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.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

mum's the word

So I was contacted by James Harris at H/L Communications because he was looking for buskers (performers who do their thing and pass the hat for pay) for an event this Saturday (more on that below) and to start doing events in the area to make busking more understood, accepted and even welcomed in the city of Cleveland. Awesome--I'm in.

Which leads us to tonight's word (yes, I watch a lot of Colbert): Mum's the Word. This Saturday from 1-4pm (I'll be performing 1-3pm) there is a FREE event to celebrate the opening of the Rockefeller Park Greenhouse's beautiful indoor chrysanthemum exhibit. There will be children's activities such as face-painting, mask-making and potting of winter-flowering bulbs. Also, local buskers will be performing juggling, magic, music and dance. Though the event is FREE, be sure to bring some cash so you can tell the performers how much you appreciate the entertainment they provide.

Plus, you can enjoy the beauty of the gardens and lush plant life. For more info, click on the flyer below, or go to the Rockefeller Park Greenhouse's website:

Thursday, October 29, 2009

a more perfect union

i saw a sign on the road yesterday that said "Slow Construction Area." and it made me wonder, has anyone ever seen a "fast construction area?" or even an "accomplished-in-what-seems-like-a-fairly-reasonable-amount-of-time construction area?" no. road construction is always slow. stupid redundant sign. grrrr.

Friday, October 23, 2009


i couldn't help it. it looked so beautiful. so tight and sleek. a creation of beauty. and i've wanted a true leather one for so long. wow, so long. probably since i was a little kid and saw Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the lost Ark at the drive in when it came out. sure, the snake scenes scared me, but damn, Indy was so cool. and that whip...

"i've given it some thought and i'm in. go ahead and make it" is what i told Louie Foxx, when he offered to braid me up a sweet 6-ft. kangaroo-hide bullwhip at a great price. i had been looking over his website,, reading the reviews of ecstatic customers, drooling over the fine craftsmanship and reading the words of a man who is obviously passionate about his work. he showed me a picture of the whiskey-colored hide he would make it from and i couldn't help it. i caved like a little boy in a man's body who had enough in his account to cover the cost of the toy he's always wanted and could justify it as a tax write-off. (i love my job)

so the really cool part is that over the process of making the whip, Louie took pictures and posted twitter updates and i could see it being built--knowing it was being made for me. so friggin cool! go to his website and check out the entries for Oct. 23, 2009, about the 6-ft 12-plait bullwhip. really, go now!

and here is a picture of the whip:

hmm, she's going to need a name...

Friday, October 9, 2009

bridge pics

Here's a few pictures of your friendly neighborhood Bonk workin hard at the Bridge.

The infamous "Keeper of the Bridge." Photo by Susan Curtis--you can find more of her work here:

Keeper sans helmet. Also by Susan Curtis.

Idiot with dolly on face. Photo by Eric Metzger--you can find more of his work here:

Monday, September 28, 2009


wow. the Bridge Project was astoundingly more awesome than I even imagined it could be. if you were in the greater Cleveland area and weren't there, i am pointing and laughing at you in a derisively mocking manner. ha ha.

there will be a picture or two posted soon. regardless, ha ha.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

bridge project

This is going to be awesome! This coming weekend I will be performing as part of the Cleveland Bridge Project, which will take place on the lower level of the Detroit-Superior Bridge in downtown Cleveland. Click the link and check it out. It is free and open to the public and will include arts and crafts vendors, food and beverage vendors (including beer and wine), buskers and solo performers positioned across the great span of the bridge with the more complex installations and performances taking place at either end.

On both Friday and Saturday (Sept. 25 and 26) I will be Stilt Walking as the giant and intimidating "Keeper of Bridge," letting no-one pass lest they achieve some menial task. This is a new character for me and I'm pretty psyched about it.

Also, on Saturday at 6:30pm I will be putting on a Juggling Show in the All Go Signs space on the East Side of the Bridge. As usual, All Go Signs has put together a serious extravaganza of staging, lighting and some of the best bands and performers around, featuring Audiblethread, Miss Melvis, Paucity and the dynamite explosion of SONEBOY!!! Check the All Go Signs website for show times.

Come on out and experience this innovative event in an awe-inspiring space and celebrate something that is truly Cleveland.

Friday, September 18, 2009

service this!

i've been home for over a week now and the entire time my cable internet service has been intermittent--connected for a few minutes then shutting down and repeating constantly. after 3 hours on the phone with TWC (featuring 3 occasions when their phone line dropped my call) and one visit from a service technician who did little more than disconnect and reconnect cable connections, i placed another joyous call to tech support. after politely expressing my severely growing dissatisfaction with their internet service, the person on the phone actually tried to convince me that i should get their cable and phone services, too. as if to say, "i'm sorry the service you're already paying for isn't working, but can we sell you additional services that also may not work?"


