Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Loving Children
(editor's note: This could be the first in a series of reflections on how I may have inadvertently affected those around me in the past, perhaps in a less than positive way.  Mostly through errors of omission caused by the odd career I have chosen.  It sounds like one of the steps in a 12 step program, and may in fact have the very same positive therapeutically effect.  Although I am not currently enrolled in a 12 step program.... why wait till you actually need one before "stepping forward"? At any rate, I am hoping it will unlock some hidden muse in my Psyche that will guide me to greater understanding and personal creativity. If instead it becomes only a confession hiding in my fertile mental petri dish, the statute of limitations has fortunately run out.)
 I have always liked kids and kids have generally liked me as well; perhaps because I  relate to them on their own level. A special gift or lack of maturity "only my shirnk knows for sure." It has nothing to do with being a ventriloquist.  I am not a very good kids show performer and really don't like to do it.  The few times I have been pressed into doing a show for kids turned into disasters.
When I first came to LA I was signed with a Personal Manager who ruled television in the 60's and early 70's. For purposes of identification I'll call him Dick.  Regardless of his real name... he was a Dick. By the time we were associated he did not have the power he once had, but it was good enough to get me to LA and established.  We parted ways after a couple of years association.
The Dick had a trophy wife who was an ex-Showgirl/ dancer in Las Vegas. Not really a dancer, she had a great body and very long legs and looked great in skimpy clothes.  She was about three feet taller than Dick and closer to my age than his.  I wouldn't say she was a gold digger; I would say her showgirl retirement plan involved what was left of Dick's fortune.
Although Dick had a family with a more age appropriate wife early in his career, those kids were grown, and the ex-wife was drinking heavily to avoid thinking about the slut she nicknamed "twinkle toes" who had stolen her husband.  Dick and the showgirl had a couple of young kids the oldest was three years old when I was signed to his office.
The three year old was having a birthday party at the home of the Dick.  A typical Beverly Hills affair with over stimulated, over indulged trophy children being adored by fully reconstructed LA "house" wives.  Dick decided not to spring for a clown at the party or even a costumed character, he decided my act would work.  I did not have much success in telling him I didn't do kids shows, it almost became an order rather than a favor that I perform for these kids.
They were awful from the moment I arrived.  The parents were drinking far enough away from the kids that they could see them as a herd and not as individual mistakes. The nanny's and maids were semi-successful Sheppard's to the unruly snot noes kids.  I staked out a place in the grass to make my entertainment assault.  There was no microphone, no riser, no introduction and certainly no interest from the crowd.  As I removed Bob from his case, I was immediately heckled by one of the kids who screamed the word puppet with the same inflection as if he was saying the word"shit".  Bob looked at them with disgust but they were un-intimidated.  The little snots held firm in their belief that I merely served at their fickle whim. Then Bob said, "Okay why don't you kids shut up for a minute and let me talk?" It was a little more aggressive than the tone I might have taken to settle the crowd, but it had an immediate effect.  In their pampered life style they had never seen nor heard an actual talking doll before.  All were frightened, some began to cry and run away in fear.  Once the herd spooked all of them were crying, running past their nannies to their mothers.  Most mothers had to abandon their Vodka stingers to embrace their kids.  The party was effectively over for me.  The icy stares from the bar continued as I packed up Bob. The crowd parted like I was contagious as I left. My act had taken less time than the walk from my parked car.
The Dick never brought it up to me nor even mentioned the party ever again, but I did hear him say once to a casting agent, "Jay is definitely not a kids show performer."
Step one... more later,
As you were,

1 comment:

P. Grecian said...

I don't think you can blame Bob. Louie would, most likely, have said worse.
Like you, I think I only ever did one outdoor show for kids. Pretty much for the same reason.