Monthly Archives: September 2010

“that’s epic!”

mother nature was kind to me. perhaps she was making up for the waterfires i had to miss due to thunderstorms at the beginning of the season. it was delightfully warm on saturday. the beautiful weather helped set the tone for my last waterfire of the season, even though my first tipper tried to set a different tone…

– two women. one, who was obviously familiar with living statuary, says “wanna see what she does?” as she drops a dollar into my tip jar. blow a kiss, wave, settle into a new pose. “…oh. they usually do a lot more than that.” listen, lady. being still is the point of the act. the movements are the statue’s way of saying thanks for your donation. i’m not standing still for extended periods of time on this street corner for the purpose of doing some big dance routine when someone gives me a dollar.

+ i’ve taken some of andrew anselmo’s advice. my tip jar is elevated by a hat box, and i marked personal space boundaries with white ducktape. i can’t say if the former has had much of an effect, but the latter did, especially on my ledge. it was useful for me to have a clear “do not cross” line. i’m always concerned about people sitting next to me and grabbing my legs or whatever, but i’m also concerned about accidentally stomping on someone when i switch poses. with my space clearly marked, i only had to gently ask two people to scoot down, and once they saw the line they realized their mistake.

– well, it didn’t work completely. i had an immitator/mocker, as i usually have every waterfire, climb up on my left and strike a pose. i noticed people laughing, so i turned, and i made eye contact with her. she moved to mirror me. so i shoved her off my ledge. she came back to tip me later, which she probably thought would be an acceptable apology, but i wanted to kick her in the teeth.

+ i had quite a crew of unexpected visitors. my mother brought her friend dianne, who i had not seen in… six years? this woman was like a second mother to me. and for most of my post-sunset busking time, the two mothers sat on either side of me, keeping an eye out and discouraging inappropriate behaviour. i think it’s funny that my mother has no idea how much bullshit i deal with every time i busk, nor does she understand that i generally prefer to deal with it myself. anyway, my brother and his friend becky were there, and my friend matt stopped by on his way back to connecticut as well. it was pretty cool to see so many familiar faces. but it also reminded me that the only waterfire wyatt and my bff brian were able to attend this year was the one i did with ten31. sad.

+ this guy reached for my hand, which i flicked toward him. he jumped, had a “HOLY SHIT!” moment, and explained to his laughing friends that he was trying to find out if i was made of rubber or porcelain. teaching people not to touch things that don’t belong to them, one scare at a time.

– a middle-aged woman reached for my hand, and i grabbed her finger. i held onto it and stared at her as she spewed some bullshit about “yea, i know better, i know you’re real, can i have my finger back now?” if you knew better, why would you grab the performer? dumb twat.

+ i saw my #1 fan, who i have not seen since last year. if you’re ever in my waterfire crowd, and you notice a young blonde girl getting an unusual amount of attention from me, it’s because she’s ridiculously adorable. i kneel down to give her hugs and kiss her forehead. her smile melts my heart.

+ adorable animal moment: a little girl came up to me with a rat on her shoulder. love it! i tried to say hi and pet it, but the rat was not terribly interested in being friends with the statue. s’okay. i still love it anyway.

+ during my last break of the night, another little girl, who had tipped me earlier, silently walked up to me with a big smile and handed me a red carnation. i thanked her and kissed her forehead. she never said a word. she just smiled. aww!

+ when i got home and dumped the night’s earnings on my living room floor to count it out, i found a piece of paper. ” you are a good performer and i sense a strong, good heart inside you”.

and on that note, i will say thank you all for a lovely waterfire season, and i’m already counting down the days until spring. i definitely won’t be busking at the october 9th waterfire. but if you see a blue-haired girl with a bunch of scarves dangling from her waist, say hello!

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the end of the busking season draws near.

the waterfire schedule has been somewhat sparse over the last couple of years, due to the economy and lack of funds. it saddens me that, as i feel like i’ve really settled into my art and i’m finally starting to do it right, my favorite busking opportunities are becoming few and far between. but, i’m cherishing every moment, good or bad. looks like my last waterfire will be on the 25th, if i can acquire some warmer clothing by then.

– new england’s transitions from summer to autumn are way too drastic and abrupt. it was so cold! i had on all the layers i could squeeze in without destroying the sleek look of lily. i would’ve tried to put in another hour if my joints weren’t frozen and locking up painfully.

+ i got some serious love from the sweetest beagle puppy in the universe. the owners handed him to me to hold for a photo, and he gave me lots of puppy kisses. cuteness overload. it was impossible to be annoyed that he licked my chin and i had to get down to fix my makeup when the family left.

+ i held a baby, and for the first time ever, it did not result in a crying fit! sometimes it’s okay to touch them while mommy or daddy hold them, but i’ve never been able to actually hold a baby without them being very unhappy about it. not only was this little tyke not afraid of me, he kept trying to grab my face and wig. adorable.

– some particularly persistent teenage douchebags were really pushing their luck. you say something stupid, reach out to grab me, i move to block it, and you’re still going to threaten to touch me? really? probably the same kinds of kids who think it’s funny to poke an injured and dying animal with a stick and watch it get pissed off. you keep on prodding. eventually you’ll get bit.

