Retro Bill DAREs to be different

Bill Russ of Valencia has created a video starring his character Retro Bill to appeal to kids targeted by Drug Abuse Resistance Education programs.

Photo By
Shaun Dyer
Special to the Daily News

Fan of the 1950s delivers drug-free
message in video aimed at children


By Kathleen Sweeney
Staff Writer

     SANTA CLARITA – It was the age of innocence- cruising the strip in souped-up hot rods, wearing poodle skirts and slicked-back hair and jamming to “Hound Dog.”

    It was the 1950s and the portrayal of this era in the movie “American Graffiti” that caught Bill Russ’ attention.

    “It put my look, my style and my love for things retro in motion,” he said.

    That might explain his pompadour, animal spotted coat, his love for oversize bowling balls and Elvis.  This, along with his passion for retro music, architecture and cars has eventually shaped his children’s Retro Bill – the star of a new Drug Abuse Resistance Education program video.

    The video makes its debut this week at the National DARE Officer Association Training Conference beginning today at the Los Angeles Convention Center.

    Russ plans to give 5,000 police officers the video on Wednesday, and the videos will hit 350,000 classrooms in August as well as retail stores.

    The 38-year old Valencia man wrote, produced, directed and starred in the upcoming video after learning the media was criticizing DARE, saying the drug prevention and non-violence program was losing kids’ attention.

    “I saw that DARE was taking some critical hits in the media and that the program needed to have the dust blown off of it,” Russ said.  “I thought it should be told in a way to compete with MTV and cartoons.”

    Russ raised $250,000 from businesses throughout Los Angeles, shot it at various tourist attractions, including Valencia Town Center, and added fun to safety tips.

    Glenn Levant, president and co-founder of DARE America, said in a release that the new videos “Are extremely effective teaching tools delivering very important safety lessons to children of an age when they are most vulnerable.”

    Retro Bill entertains and educates children in the two volume video that contains 20 safety lessons, including the importance of following directions, why not to take gifts or rides from strangers and how tobacco, alcohol and other dangerous drugs are harmful.

    “You can pursue your dreams drug-free,” Russ said.  “I’m an example.”

Copyright Daily News 2001

RETRO BILL™ is a registered trademark of
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