Barney & Friends is certainly one of the most scorned of kids’ TV shows, yet the purple dinosaur was beloved to small children all over the world. The guy who inhabited Barney from 10 years is still a fan as well. David Joyner, who played the friendly dinosaur from 1991 to 2001, revealed to Business Insider what life was like inside that purple suit. He gets a bit more mystical than you might expect:
There’s a lot of psychic energy in my family, and there’s a lot of clairvoyance. And a lot of times, with me, if I’m trying to figure out a situation, I’ll dream about it.
Well the night before the audition, I had this dream. And in this dream, Barney passes out. And I have to give Barney mouth-to-mouth resuscitation… And then it hits me. I had to breathe life into Barney in my dream. If I go into this audition and breathe life into this character… So, of course, they called me and asked if I would be Barney. And I said, “Of course.” I pretty much already knew that I was going to be Barney. But it was great getting that phone call.
Joyner does admit that lumbering around in a 70-pound suit was pretty cumbersome, as well as extremely sweaty.
Sometimes, when they took a break, I put a fan in the mouth, I’d sit down on an Apple box, and I’d put my hand on my knees, and I would just close my eyes. So I would literally meditate.
He had sneakers attached in Barney’s big feet to make it easier for him to move around. He also had a connection that he called “dinosync” with Bob West, who was Barney’s voice, so that the two men could coordinate movements together.
Joyner eventually gave up Barney to move to L.A., where he landed a role on the soap opera The Young And The Restless, and still appears on shows like Veep. He retains that metaphysical tie to his most famous role, however:
When I was 19, I started studying tantra. And a lot of times when people think about tantra they think it’s all about sex. Well tantra’s much more than that. Because tantra deals with loving energy, life force energy, and energy that rises through your system… It’s no accident that I’ve been spreading “I love you” all around the world.
It’s a nice thought, but we really don’t want to see the words “Barney” and “sex” that close together in conversation ever again.