With the Van Halen song Jump reverberating over the loudspeakers, a speedboat pulls three daredevil "Ramp Masters" at 35 miles per hour. Clearing an incline, they fly through the air — one performing a front flip, one a gainer (back flip) and the third doing a "heli" or twirl in the air.
"The ramp is only 14 feet wide and 51/2 feet tall," says the emcee Peter Fernandez, in a rolling DJ voice. "No brakes required."
Fernandez is bare-chested wearing a vest, jeans and a long, brown curly haired wig. A giant earring — a cross — hangs from his left ear.
We are at "Ski-stock," where there's no mud, sex, drugs or nudity.
Just a lot of rock 'n' roll and natural highs from watching one of the best little shows in Tampa Bay.
Ski-stock Rocks the '80s is one of several themed presentations put on by the Tampa Bay Water Ski Show Team, a group of amateur skiers of all ages who perform Cypress Gardens-type shows at Tower Lake, a small body of water tucked in an industrial park near the Oldsmar Flea Market.
It's an encore production that won the team its ninth consecutive title as Southern Regional champs during a June tournament in Montgomery, Ala.
Lisa Schmidt, president of the ski club, said the key to its success is the talent of the skiers and quality of the production.
"Our scripts are always funny, upbeat and creative," she said. "The music is awesome. And we have better transitions from act to act."
Shows are free (with donations accepted) and run every Saturday night through the end of October, with the exception of Oct. 9, when the team is scheduled to travel to a tournament.
On this evening, Material Girls form a ballet line and Flashdancers turn swivels on their skis.
Michael Jackson is back from the dead, rhinestone glove and all, while Tom Cruise is in the rerun of Risky Business.
The role of Cruise is played by 48-year-old John Schmidt, who does a stage dance, complete with white dress shirt and Fruit of the Loom underwear.
This Saturday will feature James Bond-type action with a medley of spy skits, daring aerial feats off the ramp, blistering barefoot skiing, human pyramids and lovely ladies as Bond girls exhibiting the grace and beauty of the sport.
Future shows revolve around tropical, country, haunted and holiday themes. A patriotic 9/11 show will honor community emergency responders and veterans.
"We try to pick themes that will appeal to everyone," spokeswoman Vickie Wilmouth said. "We hope people will come out and support the team. We love to show off."