I should have posted this entry about our final week of the Vazquez tour months ago, but we have been so busy getting everything ready for Nothing But Nonsense that I have had little time in my life for anything else.
I hope you enjoy this entry. It brought back a lot of memories while I was writing it.
Stay tuned for an entry about the Christmas tour, and also more updates on Nothing But Nonsense!
11/30/15- Travel Day to Paterson
I didn't bother setting an alarm this morning because my trailer was parked all the way at the back of the lot, and I basically had to wait for everyone else to leave before Ryan and I could hit the road to Paterson.
So I just fired up my generator for power, and Pamela and I relaxed.
Finally around 4 p.m. we had a path to exit; thank goodness we didn't get stuck on the way out.
Right after we arrived in Passaic two weeks ago, there was a huge downpour that turned the lot into a muddy mess.
We were very lucky that during our engagement in town the lot dried out enough that Vazquez wasn't forced to open a permanent unit in Passaic.
It was only a 7 mile jump to the lot in Paterson, but it was a stressful 7 miles. Rush hour traffic had already begun by the time we were en route, so the increased amount of cars on the small streets we were traveling made for some extremely tight turns, especially for Ryan's rig.
The show was set up inside Hinchliffe Stadium in downtown Paterson. Vincent Von Duke joked that with the stadium walls surrounding us, he felt like we were in the movie, "Escape From New York".
Later in the evening our trailers were parked, and then Pamela and I drove to a gas station downtown to get fuel for my generator.
Of course I picked a service station in one of the scariest parts of town, and I feared for my life for the few minutes I was out of my car filling my little gas can.
12/1/15- Day Off
Besides the usual boring chores of laundry and grocery shopping, Pamela and I did make one interesting stop while we were out today.
We visited a store in Passaic called Necropolis, that I had been wanting to visit since I spotted a mannequin of possessed Linda Blair from "The Exorcist" in the window.
The store was a stone's throw from the lot in Passaic where we were set up for two weeks, but I kept dragging my feet to visit until we had moved to Paterson.
I was a little disappointed in the store. I was expecting another awesome shop like Horrorbles in Berwyn, IL, but there were mostly just models and pieces of horror art, and everything was crazy expensive.
12/2/15- Day Off
This afternoon I met my friend, Greg Michales, for lunch at an Irish Pub. I first met Greg and his family on Kelly Miller a couple of years ago in Mine Hill, NJ.
Greg and I talked about circus for a long time, and I really enjoyed looking at his photo album of his Ringling visits to Madison Square Garden in the late 70s and early 80s.
In the evening Pamela and I had dinner at the house of Joey Klein. Joey showed me all of his clown memorabilia, including some props that Ryan and I had sold him.
Ah, the horrible memories!
Joey's mom made us a delicious dinner, and we had a good time visiting with the Kleins.
12/3/15- Day Off
Today Pamela and I visited the nice park next to the lot which had some picturesque waterfalls. I must confess, I did get a bit woozy walking over the falls on a swaying bridge.
Also, considering the type of area we were in, I was surprised not to see a mountain of bodies washed up at the bottom of the small canyon.
While we were out, Pamela and I also checked out a statue of Lou Costello, half of the famous Abbott and Costello comedy team.
Lou is from Paterson, and so the town made a nice monument to their favorite funny man.
After paying homage to Mr. Costello, Pamela and I visited the Garden State Plaza, Pamela's favorite mall in the area.
We spent the rest of the day there and had a nice dinner together.
12/4/15- 7:30 p.m.
This afternoon Ryan and I loaded our props into the Vazquez tent for the last time.
We had a couple of rehearsals before show time because of the changes to the performance. All of the performers from Europe went home at the conclusion of the Passaic stand.
Their visas were only good until the 30th, so they weren't able to stay for the tour's extended two week stand.
A young man from the East Unit came over to perform a low wire act in the place of Klaudie's foot juggling, Alexa Vazquez debuted a cyr wheel/lyra act in the second half, and the motorcycle act that performed with us in Freehold was back.
Eddie, our performance director, asked us to stretch a little bit after the water gag to give the crew time to set up the low wire.
