Monday, March 24, 2014

"Jaws" Collector John Campopiano

I started collecting Jaws memorabilia when I was seven or eight years old. The first thing I acquired was either Jaws 2 or Jaws 3 on VHS -- I don't recall which. Soon thereafter I started pestering my parents to buy me the rest of the films. When I was just about ten years old our family took a trip to Universal Studios in Florida at which point I spent the entire time riding the Jaws ride over, and over, and over again. Now, I realize this wasn't the best ride in the park, but I just could not get enough. I was sure to leave with souvenirs from the Jaws shop that was situated just beyond the exit gate for the ride.

Once I started working summer jobs (but was still too young to be paying any bills) I would spend large chunks of my earnings on Jaws memorabilia -- hats, shirts, cups, toys, posters, games, you name it. It was right around this time that I discovered eBay and, well, the rest is history. Over the years I accumulated more and more stuff and even began connecting with other collectors from not just around the USA but the world. Some have become my closest friends.

Now it seems as though I have one of the largest collections of Jaws memorabilia around -- not THE largest, not by a long shot, but I would say my collection is in the top 10 or 15 largest in the world. These days I prize the posters and toys less and less and instead value the really obscure items that don't pop up much on the collector market: an original 1975 Jaws belt buckle issued by Universal Studios and a large chunk of the original Orca boat used on screen. My collection has brought me lots of joy over the years and has been the catalyst for the start of some lifelong friendships. I've also made many, many pilgrimages to Martha's Vineyard, where the film was shot, and met many of the cast members from all four Jaws films. Over the years I've also developed quite an appetite for hunting down and acquiring the many Jaws-inspired films that were made over the years. Among my friends I'm considered the "Jaws rip-off king." I even started a Facebook page dedicated to these films to act as a sort of library or database. What's more, each spring my friends and I get together for a day of Jaws rip-off screenings which they kindly allow me to curate!

And even though I'm not really actively collecting anymore, it's still fun to open boxes and just explore the collection that took me almost twenty years to amass.

1. My Collection

Richard Dreyfus and me in 2011

Me at Universal Studios ca. 1994

Me with Original, Screen-used Jaws props

Me Rocking My Orca Tshirt Ca. 2012

Visit the Movie Poster Page!

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