STRATFORD, Conn. — While most people are happy to mark their 80th birthday with some cake and a nice dinner, Nick Maccharoli on Sept. 7 decided to pull his car — with his neck.
The colorful Stratford senior citizen, who fans know as “Batso” on National Geographic’s reality show “Rescue Ink,” hooked a rope to his head and pulled his Nissan Leaf electric car a few feet during a party at Boothe Memorial Park.
A lifelong weightlifter, Batso prepared by first lifting 50 pounds from a chair using only his neck. “I have to stretch,” he explained before attaching a rope tied to the car to a brace around his head and neck.
As he faced the 4,500-pound car, Batso moved his neck backward to get the car rolling and easily pulled it a few feet forward as his wife, Elly, steered.
“I could have pulled all the way down there,” Batso declared, pointing across a picnic area at the park.
Cheers erupted from the crowd of 70 or so well-wishers gathered to celebrate his birthday. “I bet 20-year-olds can’t do that,” one said.
Pulling a car is actually not unusual for Batso, who has led a life as interesting as the colorful tattoos that cover him from head to toe.
Maccharoli became an actor late in life, landing a role as a wild prisoner on the HBO prison series “Oz” in the 1990s and a bit part in the Oscar-nominated film “The Wrestler.”
Batso holds the Connecticut record for power lifting and took second place in the Master Light division at the Connecticut Open Power Lifting Championships. He has trained with Ultimate Fighting Champion Steve “The Beast” Severn and 1997 World Shuai-chio Kung fu champion Matt Furey.
His Main Street home, across from Short Beach, looks like the set of a Halloween movie, complete with a large metal light pole shaped like a bat — his signature emblem and the basis of his nickname.
The house is adorned with fake skulls and snakes, bats and shrunken heads dangling from the ceiling and walls.
“He’s a character,” said Frank Bakos, who lives near Batso. “I’ve known him for about three years. He walks his dog by our house and we started chatting. They are just really nice people.”
In keeping with the fun nature of the party, Frank and Eileen Bakos were both dressed in a Harlem Globetrotters uniforms, complete with a Globetrotter basketball. They bought the uniforms years ago at a charity auction.
Asked why he wanted to pull a car on his 80th birthday, Batso dismissed the question.
“What am I going to do, sit home and get old?” he said.
“I lift a lot at home,” he said. “I do 300 pounds. Next year, I’m going to bench press two cars” by pulling them together with his arms.
Laurie Popadic, who runs a farmer’s market in Stratford, said Batso is a regular customer who likes to buy clams. “He says clams give him energy and keep him warm.”
For breakfast on Sept. 7, Batso said he enjoyed steak and four poached eggs. “No clams,” he said with a smile.