Do you ever wonder why someone becomes a clown? OR Just what do clowns do? OR Why are these people dressed so funny? Here are the “Clown Stories” that some of our members have written for the Alley #85 newsletter. We think you might enjoy them.
A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to BINGO (or how I became a clown) By Ed Fitzgerald
Way back in ancient times, I think it was the late 80’s, I worked calling bingo (still have it by the way). I made friends with some of the bingo players. One of them was especially outgoing and I was intrigued by some of the stories she told. It turned out she was a CLOWN!! Over the course of several months we began showing each other slight of hand, juggling tips, & balloon animals that we each knew how to make. One evening this woman suggested I become a clown as I already had a lot of the skills required, and as luck would have it she was trying to get enough people for a class she wanted to teach. I didn’t think I would make a very good clown, but as a favor to her I thought I would give it a try.
Class started with seven students and our teacher “Lollybells the Clown or to the non-clowns, Jacki Garner. It was the summer of 1991 and none of us really knew where this was going to take us; we were all kind of shy and not very outgoing. Some couldn’t handle the pressure and dropped out, but at the end of the course, those of us left were thrilled and excited to perform at the our first public show. Not everything went as planned during that show, (it’s hard to juggle scarves under an a fan that’s turned on high). Everyone there had fun that day, audience and clowns. It was the start of something I never thought I could do; get up in front of an audience and act silly on purpose. I guess I was hooked.
I have done many shows and events over the years, each one taught me something. I do believe learning to be a clown is something you can not learn overnight, to be good at it you must constantly try to improve, experiment, try new and better ways to entertain your audience (just in the last year I started walking on stilts, for example). I don’t specialize in any one area, I’m just a clown out for a good time and I’d like to take everyone with me.
Clowning has taken me places I never dreamt of going. It has taken me to events I doubt Ed would be given admittance to, nor would he dare attend. I have been in TV commercials, nationally broadcast TV programs, I have clowned at 35,000 feet entertaining a plane load of media and make-a-wish bigwigs along with Dubble bubble: and a bunch of make-a-wish kids.
I have clowned in the fanciest hotels and homes in Dallas, and also in houses of much lesser means, I am welcomed and accepted in all. Clowning is truly a universal entertainment medium.
I would be remiss if I did not publicly thank “Lolli” for recognizing something in me that no one else saw or took the time to try and bring out.
My name is Sharon Hodges and my life began in earnest in Amarillo, Texas, where I grew up the product of a military family traveling extensively throughout my childhood. I spent three years living in Europe and returned to the US just in time to graduate from high school back in Amarillo, Texas again. I fell into the entertainment and art world by accident several years ago and have been totally hooked ever since. I began face painting and doing balloons for tips at a local theater at the urging of my cousin, Cinde Sanders (Boopsie the Clown) and progressed from there into my own clown character, Hodge Podge.
I specialize in puppetry, magic, balloon art and face painting, doing everything from birthday parties to corporate events. In the field of clowning I have earned the 2002 Funny Business Entertainer of the year award, held various positions on the board of directors for Mid-Cities Clown Alley #85, including president for two years and helped to coordinate the Texas Clown Association Convention, 2001, hosted by Mid-Cities #85. As my growth as an entertainer has progressed my love of face painting has equally evolved. I have a strong connection with this art form and it is where I feel the most accomplished and comfortable. I have taken several classes from artists in this industry that are considered the best in the world and I attended the first Face Painting International Convention ever held in the US, in Orlando, FL in 2002. I have been an active supporter of the exploration and development of this art form. In 2003 I founded the first organized face painting group in the United States, DFW Face Painters Guild and held the position of president for the year 2003-2004. I am the owner of Enchanted Bodys/Your Enchanted Face, a company that specializes in all forms of face and body art enhanced by professional photography. I recently competed and received the highest award given at the 2005 Face and Body Art Convention in Orlando, Florida, First Place Best All Around. I have taught and demonstrated beginning and intermediate levels of face art and constantly strive to personally improve and share the skills and talents that I have. I truly feel that painting is a wonderful way to color our world, one face at a time.
