After completing the Bill Hall Christmas tour I hopped on a plane and flew to New York City for some much deserved fun.
While in town I crashed on the couch of my friends, Dan Berkley and Lisa Soverino, both of whom I worked with on Ringling.
I tried to keep my schedule busy while still allowing myself time to just wander the city and visit my favorite haunts: Pommes Frites, Colony, The Strand Bookstore, Veniero's, etc.
One night I went to the monthly Downtown Clown Revue, run by Christoper Lueck. It was a nice chance to see a sampling of the local talent while hanging out with friends and childhood Ringling heroes of mine.
Another day I had coffee with Marni Zalban, who left the Blue Show Clown Alley as I was coming on.
That night I met up with my friends, Josh Shack, Joy Powers, and her boyfriend, Zhang, who were all in town for some of the same reasons I was.
The main purpose of my visit to NYC was to catch Barry Lubin as Grandma one more time in the Big Apple Circus.
It was so cool to see the love that audiences have for him after so many years of getting to know Grandma.
Barry came out to the seats to visit with us during Intermission, but he was constantly swamped with fans. He said he got a lot more attention starting last season with the PBS special on the air, but he said this year has been especially hectic now that people know it is their last chance to see him.
We had more time to visit with Barry after the show, and as always he was full of great advice and inspiration. I even got to meet Big Apple's Artistic Director, Guillaume Dufresnoy, who said he is a reader of my blog. How cool is that?!
The other main event that Josh, Joy, Zhang, and I were looking forward to was our friends', Book and Dobson's, Holiday Party and Sausage Fest.
Book Kennison and Mike Dobson hosted the third annual get together at their apartment. In attendance were many clowns and Circus Smirkus almumni.
It also marked the second meeting of the SSCBN (The Society of Short Clowns Born on the Nineteenth), a very elite club indeed!
Many thanks to Book and Mike for a fantastic party. It was a great way to end my NYC vacation.
I was very happy that I got to spend Christmas at home this year (since I was performing 4 shows in Manila the previous year). I also enjoyed just being home to relax, visit my friends and family, and enjoy my Nana's delicious home cooking!
On New Year's Eve I drove to Savannah, GA to visit my friends, The Kelly family, who make awesome yak hair clown wigs.
They were hosting the 3rd Annual Kelly Family Pie Fight for their family and neighborhood friends; I was around for the very first one, but I missed the second (once again due to being in Manila).
Three containers of soap were whipped up, and countless number of shaving cream cans were used to make one hell of a fun mess!
After we were all cleaned up from the pie fight, we enjoyed eating, drinking, and mingling until the countdown to the new year.
Bring it on 2012!
CLOWN FRIENDS ARE THE BEST FRIENDS
While I was home I got to see many good clown friends. Sam Drummond, one of my mentors, invited me out for a day of fun in the Mt. Pleasant/James Island area.
He showed me many cool places that I had never seen, and we topped it off with lunch at a great little quirky restaurant, Jack's Cosmic Dogs.
My friend, James "Cricket" McGrath, came down from Greenville, SC to spend one weekend with me. Cricket and I worked together in Clown Alley for two years.
He and I hit downtown Charleston one night, and we ended up at a bar to see a band that his burlesque dancer friend, Evelyn, had recommended.
My friends and current Ringling Gold Unit Advance clowns, David and Cherie Gregg, spent the night at my house on their way down to do publicity for the show in Georgia.
I just found out that they accomplished a long sought after dream and are on the new season of The Amazing Race! Congrats Dave and Cherie!
LOCO BOY MAKES GOOD
While at home I garnered quite a bit of publicity for myself. The local paper did this great story on me:
In the next issue there was a follow up editorial:
This following link is a story from many years ago. My Mom and I finally found it while I was home, and we could not stop laughing over how grossly exaggerated it was.
Don't get me wrong, it's very entertaining and well written, but only about 5% true (that's a politician for you)!
Read pages 13-17:
Also, local clown and artist, Bob Carl, painted this picture of me:
I was honored that he felt I was worth the paint. If you are interested in purchasing a copy, e-mail Bob at
The second week of January I took off to Orlando to enjoy some fun in the Florida sun. I was staying with my friend, Thula Martin, who I worked with in Guam and Manila.
Her roommate got us into Disney for free one day, and we had a ton of fun in the parks. We even met up with a few of our friends from the Blue Unit Clown Alley. They had the day off, and as luck would have it, we were all in the same place at the same time.
We picked a perfect day for visiting the parks; it was overcast and just a little rainy, so we basically walked on to every attraction that we wanted to ride.
My main reason for visiting Orlando was to see the new Blue Unit of Ringling, "Dragons". Thula and I caught the show on opening night and we had a lot of fun.
I couldn't believe how many friends and former coworkers I saw backstage and on the floor (still working with the show and just visiting); it was like a little reunion.
On one day I had lunch with my friend, Barry Phillips, and then dinner with my friend, Tiny Lambros (who just recently got married).
My final day in Orlando I swung by Ringling Blue one last time to visit with Clown Alley. I figured Saturday morning would be a less hectic time, and I was looking forward to just hanging out with the clowns.
I took them a box of coffee and a sandwich platter from Jimmy John's to sweeten the deal a bit for the Alley.
The clowns were all apprehensive about a media event that was happening during the first show. The clowns do a "knights rescuing a princess" gag, and a reporter from the Today Show was going to play the princess in front of a live audience while the Today Show filmed.
Apparently there was very little rehearsal and the reporter didn't seem to take the clowns too seriously. ("I just wanted to do something with the clowns because they don't do anything")
I offered to videotape the potential train wreck for the clowns; anything for my friends!
Luckily, the gag went ok. No one was killed or seriously maimed, but the "guest princess" did throw off the timing of the gag quite a bit at certain points.
The Alley was laughing about the whole thing backstage while they were watching the video I took.
I'm interested to see the piece when it airs; creative editing can fix anything!
I stayed until the late afternoon, and then I had to leave Orlando to head back home.
I didn't get to visit Ringling's Red Unit, but two of the clowns, Dustin Portillo and Brandon Foster, stopped in Walterboro on the way to Columbia and spent the night.
We were up late geeking out on clown stuff; some things never change!
My last night before returning to Hugo I drove down to Savannah to see the Gold Unit of Ringling with the Kelly Family.
My friend, Dean Kelley, is hosting the show, and I had spent a couple of nights earlier in the week hanging out with him, his boyfriend, Jeremy, and his best friend, Tony Robinette.
One night we went to dinner at the Pirate's House, which had delicious honey pecan fried chicken.
Another night I joined Dean, Tony, and a group of performers and crew from the Gold Show for a night of karaoke. It was so much fun!
Speaking of fun, the Kelly family and I had a great time at "Barnum Bash". I was surprised how many people I spotted that I used to work with on the Blue Show.
BACK TO THE GRIND
Unfortunately all good things must come to an end; the same applied for my great vacation.
I am now back in Hugo and the show takes off for Brownsville, TX in about a week. I will write a little Winter Quarters update before we take off.