and do very often.

KING: Do you get a hoot out of hosting this?

CAIN: I -- it's so entertaining to me. And it's so -- I learn -- I become the purveyor of some ridiculous knowledge, that's for sure.


CAIN: But I like to watch it and look at it and smile and laugh, and say, my God, that's amazing, that is strange, not something I might do but incredible that people do this.

KING: A lot of these folks are also eligible for Guinness.

CAIN: Yes.

KING: By the way, everyone we showed you on that tape survived.

CAIN: Yes.

KING: No one died on that ride.

CAIN: No one died that day.

KING: We'll be right back, take you to Boston with another incredible story with Dean Cain. We thank Julia. Don't go away.

ANNOUNCER: Coming up, fashion without the fabric. LARRY KING LIVE returns after this.


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "RIPLEY'S BELIEVE IT OR NOT") CAIN: You're looking at the hot rod affectionately known as White Lightning. And that's an appropriate name, considering that in mere seconds it can go from zero to over 200 miles an hour.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The faster you go, the noisier it gets. At 250 miles an hour, the belts are just screaming.

CAIN: But believe it or not, even more incredible is the fact that this speed demon doesn't burn a drop of gas. This lean racing machine runs on C-cell batteries. And it's about to attempt an electric car land speed record.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Very few people can fathom a car going that fast on flashlight batteries.


KING: We're back. We're looking at "Ripley's Believe It or Not." This series has been around, the cartoon strip, the radio show, for well over 50 years. Robert Ripley started it. He's got museums all over the country. And Dean Cain hosts the very successful television show.

Our next person is in Boston. She is Porter Collie, and her story deals with tumors. She has a specific disease. Watch the tape.


CAIN: While some tumors are surgically removed, there's nothing that can really be done to the thousands of others.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you have something and you can't fix it, learn to live with it.

CAIN: For Porter, a hard bump doesn't just cause a bruise, it actually forms a new tumor. And just moving around can cause a bruise, it actually forms a new tumor. And just moving around can cause the tumors to bleed. Making every day functions hard to handle.

KING: Thank you for joining us, Porter Collie, the woman covered by tumors. What you have is neurofibromatosis, right?


KING: Did you have this from birth?

COLLEY: I was born with it. It's a -- 50 percent is hereditary and 50 percent is spontaneous mutation, and mine is spontaneous mutation.

KING: And they increase in number and in size and they're painful, right?

COLLEY: Yes, it hurts to hugged. A gentle hug is okay, but a nice bear hug -- it hurts.

KING: Do you take medication?


KING: None?

COLLEY: No. If it gets too bad, I'll take something for pain, but you learn to live with it.

KING: And the tumors are not terminal, they're not cancerous?

COLLEY: No, I've never had any cancerous tumors. Some of them can become cancerous, but I've always been benign. And I've had many surgeries.

KING: You lecture at Harvard about this?

COLLEY: Yes, the first year medical students in a genetics class. I've been doing it for 18 or 19 years.

KING: How do people react, Porter, when they see you?

Well, I'm laughed at, pointed at, stared at, called names but that doesn't bother me. Those kinds of people have a worse problem than I have. And you learn to live with something like this.

KING: What was childhood like?

COLLEY: I wasn't disfigured when I was a child. I didn't start to become disfigured until I was in my early early 20's. And now -- they keep on growing in size and numbers and they bleed very easily.

KING: Do they itch?

COLLEY: No, they don't itch but they're painful. A lot of them are painful. When I was little before I had any tumors at all, I was in a play and my name in that play was bumps.

KING: When Ripley asked, why did you agree to go on?

COLLEY: I thought it might help people. When a parent who has a child with NF sees me, sometimes they get panicky and thinking, oh, my god, is my child going to look like that? Some people have NF and don't have any problems at all. Maybe they have a few tumors, they have the cafe au lait spots. But everybody who has NF, does not become as disfigured as I am.