Jeanette “Dusti” Sanders
Dusti the Clown was born after a visit with my aunt and uncle, Lou and Bob Stoddard (Honey & Boppo the Clowns). They told me stories about their adventures with the carnival and circus. Uncle Bob’s eyes really lit up when he told me about the articles he wrote in the Carnival News.
They told me about their involvement as two of the founding member of Clown Alley 85 and the events and volunteer opportunities the Alley offered.
I told them about the two years that I volunteered at the Scottish Rite Hospital, visiting the patients, reading, talking or just visiting the children. I helped the nurses station, distributed food and helped in the gift shop. Aunt Lou and my mom encouraged me to join Alley 85.
I attended clown college at UT Arlington in 2000. After graduating I attended four TCA Conventions and numerous balloon twisting workshops.
I volunteer my time at many events during the year such as Baylor Hospital of Irving, Children’s Museum of Ellis County, Brookhaven Children’s Cancer Party, Relay For Life and numerous others.
When Dusti isn’t volunteering her time, she is performing private birthday parties, corporate events, grand openings and family reunions. She provides face painting, balloon twisting, magic and games.
Margaret “Maggie the Magical Clown” Clauder
Margaret Clauder, AKA Maggie the Magical Clown, Mother Goose, Bucky the Rodeo Clown,, the Bookworm, Patchy the
Scarecrow and Mother Nature has been performing full time publicly since 1991. She became a clown so that she could stay home with her kids and let her husband watch them on weekends while she performed parties. Her business evolved from there. She wanted to be a stay at home mom because her oldest was lost by a daycare center. The short version of the long story: He was left alone in a daycare center by the management. He left the building (he was 4) and was later found him wandering around a shopping center by himself resulting in charges of child endangerment being filled against the management. She never put her kids in daycare after that, quitting her full time job selling pharmaceuticals in order to stay home with them.
Margaret is the president and owner of Funny Business, an event and family entertainment company in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area. Funny Business performers entertain at over 1,600 events each year. Margaret personally specializes in performing at schools, libraries, and preschools as over 15 different characters which she personally created. She has enjoyed writing articles for The Calliope and The Funny Paper magazine (2 leading trade magazines for children’s entertainers), and lecturing at State, regional, and National Conventions for clowns and children’s entertainer organizations. A business major in college, Margaret’s theater training (aside from high school) has been through attending “Clown School” through Clowns of America International, the Texas Clown Association, and World Clown Association conventions and seminars.
Her shows are littered with clownish antics, no matter what character she is performing as. She has found that her humor helps to keep her shows lively. “If you can make them laugh, they will remember the message” she says. She is also a member of the International Brotherhood of magicians and often will use magic as visual effects in her shows although she seldom performs publically as a “magician”. “I prefer to let magic just happen in my shows without announcing it. By doing that it grabs my audiences attention that something very magical just happened and they sit up and pay better attention. Her favorite thing is performing with her puppets using ventriloquism to bring her friends to life in front of her audiences. She is a self taught ventriloquist using numerous books and tapes as her guide, but has taken many special classes in puppet manipulation to hone her skills. She describes her art as “edutainment”, educational, entertainment.
Most recently Margaret authored an entertainers joke book titled “Animal Jokes and More”, a book written with the balloon twister in mine. It categorized animal jokes in an easy reference format so that twisters can call upon these jokes and perform them when twisting the related animal. She also has several magic tricks which she personally invented including “The Magic Birthday Card” routine which has artwork drawn by Hal Hudgins.
“I have come a long way since I started full time in 1991″, says Margaret. “Without all the great clown friends I have made, I would not be where I am. I am still learning and hope to never quit. The most important lesson I have learned to being a successful entertainer is to always try to learn and reach to become better than what you are at the present. If you sit on your laurels then there is always someone smarter, cuter, younger, and less expensive who will soon pass you by. No matter who you are, you can always learn from each and every person you meet. And NO ONE is so good at what they do that they cannot also learn from others”. Her personal show philosophy: Fool them and they will remember the trick. Make them laugh and they will remember the show. Touch their heart and they will remember YOU. My goal is to touch as many hearts as I can through my performing”.
