Sunday, August 31, 2008

Restaurant Work

I was really worried about not being able to remember everything I wanted to add to my blog, so I pulled out my ancient tape recorder and decided to throw it in the car with me to gigs. Now I can talk about how the gig went and different things I want to remember so that I can put them into my blog for you guys.

This Blog contains two gigs. The first is an Ihop gig and the second is a gig at a mexican restaurant called Los Vallartas. I have never worked at either one of these places before. So, each experience was a new one.

Each of these sections is written after the fact and focuses on the things that stuck out most to me after finishing the gig.

Ihop 80
Saturday Aug. 30th 9 am-1 pm

A Fighting Chance

The table that stuck out most to me at this gig was one that I did not make a balloon for. In fact, they called me over and handed me money as the said, "We want to tip you, but we want you to know why. You make awesome stuff and all, but this tip is because you make the children smile and that is something that we appreciate."

Yeah, so I can't explain how happy that made me feel. I love making children happy and it is a great blessing to have someone realize that you are more than just a balloon artist sometimes.

I gave them a business card and thanked them. It was at this time that I was asking questions and found out that they had a prematurely born baby in the hospital. They told me that when she was born she weighed only a pound and after 15-30 days later (I don't remember exactly) she now weighs 2 pounds. So, as you can imagine, they have been through some ups and downs.

It turns out that the husband was an ex UFC fighter and plans on opening a Brazilian style Martial Arts school. So, I made sure I told him to give me a call when that happens. That's something I'm interested in and it never hurts to know someone else that is a master in their field.

Learning that totally explained how she was fighting so hard to live. It's in her blood. I don't see how it could be any other way.

So, at one table today I got a tip based on the fact I make people smile, I learned about a very special little girl, and I might even have a contact for when I want to get back into the martial arts stuff. You never know who you are going to meet, who you're going to influence, nor who will influence you.

Narcotics Anonymous

The second table that sticks out in my mind is actually one of the first tables I went to. It was a group of about 20 adults and they had to be the coolest people I'd ever met.

As always, I like to ask questions about people so that I can more specifically address them as an audience. In my questioning, I found out that they were all members of NA (Narcotics Anonymous) and that there was a Birthday at the table as well.

I had a blast! I got to make a crazy balloon hat for the birthday boy, I made a lady a dragon hat, another guy an alien, and then for the last balloon I made an elephant hat. (Thanks Tawney!)

And, because of that table, I was able to make a dolphin hat, an alien giraffe, and a vacuum cleaner hat at the table next to them. So, that was awesome!

Pretty Picky Princess

At one table I was asked for, "A pink horse with purple hooves, a gold unicorn, blue wings, orange mane and tail, and a stick to hold it on."

haha, and yes. I made it.
Then, going to the sister...

Yup! She wanted the same thing.

So, moral of the story is:
Rich Picky Princesses don't

Los Vallartas 140
Saturday, August 30th 5pm-9pm

A Crazy Hat!

Old Friends

I ran into some parents of an old high school friend. So, that was pretty cool. It was nice getting to stop and talk to them after a long while.

When I first saw them, I didn't completely recognize who they were, but I knew that they'd driven me home from school on a number of occasions. I just couldn't place why.

Yeah... We all agreed that I'm starting to get old. *tear*

Of Ropes and Chains and Balloons

So, I ran into another interesting group of people tonight. Everyone at the table was a member of some type of kinky bondage fan club. So, one girl asked for a hat and I made it a point to "attach" her pigtails to it. She wore a shirt with handcuffs on it, so I made a hat with "Haircuffs." She seemed to like it and the rest of the table LOVED it.

They were all begging for cards and wanted to know if I could do balloons that would suit their events. So, I showed them a picture or two of Ms. Tawney Bubble's midnight class from Diamond Jam and they were totally excited about hiring me to work a number of their events. So, hopefully that will work out. It sounds like a lot of fun.

Los Globos International

Yeah... I got to practice some Spanish at the tables today. So, that was pretty awesome. In fact, I was privileged enough to twist for one of the owner's friends today as well. I didn't make anything too fancy, but they tipped a good $10. So, I can't complain at all.

And speaking of languages... I was able to show off to a few Russian families that came in as well. I haven't really learned anything new. (I was taught new stuff, but can't remember it.) However, my "hello, how are you?" and my "Good afternoon" went over really well in Russian.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Keri Andrews Chronicles

king crown by me
Hello people! My name is Keri Andrews, and I'm a balloon addict.