KING: How many people have it?

COLLEY: One in every 4,000 births, but I think probably more than that because some people have it without problems. They don't know they have it. One person I know, her father was diagnosed after she was. He had never had any problems.

KING: Wow. So it's male and female. What do you make of this story, Dean? CAIN: It's an incredible story, it's an incredible woman. She's lecturing at Harvard and doing those things. Again, it's one of those things you say is my life tough? Here is someone else who has overcome a tremendous personal tragedy, and is able to live a full and happy life. And like she said, you learn to live with it. It inspires me tremendously and you learn so much.

KING: And they're much more courageous (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

COLLEY: The more tumors I have, the more there is of me to love.

KING: Porter, thank you very much. You're a delightful lady.

COLLEY: Thank you.

KING: Watch this now, folks. This is a clothes-free fashion show. Watch.

ANNOUNCER: Looks like a typical summer fashion show, beautiful models in the latest designer beach wear, but believe it or not, some of these women aren't wearing clothes at all. It's the latest provocation from cutting edge artist Felipeo Aioko.

FELIPEO AIOKO, ARTIST: I do want people to react and I want people to use their imagination.

KING: Would you date a painted woman?

CAIN: Yes, I would. Absolutely.

KING: Sure.

CAIN: Any woman that could have a bikini painted on and have you believe it's really a bikini is okay by me.

KING: They sure looked real. That wasn't one of those believe it or not. That wasn't one of those nots -- that was a really.

CAIN: Absolutely. In more ways than one, sir.

KING: Did you do that story yourself, Dean? Was that one you went out on?

CAIN: This is one I certainly would go out on, absolutely, to make sure everything was done correctly.

KING: Staying on top of things is the way we'll call it. Look at that. That's painted on. We'll be right back with an amazing story out of Colorado, Springs. I'm Larry King with Dean Cain. We're looking at "Ripley's Believe It or Not."

ANNOUNCER: Coming up, meet a woman who pulls off some amazing feats. And a diving dog? Believe it or not, LARRY KING LIVE returns after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) KING: We're back with Dean Cain. Any complaints about the way people look? Do viewers ever say I didn't like looking at that?

CAIN: There are certainly parts -- a lot of kids watch the show. And a lot of the adults can't watch the segments, and the kids are fascinated by it.

KING: You issue warnings, though.

CAIN: We always issue warnings, especially if something is particularly gruesome.

KING: Our next story comes out of Colorado Springs. It's Dwayne Fulsom, it also deals with his dog Shadow. Now, watch this tape.


CAIN: On one trip to the Bahamas, Dwayne noticed how excited Shadow was getting every time the family went scuba diving.

DWAYNE FULSOM: She'd jump off the back of the boat and try to follow us down.

So Dwayne, a retired engineer began working on a plan to get Shadow below sea level. The result -- the world's first patented canine scuba suit, complete with a clear diving bubble that seals water tight over shadow's entire head, as well as an oxygen regulator and even an intercom so Dwayne and Shadow can communicate.

KING: Okay, Dwayne. How does he do it?

FULSOM: Well, it all started with just having her sit on the top step of the pool, and just putting a bucket over her head. And little by little we graduated from one thing to another until I was able to develop full fledged scuba gear for her.

KING: Dwayne, why?

FULSOM: Well, I don't know. I'm an avid scuba diver, myself. And the dog -- we would go off the boat and go down, the dog would try to jump in the water and follow us down. Of course, she couldn't get but a few feet down before she'd have to return. All my friends knowing that I have a pretty nice engineering shop kind of encouraged me to see if I could just devise something that at least she could dive down in a swimming pool. And it developed from that.

KING: That's amazing. It's a she, right?

FULSOM: Yes. She's a female, yes.

KING: Does she like it?

FULSOM: That's the most often asked question that we get. And the only way I can answer it is if I bring her scuba gear out and place it in front of her, you can see it instantly, she gets excited, she runs over. She'll try to put the gear on herself. Of course, she can't do it, but she keeps trying to shove her nose into it, trying to get it on.

