Monday, August 17, 2015

Friday, August 7-Wednesday, August 12: Chicago, IL

8/7/15- 6:00 and 9:00 p.m.

Since we are playing the same lot in Chicago this year with virtually the same show, the tiger act presented by Vincent Von Duke was sent here from the East Unit, and our horse act was sent to the show in Florida.

The tiger act was going to be opening the second half, which put the Russian swing after the carpenter gag. That meant that the show needed me and Ryan to cover the swing's set up with the beach ball reprise.
We only had one good beach ball left over from Arizona, which is the last time we had to use them, so I ordered some online and had them shipped to the lot.
Unfortunately, the beach balls arrived at the lot before the circus did, so they were sent to the nearest post office.
After calling the staff for confirmation, I waked to the post office and picked the balls up.

On the way out of the lot I glanced at one of the advertising banners and noticed that Ryan is now corporately sponsored:

Ryan and I got our props loaded into the tent this afternoon. The tiger act has a lot of big props, plus all of the panels that make up the arena, so backstage is very crowded for this town. Ryan and I had to shove all of our props into a very small space.

We had a finale rehearsal late in the afternoon to plug Vincent Von Duke into the number.

David Zepeda, the famous Mexican telenovela actor, was our special guest at the show tonight, so before each Intermission he came out to give a presentation and act out a scene with a couple of lucky ladies from the audience.
These presentations were a bit of a mess for us performers, because we normally go into the ring at that time while the ringmaster announces Intermission, but we weren't exactly clear on when we were supposed to go out with David there.
Our directions kept changing every few seconds, and Ryan and I were pretty frustrated about the whole thing.

I was also stressed out because of our change in routine due to the tiger act being in the show. It threw off our routine having to do the beach ball reprise, having to figure out a new configuration for resetting our props during Intermission, and finding a new time to clean off the water mat.
Ryan and I are both creatures of habit, so changing our routine makes us a bit crazy.

Luckily we had a fantastic audience for the second show. I wasn't necessarily looking forward to a month of Chicago crowds after the first audience, but the 9:00 p.m. crowd made me change my tune.

While we were taking pictures after the second show, Nestor came up to me and said I should move my truck from where I had parked it.
My truck, along with a couple of circus vehicles, was parked along the fence on Kostner Ave. Some of the more civilized people living in the area had thrown rocks through the window of one of the circus vans, and Nestor didn't want my truck to suffer the same fate.

Before I had even taken my make up off, I went and moved my truck to the back of the lot with the rest of the vehicles.

8/8/15- 6:00 and 9:00 p.m.

The shows today seemed much easier to me. There was no celebrity guest, and Ryan and I started devising a new system for re-setting props during Intermission.

There was some excitement during the second performance. While Visan was flipping his bike at the end of the aerial motorcycle act, his safety snapped, and he was left clinging onto the bike for dear life as it was suspended upside down.
Martin quickly climbed the ladder up to the platform and slowly turned Visan right side up so he could safely get off the bike.
It was a scary few minutes, but luckily everyone came out unscathed.

Ryan and I had a less severe prop malfunction to deal with. One of our beach balls had developed a leak after only two performances.
Luckily Ryan had bought some beach balls on one of his trips to Walmart, so we had spares.

8/9/15- 2:00, 5:00, and 8:00 p.m.

This morning I went to IHOP for breakfast. It wasn't exactly on par with the amazing places I usually go to eat on Sunday morning, but I was feeling lazy and wanted to sleep in, so I opted for a nearby option.
Never again!

Upon going to the dressing room in the morning, I was discouraged to find that another beach ball had developed a leak.
Ryan and I ended up just filling it up right before we'd go do the number, and it held up fine. That was quite a relief for us, as we've already spent more than enough money on this stupid filler bit without having to buy even more beach balls.

We had fantastic audiences for the second and third show, which really helped pick up my spirits.

I was really touched when I met a family after the third show that had seen our show last year; their son Santi was introduced to us as our biggest fan.
The office had let me know that Santi and his family wanted to meet us after the show, so I got some Steve & Ryan 8x10 photos for us to autograph for the kids.
Santi and his siblings apparently watch us all the time on Youtube, and he and his brother had an uncanny knowledge of our career.
"Before this you were on the Kelly Miller Circus!"
"You guys did an act at the Dogpatch Laundry!"
Santi's mom said that he and his oldest brother got into her make up so they could look like us, and her husband gladly showed us the pictures of the boys looking like us.

I was so grateful to get so much love from fans, and it made me feel wonderful to see how happy Santi's parents were to see us spending some time with their children.
What an awesome way to end the day!