Wednesday, September 9, 2009

home home

I am very fortunate--I have many homes. There are places where I am home because I have been there enough times or for a long enough time, that it is one of my homes. There are places that are home only because they are shared with someone so close to me that no matter where we are, it is a resting place for my soul. I guess on those occasions, it really is the person I am with that is my home. I have homes where my families live and where my friends abide--where I've stopped for rest on a long car ride. Fact is, there are countless places in this country where I feel right at home.

After a length of time away, it is always good to come home, even though I must almost always leave another home to do so.

But there is one place--the place with the address on my mortgage, the place with my bed, the place with my scent and walls of red, which is my home home. And today I have come back to find that I was smart enough to leave beer in the fridge when I left over two months ago. Good boy.

Monday, September 7, 2009

leaving Va Beach

Photo by Fragitsa Katogiritis

another two months are sealed and signed

my heart and mind in what i’ve left behind

memories pervade

of standing in waves

of ocean, applause and auras entwined.

to all my friends there, both new and old:

much love, give ‘em hell and i’ll see you down the road.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

instant love

There was a rainbow out over the ocean today as we set the stage for our “magical variety show.” Thought of mom. Mom and I always connect over rainbows. It was a good way to kick off the night.

Anyway, been thinking a lot lately about the purpose of a show. Some performances have a point--some message to convey. Not street shows. With street shows, the purpose is to get people to watch some crazy skill you have practiced for no good reason and then pay you with applause or money or both. Some performers take the “pay me because you’re supposed to just because I’m here doing this” attitude and some take the “pay me if you received something of value from my show” attitude. That value can take the form of laughter, amazement, a sense of wonder, inspiration, entertainment, education or an emotional connection to the performer and other audience members. I’m going for the second attitude and trying to imbue all of those values and more.

I was told once by my friend Joey Hopper about a quote from noted puppeteer, Alexander the Great, who said of the audience, “you’ve got to love them; even when you hate them, you’ve got to love them--cause they’ll know.” I’ve been thinking a lot about my own mindset when getting ready for and performing a show. Love them--always. They have no obligation to watch me--if they are doing so, then be grateful for it and give them something good to watch. Without them I have no job, no reason to be there--I’m just some overgrown kid playing with his toys. With them, I have the opportunity to use the skills I have honed as a foundation to build a unique connection with this particular group of people at this particular moment in time. And if I show them some love and use that connection to craft a moment of enjoyment worth experiencing and remembering, then they’re going to show me some love right back. This creates a feedback loop of energy that cycles and amplifies and develops into a great show. The kind of show that people come back to see. The kind of show that can charge more to come back next year...

To recap, the idea is to love the audience and get them to love you back. This is more tricky than it sounds and it has been, and will be, my endeavor for a long time. The trick is getting them to love you now. Developing love over time is easy, but getting random strangers walking by to interrupt their schedule and bother to love you, well, that’s the golden hat.

So, while backstage before my shows today pondering all this, I came up with the idea that my goal as a performer is to generate instant love--for the audience and from the audience. All of my shows will now be experiments in attaining that goal and I must remind myself of this before every performance.

I’ll keep you updated about how that goes.

Also, if you read the last blog entry and want to know, Britainy Dibbs will again be performing with me on the street this Tuesday and Wednesday, August 25th and 26th, here in beautiful Virginia Beach, somewhere between 18th and 25th along Atlantic Ave, from 7:30pm to 11.

Much love.

Friday, August 14, 2009


Tuesday night, August 11th, I got to work on the 17th Street stage here in Virginia Beach and had the absolute pleasure of working with the brilliantly exquisite Miss Britainy Dibbs, who also performs under the name "Fresh Cut Fire." The picture above was taken by Chris Yerlig (Hoopoe the Mime) while Britainy was working her magic with a fire hoop. Earlier in the show she rocked the fire poi while I took a break and got to enjoy the view. Britainy has a lifetime of dance training under her belt and combines it with some severely bad-ass fire prop skills to create an enthralling and hypnotizing performance.

As a solo performer, I rarely get to collaborate with other artists in a stage setting these days and getting to do so with someone of Britainy's caliber and intensity was such a refreshing experience. Her passion for her work reminds me of why I got into prop manipulation in the first place. Sorry the picture is hazy, but I rather like the aesthetic of it. If you want a clearer view, then you'll just have to come check out the show. I hope to be working with her again at least a few more times while I'm here. I'll try to post when those dates are coming up, or you can contact me to find out more.

***This just in: Britainy and I will be performing together again on Wednesday, August 19th, 2009, from 7:30pm-11 somewhere between 18th Street and 25th Street along Atlantic Ave. in Va Beach.

Thursday, August 13, 2009


Well, today is the first day of the rest of my blog. Check back here periodically for a fun and potentially scary look inside my head and the ridiculous thoughts that flow through it. Here I will post stories of incidents regarding traveling, performing, striving, accomplishing, failing, pondering, wandering, wondering and otherwise (with emphasis on the "other" rather than the "wise").

Peace and love.