The gak kitchen is one of the highlights if you ever got to tour Nickelodeon Studios Florida when it was around. You see the trademark for Nickelodeon has always been the green slime. So just to see up front how this substance is artificially made was exciting just to taste it and get the whole thing on you! Getting to talk to one of the first gakmeisters employed there Bethanne Goehringer ,now Seel, was cool because if you seen the pics or the video down below you’ll see that she is one of the main people who you got to see in the advertising to come to this special place and see the slime and gak. Bethanne shares with me her fabulous time working at the facility and just how precious the slime making process was!
(you could see Bethanne at 7:40)
1. How did you get to become a gakmeister?
I was hired by Nicky Nichols, who was the Operations Manager responsible for opening NSF. She was so kind to me, and had me work a few freelance jobs to get some experience in television. I worked MTV’s Spring Break at Daytona, and an Orlando Magic basketball game, to name a few. The studios were not completely finished when I started there, so I did odd jobs for different departments while waiting for the Gak Kitchen to be completed.
2. What was your first impression of Nickelodeon Studios when you got there?
My first impression was “What a fun place to work!” There were quirky decorations all around, but it seemed normal to us. The offices got more colorful as time went on.
3. How many hours did you stay in the gak kitchen preparing all the slimeful and gak substances?
Once the tours began running through the building, my hours were really 9 to 6, like most jobs. Tours came through every 4 minutes, and I got to be great friends with the Universal tour guides. Many of them wanted to be actors, and they were so talented and funny. We laughed a lot! When we started taping Super Sloppy Double Dare, the kitchen went into full-on production mode. I would do the visits for the tours, while the production assistants would hustle all around the kitchen, mixing up concoctions for the show.
4. From many advertisements and specials promoting NSF I think you were often seen in them, are you aware of this?
Yes, I am aware of the ads and promos I am in! It was always exciting for me, and a bit surreal. However, I am well aware that the real star in the photos is Nickelodeon’s iconic slime. I was just lucky to be the one holding it for a short time.
5. Describe the feeling the kids would get when coming through the studio tour. It must’ve been exciting for everyone that they wanna witness what you all do!
Naturally the kids were excited walking through the building, but the place was so magical and wonderful that parents and adults were in awe, too. The tour started in a gathering room, then they came down the hall, past the make-up room, wardrobe room, and finally to the Gak kitchen. Then, they went upstairs and looked down over the two sound stages. You could see actors from your favorite shows right there in front of you, on the set. What a thrill!
6. Was there a particular show there that you loved visiting the set of?
All of the shows had something special about them…the actors, the crew, etc. But Super Sloppy Double Dare was so unique!! How could you not laugh at a giant nose with green slime oozing out of it, or an enormous ear with pudding smeared all over it? The prop masters and artists were so talented.
7. In the early 90s, I learned that you and the crew got to perform Nick shows for the NBA Orlando Magic halftime show. How much fun was that?
I did not perform in the Magic halftime show. One time however, Nickelodeon had a tent set up at an event at Loch Haven Park, Orlando. We had some props from Double Dare, and I was there in the Gak Meister costume. Many people came by to taste the green slime and take photos. One woman walked up and said to me, “Are you anyone?” I was so shocked, I just said “No”. Ouch, that still hurts even today!
8. Did you have a favorite ride at Universal Studios Florida?
My favorite ride at USF was the ET ride, because one time my sisters came to visit me and brought my grandmother. When you got on the ride, the employees would type your name in, so when the ride ended, ET would say goodbye to you. Hearing ET say my grandmother’s name made us laugh so much!
9. Orlando back then was shaped up to be Hollywood East but never lived up to it. As a Florida native, how great was it to have all the TV and film production going on in the area and why do you think it has since decreased?
I’m not a Florida native, I am a Yankee!
10. How great was all the staff who worked there? I always hear positive stories.
The staff truly was like a big family. I was just a kid back then, and I felt like I was friends with everyone on the staff. Everyone’s office was always open, you felt like you could talk to anyone, from the highest executive on down. I was always impressed that Emmy Laybourne worked alongside everyone on the set of Welcome Freshmen. She is the daughter of our then- president, Geraldine Laybourne, so we really were all a big family.
11. Do you mind telling the ingredients used to make gak and slime?
Hmmm… not sure I can divulge the secret recipe!
12. Have you been slimed yourself?
Nope, I’ve slimed lots of people including CBS news anchor Mark McEwen, and Orlando Magic GM Pat Williams, but never been slimed myself.
13. Do you mind explaining what you have been up to these days?
I left Nickelodeon to have my first child, and since then have worked in preschool, and public elementary school.
14. Favorite behind the scenes memory.
I have so many great memories, it’s hard to pin down just one. Linda Ellerbee did a tv special for kids about the environment, with an appearance by then- Vice President Al Gore . The Secret Service came through the day before to secure the building, and on the day of the taping, we could not be in the hall, so I stood in the wardrobe room as Mr. Gore walked past us to the studio. That was a thrilling day.
15. What do you think made Nick Studios so great and special?
Nick Studios was so special because of the staff. It was a wonderful company to work for. Every time a show wrapped, there was always a fun party. The staff once held a pumpkin decorating contest, and camera man Ken Krause and I won for our “Slime Pumpkin”! And at every Christmas party we watched a video created for that year, where each department had to come up with their own segment. These were super creative people, and I was so lucky to be among them!
16. Would you like to see it reopened?
Anything is possible, but the magic wouldn’t be the same.