Monday, August 2, 2010

Diary of a Clown/ Clown Alleys

Clown Alleys/Diary of a clown

Question; where do Clowns go when they’re not in the Circus or at a child’s party or event? Answer; When they’re not out having a regular life, they go to a Clown Alley meeting.

Just about every state has a Clown Alley, not just for existing clowns, but for wanna be Clowns as well. It’s also a great networking opportunity for established clowns for future work. Clown alley meeting’s can include classes on Clown related topics such as Face Painting, Magic, and Balloon Twisting. It’s also a good opportunity for vendors to sell there stuff or a great opportunity to put Clowns in a good light by fundraising for the community.

A few years ago, I was asked to help organize a NY Clown Alley by one of my fellow Clowns. Cidoo the Clown (aka Cyrus) when in regular attire) owns a Shoe store in Queens NY and is also in Charge of patient relations at the same Hospital in Queens NY.

I had contacted just about every clown I knew and got names from them as well as names from the names. It wasn’t long before the NY City Clown Alley was born. Up until that point, NY City didn’t have a Clown Alley. There was one a few years prior, but it ended on a sour note due to the Treasurer not accounting for the dues Money.

Our first Clown alley meeting, took place in the auditorium of the Hospital where Cido worked. Among about 25 people that showed up that evening were Cido, Carri (aka Wiggles the Clown) and her then hyper active 6 year old, Micky aka Winky the Clown who was constantly telling X rated jokes, and Chara aka Chara the Clown; a middle aged intelligent but flighty woman who was the vice president of the last NYC Clown Alley, and of course yours truly aka Polkadots the Clown.

After a bunch of hyper active Clown talk and trying to out talk each other especially the child, we decided to take a vote of officers for the Alley. We all without any hesitation, decided to elect Cido for our President, since all this wouldn’t be possible without him. I made the mistake of electing Chara as Vice President, since she seemed so learned about Clown Alleys and was the VP of the last Clown Alley. I was voted in by Cido as the Secretary, Funny Bones (real name Bob) I think voted in as Treasurer.

The excitement of being voted in as secretary seemed to have worn off after a few meetings. It was a combination of feeling obligated to show up to every meeting in Queens, which was an hour commute from home and being bossed around by Chara the VP) and another clown I’ll call Porky. Chara insisted on looking over the minutes of the last meeting (that I wrote) and always ended up completely changing everything around in order to put herself in a good light. Porky, (can’t remember her real name) had this annoying voice that sounded like a Siren going off. She wanted me to fax her the minutes (I didn’t have a Computer at the time) so she could type everything out in Spanish. I sent it out a few times until she finally received it.There was also talk of her wanting my job as Secretary. Needless to say, I ended up resigning after a few months. The role of Secretary was Thank goodness given to someone else. Some time later, we ended up impeaching Chara, since she was nothing but a Control Freak the whole time she was in Office, never letting anyone do there job and talking over everyone who went behind the podium. I found out later on, that the last Clown Alley had to get an order of protection against her after they voted her out. From what I heard, she wasn’t any better as a Clown. One of the clowns, told me in private, that the one job he sent her out on, the customer called after like 3 hours of her being there, saying they couldn’t get the Clown to leave! Boy….did I make a bad choice or what?!
Funny Bones ended up replacing Chara as VP and another clown named Payoso (Spanish for Clown) something, replaced Funny Bones as Treasurer. A year or so later, his family- home and 2 dogs tragically met there fate in a house fire when he and his wife and kids were out to dinner. We all took up a collection for him and raised a nice sum of money for him to help out with some of his expenses.

Over the years, new members came along and we were written up in Various trade magazines for Clowns. A couple of our Clowns (Cido, the President, for one) took first place in a few contests at “Clown Fest”, a yearly Clown Festival in Seaside heights, NJ where clowns from all over the world participate in various contests and classes. The last year I was with the Alley, we raised a nice sum of money for Hurricane Katrina Victims, by putting on a clown show at the hospital raising a nice sum of money to give to one of the Hospitals in Louisiana. We also would on occasion show up to meetings in our Clown attire and do cheer up visits to the Pediatric Ward, to pay back the Hospital for letting us have the Auditorium for our meetings. During one such visit, a 20 something year old volunteer who had Downs Syndrome, saw us at the Hospital and got so inspired by us and ended up joining the Alley herself. She seemed so determined to be a Clown, that we all kind of chipped in and helped her out with Costumes, Face Paints, Magic…etc. She later on started clowning for the Hospital Geriatric Ward and now is clowning at Birthday Parties.

In the few years I attended the Alley, I learned a few new skills during some of the classes that were taught by Guest speakers, or members themselves. I was asked to teach balloon twisting at one of the meetings.

The greatest benefit I got from the Clown Alley wasn’t even from one of the meetings, but from the result of a mass mailing (via e mail) I got from one of the members. A DVD production Company was looking for a Host or Hostess of a Children’s Party DVD. They were looking for a High energy Clown to Host the DVD, which I and a bunch of other Clowns auditioned for. The DVD Is called “Playtime with Polkadots” and is available on Line at Borders Books and Barns and Nobles. Have you figured out which Clown ended up getting the part? I was pretty flattered since the Alley is the home to a lot of great talent.

Another advantage to having the Clown Alley around was having a list of names you could call on in times of need. For instance, during the last Subway strike, an exchange in jobs was made with the Manhattan Clowns and Clowns in other Boroughs’ who couldn’t get to there jobs because of the strike.
With all of that said, I think you might have figured out what goes on behind the laughter.

Note: Some of the names in this story have been changed to protect the Author.

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