KING: And she's now done over 400 dives?

FOLSON: Yeah, she's got an awful lot of dives, more than 400. We stopped counting at about 400. But she's recognized by the Jacques Cousteau Society and the Patty Dive Association and so forth.

KING: Well, she's a genuine heroine. Thank you, Dwayne.

Hey, Dean, that's amazing. That's fun.

CAIN: That's the kind of thing -- yeah, you just smile when you see a story like that. And we call that again "The Magnificent Obsession." It's something someone had wanted to do and just took the time. And it's incredible. And it has some real-life applications, too, if there's something you need.

KING: Earlier in the show, we showed you a gentleman without arms who played sports. Watch this lady.


CAIN: Like a lot of young couples, Barb and Mark began thinking about raising a family. But would Barb be able to handle all the responsibilities that come with raising a child?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I had a lot of concern. I knew I could take care of him. I mean, I spent most of my teen-age years baby- sitting other people's kids. So I knew I could, but I had never really taken care of a newborn, 24-seven. You know, it's rough.

Did that tickle?


KING: Wow. Doing everything with her feet.

CAIN: Yeah. I have a 1-year-old son, and...

KING: I have a 2 and a 1. I can't do it with my arms.

CAIN: I'm having to pin him down, and he's doing -- I have such difficulty trying to change his diaper. And the fact that she can do this with her feet, it's one of those things. It's absolutely incredible and amazing. And you know, bless her for it.

KING: You know what you learn from this show? The determination of the human spirit. I mean, really, you can say it's freaky and all these kinds of things, but basically these are people doing what we couldn't do.

CAIN: Absolutely. Absolutely.

KING: With determination and skill and love. That's a great mother.

CAIN: Yeah, a wonderful mother.

KING: Do you ever think, though, that there are aspects that are voyeuristic?

CAIN: Absolutely. I think, you know, but I think we're a very voyeuristic society, I think, in general. I mean, what Robert Ripley did when he started the thing, it was very voyeuristic. You want to see who these people are and what they're doing. You want to be amazed by them and also want to know a little bit about them. That's what we like to do on the show, is take it a little past the surface and just find out why someone does something, and try and tell their story.

KING: Are you surprised at how many stories there are? I remember reading "Ripley's Believe It or Not." I said, how can he keep coming up with this every?

CAIN: It never stops. Because people are incredible and they're always doing something different. And as technology changes, there are more and more and more stories that will continue coming out. It's a never-ending story.

KING: And a lot of people themselves don't consider themselves freaky, do they?


KING: I mean, to them what they're doing is what they're doing.

CAIN: Absolutely. Every day, it's completely normal. But other people can say, well, that's pretty incredible.

KING: Thank you, Dean.

CAIN: Thank you very much, Larry.

KING: Thanks for helping us out.

CAIN: Absolutely.

KING: Dean Cain, the host of TBS's "Ripley's Believe It or Not." It airs every Wednesday night at 8:00 Eastern and Pacific.


CAIN: ... and as he grew older, he found he could use his feet the same way other people use their hands. And by all accounts, he grew up like a normal teen.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He got into mischief.


CAIN: Along the way, Jim found prosthetic arms only slowed him down. Anyway, he preferred using his incredibly nimble toes instead. In this rare footage from his school days, Jim demonstrates how he could even pitch for his school's championship team.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Great psych-out. Would you go to town and tell everybody you struck out against somebody that had no arms?



KING: We close out each night with a musical piece, an upbeat piece. No better group to do it than Chicago. This group was formed in 1967. They have been ever-lasting, a major, major scene in the American musical outlook. They're going to do a number called "Feeling Stronger Every Day." This was from the "Chicago 5" album back in June of 1973. It is appropriate now.

Here they are from Los Angeles, the great musical aggregation, Chicago.