Lone Star Iguana
Fort Worth, Texas
In the late summer of 1978, artist Bob "Daddy-O" Wade found himself in upstate New York with a 40-foot-long iguana, which he'd just built as a temporary exhibit, with nowhere to put it. "I figured, I'm not just gonna just let this thing sit here so they can take it to the dump," said Bob. So, on a whim, after a couple of beers, he called the then-very-chic Lone Star Cafe in New York City. Bob thought that a Texas-themed eatery might somehow want his giant Texas lizard. To Bob's surprise, one of the owners picked up the phone, was interested, and that's how Bob's iguana wound up on the roof of a trendy Manhattan restaurant. "Years later," said Bob, "that guy told me he would never answer the phone ever again."
The Iguana remained an odd New York City icon until the restaurant closed in 1989. Bob bought it back for "not much," stored it at a horse farm in Virginia for a few years, then brought it back to Manhattan and placed it atop another roof near the World Trade Center. The iguana was then bought by some rich people in Fort Worth who hid it in a barn for over a decade, where the lizard was abused by a tornado and several hungry cows.
In 2010, Bob supervised the iguana's repair, gave it a complete makeover, and -- while Wagner's "Ride of the Valkyries" blared over loudspeakers -- sipped cocktails with VIPs as his lizard arrived by helicopter at its latest rooftop home: the new reptile house at the Fort Worth Zoo.
"I just sat back and watched it happen," said Bob. "It was about the most exciting of all the things I've ever done."