Cinde “Boopsie” Sanders
Professional Variety Entertainment is what Cinde Sanders represents. She began her journey as an account executive with a large advertising agency, where she met actor, magician and clown Dal Sanders and became his partner in life and in business. Cinde would hire Dal to provide entertainment for her clients. Soon she was working with him and Amazing Attractions was formed. They built a unique Co-op for the benefit of all entertainers in the Metroplex. The idea was then and still is today, that instead of entertainers back stabbing each other, that they could work together to share leads, resources and office expenses, in order to provide the best entertainment available. The theory is that when one entertainer works, it is good for all the other entertainers. Next time that client needs to spice up an event, they will think of the excellent work provided by Amazing Attractions and continue to call for variety entertainment. Therefore, everyone works and everyone helps each other.
However it wasn’t until 1989, while pregnant with her first child did Cinde get the itch to become an entertainer herself. Until then she was the agent and office manager for the variety artists at Amazing Attractions. After studying, taking classes, reading books, observing others, and learning various skills, Boopsie the clown was born. With none other than Ronald McDonald as a mentor, Boopsie devised her make-up and costuming, which over the years has been revised, tweaked and enhanced. The name Boopsie came from the cartoon Doonesbury. In the comic strip Boopsie is the sweet starlet cheerleader character that is reminiscent of the character that Boopsie portrays.
With her endearing personality and ability to entertain, it did not take long to gather a following of her own. One of the unique talents she has developed is the art of close-up or strolling magic. She performs at events ranging from private parties, restaurants, banquets, corporate events and trade shows to grand scale theatrical magic productions.
Today, Boopsie is one of the few white faced clowns in the area. Her publicity sheet reads: She is a tall red head with ruby painted lips. She is loved by all who meet her. Men and boys stop and stare. Women wish they were in her shoes and they marvel at her make-up. She is colorful, exciting, outgoing and she never met a stranger. No, she’s not some new starlet flirting her way to the top. She’s Boopsie the clown and she is going to win your heart too!
Boopsie performs as a professional clown, face painter, balloon artist, magician, and puppeteer. In addition to hundreds of paying shows, she volunteers for many charitable events delighting children and adults alike. In addition to Boopsie The Clown, Cinde has developed other characters and shows including “Sister Cat” (The Cat in the Hat’s Sister), “Safari Cinde” (Dinosaur puppet show) and seasonal characters “Cinde The Magical Elf” and “Cinde the Magical Witch.”
Trica “Hanky” Gregory
Now where did Hanky the clown come from? The first time I found the joy of playing like a clown was the summer of 1981. I was on a youth mission trip in Colorado. I did not clown again until my senior year, the summer of ’84. (During high school I was one of the class clowns, but I was not seen wearing any clown make-up!). That summer (1984) I was on staff at Brookhaven Retreat in Hawkins, TX when I received my nick name “Hanky”. They called me “Hanky” because of all my sneezing and love of country music (they also said I had a country drawl but I did not think so). One weekend at Brookhaven the girls on staff were to have a party for the guys. Our theme was “Christmas Morning” so we all dressed up as Christmas gifts (toys). I wanted to be a clown, and that was the first time I was actually “Hanky” the clown. In 1986 I really wanted to learn and perform more as “Hanky”. My mother made “Hanky” an outfit with a big wire going all around the waist, and I thought I looked like a great clown! I got lots of attention at the Snyder, TX 4th of July parade and family picnics. I performed as “Hanky” at church, parties, parades, ect. I tried to learn balloon art, but they always scared the pee-waddles out of me when they would pop! When I performed at birthday parties I would have the 12” balloons already aired up with clown faces drawn on them and cardboard feet attached to them. The kids had a blast watching the clown balloons pop up and always land on their feet!
1994 jobs were pretty hard to find in west Texas so I moved from Fluvanna, TX (and Lubbock, TX) to Irving, TX. When I moved to Irving I started rooming with one of my college friends. The summer of 1995 my roommate was working for the city of Irving so she asked me to be “Hanky” at the city children’s parade. That was where my eyes were open to other clowns here in the metroplex. I got to meet “Dubble Bubble”, “Snapshot”, “Bingo”, and Rosalie Perryman (performing a great marionette puppet show). They told me about Texas Mid-Cities Clown Alley #85 and wanted me to get involved in it . . . and most definately wanted me to take the clown class at UTA (they said that would really help on getting a better face. I didn’t understand what they were trying to say. Ha! Ha!). Hearing all of this about a clown club and a college clown class shocked me! I did not know there was any such thing as a clown club. I got involved in the alley in 1995 and took the class at UTA in 1996. The clown class at UTA really helped me find the “Hanky” I am today, and a lot of thanks go to Rosalie Perryman for giving me ideas on my make-up.
