Monday, May 5, 2014

Monday, April 28-Sunday, May 4: Fort Worth, TX

4/28/14- 7:30 p.m.

This morning I went to do laundry. I've really enjoyed having a cheap laundromat directly on the other side of the mall from the tent.

Two local clowns, Toty and Andy, came by today to take me and Ryan to lunch. They took us to a sushi buffet in Arlington that was delicious. I was surprised to see so many sushi rolls using jalapenos as a main ingredient.

We spent a couple of hours talking about clowning after we had finished eating, and then Toty and Andy were nice enough to swing us by the magic shop so Ryan could pick up a DVD featuring Rene Lavand, a one armed magician whose work Ryan really enjoys.

There's nothing too exciting to report from the show this evening, other than one of the local ushers saw Nikolai, one of the flyers, and told him what a big fan he was of his work. Nikolai was pleased until he discovered the usher thought he was Carmelo.

Twins separated at birth?

4/29/14- 7:30 p.m.

This afternoon I went by the show hotel and picked up Georgie and Helen, two of the dancers. I took them to Blue Sushi & Sake Grill, my new favorite sushi restaurant. 

After lunch Georgie wanted to get her hair colored and cut at a nearby salon, but she had a couple of hours to kill before her appointment.
The three of us drove to the Fort Worth Botanic Garden and then walked around enjoying the beautiful flowers and wonderful weather.

After dropping Georgie off at the salon and Helen off at the circus, I ran out for awhile to take care of some errands.

After the show tonight Ryan and Tatiana invited me over for dinner. We ate and watched an episode of the BBC series "Sherlock". It was a great way to spend the evening.

4/30/14- 7:30 p.m.

This afternoon Mark Renfro took me, Ryan, Tatiana, and Nico to lunch at a great French cafe. It was fun picking Mark's brain about prop making over our meal, and we continued our conversation back at Ryan's house. I was even able to dig up a little footage from Mark's year as a clown on Ringling, which he had never seen.

The air compressor that Ryan and I bought before the season started has not been working since load out night in Donna. Today Teo took a look at it and solved the problem in five seconds: he simply had to close the drain that was letting all the air leak out!

Ryan and I had our weekly business meeting after Teo was done working on the air compressor. We composed a few business e-mails, added some things to our active projects list, and generally talked about how the shows were going for us. It was a productive meeting, and I'm glad we had it.

The vacuum gag is getting better and better every time we perform it, which is very encouraging. We've come a long way from where we were when it debuted in Brownsville.

5/1/14- 7:30 p.m.

Happy First of May, everyone! For those of you not in the circus industry, First of May is a term used to describe someone in their first year with a circus.
Nowadays the only place I really hear the term used is on Ringling, and mostly dealing with new clowns.
In honor of this sacred circus day, here is an embarrassing picture of me and Ryan as First of Mays in 2003 and 2004 respectively.

Today I went to the Fort Worth Zoo, which I had heard many good things about.
I had a lot of fun walking around and seeing all the different animals. Besides all the beautiful species of ducks I saw, my two favorite sights were a chimp that was lying down and scratching himself nonstop, and a crested penguin that was standing tall and proud while constantly flapping his wings, until the crowd of people watching him went away. As soon as a new crowd appeared, he began showing off again!

I didn't get any photos of the chimp, but here are some great shots of the different animals....mostly of the avian persuasion. 

The audience tonight was very responsive, which was a nice change of pace from the past few nights. 
We found out tonight that our run here has been extended by one more day; we are going to have a 7:30 p.m. show on Monday before tearing down and heading to Dallas.

5/2/14- 6:00 and 9:00 p.m.

This morning I went to the Forth Worth Stockyards to watch the cattle drive. Twice a day cowboys herd the longhorns down the Main Street. It was neat, I guess, but a bit underwhelming. 
I think they should have played Aaron Copland music to add a little excitement to the proceedings.

I spotted a mechanical bull along the Main Street, and so I decided to ride it and see if I could cut it as a cowboy. 
I lasted much longer than 8 seconds (easy, everybody), but the lady controlling the machine didn't really try to throw me until I started hooking my feet under the bull's horns, which she seemed to consider cheating.
The longer I stayed on, the more nauseous I felt. Finally I let go after suffering a crushing injury to a very important part of my anatomy, a moment which Ryan just happened to capture in a photo:

And the aftermath

Before leaving the Stockyards area, I ducked into Billy Bob's, which is a huge cowboy bar with pool tables, arcade games, a bull riding arena, a dance floor, and live music. 
We had to pay a $2 admission fee to look around even though nothing was going on. The highlight of our self guided tour was the saddle disco ball hanging above the dance floor.

