Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Performer Spotlight

i’ve decided to start a series of blogs spotlighting performers who have had a particular impact on my life. my own performance heroes, for one reason or another. it is going to take a while. like many endeavors upon which i embark, it will probably never be complete. nonetheless, it is a worthy cause. each person mentioned will, of course, deserve more from me than some little mention on a personal blog site that very few people actually bother to read, but it’s my way of saying thanks. thanks for being awesome in my eyes and for being you.

Performer Spotlight 1 - Sora Sol

Heather “Sora Sol” Iriye is my hero and one of my favorite people in the world. she is Aerialist, Dancer, Artist. Sora practices her art with ferocious dedication, strong-willed determination and impassioned self-critique. her routines are the movement-based manifestation of her passion for life and all the contents of her heart. she demands perfection of herself, almost to a fault. yet she approaches every other person and situation with tolerance, compassion and love. she is a constant reminder that i should strive to do so as well.

a few years ago, i had the honor of sharing a stage with Sora in a show that we produced together and it remains to be one of my favorite performance experiences ever. when the time is right, i know we will do so again and every fiber of my existence is looking forward to that day.

go to her website, watch her videos, go to her shows. if you have the good fortune, spend some time with and get to know her--your life will be better for it.

Sora Sol, thanks for being you.

Friday, January 14, 2011

addicted to crack... whips. terrible, i know, and of course i mean the pun. anyway, a few months ago i commissioned a matched set of two 4-foot red and black nylon bullwhips (seen below) from Steven Susanka at Metro Whips. his work is awesome; go to his website; spend money there. these are now my favorite whips to use. i got shorter ones so i could use them in a tighter street setting and have been meaning to put them in the show for a while now. finally, in the last show i did on this past new year’s eve, i whipped ‘em out and went at it (so to speak). with no prepared schtick and just the desire to do something out of routine for my last show of the year, i showed the crowd what i’ve been practicing, ending with a simplified version of the Queensland Crossover (think crazy, cross-handed flailing and lots of cracks). i had fun and the crowd seemed to dig it, too. good way to end the year.

whips have fascinated me for as long as i can remember and i SO enjoy playing with them. been starting to get the 2-handed volley and i’m rather excited about that. don’t know what that is? here’s a link to my newest hero, Adam Winrich, explaining the volley. he is a whip god.

so, if you catch the show sometime this year, look for whips to play a bigger role. yeah, they hurt, but i kinda like it. wink wink, nudge nudge...

Thursday, October 7, 2010

marco! photo!

this past August, while I was performing on the 17th Street Stage in Virginia Beach, this guy stopped by my show and took some cool photos. his name is Marco and he has one of my favorite business cards ever. you're going to have to go meet him to see it, but here are some of the shots he took. please check out his professional photography sites here:

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


after taking over 7 months to write a blog, i knew i either needed to come back with something monumentally important or ridiculously trivial. the "important" thing was way too much pressure. so, here's the triviality:

this picture is of a test. first, a little context. i went to see Zach Deputy play some astonishingly good music at Doc Taylor's Cafe in Virginia Beach last week. he really deserves his own blog entry, but he's probably not going to get one here. just go see him, be amazed and dance to the phat groove.

when i stepped into the men's room to "shake hands with the senator," i saw this: a soaking wet dollar bill on top of the urinal. you may not recognize it as such, but this is a test. sure, it may have accidentally fallen there, but i believe it was placed there as a question to any who would step up to the porcelain princess that night. the question, of course, being "how much is a dollar worth to you?" it is soaking wet, but there is no way to tell if it is just water or otherwise. your primary nature upon seeing the dollar is to get excited that you found it and then pick it up. the hesitation comes with the location and circumstance. do you just walk away and leave it like a decent human being or do you give in to the greed and hope that it is just water, or, failing that, hope that you are able to wash the bill and your hands to a convincible level of clean? rough call for some. times are tough. had it been a fiver, i think it would have already been gone. but there it was, a simple test for any man who passed through the pisser.

i won't say whether i took it, but i will say this: thank god they stocked the soap.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

practice space

it is the bane of the existence of every juggler. the constant question in the appraising look in our eyes as we turn them upward, at the ceiling of every room. the impassioned longing that fills us at the sight of a warehouse, church or gymnasium. it is the marks on the walls, the dents in the furniture, the broken chandelier. it is the desire, it is the NEED, for practice space.

my apartment has a 7-foot 9-inch ceiling. my soul dies a little every day. i have a gym membership down the street, but let's face it--there are just some things i cannot practice in front of the conservative suburbanite crowd at the Painesville YMCA. in fact there are some stunts, like the one in the video below, for which i might just get arrested.

regardless, we sally forth, determined to hone our skills by whatever means necessary. after all, one never knows when one might be called upon to entertain a group in the most inconvenient space possible. one must be prepared for the structure of an inconsiderate architect who never bothered to plan for a juggling show. thus, the video. i offer it as a treat to you, the dear fans of the Bonko Blog; a glimpse at the new trick on which i've been working.

a few answers:
-yes, it is my living room.
-yes, it is astoundingly more difficult to do while kneeling.
-yes, they are sharp. very, very sharp.
-yes, this is how i spent my christmas.


music is "Nothing is Something Worth Doing" by Shpongle.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

here we go steelers...

"didn't you grow up in Cleveland?"


"then why are you a Steelers fan?"

good question. actually, I was born in Allentown, PA, and the Steelers were my team before my family moved to Cleveland when I was 5 years old.

"but that's eastern PA, shouldn't you be an Eagles fan?"

funny story...

