A Juggler in the Stix by DOUG COUDEN ---------------------------------------------------------------
Fordyce, Ark.: Another bull's-eye by that guy Montandon. Received an autographed copy of book from Roger which is one of the finest pieces of juggling literature that has ever been published. Contents is the first year of the Bulletin including announcement pages. It has stiff board covers with black pebbled binding and "Juggler's Bulletin, 1-12" stamped in gold letters. It's compact and neat enough for the library shelf.
Have written to some of the Big-Big-Timers and got a check from that ace commentator, V. Kaltenborn who types, "It's worth three bucks to be called a juggler, when all I can do is keep three balls in the air and balance a feather on my nose." The story of how his life was spared by bandits because of his ability to juggle appeared in the Jan. issue. You'd better practice up H.V. as we'll expect to get a snap shot of you juggling when we hit N.Y. next summer.
The writer also signed up Melvin (Capt. Fuzz) Plunkett whose pics are on pages 29 and 40 of the "Juggler's Bible". Fuzz is a veritable human dynamo when it comes to Show Biz; his varied activities have helped to make that 18 people Texas Tenter a success. Other subs. coming in, reports Roger, including another Vet recently out of Army, Jack Parker, Washington, D.C., and another English lad, Stanley Collins, Sussex. Nearly overlooked Pfc. Geo. Moran, Madigan Gen. Hosp., Lewis Wash. Let's hear from you new subscribers, Pipe in please.
With the passing of Dick Ricton, the writer apparently is the only juggler now playing school assemblies independently, that is, booking our own shows. George Demott plays assemblies too, but through bureaus. There are some 30,000 schools in this country and it would take a lifetime to play them all. Looks like a good field for a number of other jugglers and the writer would be glad to pass on any information to those interested. To make dough in the Stix you do a show instead of just an act. But don't let that bother you. Lola and the writer have gotten up several novelty acts since passing the 45 year mark. To a juggler a number of other acts are comparatively easy to master. Altho we specialize in the least strenuous (also the least remunerative) of the different school angles, the sky's the limit as far as income is concerned. For Instance, FuzzzPlunkett has hit the Grand mark and an act last season topped the two Grand mark working different school methods. Theme marks are for a week and that aint hay. Seems like this is worth working for altho it can't be achieved overnight. Youth is an asset as the above takes plenty of energy as well as versatility and showmanship.
If you like tricks in this column just holler. Also send in your own with sketches. Promised Betty Gorham a trick for a Jugglienne and sent her an original one, color changing discs. Will include this in column with slight encouragement! Betty caught Tracy Andrews with a stock company and writes, "Finally got up enough courage to go back stage and ask him a bit about juggling."
Norbert Provost has assumed the stage name of "Spud" Roberts and is playing night clubs in R.I. His wife Alice has a fine rag picture outfit with black light effect. "Spud" sends 8xlO's which should help him in his biz . He inquires about hat routine for two people, so why not run that hat juggling info by Tom Breen, Roger?
Wrote to two subscribers in Now Orleans and received interesting letters from Jerry Fatzer, equilibrist, who sent 8 x 10 and Jim Aitken who types, "I played everything in my time, big and small." Jim did contortion in vaude and now in addition to his booking chores, does an occasional Juggling act. Will got more dope on these lads when we pull in to New Orleans for the Xmas holidays.
Gus Kiralfo laid up in San Antonio and couldn't make the doings at Austin, but Ed DeWees and Bob Blau, two other Texas Jugs (that's a good name for jugglers at a convention) were there. Add to juggling words, Eric Johnson's "I pick up anything that's JUGGABLE." Also name for our show, JUGGLORAMA.
Address for your scribe- P.O. Box 711, Tulsa-1, Okla.
Shootin' The Breeze Roger
We were pleased to hear that Bulletin advertising does bring results. Eric Johnson reports that he received eleven inquiries within five days.
Plenty of Juggling going on around the Tulsa area. Belmont Bros. recently at Clover Club Bartlesville, Okla. Mel Ody (Pvt. Dick Luby) with the Dick Jurgen's Marine Follies was in a couple of nights ago. Tulsa audience really went for his style of comedy Juggling. Mel uses a swell assortment of gags to cover misses- in fact we believe the audience looked forward to seeing him miss because it was sure to be good for a laugh. This Bulletin has a section on gags to cover misses. We're not printing any of Mel's but hope one of these days to have his permission to add some of them to the collection. In the meantime, how about dropping us your own favorite gag?
Truzzi also here with Pollack Bros. Circus. We enjoyed the act as always but got our biggest kick out of going down to a practice session and watching some off record Juggling. Truzzi is looking for a couple of young Jugglers for a contemplated production number. If you are young, free to travel, and have reasonable Juggling skill contact Truzzi, % Bulletin, giving full details.
Harley Manker pens that K.C. is also on the map with Juggling. Lee Marks, Bill King, The Elgins, and Bobby May all passing through.
