Ray Gonzales could dedicate a section of his library to noteriety tha he's received from Ripley's Believe It or Not.
He may soon need a theater.
The Abilene, Ks. resident, who just moved from Salina Ks., has enjoyed showing off his unique ability to turn his feet backward.
Since 2009 his photograph has appeared in three Ripley's books that document strange and unusual abilities, occurrences and events, and a newspaper comic strip.
On Sept. 13, Gonzales, 41, was flown to New York City, where he was filmed for a British television program, now titled "Greatest Bodyshockers."
"It's a work in progress," Gonzales said. Even the title is subject to change, and he has no idea when the program will air.
The show seeks stories about "people with amazing bodies -- from the world's top contortionists to the world record-holder for the most tattoos," wrote Clare Darken, with the TV show, in an email to the Salina Journal in August. She was searching for Gonzales' contact information.
Off to New York City
Without the newspaper's help, show officials reached Gonzales through email and arranged his travel to the big East Coast city.
"They had a limo pick me up at the airport. We did a little interview with my background and history, and I did the trick for them," Gonzales said.
He was taken to a street "to try and get New Yorkers to stop and take a look," Gonzales said. "Most of them didn't. It seemed like everybody was in a hurry."
He told the film crew, "They've probably seen weirder stuff."
The Iraq war veteran, who maintains the rank of staff sergeant with the Kansas National Guard, rebuilds tank engines at Fort Riley.
Demonstrating his ability for decades -- averaging three to four times a month for friends, family and co-workers, Gonzales has told his story several times. He has longer ligaments in his hips that give him an "extra stretch," allowing him to accomplish the feat without pain.
"Nothing pops outta place," he was quoted as saying in a Journal story just over a year ago.
A freaked-out sergeant
Gonzales, who grew up in Louisiana and Texas, said he first learned that what he could do was different when he "freaked out" his mother when he was a boy.
During National Guard basic training in 1989 in Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., platoon mates talked him into turning his feet backward during an inspection. He was "smoked" by a drill instructor.
"He chewed me out, made me do pushups and roll around in the grass. I freaked him out," Gonzales said. "All of my platoon was laughing. Then the drill instructor smoked them, too. It was funny."
Later that night, Gonzales was called in by the same instructor, and he thought he was facing more discipline.
"He told me to do it again for the other drill instructors," Gonzales said.
Does it for free
The Salina Journal published a local story in November 2008 about Gonzales' ability. He was featured in a newspaper Ripley's comic strip in February 2009.
Then in October that year, his picture and a brief story appeared in "Ripley's Human Body," part of the five-book "Ripley Twists" series. Gonzales was in "Ripley's Special Edition" this year, and he's pictured in the 2012 "Ripley's Strikingly True" book, its eighth annual edition.
He has never been paid to turn his feet backward, appear in the Ripley's publications or appear on the upcoming TV show.
A friend of one of Gonzales' eight children or someone who notices him from a Ripley's book occasionally will ask him to demonstrate.
"I don't mind. I do it on demand," he said. "They'll say, 'Hey, you're that guy.' "
A lunch-time hit
Gonzales' feat was "kinda weird," but a hit to his first-born, Samantha Gonzales, 21, of Salina, while she was in school.
"He would come eat lunch with me, and I would say, 'Dad, turn your feet backwards,' and my friends would freak out," Samantha said. "I definitely caught some attention from people who didn't usually talk to me."
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