I met Jim “Tank” Dorsey in September 2017, at the Wasteland Weekend post-apocalyptic festival in the Californian desert, with photographer Myles Pritchard.
My time is short with Jim Dorsey, aka Tank, or Dog Tank, or Lord Humungus, or simply Jim The Pool Guy. He’s about to get into a six-wheel truck that’s a near-perfect replica of Lord Humungus’s vehicle in Mad Max 2: Road Warrior (1981), complete with near-mummified prisoners – and join a special convoy made up solely of Road Warrior replica cars, including Mad Max’s battered V8 Interceptor.
I’m at Wasteland Weekend, which is a post-apocalyptic festival, where about 3,000 people dress up and pretend civilisation has ended, most of them taking their inspiration from the Mad Max movies. I’ve never been into cosplaying, or LARPing, but it’s taken me by surprise – the sheer scale of it all, the ingenuity, the creativity, the attention to detail, the sense of people somehow becoming themselves, or a better version of themselves. Jim is merely one of many.
Jim, who owns a swimming pool servicing company in New Jersey, is the official festival Lord Humungus, the leader of a merciless gang of motorcycle marauders and the antagonist-in-chief of Mad Max 2. With his deep, slightly terrifying voice and almost robotic movements, Jim is so good at being Humungus that Kjell Nilsson, the Swedish weightlifter-turned-actor who originally played the character, gave him his blessing online in 2013.
It all started in 2010, when Jim came to Wasteland Weekend dressed as a humble officer in the Main Force Patrol (an Australian special police force that featured in the movies… blah blah). “There wasn’t a real Lord Humungus that year, and people saw my body shape,” he recalls. “Everyone was like: Dude, you’ve got to come back as Humungus. I was saying no, making excuses.”
“But one day I ran out of excuses. At 40, I hired a bodybuilder and got in the shape of my life. It was all just for this – but then I came in 2011, and everyone went fucking nuts. I said: Okay, I’m Lord Humungus now, and I’m owning this.”
At 40, I hired a bodybuilder and got in the shape of my life. It was all just for this
As Lord Humungus, Dorsey does indeed seem to be owning it. I have to hover for at least ten minutes to get a moment, as everyone seems to want a piece of him. “This is where I’m not Jim the Pool Guy,” he says. “I come out here without my phone, and I become someone else.”
But there was life before Lord Humungus, and even pools. Jim was the merch guy for the Misfits in 1994, and eventually became their tour manager. “I was basically a professional babysitter for guys like Marky Ramone,” he says of the time. “The amount of times I had to run for my life… There were riots every time we played in Chile.”
One of those times, Jim had to throw a guy off stage who was storming a Misfits gig. “I thought the security guard below would catch him, but he didn’t. There was a terrible moment where I thought he was dead – but he lived.”
Then, after the Misfits, there was a stint as a professional wrestler; then the pool company, which he started a decade ago; and the cosplaying, which was inspired by a childhood spent painting figurines and making costumes. He tells us that someone’s trying to make a film about his life – you can see the Kickstarter here. He’s also got a Facebook page, with an Intro that reads “Larger than life and twice as ugly”. It shows that his wife, Sacha Pinky Dorsey, is also a cosplayer.
But we don’t know this at the time. He has to go. The near-deafening engines of Mad Max 2: Road Warrior fire up, and Lord Humungus strides off.