After playing around with the clowns of Mid-Cities Clown Alley #85, and attending some classes around the metro, “Hanky” started to listen, learn, and achieve. I have been a member of Clowns of America International, Texas Clown Association, & Texas Mid-Cities Clown Alley #85. In the year 2000, my regular job in accounting, with New America Financial (mortgaging) offered me to keep my job and move to Houston. That was the last thing I would want to do. Susan (Dubble Bubble) and I decided to try something new, and that was to work together on shows for day cares. And I would become a full-time children’s entertainer. I promise to say it was not easy going full-time in entertaining! Susan and I have been working together for five years performing shows at day cares, schools, and libraries all around the metro. Performing as “Hanky” the clown is fun, but not everybody wants a clown, therefore “Jolly” was born. I perform as “Jolly” (without make-up) for restaurants, day cares, and children who may be afraid of clown make-up. I am not only “Hanky” and “Jolly”, I also have a character by the name of “Bertha”. “Bertha” performs fun and clean parties for adults as a BIG-old woman from Fluvanna, TX. Susan also performs with me as Bertha’s sister, “Mertha”. “Bertha” and “Mertha” are fun comedians with jokes, songs, and tears from laughter! Another specialty I love to perform is puppets. I have been a puppeteer for around 25 years. Now Susan and I are performing marionette puppet shows (as well as making the puppets). Throughout these years I have learn to be a professional Balloon Artist, Face Painter, Magician, Puppeteer, and Characters as well. Today “Hanky” has to perform with very little (No) make-up around her eyes (my allergies are awful), but ya know she is still “Hanky”. a clown grows up and changes just like a human does. They grow up and make something of themselves.
Francisco “Tako” Jaurez
Hello, my name is Francisco Jaurez and clowning for me is like breathing. It is a thing I do that brings me the incredible joy of making people laugh. I began clowning at the old age of 26 as Mundito the Clown, which means little world in Spanish.
I later changed to Tako the clown after I came to America and have been Tako ever since. I strengthened my clowning skills in the areas I love the most, those being puppetry, juggling, clown magic and stage performance.
I worked for one year at the Ayala Circus in Mexico where I became adept at circus life and circus performance. After that time in the circus I learned the art of puppet making from 2 Mexican puppeteers that are considered to be extremely high caliber in their field of puppetry so I was very blessed to be able to work closely with them and learn that technique. I brought my family with me to the United States so my children could learn the English language and thereby have the benefit of being bilingual. My wife is Santa, my daughter is Viviana and my son is Daly and we work together at times but not always. I recently experienced a down side to clowning where I worked so hard at perfecting my skills that I neglected my duties as a husband and a father. I decided to return to Mexico and re-center myself and this is where I found a new faith in God and became a Christian. This has made me to be a better husband and father and clown. This faith has brought peace to my heart and gives my life different meaning. I still love clowning but now I love clowning with Jesus in my heart.
