"The first thing that strikes you about Takeshi is that he is very committed to his art," says Marbury. "He takes it really seriously. The second thing is, he's a character."

Mer-bunny misbehavior aside, Yamada's artful Fiji mermaid garnered a squirrel-skull trophy, mounted on a refrigerator magnet, and a full membership to MART. While the night's trophies and titles were mostly delivered for laughs—like the "You're Friggin' Nuts" squirrel scrotum award—the invitation from MART was not proffered lightly.

Mounting anticipation: Taxidermist Yamada
photo: Leslie Van Stelten
Mounting anticipation: Taxidermist Yamada

"We could tell from the very first e-mail that he was going to be a very active member," says Marbury. "He's like the Great Gazoo. He just appeared out of nowhere and began telling us how it was going to be."

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