Timothy Roy May Be Out of His Tree, but 183 Days Aloft Landed Him in the Record Books
updated 01/31/1983 AT 01:00 AM EST
•originally published 01/31/1983 AT 01:00 AM EST
Tired of playing character roles like Pluto at Disneyland, Roy decided to, well, branch out. So last July 4 he climbed into a 6-by-8-foot tree house, 20 feet above the eighth hole of a Nor-walk, Calif. miniature golf course. Roy declared he would break the Guinness Book world record for tree sitting, and on Jan. 2 he did, surpassing the mark of 182 days (set in 1978 by Glen T. Woodrich in the very same aerie). Now Roy is bent on doubling it. He pledges not to set foot on terra firma until Independence Day, 1983. "Nothing," he vows, "short of a nuclear attack will get me on ground again until then." The 29-year-old tree sitter (who was born Timothy Roy Villarreal) admits that his goal is simply to attract attention. "The only actors who get work these days are the ones who get their names in print," he says. He rejected stunts like swallowing large quantities of goldfish or pancakes ("The fame would only last that day") and settled on tree-house sitting, which "would get exposure day in and day out."
He was right. Roy is visited by scores of people daily. When he's not answering their questions or writing in his diary (required, along with a witness's signature, by the Guinness folks as proof of his accomplishment), he has a TV, stereo and videocassette player and a pay telephone to keep him occupied. Visitors are limited to the hardy few who are willing to scale a rickety ladder and catapult headfirst onto his bed. He has a toilet, which empties into a ground-level septic tank, but the house boasts neither a stove nor a refrigerator, so for sustenance he depends on a few fast-food chains that are sponsoring his feat.
Tree-house sitting sits well with Roy. His only wish is for "someone to come up and cut my hair." Otherwise, he simply sees himself as part of a great tradition. "Here in California," he says proudly, "we're the leaders in outrageous bits."