Debbie “Posie” Davis
Posie the Clown was born for my nephew’s first birthday, which was a long time ago. He has already graduated from college and is working on going to medical school. It all started one day when I was walking through a toy store looking for something special for his first birthday. I happened upon a clown “jump suit” mind you, half off in price. How better to make a birthday special then to send in a clown. So I proceeded to get make-up and the clown suit. I knew nothing about being a clown but that didn’t stop me. Well we all know what a one year old does the first time he see a clown and my nephew was no different. Except he never stopped crying, till I took the clown costume completely off (I really think it was because I looked so bad). You would have thought that would have ended my clowning but it didn’t. That very next week I read an ad for a clown class at UTA. Wow! I already had the outfit so I took the class, and learned how bad I really was. Then I joined Mid-Cities Clown Alley right after the class, which is what my instructors told me to do. I really needed a lot more help then just one class could do. I was told to sign up and go to all the free clown events to get experience and help from the other clowns. The first one I signed up for was a nursing home. I got there all eager to learn and found out I was the only one that showed up. Needless to say I had nothing to do, so I just walked room to room and talked to the people. Afterwards I cried all the way home, because I was so bad. Well to make a long story short, I didn’t give up and thanks to a lot of great clowns in the Alley, it got better. I went to a lot of events and learned from every Clown I could. By the time my nephews second birthday came around I thought I was much better and would appear again at his birthday party. This time I took my costume over and put everything on at his house, but when I closed the door to finish the look and make my grand appearance, guess what? He took one look at me, let out the loudest scream and never stopped. I was forced to make the change back to a person, just to get him to stop crying. You would have thought that would have ended my clowning, but by that time I was in love with clowning. I just never clowned for my nephew again. That’s how Posie was born.
Susan “Dubble Bubble” Keys
On a dark and stormy night in December of 1991, two brave Brownie Girl Scout leaders ventured out with their troop to sing Christmas Carols to the local rest homes. After all the fun, we promised the girls we would go have some hot chocolate at McDonalds. Well, what kind of McDonalds doesn’t have hot chocolate? I am not sure who was more disappointed, the girls or the leaders. As we watched the girls play and enjoy their ice cream (brrrr) I glanced around and spotted a sign on the window advertising a position open for a clown party hostess. Now that sounded like a fun job! After all, I was voted the class clown in high school. My current job was relocating to Colorado and I wasn’t moving, so the next day I called for an interview. To my delight, the manager hired me and said she would teach me everything she knew about the job. And she did……..I learned a lot about dealing with people of all kinds, how to organize a party with food, games, prizes, the works. Looking back, I realize she did not know much about the art of clowning. I was white face (just on the face, no neck) and I had little balloons on one cheek. They named me Bubbles. My make up and costume were provided by McDonalds. I was a CLOWN. Not Ronald McDonald by any means, but I sure had fun. I started getting hired away from the store to do other events too. I felt like I needed to know more. I found out about the Storytelling event in Denton and went there. I called clowns out of the phone book to try to find out how to be a better clown. Now, I am not into name calling so I will not mention names BUT out of the dozen clowns I called for help, only one, Dianna Moore, Splatter the Clown was willing to direct me. She referred me to Mid Cities Alley 85 for the UTA Clowning Class. I signed up for the fall class of 1992 and I was totally hooked. I then began going to the alley meetings and continued learning from the programs we had there. My first Alley Event was a Clown wedding in West End. That was a blast! During this time, I met Bingo of Bingo’s Clowns. She took me under her big clown nose and put me to work. She had a lot more faith in me than I had and gently (mostly) pushed me into growing. I am so glad for her in my life. Bingo’s husband was transferred out of state (upstate New York) in 1995. Can you believe she went with him? I took over her clown agency, Bingo’s Clowns then and became full time self-unemployed. Bingo was supposed to come back in five years, but they really like it there. I eventually changed the company name to suit me, MerryMakers Clowns.
Skip ahead a few years. I met and married W T Keys who later became Pepper the Clown. He is awesome to clown around with. My Clown Business and reputation as a solid entertainer is great. Thanks to Buckle, Hanky, Maggie, Cinde, and all of you keep me growing. Some of these clowns push me harder than others (Maggie) and for them I am grateful. And I am grateful to all of you in our journey to get THERE.
Linda (Heart Throb) Berman
From the top of her grape jelly purple hair to the tips of her extra-extra large shoes, Heart Throb The Clown vows to never grow up but to always be silly and share laughter and smiles with everyone she meets. Heart Throb and her alter-ego Linda Berman are very excited to be part of Mid Cities Clown Alley #85.
A full-time family entertainer in Southern California for many years, Linda moved to the Metroplex late in 2006. She purchased a home in Lake Dallas to experience a slower lifestyle in a small community. “I’m so excited to be in North Texas where people are so friendly and welcoming. I’m looking forward to sharing my love of clowning, balloons, face painting, storytelling and bubbles with new friends in Texas,” says Linda with twinkle in her eyes.