"Hi Keri."

Yeah, so Jonathan asked me to contribute occasionally to his blog, seeing as how I've been doing this for 9 months and I need all the help I can get! I'm going to post occasionally about my experiences as an entertainer, in restaurants, busking with a line, and at parties. It should be fun! (I should probably mention that I'm the person in the pictures a few posts ago...)

So here we go! Post number 1!

OK, so I took Jonathan's busking classes at Diamond Jam, right? Well I have some notes from the class that I didn't really go over until recently. After having a somewhat crappy few days of tips, I decided that I was going to actually USE some of the info, primarily the approaches. (That's what you say to a table to get them to take a balloon.) Normally I get about 75% of people to say yes, they would like a balloon. Then about 10% of those don't tip. That's just how it's always been.

So then I take the information I got from Jonathan's class and put it into use...

I didn't get ONE "no"! Not one! In four hours!


Not only that, but I got more than half of my tips in $5 bills. I ended up making way more than I make at any other restaurant, and I handed out TONS of cards! I'm so excited!

So there you have it. Jonathan Fudge = restaurant balloon teacher extraordinaire!

And he didn't even have to pay me to say it. :)

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Getting Back into the Stretch of Things

So, I've just moved back to Tampa, FL where I'll be balloonin for a while.

I drove in from Houston, TX on Tuesday morning and have yet to unpack the entirety of my vehicle.

So, that means all of my balloons are still packed in my trunk and I haven't done much of anything as far as sorting them again. I very much think I'm going to throw a balloon sorting party with all my friends. I've always found that turning work into fun makes it a lot easier on everyone.

The only problem is that I start working tomorrow night. So, party or not, I'll need to get everything done. So, wish me luck! I'll need all the help I can get motivating myself to go through all those bags again.

On a more positive note though, I'll be updating my blog again on a regular basis. So, be looking out for my new posts. Due to some recent requests, I'll be adding in more personal stories from tables I visit at night. I believe I was asked to write more on the entertaining aspect of things. So, I'm going to attempt that.

If anyone else has comments or suggestions, let me know. I love the feedback!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Diamond Jam 2008 1/2

Okay, so I haven't been able to post since Diamond Jam. It is late, so I'm going to write what I remember and then post pictures later on. Please excuse the lack of detail. It is VERY late and I don't know that I'll be able to get much out of my head right now.

First off, I was an instructor for Diamond Jam which made me very stressed most of the week. I wanted to make sure that every class I taught had massive amounts of information. So, I constantly went over my notes to ensure that I remembered everything for the classes.

The classes I taught were entitled:
Balloon Busking 101
Balloon Busking 102
Restaurant Entertainment: Beyond the Balloons

And as far as I could tell, everyone enjoyed the classes and I know everyone walked away with something they didn't have before the class started. So, that made me happy and all the extra work and stress was well worth it knowing that I was able to help others make money doing what they love to do.
The following are a few pictures of Diamond jam after I stopped stressing over my classes:

S and the Rockettes!

Me being a SCARED Princess!
Of Course, I can't leave out my favorite picture... The Scary wall!Yeah, I finally broke down and enterted a competition. Yay for Love potion number 7!

Balloon Camp was after Diamond Jam and I totally skipped out on most of it so that I could relax a little bit and calm myself down after Diamond Jam was over.

At balloon Camp I got to work with some AMAZING people and learned a lot about the decor side of things. So, that was really cool. I pretty much mastered the Tak weave after making 2 8 foot long sections for one of the decor pieces. So, that was nice.

And as an added bonus, I was able to room with Robbie Furman for a bit too. So, I learned quite a bit about him. And as always, it was great getting to know another artist and businessman within the industry.

During my excursions, I was able to meet The Amazing Johnathan and Psychic Tonya. That was awesome.

I also was able to watch and learn from another great artist while I was in Vegas. (Thanks Keri!!)

(Alysa and Keri - My Entertainment!)

And lucky me almost got kicked out of my hotel for making balloons in the lobby. So, that was exciting. Always have to enjoy a story that includes a cop or two!

And, to top off my entire week, I mis-scheduled my flight and ended up staying an extra night, costing me about $250 more than it should have. (Ouch!)

At least the cab driver was really cool...

Saturday, August 9, 2008

The Kaizen Method

This was sent to me by Jimmy Leo today. Kaizen is a Japanese philosophy that resonates with my own personal philosophy of constant improvement. Due to that and the fact that I will be venturing to Japan in the coming months, I wanted to share it with you.

