I was reading a book new to our library entitled "Working: My Life as a Prostitute," by Delores French (New York: E.P. Dutton, 1988. On page 145, she lists all of the gadgets she carries in her bag. For an education, you might like to read it for yourself. But the next paragraph is relevant to our (other) interest:
"I also carried juggling balls. I used them several times a week, usually when I was going to be there longer than an hour. I'd just pull them out, say 'I bet you haven't seen this before,' and start juggling. Sometimes I would juggle at the very beginning, while they talked about money. People were fascinated by a juggling hooker. They figured, if she can juggle, who knows what else she can do? It also made whatever else remained in the bag seem that much stranger and more magical."
I would suggest to IJA St. Louis festival organizers that Ms. French be invited to offer an exciting new workshop to the IJA. If it proves as innovative as I can only imagine it might, perhaps a Special Award for services rendered to the organization would be appropriate for the awards ceremony at the public show. At the very least, it would make a nice tale for Sergei Ignatov to carry back to the Soviet Union and provide a fitting climax to a dangerous afternoon of combat juggling.
St. John's, Newfoundland
Concerning the problem of juggler discrimination... I'm an actor and juggler living in New York, where you'd think anything goes. Well, not quite.
I had a survival job as a cashier in The New York Helmsley Hotel, and took "juggling breaks" with the waiters as they took cigarette breaks, and became known as "the juggler guy."
But I soon found out that "the Queen of Mean" doesn't approve of juggling. There was a very serious meeting where my bosses warned me that this type of behavior was a bad influence, and undermined the effectiveness of employee performance on the job. I simply couldn't believe it, and suggested that maybe I could start smoking while I was juggling since that was an approved break activity. No one in the room but me cracked a smile. I was so amused and enraged that I had to leave. They suspended me for one day without pay.
Eventually, of course, I had to quit my job because my juggling habit is chronic. I now have a job which allows me juggling breaks, and life is much better. I hope this insane discrimination against juggling will end.
Brooklyn, New York
First, I want to say "Right on!" to Todd Chadwick for his letter in the Fall 1990 issue. Or maybe I should say, "Praise the Lord!" It's good to see someone standing up for his belief in Christ and it's too bad Todd has to endure such persecution as was returned in letters in the following issues.
I didn't read the article on Tarot because it didn't interest me. Maybe the IJA should just steer clear of any articles that refer to religion. There will always be varied beliefs and ways of worshiping. But for the record, there is only one way - Jesus Christ.
Other comments: Juggler's World is a family magazine, so the publication should not display nudity or use bad language.
I'd also like to comment on Barrett Dorko's article. It was OK, but what about us women? My point is... Why ask why? Let's just juggle because it's fun. Who cares about the reasons we do it or if it is related to religion or something from childhood or some intellectual rationale. We enjoy doing it for ourselves and that's all we should really care about. We should be using our time and energy to help other jugglers and further our art by spreading the joy of juggling by every means - by our own juggling, verbally and on the printed page.
Every year in Juggler's World we are treated to a poetic review of Cirque du Soleil. Perhaps review isn't the right word. How about "gush?" Granted the Cirque has talented, entertaining performers and I'm sure the well-heeled audiences who populate their tent feel they got their $50 worth. (But wouldn't set foot in the open-aired Pickle Family Circus or the grubby mud shows that pass through town.) I mean, where else outside of Vegas can you get so many fog machines?
It seems as if Juggler's World is turning into another circus "fanzine." Everybody is great. Everybody is talented. If there's a juggler anywhere at any time he or she must be incredible! That's what one understands from any "review" in Juggler's World.
Are there not some poor performers in the world? Lifeless? Cliched? Unentertaining?
I know the IJA was created to support jugglers, but I hope there is room in the organization for we cynical members who love juggling and the performing arts enough to criticize it occasionally. Are you reviewing shows or quoting their publicity kits?
San Francisco, California
A devoted juggler passed away in February. When I started the Charlotte Jugglers Association in 1979, Mike Roth watched from a distance. It was many weeks before he summoned the courage to approach our little pack of oddballs and find out more about what we were doing.
Mike was in his 40s, mildly retarded, and only able to move his arms in a very rigid manner. It took him more than three years to learn how to juggle three balls. I was amazed when he mastered four balls a few years later, and have no doubt that, had he lived long enough, he would have fulfilled his dream of juggling five.
Mike could be seen in Charlotte parks on most any days practicing, his laundry bag of props by his side. He would look at his hands and talk to himself for 30-45 seconds before tossing his rubber balls in the air. He was a devoted and patient student. At first, he would ask the same question over and over - which ball should be thrown first, second and third? I would explain over and over, and watch his mind slowly grabbing hold of the pattern as hours turned into days, days into months and months into years.
But Mike could see progress and his determination never faltered. And neither did his childlike fascination as he watched those of us who juggled near and with him. We learned from him that with time any trick can be mastered.
For the last 12 years of his life, juggling gave this man a focus, a challenge and a sense of achievement. A brain tumor killed him. I will always remember him as someone who truly was an amazing juggler. May he rest in peace.
Lenoir, North Carolina