8/10/15- 7:30 p.m.

This morning my friend, "Toto" Johnson, came to visit us. Toto is a former Ringling clown that was one of my mentors growing up.

He brought a bunch of delicious doughnuts as a free roll for me, Ryan, and his family, so we had a few over cups of coffee, and then I drove the two of us to the Egg'clectic Cafe where we could have a proper breakfast.
Since we had to drive so far away to go to that restaurant, I figured we should take advantage of being out, so we went to a Half Price Books in the area as well.

Ryan and I visited with Toto all day; I always enjoy getting the chance to hang out with our good friends, especially since we usually only get to spend about one day a year with them.

I was happy that Toto got to see us perform in front of a fantastic audience for our show tonight.

After work the circus had its 2nd Annual Punch Party, which was thrown by Emma and Laura, two of the organizers from the first punch party last year.

Performers and crew alike were encouraged to bring an alcoholic punch for everyone to enjoy, and the kids were encouraged to bring nonalcoholic punch.
There was a contest to select the punch with the best taste, and the punch with the best presentation, and once again Ryan and I resumed our stations as judges of the competition.
Naturally, Ryan and I wore our judge mustaches, and I created a new shirt for the occasion.

There was such stiff competition this year; everyone really went all out to try and win the prizes (the kids were going to receive toys, and the adults would win a grownup toy....alcohol!).
It took much deliberation on our part to determine the adult winners, especially for best taste.

In the end, Julius won best taste and Katarina won best presentation for children's drinks (it was really easy, because they were the only two child contestants), and Visan won for taste and Eddie won for presentation for the adult punch.

From what I heard, our choices weren't exactly the most popular ones with the other contestants, but it really was a difficult decision.
In the future I'm going to encourage the organizers to make it so the winners are chosen by ballot.

Here are some of the different punches that were part of the contest:

 Eddie and Lily's: Winner Best Presentation

 Martin's was a close second for best presentation.

 The green punch on the left was made by Vincent Von Duke, and was a close runner up for best taste.

8/11/15- 7:30 p.m.

When I woke up this morning, my back was killing me! Toto saw how miserable I looked and assumed I was hungover from tasting the 19 different alcoholic punches last night.
I explained to him that I felt fine (I had only taken small sips with constant water drinking in between each one), except for a pulled muscle in my back.
I'm not sure what I did, but whatever it was must have been made worse by the way I had slept.

I remember feeling like something was strained in my back during the three shows on Sunday, but I'm not sure why it took so long to manifest itself.
The spot that was really bothering me was between my shoulder blades: the exact spot where I fell on a rock our first year on Kelly Miller.
It seems that about once a year I'll do something that makes that injury flare up again.

Toto took off in the late morning, and I spent the day just trying to relax and stretch my back.

We had another great audience for the show tonight, which helped me forget about my aching back for two hours.

While Ryan and I were taking pictures with the audience after the show, I noticed that one little boy had a lipstick kiss on his cheek.
I was curious to see if the dancers had kissed him, so I asked, "Who gave you that?"

An attractive woman stepped up and said, "Mama did". I immediately pointed to my cheek, and she planted a big kiss there.
I fell on the floor, giggling like a school girl, waving my arms around and kicking my legs.

Drunk with power, I jumped up and pointed to my other cheek. The woman was happy to oblige, which sent me into more paroxysms of giddiness.

Sometimes it is good to be a clown!

8/12/15- 7:30 p.m.

This morning I went to Horrorbles to pick up the Fall 1983 issue of Muppets Magazine, which featured an article and photoshoot of the Muppets with performers from the Red Unit of Ringling.

Note: These photos are a high enough resolution that you should be able to zoom in on them and read  the interviews.

I had seen that Horrorbles had issues of Muppets Magazine the last time I visited there, but none of them had any information on the cover about the Ringling article.
My friend, Beth Grimes, did some Internet research and found the issue with the photoshoot, and I remembered seeing that cover at the store.
I was so happy to have a new cool item for my circus collection.

The one work related errand I had to run today was picking up supplies from Home Depot so we can continue with the construction of Pompeyo's dog props.
I was surprised at how long it took to go there and get back to the lot since it is only about a mile from the circus.
Traffic was ridiculous for a weekday afternoon, and getting what I needed in the store also took quite awhile.

In the afternoon we had yet another finale rehearsal, this one to change the ending of the number. Now, instead of all of us dancing at the back of the ring by the curtain, we are doing the same choreography in the middle of the ring.
It is a relatively easy change for me, because while everyone else has to walk backwards while dancing and clapping, I stay in the exact same spot I'm already standing.

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