The Kaizen Method
The Kaizen Method focuses on small seemingly insignificant improvements that result in continuous and never ending improvement of life and work.
It is the ability to notice even very small improvements in ourselves and in others.

"Little by little, bit by bit, I'm improving each day"

This applies to every aspect of our lives.
As an entertainer, I am always looking to improve my show, my lines, the timing of a joke, and even my balloon sculptures themselves.

How do you eat an elephant?
-One bite at a time.

The same aplies here.

There was a poster on the front of my high school history classroom that means a lot to me. It was a picture of the great wall of China. Below it was written,

"A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step."

You are on a journey. Are you taking the route of improvement or are you taking the route of chaos and deterioration?

Take a bunch of little steps every day and eventually you will be able to look back on your life and you will see how so many little things can lead to such great success.

Writing to you from the heart,
Writing one post at a time,
Toward the goal,

Jonathan Fudge
Your Balloon Man

Friday, August 8, 2008

Diamond Jam 2008.5 in Las Vegas

I have not been posting recently because I have been preparing my materials for my classes at DiamondJam this year.

The classes I will be teaching are as follows:

Balloon Busking 101
This class will cover the basics of balloon busking for line work, restaurants, and street shows. The differences will be discussed and different methods of increasing income will be discussed as well. This class should have something useful for everyone. It will include points on developing a line, crowd control, keeping a line, entertaining everyone, and passing the hat.

Balloon Busking 102
This class discusses the application of the knowledge gained in Balloon Busking 101. The focus will be more on paid gigs, such as restaurants and events and will show the benefit of a balloon busking approach. This class will teach how to twist fewer balloons and make more money. This is a crash course in balloon entertainment.

Retaurant Entertainment: Beyond Balloons
This class will cover a multitude of scenarios that may occur in a restaurant while twisting. It will specifically focus on ways to keep a restaurant and how to increase your value over a period of time. Additionally, it will include a set of lecture notes and free consulting for 6 months. If there is additional time, we will also be covering different ideas for "Balloon Flair" that can be done either in a restaurant or at an event, which, will entertain and amuse the guests.

And in the spirit of sharing, here is an excerpt from one of my classes:

Crowd Control: (lines/general)
The first thing you must understand before you work on crowd control is that you are in control. As the performer, it is your job to take over the audience and the crowds, making it clear to them you are in control of the situation. There are bunches of ways to do this, but I will share with you what I’ve found to be the easiest methods for keeping a group following your lead.

1. Let your audience know what to expect ahead of time. Don’t give them any surprises and let them know how they should react to what you’re going to do.

2. Give verbal and non-verbal cues. Be loud or quiet, stand the way you want them to stand, or even show them how you don’t want them to act.

3. Catch small problems early so that you don’t have to ever worry about the bigger issues.

4. If someone begins to disrupt, begin twisting near them so that everyone looks their way. You won’t have to say anything to them most of the time. Just the added attention their direction is usually enough to deter them from misbehaving.

5. Keep it fresh! If you are constantly adding new things or changing it up, you can keep your line entertained and focused on you. This also helps you stay in control because no on in line ever really knows where you are or where you are going.


I then go on to speak about specific issues one may encounter while entertaining a crowd and suggest ways one may wish to handle the situation.

If you would like to know more, feel free to email me.

Jonathan Fudge
Your Balloon Man

Sunday, August 3, 2008


That's Right!! I'm going to Japan!!

I have an all expences paid trip to Japan so that I can make balloons for some folks on a military base. And on top of that, I'll be able to crash and stay with some friends that are there for anywhere from 2 weeks to a year.

Though I know I should probably not stay there for a year, I'm very much debating it because it is a GREAT, once in a lifetime opertunity. I love the Japanese culture and I'd love to learn the language.

Once I entertain at the events they already have me set up to do, I can also work on the base at the restaurants and at parties and events to make some extra cash on the side. I'm very interested in seeing if I can support myself in a foreign country.

It's crazy how a life unfolds.
Some are taken quickly, some are sent in circles, and some grow to such heights that even they don't believe it.

I very much believe I am one of the few that is soaring to great heights and I cannot be thankful enough for it. I am so blessed beyond measure that I was litterally left speechless tonight when I was told my trip was completely paid for.

Oh, and did I mention that it's been my dream to always go to Japan?

Yeah... I'm fulfulling one of my childhood dreams. This year!