Restaurant Cliff Diver - Tyler Harding
By Steve Gillman
When most people think of cliff diving, they either think
of a man jumping into the ocean from high in the rocks at some
exotic location, or of college kids stepping off the edge above
rivers and lakes. But Tyler Harding has an actual job as a cliff
diver, and it doesn't even require him to go outdoors.
He works at Casa Bonita, a family restaurant in Denver, known
for its interesting decor and entertainment. He jumps from a
rocky waterfall/cliff into a 14-foot tropical-looking pool of
water, sometimes from as high as 30 feet, while diners watch.
I asked him a few questions about his work.
What job did you have before this
one, and how did you decide to become a cliff diver inside a
Unlike most people, I actually started working at Casa Bonitait
was my first jobwhen I was seventeen, doing the stage shows.
Being a cliff diver, in some ways, fell into my lap. It wasn't
until after about a year working there that I was approached
with the opportunity to audition for a Diver spot; having no
previous diving experience, I figured it was worth a shot. After
about an hour of semi-competent diving (don't worry, I'm much
better at it now)and about a week to worry if I was good
enoughI roped together all the courage I could muster,
and did my first dive shift and never looked back.
Is it a full time job, and is
there more than one person doing this at the restaurant?
For me it is a full time job; I'm at Casa Bonita almost every
day (as manager of the whole entertainment department, I ought
to be around most of the time) diving and doing the shows. There
are over fifteen people working in the department currently,
six of which are divers; the divers themselves work in three
shifts: one diver for the morning, one for the afternoon, and
one for the eveningbecause we entertain all day, 363 days
out of the year.
Watching you climb up the rocks
s quickly and do so many different dives from several locations,
I have to ask: Have you ever injured yourself?
I have endured a few cuts and scrapes, but nothing horrendous.
I've been fortunate in that circumstance (of course, now that
I've said that
I see that there are other acts
as part of the entertainment, including a wild west shootout
and a gorilla that escapes into the dining area. Do you participate
in these as well?
Yes, all diversmyself includedare a part of each
stage show that happens. Typically, the diver plays the villain
in whatever show is being performed on the stage, be it the Gunfight,
the Gorilla show, the Pirate showwhich you did not get
to see, unfortunatelyor anything else.
Are you attending college at the
moment, and will you continue working at Casa Bonita after you
I just graduated from the University of Northern Colorado,
in May 2010, with a Bachelors degree in Theatre Arts. I
have worked at Casa Bonita, as a seasonal employee, during the
time I spent at schooland, I imagine, I will be there for
some time to come.
What kind of qualifications would
a person need to get a position like yours, and how often is
there an opening?
In order to become a diver, diving experience is most important
(I was lucky I picked up on it as fast as I did), but not necessarily
the most important thing. Of course the diving should be impressiveswan
dives are only entertaining for so longbut any kind of
formal training with acting is also recommended; my philosophy
on being an entertainer at Casa Bonita revolves around the idea
of being well-rounded in terms of ability: an awesome cliff diver
who is uninteresting on stage is about as desirable as motorcycle
with one wheel. And no matter how cool it looks, it's still missing
the vital component that makes it worthwhile.
Have you ever dived off of cliffs
outside of the restaurant?
A couple times, yes, but it is tough to find places like that,
especially in Colorado. I only know of oneits a giant
craterbut diving at Casa Bonita is more appealing to me
Do you enjoy being a cliff diver?
Like all jobs, there are good days and bad days; however,
I have always enjoyed cliff diving, mostly because I love performing.
And I figure if I can brighten someones day, simply by
diving and acting on stage, that makes it a good place to be.
Being shirtless for a job is niceno uniforms to washbut
the best part about diving is the knowledge that I may be in
hundreds of peoples photo albums, and etched into the memories
of every man, woman, and child that enters Casa Bonita. Its
like being a part of a special day in someones life every
day, and thats what keeps me going more than anything else.