“My first experience of the magic of clowning was when my sister and I were in the “Peanut Gallery” on “The Howdy Doody Show” while we were on a family vacation to New York City and we met Clarabell the Clown, and of course Howdy Doody and Buffalo Bob.” “In the late 1970’s, my husband and I were living in Honolulu, Hawaii and my husband became a Shrine Clown. The local Shrine Clowns entertained at events and raised money for the local Shriners’ Hospital. Several times a year, the Shrine Clowns and their wives were invited to the Shriners’ Hospital to interact with the patients and I got to see up close and personal the magic of clowning.”
“Divorced in 1980, I lived in Phoenix, AZ, and then spent 10 years in San Diego before relocated to the Los Angeles area in 1990. In the mid-1990’s, I met a woman who changed my life. She was a part-time clown who invited me to a class on clowning at Glendale Community College. I realized that I could become a clown and share with lots of people. I honed my skills at Clown Camp for many years and attended a variety of clown learning workshops and events. At the time I was clowning part-time while earning the bulk of my income as a corporate trainer. In 1998, I decided to take the plunge and devote myself to supporting myself as a family entertainer in Southern California.”
“At the time, my favorite clowning activity was balloon twisting. I focused on growing my skills as a twister making detailed multi-balloon creations when most people were making one-balloon designs. Of course, I was working with 260s, the balloon most people used. In early 1998, I discovered the Qualatex 160 balloons and it was “love at first inflate.” Tilly had few colors available of 130’s but they were difficult to work with. The extra length of the 160s made them much more versatile. I started making all my sculptures with 160s and sharing my ideas with other twisters.”
“At Clown Camp in 1998, I shared my love of 160 twisting and was encouraged by fellow campers to write a “how-to” book. I published Marvelous Miniatures in 1998. At the same time, the Way Cool Gang published their book of 160 designs. Each of the books features different designs. I was encouraged to keep writing 160 books and I now have a total of six books in my Marvelous Miniatures Series and I’m known as The Miniature Balloon Lady or sometimes The 160 Queen.”
“I was introduced to the magic and wonder of soap bubbles at clown camp not knowing that the bubbles would join miniature balloon sculpting as the two major focuses of my clowning career. I earned my Certified Balloon Artist (CBA) designation and added balloon décor to my offerings. I’ve had the pleasure of lecturing on balloons and/or bubbles at World Clown Association Conventions in Toronto, Canada and Mesa, AZ, the TJAM Balloon Convention in Austin, TX, The Millennium Jam Balloon Convention in Mol, Belgium, the International Balloon Arts Convention in Anaheim, CA, the International Balloon Association Convention in Rosemont, Il and for clown alleys, magic associations and for balloon distributors in many locations across the U.S,” continues Berman.
Linda’s entertainment business, Dazzling Events features Linda as Heart Throb, Dr. RU Smiling, a clown Dr., Dentist or Vet., and non-clown characters Linda the Balloon Lady, cowgirl Round Up Rita, and Luau Linda. Linda loves entertaining at birthday parties, corporate and community events and specializes in educational school and library programs featuring soap bubbles. “People of all ages and sizes love bubbles and my bubble show features good clean fun while learning. I’m very excited about bringing bubbles to the Metroplex and working with all the wonderful clowns, balloon twisters and face painters I’ve met through the clown alleys and associations in North Texas. “
“Neither WCA nor COAI had official clown alleys in Southern California so this is my first time being part of an alley. I’ve also joined the TCA and am looking forward to attending the convention in September, “ Linda adds. “That’s my story and I’m sticking to it! I’m looking forward to getting to know all my fellow alley members,” shares Linda.
Martha “Miss Cookie” Warren
I began working in Dallas for AT&T in 1988, and quickly found my hobby and great love for baking endeared her to my friends and fellow employees. Becoming a clown was the furthermost thing from my mind. I had dreams being the cookie queen of AT&T. Actually, I came close and was making a nice return selling the cookies (undercover) during breaks and eventually earned enough to pay a substantial part of one daughter’s school trip to Australia.
In 1999, a friend wanted to take a clown course and talked me into taking it with her. We actually booked some birthday parties, but I was scared to death. Scared or not we went together, for close to a year and a half, until my friend finally dropped out, leaving me to honor bookings we had gotten. Somewhere inside me I knew clowning was becoming an important part of my life.
