Barney Cipriani / Speedos

I never met Barney Cipriani, he was a neighbor of my parents before I could have a memory. Barney spent most of his life in a speedo. He was a daredevil high diver who first hit the pool at a Boys Club on Livernois in Detroit. I do not know if he ever got into the Olympics but he was on ABC Wide World of Sports. He was the US representative in a diving competition off the Cliffs of Acapulco. Some funky Sci/fi movie program always shows the Acapulco clip in a satirical bent but they did get his name right and that added to his immortality. Barney made a living as an entertainer, diving from 110 feet into pools at famous hotels in Vegas and Miami and places like the Steel Pier before Trump took over Atlantic City.

I believe most divers wear speedos as opposed to board shorts, they , I refer to speedos, have gone out of fashion with the general public, including most of my family and friends, but not with me. I inherited my first speedo from my uncle on his return from the Navy. They were not made of Lycra but wool, a bit more practical in the North Atlantic. I think a few moths had their way with that pair and beach wear in the 60’s and 70’s had degenerated to cut offs, which by the way are difficult to swim in and do not dry quickly. Additionally, they never protected your folding money from getting wadded up or that scrap of paper with the telephone number on it. That might be why I never called you.

In college they issued speedos at the swim class and no one seemed to object albeit I was a little more fit at the time. I also worked at a pool and a speedo was worn under those red life guard shorts. So maybe I am not so ripped, or never was, but speedos are still my preference around our pool at home.  There is almost a cult of us who refuse to give up our speedos, even under great social pressure.

Like I said they are easy to swim in and dry quickly. Now if the criticism is that they are a little too revealing what ever happened to gender equality. Check out any beach or group of boaters and there is little to be left to the imagination regardless of the BMI of the fairer sex.

Now I almost got cured of the speedo thing on Fire Island in New York. I was helping a couple of lesbian relatives paint their cottage and was working off a hangover on the beach. I was approached by several men, Fire Island is a gay enclave, but as Seinfield said “Not that there is anything wrong with it”, but still it is not my cup of tea. In any event I retreated to the cottage for my morning recovery nap. Given the area, I could have been wearing cut offs or “board shorts” and had the same result from those trolling the beach .

Now apparently in Europe, South America and those imbedded scenes on the Baltic Sea, speedos are still popular at the beach. Yes some of those folks from the former Soviet Union had too much Vodka and Borscht or maybe they never thought it wise to butcher a pair of Levis, which were worth their weight in Rubles. But they parade around in their speedos without any social distain regardless of their girth or Vodka bellies. They must just be comfortable in their own skin, and board shorts never disguised a beer belly anyway.

I am keeping my speedos, I even bought a few after the Beijing Olympics with Chinese caricatures. I have relented to the desires of a few detractors and put on a pair of shorts after I dry off, but if I suck in it in enough I don’t think I look too bad in speedos. So world, I am comfortable in my own skin, even if there is a tiny bit too much of it. Get used to it, I am becoming an old fart and not going to change. As for Barney Cipriani , I don’t know if you are still with us, but I hope that at 110 feet your speedos were made out of Kevlar. Ouch that hurt!


20 Responses to “Barney Cipriani / Speedos”

  1. ccipriani Says:

    i love seeing stuff like this barney is my grandfather, and he passed when i was about 5 so i love to find what i can about his ventures 🙂

    • Dave Lindsay Says:

      To C Cipriani: I met Barney on numerous occasions. He was still involved in the sport as a judge when I was making my way in…early 1980s. I was a 2x World Champ & a World Record Holder at 170′ (81 &82). I’ve been researching stories for the books I am writing about the history of high diving and I have some excellent video interviews concerning your grandfather…known to us as the “the first King”. I believe you would find them to be interesting . Visit: KunzeEntertainment or I would love to hear from you!

      • shawna Says:


      • Dave L Says:

        Hello Shawna,

        It’s so nice to “kind of – sort of” meet you. Most of the divers I’ve interviewed for the book, particularly those who worked with Barney in that era, have many fond and often funny memories of your father. He was a very talented high diver, a wonderful performer and quite a character both on and off stage.

        I’d love to correspond with you more and, since we couldn’t interview Barney, perhaps we could get some intriguing insight from you sometime. Please feel free to contact me via email at Checkout our website too: I’ve posted YouTube excerpts of numerous interviews with a lot of people I suspect you’ll recognize.