+ generally, though, there was lots of love from teenagers. there were a couple groups that kept coming up to get their photo taken with me over and over again. it’s nice to be reminded that highschool kids aren’t always disrespectful dingbats.

– it’s amazing how many people put their money in the box that holds my business cards. let’s think about this for a moment. directly in front of me is a big white vase with a dollar bill taped to the front of it. the vase is elevated by a hat box that holds my makeup, drink, etc. the whole thing put together stands twenty-five inches tall. the box that holds my business cards, which sits on the ground, is… one inch tall. anyone who stands in my audience and watches me for five minutes will likely see between two and ten people drop money into the big white vase with the dollar bill taped to the front of it. so, gee, i wonder where you should put your dollar?

-/+ my brother came to keep me company, and he actually had to act as my guard dog for the first time [that i’ve witnessed, anyway]. this guy got all up in my face repeatedly saying something to the effect of “are you a mannequin?” my darling brother, who is about a third the size of this guy, walked right up and convinced him to leave in a way that almost made me break into a gigglefit.

brother: go.
douchebag: where?
brother: away.
douchebag: why?
brother: because!

the guy walked away without saying another word. brilliant.

+ training the next generation of living statues.


busking at waterfire tomorrow. 5:00ish to 10:00ish.

99% chance this will be my last waterfire of the season. let’s make it a good one! hopefully i won’t freeze my little statue ass off.


hey, i’m on television!

in may, i was filmed for a canton community tv show. i talk about my experience as a street performer while applying makeup, then i head out to downtown plymouth to busk for the first time since october.

my statue muscles were out of shape after a long winter, i didn’t apply my makeup as well as i normally do, and i’m always a nervous wreck speaking in front of a camera. but overall, i’m very happy with the way this whole thing turned out.


how to look like a statue.

the ability to stand mystifyingly still is, obviously, important. but overall image is very important when you’re a living statue. your costuming and makeup can determine the number/kinds of people drawn to you, and subsequently determine your success as a busker.

first, you need to decide what you want to be. a realistic statue? a mannequin? a doll? a non-human creature? whatever kind of character you choose, really take the time to think about how you’d like the finished product to look. be mindful of how appealing your character will be to the general public. will small children be more likely to see you as a fairytale, or a nightmare? will you only appeal to people of a specific subculture? are you trying to make some kind of political or social statement that will offend more than half of the people who see you? you should be excited about your performance, but if you’re trying to actually make money, you should also try to create a performance that people of any age and lifestyle can be excited about, too.

now you need a costume. i’m a busker with a very limited budget for costuming, and i have no real sewing skills to speak of, so i have learned to be resourceful. thrift stores, department stores, ebay, etsy, amazon… it’s possible to find the perfect garment at an affordable price if you’re not in a rush. always be on the lookout. i’ve stumbled upon awesome costume pieces while shopping for other things, or just killing time browsing through stores i wouldn’t normally walk into. i have also spraypainted clothing to achieve the right color. this can be tricky or downright frustrating, depending on the fabric type and how well it holds the paint. also keep in mind that spraypainted clothing is stiff and easily creased, and it may not fit the same way or be as comfortable as when you first tried it on, pre-painting.

what about your hair? depending on your chosen character and costume, you may need to cover or temporarily change the color of your hair. hats, head wraps, and wigs are the easiest solutions. you can also use spray-in temporary color, or liquid makeup that’s designed to be used on hair. spray colors require a lot of shampoo to remove. liquid makeup works best on hair that is styled tight against the head, and any styling products you use should be completely dry before you start painting.

important costuming tip: try to cover as much skin as you possibly can! the less skin you have to cover with makeup, the less prep work you’ll have to do, and the less stressful your busking experience will be. but be conscious of the weather. too many substantial layers on a hot summer day will lead to overheating, sweating, makeup melting, and general unpleasantness.

and on the subject of makeup… unless you have experience doing theatrical makeup, this may require some practice. there will be some trial and error. some products may work better with your skin type than others. if you’re going for a realistic statue that is not a straightforward white or metallic, you may need to do multiple experiment sessions mixing and layering various products to get the look you want. note: any makeup can be rubbed off easily by clothing/accessories. try to keep the line where your clothing ends and your makeup begins away from body parts with lots of motion [wrists, elbows, shoulder area, neck, etc].

i have always bought my makeup from mehron [ http://www.mehron.com ]. most costume/party/halloween shops carry some mehron products. i’ll go through the list of products i’ve used over the years.

products that have not worked out for me:

– greasepaint / clown white : this provides okay coverage on my face, with a powder dusted on post-application to set it, but i always had trouble getting decent coverage on my neck and chest. it’s also a royal pain in the ass to clean off, and my troubled skin didn’t appreciate any of it.

– fantasy f-x : my experiences with the white/grey shades have been terrible. this stuff tends to flake off as soon as it dries. i do not recommend using the light colors for any significant coverage. i have never noticed the flaking issue with the dark colors, though, and have no complaints about the black/browns.

