From what I can tell, Nick Marino is the Italian-American equivalent of James Smith. I’m a comic book writer based out of Long Beach, CA, but I guess because my email address is nickmarino@gmail.com, I’m constantly receiving messages meant for other Nick Marinos: A DJ from Baltimore, a Florida businessman, a guy in North Carolina who needs his bathroom fixed — the list goes on and on.

I used to politely inform senders that they’d emailed the wrong guy. Nine times out of ten, I’d receive a rude reply or a message of complete disbelief. How dare I not be their Nick Marino? Eventually, I started playing along by sending ridiculous replies and seeing how long it would take people to figure me out.

About two weeks ago, I received a pitch to cover the U.S. Parachute Association competition from a PR rep assuming I was a journalist in NYC (I later realized she’d reached out to me last year and I had told her then she had the wrong guy).

I replied enthusiastically, if not extremely inappropriately:

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To my surprise, she was into it:

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When I didn’t hear back for days, however, I figured the jig was up. I was wrong. In fact, she had another pitch:

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Coordinate a jump for me after I requested “actual penetration”? Things were going very well. But I had something a little different in mind:

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Or… nowhere, Edna! I’m not a journalist! But I took a chance and suggested ANIMAL, a website that I assumed would never get approved by the client.

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This was actually happening:

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I thought my wholly unprofessional jokes would doom the interview. It’s incredible what a PR company will put up with to get press:

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It was set. I interviewed parachutist Ian Bobo. Here are the abridged highlights:

Ian, you’ve done almost 20,000 jumps, right?
Yep.

That’s nuts! What’s the math on that?
I’ve been fairly active for the past 25 years or so. It’s hard to do the average, but I’ve done anywhere between 300-400 a year up to 1,100 a year.

Alright, I know this is the question that everybody asks… but you’re up there… have you ever crapped yourself? Literally.
No. I have not crapped myself.

Have you thought you were going to crap yourself?
Negative on the crapping.

So what’s your main event at this competition?
I’m in the canopy piloting discipline. This U.S. National event is all the canopy events which utilize the parachute for the competition. I’ll describe what I mean…

[Very long description! Not gonna lie — I glazed over a bit. You can listen to the full thing here.]

Be honest with me… have you bribed the judges?
Negative. They all know me too well.

So let’s say canopy piloting is down to the last five finalists. By crazy circumstances, the five of you end up on a desert island. You have to fuck one, marry one, kill one, and eat one. It’s you and who are the other four?
Is that a serious question?

I think readers wanna know this.
I’m drawing a blank on almost every option…

Not even “eat one”? You just pick the meatiest person.
There’s one dude who’s been doing a lot of weight lifting and stuff. He’s a good friend of mine, actually. Justin Thornton. He’s into this men’s fitness stuff. So he’s got some good muscle on him. He’d probably be good to eat.

Sinewy but still satisfying.
Yeah, exactly.

So are you specifically training for this competition or do you just stay active?
I just show up and try to make it work without a lot of training. I do enough to get current and feel good about it.

Did I read correctly that you also teach quite a bit, too?
Yeah, that’s my primary livelihood. The PD Factory Team has an educational branch. We teach worldwide. We also have a thriving military contracting division. We stay busy working with U.S. and N.A.T.O. Special Forces.

My final question: one secret or confession about parachuting?
Externally or internally?

I think internally is juicier. This would’ve been a great time to confess to crapping your pants…
Yeah, that didn’t happen.

Alright, let’s see… I’d say that the spirit of competition — if you’re really into it and pushing yourself — I still get a little bit of nausea before round one. That’s what makes me realize it’s still super intense to me. If you could bottle that, whatever juices are flowing right before round one, you could sell it for a million bucks.

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And that’s that. Edna never caught onto me and Ian never called me out for my fucked up questions. If only I could’ve been there to interview all of the competitors…

Oh, and the USPA’s National Parachuting Championships are happening right now in Raeford, North Carolina.

(Photo: Ian Bobo by Ori Kuper/U.S. Parachute Association)