        I look forward to hearing from you soon!


        Dave Lindsay

      • Dave Lindsay Says:


        I just wanted to follow up with you. There is a strong push to get Barney inducted into the World Acrobatic Society Hall of Fame and Barney is certainly entitled to that honor. However, if I understand the “rules” correctly, it is necessary for a family member to receive the award on his behalf. Stu Goldberg & Dick Gutting are leading the campaign. Please contact me via email: or call me sometime at 618-979-9733. We hope to find more Barney memorabilia to incorporate into our high diving history projects as well. So I look forward to corresponding with soon. – Dave

      • John Free Says:

        I knew Barney when I worked as a pool boy at the Golden Strand Hotel and Villas back in 1966. Just out of the Marines, I went from the hell of the corps to the heaven of Miami and the beach. I would go spear fishing with Barney who never used a snorkle, but would dive down deep and punch nurse sharks. He towed his 14 foot boat with its anchor rope in his teeth as we swam along looking for fish to spear. Barney was the real deal. I even met his daughter once. Everybody in Miami new Barney who was a very cool and a very nice guy.

  2. Roy katz Says:

    In the 1960’s I worked on the beach in Miami and was in water diving shows for the tourists. Barney also worked on the beach and he taught me how to be a clown in the show. Barney was a really nice guy who enjoyed life to the fulllest. In the late 60’s he helped my brother who worked on the beach also, rescue a downed tourist helicopter a few hundred yards off shore behind the Thubderbird and Sahara Hotels….They all got key’s to the city and barney used to say”with this key I can get a cup of Coffee at Wolfies”
    Roy Katz

  3. Betty (Hoppe) Caufield Says:

    Barney Cipriani’s mother, and my mother were best friends when I was growing up. My oldest brother, and Barney were best of friends, and always hung out at the Boy’s Club. Of course they were trying to out dive each other, and they also spent a lot of time at the pools on Plymouth & Outer Drive driving from the tallest board. My brother went into the Navy instead of diving with Barney. They both were very good divers. Barney tried to teach me to swim, but he ended up telling my Mom to save her money for swim lessons. It be came a family joke. I am now 70, but still remember that tanned body, and black hair like it was yesterday.

  4. Annette Kane Says:

    I’m so pleased to read all this about my cousin Barney. My Dad, Jake, who has passed would be his uncle. If there is anyway to get info on his family, it would be greatly appreciated.

  5. E Pouelson Says:

    To Shawna, If you get this message i would so love to hear from you … I am Willie Pouelsons daughter , and a good friend of your Mom and Dads … please if you get this write me…

  6. Annette Cipriani Kane Says:

    Still trying to find you Shawna, You have lots of family in Michigan and plenty who go to Florida for vacations.

    • CCipriani Says:

      Hi Annette, my name is Cody, I am Barney’s granddaughter. His eldest son Lee’s daughter. I would love to connect with you, I don’t really know any of my Cipriani family other than my Aunt Shawna who posted above, my father past away when I was very young, and my Grandpa Barney I have very few memories of. I would love to know more! Possibly one day maybe get to meet my family 🙂

  7. Colleen Says:

    Barney Cipriani was one of my mothers many first cousins. We used to see him at an occasional family reunion or on ABC Wild World of Sports when he was on the American Cliff Diving Team. He also performed shows at the Fountainbleu in Miami and others.

  8. Jim Mahoney Says:

    As a kid I grew up watching ABC’s Wide World of Sports. The high diving was always one of my favorites – watching Barney diving 110 feet into a standard swimming pool was simply amazing.

  9. Lesley Walton Says:

    Does anyone know where connie cipriani is? I am a very old friend of hers. I am legally blind so no computer. Using my phone. Please have hrr text me. thank you. My name is Lesley…945-515-2969

  10. Anonymous Says:

    Barney Cipriani will be inducted into the World Acrobatic Society “Gallery of Legends” (Hall of Fame) in Sept 2017.. please refer to for details

  11. Dean Del Vecchio Says:

    My father was also a pool boy in Miami and was friends with Mr. Cipriani. My dad lived in Miami from ’56-’59, then moved back to Montreal. My dad would speak so highly of Barney. He made quite an impression on my dad.
    Dean DelVecchio

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