4/21/14- 7:30 p.m.
This morning I picked up Helen, one of the dancers, from the hotel where she and some of the other performers are staying.
Helen is an avid reader, and I had been telling her about the wonders of Half Price Books since we arrived in Austin a few weeks ago.
Today I took her there where she could browse to her heart's content. I think Half Price Books has a new devoted fan!
After book hunting, Helen and I went to Blue Sushi & Sake, my new favorite sushi restaurant. It was just as delicious the third time!
Back at the lot I joined Jovani, one of the show electricians, as he looked at our little clown car. One of the back wheels has been looking a bit wobbly as we drive around the ring. Jovani diagnosed a simple solution: I simply needed to buy another washer to put behind the wheel to stabilize it.
Luckily, my friend, Crystal, was visiting, and she gave me a ride to Home Depot, where I picked up a washer. Unfortunately, when I got back to the tent, I discovered that the hole in the center of the washer was too small to go over the car's back axle. Good thing that adding a washer is not a life or death scenario.
I didn't have time to run back out and get another washer because we had a company meeting at 6:00 p.m. to discuss what to do in the case of bad weather such as a tornado or hurricane.
Ramon, one of the Vazquez brothers, led the meeting and told us that our first priority was to calmly evacuate the audience, and then to collect our family members and important documents before heading to the nearest shelter.
I like my plan better: running around in random configurations while screaming, crying about how I'm too young to die, and wetting myself.
Rodger, who was a clown on Ringling's Red Unit a couple of years ago, came to watch tonight's show with a friend.
Two local clowns, Toty and Andy, who once a week perform in the mall right next to the tent, were also in the crowd.
Last but certainly not least, Ryan's Grandpa and Grandma Chan, and his uncle, Kevin, who are all visiting from Massachusetts for four days, also were in attendance for the performance.
While Ryan and I were in the seats for the vacuum gag, Ryan went to take a man's baseball cap to clean and then balance it.
The man grabbed his hat and wouldn't give it up. Ryan tried, a little more forcefully, to take the hat, but the man would not loosen his grip.
Ryan decided to change tactics, so he leaned over the guy and began cleaning him. The man shoved Ryan with all his might, and Ryan was thrown into the empty row of seats behind the man.
I stood with my mouth open in shock, but when I saw that the man was laughing about it, I turned to Ryan and yelled, "Hold me back!", before attempting to unleash a kung fu attack on the assailant to avenge my fallen comrade.
After the show I joined Rodger and his friend for dinner over at Taco Cabana, where we relived our "glory days" on the Big Show.
4/22/14- 7:30 p.m.
This afternoon I was taken to lunch by Mark Renfro and Brenda Marshall. Mark was a Ringling Clown College Graduate and road clown, and went on to build props for the show and teach make up at Clown College in its later years. Brenda is a well known local clown who I actually met my first year on Ringling when her clown alley invited ours out for a free roll lunch.
Mark and Brenda took me to a restaurant downtown that promised "legendary Texas cuisine". The portions we received proved the old adage "everything is bigger in Texas".
We had a great meal, and an even better time visiting.
Mark and Brenda, knowing my affinity for the printed page, also took me to a Half Price Books about halfway between Fort Worth and Dallas.
I found a great book on the theory and practice of physical comedy. It looks like it will be a terribly dry read, but it was an amazing find for only $3.
Back at the lot I touched up the paint on our vacuum prop, and then I worked on the applique for my post show costume party make up.
Today was the birthday of Mario, one of the stage crew, and he and his girlfriend were hosting a superhero/super villain themed costume party in the tent after the show.
I decided to go as the Batman villain, Two Face, so the applique I made (out of toilet paper and liquid latex built onto a latex glove) was of the open mouthed snarl that he has on the disfigured side of his face.
Mark and Brenda came to see our show tonight, and Ryan's grandparents and uncle also watched the performance again (gluttons for punishment). They were joined by Ryan's uncle, Mike, who lives in Dallas.
Ryan wasn't happy with the applique I made for my Two Face make up (and honestly, neither was I), so after the show he did my make up for me. He did the whole thing in less than an hour, and it turned out way better than it would have if I did it all alone.
The make up was a big hit, and it was fun to see all the fun costumes that people came up with for the party.
