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October 31, 2014

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Joe Downtown: Josh Ellis reaches goal, will perform hippo dance in Africa

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Joe Schoenmann

Josh Ellis

It’s been said Nevada is an insular place where individuality is prized, where people do little for their own and even less for outsiders.

You’d have a hard time convincing Josh Ellis of that today. With about 16 hours left to a 30-day deadline to raise $10,000 via indiegogo.com, 180 contributors did it.

With 11 hours to go by 1:30 p.m. today, they gave him $11,853. With the money, Ellis expects to spend about two months in Africa touring three to four countries, including terror-wracked Kenya, learning how Afrikaners do technology.

Then he plans to write a book about it.

Along the way, he’ll do a hippo dance in a G-string with Mount Kilimanjaro as his backdrop.

He celebrated Tuesday night at downtown’s Huntridge Tavern, a decades-old watering hole at Maryland Parkway and Charleston Boulevard the likes of which he probably won’t find during his month in Kenya.

“I was really, really happy,” Ellis said today.

He was especially tickled that the contributor who put him over the top was Marc Andreessen, co-author of Mosaic, a web browser, and the more well-known Netscape browser. He currently sits on the boards of Facebook, eBay and others.

Now that he has the money to go, Ellis admits he’s “scared as hell,” especially in light of the Kenyan terrorists killing non-Muslims in a crowded mall.

“I’m absolutely terrified to do this, but (expletive) it, man, you only live one time," he said. "If I get killed in Africa, the only regret I’d have is that I didn’t get to (sleep with) Angelina Jolie.”

Then again, he said, “If I get killed traveling to write a book, that’s pretty much the most manly way you can go out.”

Part of Ellis’ last-ditch appeal to reach his goal was sending mass emails in which he talked about the enemies he’s made over the years with his unfiltered way of expressing opinions — and jokingly saying that they might be able to get rid of him, permanently, by helping him get to Africa.

“I mean, soldiers have guns and backups, but imagine my fat ass in a place where Islamic terrorists are killing people,” he said, chuckling.

He hopes to start his journey in mid- to late-November. Meanwhile, he’s making connections over there via the Internet and hopes he is able to meet Richard Leakey, a paleoanthropologist and conservationist. Leakey is the son of Louis Leakey, whose archeological work in the mid-1900s popularized research into the origins of humanoids.

Ellis’ indiegogo campaign included gifts for contributors. For $250, one person is going to receive a video of him doing a “mostly naked hippo dance in front of Mount Kilimanjaro.”

A hippo dance or some gyration thereof might be something you’d find in some dark corner of Las Vegas (Ellis posted an Instagram of himself practicing the dance).

Whether that helps or hurts Ellis’ chances of returning in one piece, well, we’ll know in a few months' time.

Joe Schoenmann doesn’t just cover downtown, he lives and works there. Schoenmann is Greenspun Media Group’s embedded downtown journalist, working from an office in the Emergency Arts building.

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