– hyper-formance creamblend : no. just, no. you’ll go through this fast trying to cover large areas of skin. it doesn’t really ever dry, so even if you set it with a powder, it’ll rub off pretty easily.

– starblend : this is wonderful as a setting powder, but i didn’t have the best of luck using it solo. it’s a dry powder that has to be applied with a damp brush or sponge. darker colors are easier to work with than lighter colors if you’re aiming for a solid finish. works fine for certain skin types, and a certain level of patience. but i decided it just wasn’t the best makeup for me after trying to work with it for a couple of years. getting consistent and opaque coverage with the white was too much of a chore for me.

products that i absolutely swear by:

+ metallic powder : amazing. it’s a loose powder that you can apply effortlessly with a brush, sponge, or your bare hands. a little goes a very long way. a word of warning, though: the gold, copper, and bronze will oxidize on your skin. these colors are not recommended for use in hot sweaty weather. you’ll end up looking like some sort of swamp creature.

+ paradise : this moist cake is a little tricky, but when you get it right, it’s fabulous. apply a thick coat with a lightly dampened soft foundation brush or sea sponge. allow to dry about 75%, then gently press some loose starblend on top of the paradise. the result should be consistent, opaque coverage. if you get this makeup wet after it’s dry and set, it will be a pain in the ass to fix. approach with caution.

no matter what kind of statuesque entity you’re going to be, put in the effort to be awesome! make sure your look is cohesive and as polished as you can possibly manage. this is not the time to do anything half-assed. remember, you’re creating an illusion. you’re creating magic.


the city is frightening after dark.

waterfire. first and second hour were splendid. third and fourth were, with a few exceptions, a little stressful.

+ a wonderful photographer, who i have connected with via flickr [i do ego searches often and favorite every photo of me that i find], took some lovely photos and said some wonderful things in their flickr descriptions. he even managed to capture an adorable moment i had with a baby. the tiny ones are usually terrified of me, if they even notice me at all. but this one was utterly entranced.

check out the rest at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/papadunes

+/- these two kids decided to do their own little zombie walk thing at waterfire. while i am not at all a fan of zombies and don’t really understand the popular fascination with them, i do appreciate people doing weird things in public. however, i do not appreciate them hovering over my tip jar for a few minutes and, uh, groaning at it. could y’all maybe not scare off the people who were admiring the pretty statue? thanks.

+ comedy moment: this group stopped to admire and tip, and as they were leaving, some of them started walking to my right, and some of them started walking to my left. then there was a bit of a debate about how to get to their destination. one of the gentlemen turned to me and asked, “which way should we go?” i crossed my arms and pointed in both directions. he laughed. my immitation of the scarecrow from the wizard of oz was appreciated.

+ some waterfire first-timers told me that i was their absolute favorite thing about waterfire. aw, shucks.

+ another little girl fell in love with me. i love watching the process, from the moment they first notice me, to the moment when they figure it out and bring their family members over one by one to show them the magical statue that moves, to the fifth time they stop by over the course of the evening just to watch me and give me yet another dollar. she was the sweetest thing, and i hope i see her at future waterfires.

– after dark, the crowds started getting kind of… stupid. people hovering over and blocking my tip jar. people dropping money into the tiny box that holds my business cards, because the tall white vase with the dollar bill taped to the front of it wasn’t obvious enough apparently. people grabbing me [some of which i very successfully grabbed back] and climbing up into my ledge uninvited. someone tossed a pebble or something at me, but it came from behind so i didn’t see who did it. there was a lot of “i will kill you if you don’t stop being an asshole” glaring going on.

– this one family in particular was tremendously annoying. it started with dad wanting a picture with me. cool. except that daughter #1 only had a cellphone, and its camera did not come with a flash. it was too dark to capture even a hint of the desired image. after a few attempts, dad suggests daughter #1 goes and finds daughter #2 and tries using her cellphone. repeat numerous failed attempts. so, basically, all they’re doing is blocking my tip jar and preventing other people from getting their photos taken with me. it was the most selfish and inconsiderate display i’ve seen in a long time. they came over to compliment me at the end of the night, and i don’t even remember most of what they said because i was so irritated.

– on the subject of the end of the night, as i emptied out the tip jar and talked to a friend who showed up unexpectedly [just when i needed to see a friendly face, too], this guy was standing about three feet away from me, taking a picture with his cellphone. i snapped. i put my hand up and said “is it really that hard to ask before you take a picture of me?” i don’t mind posing for a quick photo at all when i’m off-duty. just ask. and most people do have the decency to ask. but people like that guy make me sympathize with celebrities dealing with fans and paparazzi getting all up in their faces taking pictures all the time.

+ the mother of some adorable girls i’d seen earlier was talking to me, and the whole time i thought, wow, this woman looks oddly familiar. then she said something that set off the memory lightbulb. her daughter dressed up as me for halloween last year. is that not the coolest thing ever?! i’ve had lots of parents tell me that their daughters constantly practice being a living statue so they can be just like me. but this little girl took it a step further, and it’s the most amazing compliment my art has ever received.