‘South Park’: What It’s Like to Be a Cliff Diver at Casa Bonita

A former employee on life at ‘South Park’s most beloved eatery
‘South Park’: What It’s Like to Be a Cliff Diver at Casa Bonita

The Greatest Restaurant in the World, at least according to its latest owners Trey Parker and Matt Stone, has a reputation that precedes it. Casa Bonita is a fixture in Lakewood, Colorado, and boasts an intricate web of themed dining rooms that take architectural cues from a rich tapestry of Mexican history. And although the food has reportedly been upgraded since Parker and Stone acquired it, the cuisine was never Casa Bonita’s main attraction. Instead, people flocked to the big pink house to witness the stylistic free falls of its cliff divers. 

If you’ve ever wondered how someone becomes a Casa Bonita cliff diver, one recently emerged from the grotto to tell Business Insider what it’s like to work at the restaurant South Park has made famous outside of the great Denver metropolitan area. 

The Casa Bonita cliff-diver hiring process is certainly no Cirque du Soleil. All Vanna Curtis had to do was cover her tattoos, show the manager a few dives and the job was hers. Her typical work week was two days at six hours a shift. In an unexpected twist, the tattoo cover-up ended up being the most time-consuming portion of her day with 30 minutes of her shifts being dedicated to concealing her leg art. The rest of the time consisted primarily of “dive shows,” which happened every 15 minutes. Curtis said her dive catalog usually consisted of three dives: “a front dive, a swan dive and a backflip with as many twists.” 

While diving was the main part of the job, Curtis wore many other hats, too — and occasionally even a gorilla costume. Every hour, a different show took place on a small stage featuring a different cast of characters. Curtis loved playing Black Bertha the Pirate, but the gorilla not so much. She described her time in the gorilla suit as “heavy, stinky and uncomfortable” and that she’d have to run around the restaurant with the express purpose of wreaking havoc. Part of that havoc often involved kids chasing her down. One time, about 50 such kids kicked her until she fell over. Her “handler” had to help her flee the scene. 

In Curtis’ own words, the job was exhausting, but still fun. Or well worth taking the (literal) plunge for.

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