Nicolai as a crazy Russian and Martin as Stacee Jaxx from "Rock of Ages"
Frances as Black Widow and Jeison as Goldmember
Mike as Iron Patriot
Tisok with his cunning disguise
Eddie as Zorro
Visan as the Invisible Man
Birthday boy, Mario, with his Super Pinata and his girlfriend, Vivien
The Dancers: Laura, Claire, Helen, Georgie, and Emma as The Spice Girls
Marcos as Joker
Trio Bellissimo: Ana as Rafael, Dustin as Flash, Elena as Spider Girl, Dustin and Anya's son as Spider Man, and Anya as Mario
Teo as Megamind
Superhero Beer Pong
Super Mario's Kryptonite: Cake
The party was a lot of fun, but I cut out "early" at 12:30 a.m. in anticipation of my early morning television publicity.
4/23/14- 7:30 p.m.
I was up at 5:15 a.m. and in make up and costume in the tent at 6:00 a.m. for our television publicity. Alexa Vazquez and the dancers were the other performers lucky enough to share in the fun.
Ryan and I didn't care for the reporter or camera man that we were working with. They were very unprofessional; they didn't introduce themselves and barely looked our way the entire hour we were with them. They were also very rude. For instance, instead of telling us, "We'll be live in five seconds", the cameraman snapped at the dancers to get their attention like they were dogs, and the reporter called me a "crappy clown" in Spanish when I didn't understand her rapid fire Spanish directions to me.
Luckily Ryan and I were able to joke around with the dancers between hits to keep ourselves amused.
Claire and I showing our true ambitions
After the PR I joined Ryan and his family: Tatiana, Nico, Grandpa and Grandma Chan, Uncle Kevin, and Uncle Mike for breakfast.
We then headed over to Magic, Etc, a big costume and magic shop. One of the men working behind the magic counter found out that Tatiana was from Argentina, and after Ryan talked with him for a bit, he discovered that the gentleman had worked with Tatiana's father on a television program many years ago. Small world, huh!?
At the costume shop Ryan and Tatiana bought Nico a little pair of clown shoes, which Nico immediately fell in love with.
There's no hope for the poor kid now. He's in too deep.
Next on our tour of Fort Worth, we all went to Central Market, a huge supermarket with an amazing selection of fresh food and produce. I definitely need to visit again when I'm in a shopping mindset.
Next we all moseyed on over to the Stockyards, where we had a delicious lunch at a steakhouse. I was able to try two new foods that we all shared as appetizers: calf fries (fried testicles with gravy on the side) and escargot (snails). Yum yum!
I enjoyed both appetizers, but my favorite item was my entree, a bison sirloin.
My stomach stuffed with testicles and snails, I was content to then stroll around the stockyards with Ryan's family. Walking along the Main Street is almost like going through a time warp into the Wild West. Cowboys on horses were prevalent, and there was even the occasional longhorn ready for a photo opportunity.
I was going to get a shot on top of a longhorn, but just as I mustered up the courage, it was time for the steer's smoke break.
Maybe next time!
Tonight while Ryan and I were cleaning the water mat, I thought of a stupid bit to try in the vacuum gag.
I tried it out, and wouldn't you know, it got a great reaction! Hooray for thinking outside the box!
After the show I had dinner with Chagy, a clown from Puerto Rico, and his wife, Audria. Chagy is constantly traveling around the world to perform as a clown.
I had a good time hearing Chagy's stories about the early years of Advance Studies, a clown training program founded by "Frosty" Little and "Coco" Polakovs, which he was fortunate enough to attend.
After running around so much this past week, I decided to take it easy today and catch up on my movies and video games.
I also took a break from relaxing to run a few errands. It was nice to take a lazy day.
Chagy, Audria, and Audria's father came to watch the show tonight. Ryan's family also watched the show again with Ryan's cousin, Steven, who lives in the area.
After the show I joined Ryan's family for dinner at Ryan's house. Tatiana made some delicious empanadas, and we all had a good time visiting.
On a side note, Mario (who had the superhero birthday party on Tuesday), proposed to his girlfriend, Vivien, after the show.
Vivien was brought into the darkened tent, and then Mario, illuminated by a spotlight, came out of the curtain and sang the chorus to the current song, "All Of Me", before proposing. She said yes! And there was a glitter drop! Pure, romantic, circus magic!
Congratulations to the happy couple! You should name the first two kids Steve and Ryan!
In closing, here are some fantastic shots that Ryan's cousin, Steven, took of the show!