EDMONTON -- The hallway that leads into the depths of Jason Konoza's basement is deceiving. Framed Disney illustrations on the walls hint at rainbows, butterflies and baby deer, which is fitting for only part of the space, a play area for Konoza's two children, six-year-old Zachary and three-year-old Addison.
Inch farther into the lair and the pictures of Bambi morph into photos of the Beatles. Plastic furniture becomes a luxurious leather couch, where Konoza's best friends are sprawled, a gigantic bag of Munchies between them.
"The man cave," says Konoza, "starts here."
About six years ago, Konoza sold his beloved comic book collection to create a man cave to call his own in the Edmonton home he shares with his family.
"It hurt," the 36-year-old remembers. "Some of those comics were pretty old."
The sale of his 3,000 comic books earned him about $1,500 to make his first investment: a Sony home theatre sound system. For his birthday a year later, Konoza's wife Wendy upgraded his standard television to a 46-inch Sony LCD.
A mini-fridge and the couch, complete with an ottoman and faux wood cupholders between seats, completed the cave.
Konoza's basement has become the hangout spot for the Access TV video editor and his two oldest friends, Mark White and Karl Kohler, who come over once a week to watch movies and play video games. Konoza boasts a number of "antiques" in his 11-console collection, including a 1980 Atari 2600 and a 1983 Colecovision, but the trio usually end up rocking out on the more contemporary PlayStation 3.
"We come here a lot because I have kids and these guys don't," says Konoza as he straps on an imitation guitar for a round of Rock Band. "They can invite me to their house, but they've got no toys for kids. Our kids' bedtime is at eight o'clock, so at 8:01 we turn up the TV."
Man caves, sometimes called "mantuaries," can be in basements, dens or garages and are much like the clubhouses of boyhood, typically "off limit to women and kids," explains Snoop Dogg.
The rapper once advised viewers on the talk show "Lopez Tonight" that man caves should be built with password-protected locks: "It's a code that only you know."
Snoop's highly secure space was built on an episode of the DIY Network's "Man Caves," a television series that highlights ultimate man caves across America.
"This is kind of a trend," says Edmonton real estate agent Sharon Ryan. When Ryan shows homes to couples, she often finds that men go straight to the man caves.
"I think there's humour here that it could possibly save marriages," she says. "I've seen this more and more -- men are literally moving into their garages. They're setting up shop there; they're setting up TVs, beer fridges."
Of course, Snoop's rule isn't always so hard and fast in real life -- Wendy Konoza thinks the man cave is a great idea, and while she doesn't hang out there as much as her husband does, she has been known to take up the microphone and belt out a few AC/DC songs with the boys every once in a while.
For Konoza, White and Kohler, friends since kindergarten, the man cave is the perfect place to unwind after work.
"It's cool to hang out with guys whom I've known for so many years," Konoza says. "We all hung out in each of our parents' basements and now we're old enough to have our own basement and do it up how we want, and it's just like carrying on the tradition."
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition January 22, 2011 C21