Why the name “Miss Cookie”? Because it was a natural. People called me the “Cookie Lady” and while I was searching for a name, friends suggested Cookie.
To tell the truth, I love baking cookies and I’m good at it. It’s the truth. As Yogie Bear (actually the other one, the baseball great) said one time: “It ain’t bragging if you can do it!”
Yet, morphing into Miss Cookie was a slow, and sometimes painful process. I would find out about volunteer gigs and log them on my calendar. Many times I would “clown up” determined to go to the event alone, if necessary. But I always got cold feet if I couldn’t find another clown to go with. If I couldn’t find someone, I just stayed home. It sounds a little sad. In fact, it was. I desperately needed mentoring to help polish my clown character. Miss Cookie was inside me all that time but she was timid and didn’t have direction – a goal! At times, I considered quitting.
But, I decided I couldn’t give up. I went to every convention available and sat in on the classes that would give me the skills I needed. There I was front and center at Maggie Clauder’s clowning classes and Andy Andersons class 101. I volunteered to help Susan Keys with her class one year at UTA (Miss Cookies was secretly learning and growing all the while).
One evening, after a Happie Tymes meeting, several of us went to Denny’s. Miss Cookie came with me and began mingling and interacting with the customers – clowning around and having a bunch of fun.
Maggie Clauder watched and decided to book me at a birthday party. It worked! Miss Cookie broke free and has been my true alter ego ever since. Thank you, Maggie!
I was still working full time for a corporation, but the dream was growing that someday I could clown all the time. Suddenly, Miss Cookie was to be a real clown. And the day someone first said, “you’re a professional clown”, it truly impacted on me. I had to pay greater attention to everything I was doing at my gigs. People were paying me to be a professional! What was working and not working? Even if the parties were for younger children, I began taking notice of older children, siblings and parents at my parties – including them in whenever possible. Everyone has fun at Miss Cookie’s parties. And Miss Cookie has a lot more fun, too!
This attitude has carried over into everything I do. People should be having fun at every event and everywhere Miss Cookie goes – in clown or street clothes.
Twelve (1999-2011) years have flown by. I have learned more about myself , and others, than I ever would have at a corporate job behind a desk. Certainly, I have had more laughs and more fun!
And I found out along the way what I always felt down deep; I’m a really kind hearted person (except to Billy Whiskers), a humanitarian of sorts. I can get down to anyone’s level and extend my hand and my heart.
I have volunteered at Baylor Hospital in Irving and Northeast Hospital in Fort Worth. When I began, I wasn’t sure where it would take me, but I found this is where I feel I am needed. That is how “Nurse Beddi Pan” was born about 2004 — to bring smiles to those who are facing health problems.
My clown room and closet are filled with costumes and props. Developing a new character is a real treat for me and I have several “regulars” and ideas for many more. Luckly, my aunt is a seamstress. Boy, do I keep her busy.
Currently, I am a member of the three metroplex alleys, the face painting guild and the balloon jam. For several years I was a wish granter for Make A Wish Foundation. I’m a volunteer for Cooks Children’s Hospital in Fort Worth and Children’s Hospital in Dallas. It’s fun getting up in the middle of the night (uh, hu) to help volunteers for the Neiman Marcus Christmas parade apply their clown makeup. As a matter of fact, I sometimes volunteer so much I become concerned about having enough “family” time.
I was fortunate enough to be awarded a Bo Dino scholarship from the World Clown Association to attend their 25th Anniversary Convention in La Cross, Wisconsin. What an awesome experience! Among the dozens of others, over 20 clowns from Japan were there and they are truly professional.
There were so many quality teachers and “caring clown” classes. Debbie “Posie” Davis, who also attended the convention from Happi Tymes, and I tried to be in each class. We did it, but were exhausted when we returned.
Looking back on my early days as a fledgling clown has convinced me that I must always help the First of Mays to overcome their fears and grow to their highest potential. To become a clown who makes a difference in the lives of those they entertain.
Clowning has become my life. I truly feel that I have made a difference and will continue to do so until God tells me – “Enough, Miss Cookie, the job is finished.”