Frank Coffman's gorilla has finally gone Hollywood.
With an appearance on ABC's Jimmy Kimmel Live! earlier this week, the Boulder costume maker's signature simian suit got nationwide exposure for all of 60 seconds.
The talk show decided to feature Coffman's craftsmanship Tuesday night in a skit spoofing a news story about a silverback lowland gorilla that has been observed walking upright at a wildlife center in England.
As an actor dressed in Coffman's gorilla suit leaves a coffee shop with a cup of joe in hand, Kimmel quips: "I didn't know gorillas drank mochaccinos."
"It was a cute skit," Coffman said Wednesday, as he worked on a new gorilla costume in his tiny home workshop in downtown Boulder.
But for the 63-year-old artist, who has been in the ape dress-up business since the 1980s, the costume that appeared on network television this week was just one of hundreds he makes each year.
"I get a lot of orders from all over the world -- Australia, Canada, England," he said. "Most people just want one to have fun -- to run around in a gorilla suit, film themselves and put it up on YouTube."
Coffman's gorilla costumes get put to far more serious uses, too -- like street-side sign-waving, a children's show on Arabic-language TV network Al-Jazeera, and a 425-pound man who just wanted to dress up like an ape.
"I had to charge him for the extra material," Coffman said with a laugh.
He said he does just about all of his business online these days, mostly through his Web site -- undeadmonsters.com.
"The Internet has been a fabulous democratic thing that has changed everything for me," he said. "When it came along, you could sell straight to customers without a middleman."
That's how Rodney Munoz, a costume designer for the Jimmy Kimmel Show, found the gorilla costume that got air time on Tuesday. He stumbled on Coffman's Web site last week and put in a hasty order.
"I told him he needed to overnight it to Los Angeles, I didn't care how much the shipping would cost," Munoz said Wednesday. "Then we made a structure inside it to give it some musculature and painted it silver."
While that costume may only get a one-time run on the show, Coffman's role in the business of gorilla-wrapped humans isn't ending any time soon.
He's working several suit orders currently and spent part of the day Wednesday stitching a zipper into a sizable segment of faux gorilla fur before taking it to his formal workshop on Pearl Street to glue on the rubber feet and face.
Coffman makes all of his own masks -- he started off as a Halloween mask-maker in 1980 -- and limbs, sculpting a model out of clay that he turns into a cement mold. Then he pours liquid latex into the mold and comes out with rubberized faces, feet and hands, which he paints.
He prides himself on the realistic detail in his costumes and the high level of workmanship that goes into them. Coffman custom-makes all of his costumes, based on the body measurements his customers provide him.
"What people really want is a good-quality gorilla suit," he said. "People are very happy they get a nice-fitting gorilla suit, with no gaps or tight spots."
His gorilla costumes cost $255, while his Bigfoot suits run $275, plus shipping.
"Competition from China has undercut my ability to make Halloween costumes and masks, but the Chinese haven't figured out how make a good gorilla costume," Coffman said.
Susan Nutting, owner of The Ritz costume shop in Boulder, has been buying masks from Coffman for years.
"I'm always interested in top-notch, high-quality products," she said. "He's an artist -- like the old crafts people who put a lot of attention into details."
Which still counts for something, even when that craftsmanship ends up on national television with an extra-large posterior and a pink dress from The Gap.
Contact Camera Staff Writer John Aguilar at 303-473-1389 or email@example.com.