I've been dealing with these questions for as long as I can remember. I myself have often wondered how I became a Steelers fan (Dad likes the Packers and Mom roots for the Browns) Then, one day, my older Brother recounted the story to me (I was too young when it happened to remember), just as I'm now recounting it for you. Enjoy:

It was January 20th, 1980, and I was just under 3 years old. The Pittsburgh Steelers (defending champs) were playing the Los Angeles Rams for the Superbowl title. Gathered at my parents' house were a collection of their friends who had come over to watch the game. Living in eastern PA, many of them were Philadelphia fans and they had given my brother and I matching Eagles jackets in an effort to bend us toward the dark side. Apparently, when Pittsburgh won 31 to 19, I took off the jacket, threw it to the ground and declared to all assembled that I was a Steelers fan. And so it has been ever since. Even at such a young age, I knew a winner when I saw one.

At the age of 5, my family moved to Cleveland so my Dad could attend podiatry school here and my allegiance came with me. My Mom took up an affinity for the Browns and we've bet on nearly every game the two teams have played since. In 1987 we went to a game at the old stadium and I was on the news for being a little kid who was stupid/crazy/ballzy enough to wear black and yellow in a sea of brown and orange--folks kept threatening to throw me into the dawg-pound. In grade school I caught no end of crap for wearing Steelers garb on special "Browns dress down days" in the late 80's when Cleveland was reeling in the Kosar years. I've been yelled at, threatened, hit, shunned and hated all for staying loyal. Of course, this city's football record doesn't really offer much to induce traitorous thoughts, but that's another story.

See, the Steelers are my team, but Cleveland is my city.

I've now lived in the Cleveland area for almost 85% of my life, and regardless of my football team, it is my city. I grew up here. I'm hard pressed to find a building downtown in which I haven't worked or a parking lot where I haven't changed outfits for a gig. I've lived through the surrounding passions and let-downs of every major sports team being almost good enough. I know where to find free parking. I know which exit to take. I live on the east side, but I'll still drink on the west side. I understand how unusual that last sentence is. I know the people throwing the parties and I know the sound techs, too. I'll easily navigate University Circle. I'll get to Coventry faster than you. I'll tell you at any time how close you are to a Subway or Chipotle. I live in the 440, but I am always 216. I partied in the Flats. I've danced in the Warehouse. I've drank in the dives. I've skied in the lake. I've watched some of the most beautiful sunsets in the world from illegal rooftops. I've lived in East Cleveland and been a guest in Bratenahl. I know this town probably better than you. And so I, still a Steelers fan, even want the Browns to be good again, because it means so much to the people around me, with whom I have grown, lived, laughed and loved.

And I congratulate you on your win last week.

Enjoy it, cause we're gonna kick your ass next year. Twice.

Monday, December 7, 2009

movie madness

There is a Blockbuster about a mile from my house. I love to watch movies and don't have the patience to wait for them in the mail, so I love this fact. Especially since I know of many other Blockbuster locations that have closed down because of heavy competition from internet-based sites. Recently, while on a familiar stroll down the "new release" aisle, looking for any movie that might promise a few good laughs or even some rockin fight sequences, I came across a section of...books. Yes, books--slipped in between the C's and the D's. I actually had to stop and look around to see if anyone was laughing at what could only be some kind of crazy joke. When I noticed that no one was even looking in my direction (not even the cute girl behind the counter--damn), I decided that they were serious about this. Thing is, they were not even movie-related books. I could certainly understand trying to cross market the Twilight series, but that was not the case.

Now, I consider myself a pretty avid reader, but I am not so naive to think that anything in which I am interested is good for business.

So there I stood, dumbfounded, asking myself, "Is this Blockbuster's big plan for boosting sales in the wake of Netflix and Red Box? Books? Don't they know that all the book stores now sell movies so they can stay open?"

Well, I wish Blockbuster the best of luck. I'm going to miss them when they're gone.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

feeling dumb?

well, a new study recently showed that learning how to juggle helps develop both grey and white matter in the brain, which essentially makes you smarter, more physically adept and accurate, and puts you one step closer to being a super-hero. check the article here. juggling also helps you develop hand-eye coordination, earn money on the street in tough financial times, relieve stress, have fun and become much more attractive to awesome people. really, it's true. and anyone can do it. yes, even you. but, you need a good teacher.

funny you should mention it. as a matter of fact, yes, i am teaching a "how to juggle" class this Tuesday, December 1st, at the Jasmine Dragons at 111 Main St., Chardon, OH. there will be a 7:30pm beginner class and an 8:30pm experienced class for those who can juggle but want to learn more. call 440-286-5153 to reserve a spot in the class. if you are thinking about it, please call and make a free reservation (just leave a message if no one picks up).

otherwise, have a wonderful Thanksgiving and I hope to see you on Tuesday!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

saturday in awesome-town

because nothing says, "i'm a hip, cool, suave world-traveller" like "i'm going to pittsburgh for a juggling convention." might as well don a Star Trek uniform and fanny-pack while i'm at it.

regardless, this saturday (nov. 14th) i will be at the Not Quite Pittsburgh Juggling Festival in Sewickley, PA. i'll be teaching a Devil Stick workshop at noon and performing in the public show at 7:30pm. fest is free, show is $2. looks like there will be some other good workshops, vendors, games and lots of juggling. if you're into object manipulation of any kind and are in the area, you should definitely go. if you've always wanted to learn how to juggle, this is a good time. look for people walking around wearing a star--they have agreed to teach people to juggle. just ask. or, if you would just like to observe what happens when members of this uber-dork community congregate in a middle-school gym, this is your lucky day. come on down, it'll be fun.