The mechanical bull ride really took it out of me, so I took it easy for the rest of the day.
We had a very rough first show. There weren't a lot of people, and the generator that powers the air conditioners wasn't working, so the audience was hot and apparently in no mood to enjoy a circus.
Luckily it had cooled down by the 9:00 p.m. show, and the audience was much more lively.

Today was the birthday of Helen, one of the dancers, so between shows the girls surprised her with cake.


Plans were made for a post show celebration of Helen's birthday at a club in downtown Fort Worth called Bar 9.
When I looked it up on Google Maps, I saw that it was listed as permanently closed. 
Sure enough, when I got there, we saw that it was indeed shut down. We arrived at the same time as the taxi full of dancers, so we walked down the street to a bar called Library, which some nice, intoxicated locals highly recommended. 

Unfortunately when we arrived there (coincidentally at the same time as everyone else who came out) the bouncer wouldn't let Georgie in because of her UK ID. 
Finally we all wound up next door at Pete's Dueling Piano Bar, which we had visited a couple of weeks ago.
All the locals seemed to be very tense and angry tonight, and they were constantly attempting to pick fights with members of our group.
All of that negative energy made me realize that maybe I'm just too old to enjoy the bar and club scene anymore (not that I had much of an affinity for it 10 years ago either). 
The important thing is that Helen had a great time out for her birthday!

5/3/14- 6:00 and 9:00 p.m.

This afternoon Mark Renfro was nice enough to have me and Ryan over to his house to peruse his amazing Ringling clown collection.
Mark, besides being a clown, also taught make up at Clown College and worked on props and costumes for a few years in the Ringling Winter Quarters. 
He had so much amazing stuff that Ryan and I could have spent a week looking through it all. There were Clown College student head shots, close up photos of props from Winter Quarters, costume design sketches, and so much more!

Ryan and I spent four hours in Clown Geek Heaven before we reluctantly had to leave to go to work. Thank you, Mark, for an amazing afternoon!

It was another scorcher today, and the tent's air conditioning was still out of commission. Luckily it was fixed by the halfway point of the 6:00 p.m. performance.
Despite the heat, the first audience was very receptive, especially for the vacuum gag, which was rewarding. 

5/4/14- 2:00, 5:00, and 8:00 p.m.

Today was the hottest day we've experienced on tour (yet!); temperatures got up to 97 degrees. Thank God the air conditioning was working again, or we all would have died during the afternoon shows.

Backstage, everyone's spirits were down for the first performance due to the news of the accident on Ringling's Blue Unit. For those of you that didn't hear, a piece of rigging holding 9 ladies performing a hair hang act suddenly dropped during the show's morning performance in Providence, RI.
It is a miracle that all the women survived, as they dropped straight down to the floor with the apparatus landing on top of them.
Later in the day we performers were relieved to hear that although there will be a long road to full recovery for some of the ladies, there were no fatalities. Please keep the nine women and their friends and families in your thoughts and prayers.

Our friend, Kyle Clay, who is a firefighter/clown, came by the lot today after a gig to drop off a free roll. He brought cookies from McKinley's Bakery for me, Ryan, and Tatiana, and a bag of swag from Mayfest for Nico. Thanks, Kyle!

Besides the bad news of the Ringling accident, the logy audience made the 2:00 p.m. performance difficult to get through. Luckily by the third show we had a fantastic crowd that was having a great time and wasn't afraid to show it.

Last night I asked the dancers if they could write an inspirational speech for me today in lieu of my usual third show pep talk.
The girls wrote a fantastic and funny speech likening our journey through the three shows to Dorothy's journey along the Yellow Brick Road in the Land of Oz. They concluded the speech by saying that if I saw any audience members playing on their phones during the show, to throw those yellow bricks at their heads! (I knew I liked the dancers for a reason)
To show my gratitude for all the hard work they put into the speech, I threw our prop bricks from the carpenter gag at the dancers as they came offstage from one of their cues, all the while yelling, "Get off your phones!"

Ryan and Tatiana had me over for dinner after the three shows. It was so strange not packing away all our props after the last finale since until a few days ago this was supposed to be our final day in Fort Worth.

In closing, here are a couple of photos:

Our new promo shot for Circo Hermanos Vazquez
Our guest mat cleaner for the week, Mike from the band. Musical accompaniment by Jan Vazquez.


Tejano said...

Shame that you were hassled in Ft. Worth. Texans, for the most part, are friendly. Course, there are some bars I would avoid if I was a bar kinda guy. Enjoy your stay in Dallas, will be there in June. Heard about the circus accident. Sad.

97 degrees?? SPRING HAS COME TO TEXAS!!! Usually by this time, when you were with KM, you would be in Ohio or way up north. Make sure your trailer's AC is working, you will need it!! Give it a check up! :)

Steve Copeland said...

Yeah, my AC is occasionally popping its corresponding breaker, so I better get that taken care of STAT!