Jack Parker, readying for U.S.O. tour overseas, reports having met Tommy Hart (Hart & Dine), Art Ward, Chester Dolphin, Paul Nolan, Lew Folds, and Hap Hazard since being released from the army.
Hugh Shepley thinks enough of the Bulletin to bind it in a loose-leaf folder. Gummed reinforcements keep the pages from being torn out. Previous Bulletins have had some narrow margins but this has now been corrected. Hugh and several others have requested a cover pic of Ben Beri. Your wishes are our command.
Bert Hansen writes that Whitey Roberts is still at the Music Box in San Francisco; and that many favorable comments are coming in on Johnny Romero's act playing that territory.
Larry Weeks sends us a copy of the Sept. 21st Issue of Yank which contains a spread of four "Main Streets of America" . Shown are Tulsa, home of Bulletin; Evansville, Ind., where Joe Cook first saw light of day; Providence, R.I., where until just recently Norbert Provost held forth; and New Orleans, where James H. Aitken, and Gerard Fatzer uphold Juggling traditions. Last letter from Larry was "from somewhere in Nevada" so this Bulletin will probably find him at his New York address and perhaps next month we'll sport a new column, eh Larry?
Bert Hansen's Juggling Reviews
BILLY RAYES Golden Gate Theatre- San Francisco
July 17, 1943
Opened with combination of gags and a single top hat routine.
Next- clever and entertaining three ball routine-- with impressions of following people (as they would juggle three balls) : Greta Garbo, Boris Karloff, Gypsy Rose Lee, and Fred Astaire. (In Astaire impression, did tap while bouncing three balls).
Three plate routine including continuous back throws and three in one hand.
Billy Rayes is a smartly dressed entertainer, combining clever Juggling, good dancing and excellent comedy.
THINGS! GADGETS! STUFF!
If you use the 'Electric Pack" as a juggling gag, try this. Show the cards and say, "With 52 cards", and do one flourish. Then pick up another card and add it to the front of the pack and say, "With 53 cards--much more difficult!" and do the same flourish.
Larry Weeks some time back suggested that a series covering what various Jugglers do when they miss might be of interest to readers. Of course, if the feat is a difficult one, most Jugglers try the feat again, and even a third time if necessary. Such action builds up audience suspense and Impresses them with the difficulty of the feat. Often even a very simple move can be made more impressive by a planned miss in which the dropped article is recovered gracefully as for example by kicking a dropped ball back up with feet. It is always wise to remember that the audience doesn't know what is supposed to happen next and a miss can usually be turned into a laugh.
There are still many occasions when the above action does not seem to adequately cover a miss, or apply to your style of working. Therefore we present the following ideas:
For a planned miss: "The next feat is a miracle", start to do trick and miss, then say, "It's a miracle if I do it", then go ahead and do the trick.
"I've only missed that one once before-- this is the second time I've tried it.'
"You know, I have to drop something once in a while just to make it look hard."
"I may look pretty bad but that's the first drop I've had tonight."
Look at dropped object and then up at ceiling and say, 'Who threw that".
For ball misses, "I always get balled up on that one."
Larry Weeks sends this one- to be used immediately after a miss, "Sometimes I does, sometimes I doesn't, and sometimes I does it a dozen times before I does it!".
If you do a dumb act there are still several pantomime gags that might fit your act, such as:
When the object was dropped we would raise our right hand with first finger straight forward, thumb at right angles and other fingers curled into palm (representing a gun). Pointing the barrel of the gun (forefinger) at the offending article and snapping the thumb down as though firing the gun would cause a loud bang. The bang would be produced by a Bingo shooter that fires a cap-- sold in all novelty stores and made by S. S. Adams. The shooter would be fastened under coat at left side with a safety pin which may be soldered to the body of the shooter. A clip or rubber band that could be pulled off at the right time by left hand would keep the device from going off pre- maturely. Of course, a stage hand or assistant off stage could fire a blank gun at the proper time if more convenient.
If we had an assistant, when the article was dropped, we'd blow a whistle. The assistant dressed in a street cleaners costume would come out with a wheelbarrow, a toy one would do, and a large broom and dust pan. The assistant would sweep up the object, deposit it in the wheelbarrow and depart. We might even nave a loud horn on the wheelbarrow for the assistant to honk as he came on and off.
If we missed again, we'd start to bend over to pick up the item and just as we got pretty well bent over, our trusty assistant would rip a piece of cloth backstage. We'd hastily straighten up, look embarrassed for a moment, and then go on with the act.
If we did the 3 cigar boxes (a la W. C. Fields) or any similar routine with three items, and we missed, we'd apparently never notice the miss continuing to hit the remaining two boxes together still in tempo with the music. All of a sudden we'd look down and surprisedly notice that we were manipulating only two boxes. We'd then pick up the fallen box and continue the routine.