If a headline about Left Shark did not confuse you, congratulations! You obviously remember Left Shark performance as one of Katy Perry’s backup dancers at the 2015 Super Bowl halftime show. The dancer who wore Left Shark’s costume immediately went viral, spawning memes that lasted for the reset of the year. Left Shark happened to be not in rhythm with the music, Perry, or Right Shark, leading to hilarity.
The mysterious dancer has remained anonymous until now, when a hairstylist named Bryan Gaw revealed that he was the man behind Left Shark. Speaking to NPR (!), Gaw explained that the performance wasn’t exactly intended to be perfect. As NPR reported, “Gaw rehearsed his improvisational moment thinking he’d be a little goofy, but when he reached midfield at the Super Bowl, his movements became maximum goofy.”
As Gaw explained, he opted to freestyle his choreography. “There’s also what’s called freestyle choreography, or, like, you get to move around or play your character as a dancer. … I’m in a 7-foot blue shark costume. There’s no cool in that. So what’s the other option? Well, I’m gonna play a different character.”
Gaw works doing hair in West Hollywood, but he’s also a professional dancer who toured with Katy Perry’s touring ensemble for five years. He danced for Lady Gaga, Miley Cyrus, and performed at every major awards show. Last year, Gaw retired from the road and took a job with Mare Salon.
Gaw also opened up in an essay for the Chicago Tribune, where he described the moment when he realized he was going viral in an unexpected way:
After I danced, the cast and I watched the rest of the halftime show from the sidelines, and we were back at our hotel by the fourth quarter. By then I already had friends texting me: “Please tell me you were one of the sharks.” I replied that yes, I was. “Which one?” they wanted to know. I had no idea.
It wasn’t until the next morning that I began to understand what had happened. We were on the first flight out of Arizona to Burbank, California. I’d gotten up at 6 a.m. When I got off the plane and turned my phone back on, my entire voice mailbox was full. Every major network, newspaper, every agent had called. They all wanted to talk to “Left Shark.” I still have no idea how they got my phone number.
He said that Perry was great about it and her management team helped him navigate all the interview requests. He decided not to speak at all because he did not want to violate his NFL contract, nor draw attention away from Perry’s excellent performance.
Gaw is not embarrassed about his turn as Left Shark. In fact, he believes it has only enhanced his resume. “Actually I don’t get any negative feedback from it,” he says. “If anything, people are, like, ‘Whoa, that’s so cool!'”
Don’t judge: Who among us has not been bowled over by the presence of a man who dances inside a sports mascot costume?