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La Jolla native’s penchant for tackling a challenge, no matter how crazy, inspires a documentary and a beer

Roger Guy English holds cans of Full Tilt Boogie Hefeweizen, a Thorn Brewing Co. beer he inspired.
Roger Guy English holds cans of Full Tilt Boogie Hefeweizen, a Thorn Brewing Co. beer he inspired.
(Angela Brandt)

‘There’s nothing that can stop him when he puts his mind to something,’ documentary director says of Roger Guy English.

Roger Guy English is referenced in a Trivial Pursuit question for the length of time he did the Twist at a San Diego club — 102 hours, 28 minutes and 37 seconds.

He had a Guinness world record for kissing 3,000 women in La Jolla over eight hours.

And he’s the first person to inspire a beer by San Diego’s Thorn Brewing Co. — Full Tilt Boogie Hefeweizen.

If that’s not enough, the La Jolla native hopes to realize his high school dream of being an Oscar winner with a new documentary about his life, “Full Tilt Boogie, Daddy-O,” which he is producing.

“I could actually win an Academy Award,” he said, showing off his high school picture with a caption about wanting to win an Oscar.

But even if he doesn’t win Oscar gold, he still has his beer.

“As my producer said, not even Academy Award winners get that,” English said.

Roger Guy English in his high school yearbook.
Roger Guy English noted in his high school yearbook his desire to win an Oscar.
(Courtesy of Roger Guy English)

“This I’m stoked about,” he said, holding up a can of Full Tilt Boogie. “I love being on a can of beer. This I really dig.”

The self-described “older than dirt” former disc jockey, former hostel manager and former video store clerk has a young spirit — from his ‘do to the Vans skater shoes he pairs with a tie.

After achieving nine Guinness world records in less than three years in the 1970s, he retired to a simple life in Poway.

Then he got a call about nine months ago from a friend wanting to produce a documentary about his adventures, which also include a much-publicized walk from La Jolla to Canada in 1970.

“He always said, ‘You should write a book about your life,’” English recalled. “If it had been anyone else, I’d say ‘No, thank you.’”

Producer Jimmy Baxter said he found English “fascinating from the first time I saw him.” The two met in 1989 when English was a disc jockey at a San Diego club.

When asked why English would be a keen subject for a documentary, Baxter said, “If you had nine world records, that would be enough.”

“It took me 30 years before I decided someone needs to tell this story,” Baxter said. “There’s so much in between these things. I just thought he was a fascinating character. I’ve never met another person like Roger Guy English.”

The film’s director, Tyler French, has more than 60 hours’ worth of footage of English’s life.

French said he always wanted to film a documentary but struggled to find a topic — until he started hearing about English from his friend Baxter.

“I’ve been hearing stories nonstop. They are incredible,” French said. “He marches to his own beat. There’s nothing that can stop him when he puts his mind to something. He is completely inspirational.”

French has filmed interviews with 30 people and counting, including English’s sixth-grade teacher.

Roger Guy English talks about his love of movies in his Poway home.
Roger Guy English talks about his love of movies in his Poway home. Behind him is a clock inspired by his world record for kissing 3,000 women in eight hours in La Jolla.
(Angela Brandt)

“I’m kind of a nut and did my thing and people loved it,” English said.

Of all his accomplishments, English’s favorite is the water-treading record he set at a pool in La Jolla. He did it for 18½ hours in 1973.

“I thought, ‘That’ll be easy, I’ve been swimming all my life,’” he said.

“One minute into the record, I’m already tired,” he recalled.

But he had built up momentum with previous records, so he had to follow through.

“When I was done, they literally had to pull me out of the pool,” English said.

He got inspiration for a “publicity stunt” after watching a man do an endurance feat at Belmont Park in Mission Beach by riding the roller coaster for an extended time.

He saw a clip of the Beatles being swarmed by fans at an airport and wanted to feel that sort of celebrity.

“I thought I’d love to get off a plane and have thousands of people there,” English recalled.

Roger Guy English and friend Valerie Mayers start their walk to Canada from La Jolla in 1970.
Roger Guy English and friend Valerie Mayers start their walk to Canada from La Jolla in 1970.
(Courtesy of Roger Guy English)

He got his moment. But first, English and pal Valerie Mayers had to walk about 1,400 miles from La Jolla to Vancouver, British Columbia. They left in August 1970 on an anti-pollution journey.

“It just caught on. The story just got bigger and bigger,” English said. “And it worked — it became an instant news story. We were celebrities.”

When they landed back home in San Diego, 5,000 people were there to greet them, English said. The crowd was yelling his name. The mayor was there. They walked a red carpet.

“I mean the whole kit and caboodle,” he recalled. “It was crazy. I’m a local celebrity, which I thought was kind of fun.”

Roger Guy English and Valerie Mayers return to San Diego from Canada with much fanfare.
(Courtesy of Roger Guy English)

A couple of weeks later, a friend who owned a nightclub near San Diego’s sports arena said he needed a publicity stunt to increase his customer base. English had a Guinness World Records book and began thumbing through it. He decided to do the Twist.

“I never thought in a million years that I’d spend four days doing the Twist,” English said.

Doctors told him he’d end up crippled due to the stunt. At one point, his legs did swell up, he said. But after three hours of sleep, “I never felt better, and I was fine.”

Roger Guy English received this letter from Guinness for his Twisting feat.
(Courtesy of Roger Guy English)

His next record was sleeplessness — another stunt his doctors were against, he said. A San Diego waterbed shop wanted him to partake in the record in its front window.

“It was an instant hit. Just kaboom!” English said.

He received calls from the media in Turkey and Japan. The crowd outside the store was hip to hip to witness the feat. Fans were taking pictures with him and getting autographs. Eight days later, he was seeing things.

“I’m talking full-tilt boogie hallucinations,” English said.

Still, he lasted 12 days, five hours and 15 minutes.

Roger Guy English is featured in a newspaper article about his world record for staying awake.
(Courtesy of Roger Guy English)

English went home with 50 members of the media following, wanting to see him finally fall asleep.

When he did, it was 26 hours before he awoke.

“I was fine. Never felt better in my life,” he said.

Guinness discontinued the category after him — it was too dangerous, English said.

He also played Pong for seven days in a trailer in Mission Valley.

He told jokes at a Del Mar lodge for five hours and 15 minutes. He didn’t get any laughs. “People were just groaning,” he said.

But to get the world record, he didn’t need to be funny.

Roger Guy English is pictured on the can containing the beer he inspired.
Roger Guy English is pictured on the can containing the beer he inspired.
(Angela Brandt )

Though English said he “can’t see anyone being interested in anything I’ve done,” Thorn Brewing General Manager Tom Kiely said English is the first person the company has named a beer after.

“The guy is wild,” Kiely said. “I’m like, ‘This is wonderful.’ It seems like he brought a lot of energy and good vibes. A person who can light up a room.”

And English still has the documentary to look forward to. It’s slated for release next summer.

“It’s just a kick in the pants,” he said. ◆