It felt silly to do extra schtick in the audience after we had finished our act, but the plus was that the low wire act and Jose Alberto's juggling act went before the carpenter gag, which gave us a whole extra act to get ready.
That extra time was well worth having to fill after our act.
We didn't have the biggest crowd for our opening night, but they were responsive.
I was pleased at how polite and complimentary everyone was. After hearing so many horror stories from friends about how dangerous Paterson is, it was nice to have a majority of the audience come into the ring after the show just to thank us and tell us how much fun they had.
12/5/15- 2:00, 5:00, and 8:00 p.m.
Ryan and I were up at 6 a.m. to get ready for a nationally televised UNIVISION publicity happening in the Bronx.
When we found out a couple of days ago that we were requested for an early morning appearance in NYC before a three show day, while the other unit was just mere miles away, Ryan and I weren't the happiest campers.
At the same time, we took it as a great compliment from the show and the station that they requested us, even though they had to bring us in from farther away.
We were dismayed when we found out that we had arrived at the event about three hours early; at that point, all we could do was laugh. Or cry!
We tried to stay warm in the circus truck, and we also visited with our friends from the East Unit that did come for the Telethon USA event.
Finally close to air time we were allowed inside the government building where the event was taking place.
Inside we were able to enjoy coffee and donuts, and I chatted with some of the local entertainers who came to perform for the telethon.
Our job for the publicity was so easy. We simply did one live hit for the television cameras, and then we were done!
Luciano Anastacini's dogs from the East Unit performed some tricks, and then Ryan and I jumped in to juggle and mug for the cameras until the hit was done.
The highlight of the PR for me was having a young man know my name and want to get a picture with me.
He had seen us on UNIVISION over the past couple of years and had seen us on Vazquez last season when we played NYC.
There was a very small crowd for the first show, and Ryan and I were really dragging after getting up so early for the publicity.
Luckily the attendance got better for the other two shows in the evening.
After work Pamela, Ryan and his family, and I all joined the Espana family for dinner at Visan's house.
The food was so good, and it was great to spend one more fun evening with our friends.
12/6/15- 2:00, 5:00, and 8:00 p.m.
This morning I went to buy some Velcro, and Ryan and I put the final touches on the dog props for the Pompeyos.
They were so happy with how the props came out; it was gratifying to see Jorge and Natalia's satisfaction after spending so much time working on them.
Today I gave my final motivational speech. I was touched that some folks that didn't normally attend my little pep rallies came by for the final one.
We did good business for the first two shows, but unfortunately we had a smaller crowd for our final show, and they weren't that into the performance.
It was a shame to end our run on Vazquez like that, but we were happy (and surprised) when we got a big cheer from the crowd in finale.
Nico performed in finale for the third show. Julius Espana is Nico's hero, and Julius was always so good to Nico during the tour.
Zheni made Nico his own Russian Swing costume like Julius, and the Espanas were nice enough to let Nico go out with them in finale so he could be just like his hero.
Jose Alberto made a little speech before saying goodbye to the audience to let them know that it was our final performance with the show. It really meant a lot to us that he did that.
I expected that I would cry during the speech, but I was able to hold it together. What did get me choked up was saying goodbye to people while we were taking pictures with the audience.
After the show Ryan and I got all of our props out of the tent and got them loaded into our houses.
Nestor came by to move some equipment out of the way, and then he helped me and Ryan get our trailers out of the back yard so we could leave.
Once our houses were in front of the tent we went to say goodbye to all of our friends. We kept it brief so we wouldn't get too emotional.
We will miss our Vazquez family. The cast and crew we worked with was definitely one of the highlights of our time with the show.
Postscript: Even though we finished on the 6th, our unit continued for one more week in Paterson.
We would have liked to have finished the tour with everyone else, but we had already signed a contract to perform in the Christmas tour that we do every year, and the dates conflicted.
"Pancho the Martian", one of the clowns from the East Unit, was brought in to fill our spots since the East Unit finished on the same date that Ryan and I did.
Thank you to the Hermanos Vazquez, from Los Payasos Gringos. We learned a lot and had a lot of fun.