manipulation

Happy New Year!

I LOVE lion dances! The athletic ability of the dancers is just…astounding. Yes, keep in mind every time a lion stands on its hind legs, that’s the guy in the back holding the head guy up on his shoulders.

And they are sill fine puppeteers through it all. he heads move and blink and twitch their ears,giving you the illusion that the lions are completely real….you believe!

Recorded on January 27, 2009,this was the lion dance performance at the Shatin Racegrounds prior to the opening day of races for 2009 – Year of the Ox.

Netherworld 2010! PUG!

I have still been working my tail off this Halloween season, and finally I have a chance to show you my new puppet partner at Netherworld. Last year, it was big, bad Mega Mouth; this year I am teamed up with Pug, a vicious, red-eyed, carrot-toothed denizen of the corridors.

Isn’t he amazing, folks? He feels like he’s about the size of a small car. He’s heavy and takes some real turbo-strength to operate him properly, but the effect is well worth it.

I do not give a halfway presentation with this puppet.I push it, suddenly, roaring right out into people’s faces, biting and snapping, red eyes flaring,then pull it quickly back into the darkness to hide for another ambush. It takes incredible strength to do this, and I give it my all, which is why I tear myself to pieces every night that I am operating it. Employees have lamented that I am not there more to operate it, but this is why.I want to work Pug, and I want to do it well, or I don’t want to do it at all. Unfortunately, this means giving me  several days of work followed by several days off to repair myself! 

It also takes some brains to operate Pug, and other big puppets of this ilk, without getting beaten up by the unruly public. Stupid guys, always in an effort to impress the other numbskulls in their group, will often dive on the puppets, or gang up and all push the puppet at once, which can knock the puppeteer off balance, hit them in the face or head with the machinery, and do all sorts of collateral damage to the equipment itself. Yet our employers want us to get aggressive with the public and really SCARE them, freak them the hell out. So you have to learn and understand how to be a good “predator”…:)

I have my “performance” down to a science..

Usually I can tell that the guy in the front of a group, especially if he has big baggy pants, is gonna be trouble. I hate to miss out on pummeling him, but it’s just as much fun keeping him from doing stupid stuff(so he can be cool in front of his friends)by splitting him up from his group.

I let the big dumb jock “alpha male” go first,and get him around the corner and out of the way, THEN attack the rest of his group. If he is separated from his group, he can’t impress them by being a butthead.I also make sure I only chew at people minimally–I give them a good chomp, for sure—and then retreat quickly back into the dark so they don’t really have a chance to do anything to the puppet and me. Then once the rest of the people are hurriedly streaking by, thinking, “oh, it’s not gonna come out again, we’re safe”, I come roaring out one last time and get the straggler, the one who thinks he’ll get away by being at the end of the group!

Anyway, it’s been a really fun season. I know my appearances have been sporadic, but it’s really all my little body can handle.


I have my “performance” down to a science..let the big dumb jock “alpha male” go first,and get him around the corner & out of the way, THEN attack the rest of his group.If he is separated from his group, he can’t impress them by being a dickhole.

The Making of Yoda

I myself am making a Yoda puppet; it will be used in our Star Wars costuming group appearances, but mainly for a parade at Christmas time. The friend who commissioned this piece has been superb in sending me reference material, including this gem (although very hard on the eyes) of a website, all about the crafting and manipulation of Yoda for the Star Wars movies:

Nick Maley continues his insights into the creation of the STAR WARS creatures —-the making of Yoda.

Senor Wences.

A Spanish ventriloquist with lightning speed and flawless comedic timing, often having two or even three characters present in his act at once, was born Wenceslao Moreno in 1896 (he died just one day before his 103rd birthday in 1999).

He most famous puppets were Johnny Martin, who was a little puppet body with a derived from Wences’ own bare hand; a comical face was drawn onto the hand with marker and lipstick; and Pedro, a head in a box who came to be as a result of Wences being forced to suddenly invent the character when his regular, full-sized dummy was destroyed during a train accident en route to a performance.

Wences was famous internationally for many years, but truly gained a following in America when he appeared on variety shows such as The Ed Sullivan Show and a memorable appearance on The Muppet Show.

He often built to a big finish in his act with juggling and plate spinning while his characters heckled him from their boxes and cases or from under a table. Wences was able to throw his voice with such speed and agility it was hard to believe he was the only being actually occupying the stage.

Here is one of those Ed Sullivan performances:

Make a Life-Size Jabba the Hutt Puppet!

I’m going to be participating in a Christmas parade again this year with my Star Wars costuming friends, the members of the 501st. We were tossing around a “theme” for our part of the parade (for Atlanta Children’s Healthcare) and it will probably be The Empire Strikes Back,with all of us dressing as characters from that movie, especially since it is the film’s 30th anniversary. A Yoda puppet has been commissioned, I will be making it if all goes well, and performing it, if all goes perfectly.

So in researching making a Yoda puppet, my partner-in-crime,Jason, found this incredible homemade Jabba the Hutt puppet with tutorial. So,I guess, next year, if we have a Return of the Jedi theme I have my work cut out for me. 😀