Juggler, clown, friend
My pal Reid Belstock and I shared our home-base venue (and still do) for about a year before the inception and April, 2009 launch of an experimental Magic and Variety show we dubbed Magic Underground. By that time we had discovered that we shared a host of mutual friends and we were both rather surprised that we hadn't been acquainted prior to our tenure at Lannie's Clocktower Cabaret (now, The Clocktower Cabaret). We even ran the same pitch in Boulder, CO during its legendary and much-missed 1980s heyday for street performers. Reid and I both "cut our teeth" on Pearl St.
Reid was far more dedicated and skilled than I.
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Magic Underground lasted 69 shows. There were many memorable moments, of course, but one of the true highlights was having an audience of the traveling residents of the train, and stars of The Ringling Bros. Barnum and Bailey Circus.
Adding to that fantastic, special edition of our show, celebrity clown (and poster-face of that year's RB&BB show), Tweedy, and the amazing clown Larry Clark each performed a secret set in our show. This was orchestrated by Reid. My co-producer "Vegas" (Matt Lucas) and I were simply giddy. This gave these celebrity clowns an opportunity to perform "off-the-record/off-the-clock" and to perform for their own company (and us) unleashed and unbound by the highly-regulated corporate structure of the circus.
Reid has so many achievements as an entertainer that I could exhaust you with details. I can highlight, however, that he has been a responsible showman. By this, I mean to illustrate that a professional entertainer is not just an artist but also a fine craftsman. Reid even went so far as to accomplish nearly every child's (of our generation/era) dream of graduating Clown College, hence his connections with the Greatest Show on Earth.
Reid has also traveled the globe as a cruise ship show star on a long list of various cruise lines, which is how he met his charming (and may I say, adorable) bride, Mamiko.
As an artist, Reid has finely crafted his character and personae with obvious influence from his time in Clown College and his personal tastes. His professional wardrobe is a beloved alter to his life's work and he holds true to the functioning philosophy that, if you find gear or costuming you like, buy a duplicate... because stuff wears out.
Having already written the words unleashed and unbound in reference to other entertainers, let me tell you about the absolute pleasure I have enjoyed with regard to working with Reid; and specifically in our home venue. You see, the venue is one that delivers "adult entertainment" as a famous burlesque cabaret. Couple this fact with an additional one: the venue trusts us to purely do what we do as proven entertainers. The result is you get fine artistry, experimentation, and genuine originality for an unequaled audience experience. This is the magic formula that birthed historic artistry and comedy like Martin and Lewis.
Now, don't get me wrong. This freedom was handed to us out of a certain kind of professional trust. While unsaid, there was/is an understanding of our professionalism, as was the case with having Tweedy on our stage. A phrase in the movie Somewhere in Time is "Excess within control" and this is a statement that is tough for some folks to understand.
If you trust your beloved dog enough to release the leash, allowing this freedom will be because you know he/she will run around wildly but will also return to your side when it is time. There is more to the phrase than that, but I will revisit it another time.
Reid's genius mind for comedy seems to wave back and forth between academic and natural. Simply put, he just "gets" it. Moreover, he trusts himself, his education, and his experience to thoroughly entertain, and he always delivers. He trusts himself to ad-lib and improvise. Reid is a pro.
I have also witnessed what I believe is Reid's method of coping with physical ailments or stress, which is a comedic interjection. I have seen a vulnerable side of Reid, and I have noticed times that he employs an exaggerated facial expression to send comedy to the rescue. I know a lot of folks who have been thankful for this. I also suspect that Reid inherited this sense of humor and coping from his father.
I am also left to have an interesting observation about jugglers. As a juggler, "drops" are inevitable. Oh, boy, I can tell you that some shows are like those fumbly mornings when you get up and trip over a shoe, "dropsies" affect everything you attempt to pick up, and you can't find your keys. Imagine that happening in front of an audience! Well, having worked with all types of entertainers, I have developed an awareness that jugglers are at an advantage over the rest of us, from go. They have no choice but to accept a drop and keep going. Drops are ABSOLUTELY GOING TO HAPPEN and the audience knows you didn't mean to drop the club. You just go. If it happens again, you make a joke of it. That's all. It becomes part of the show, and I can tell you this: when you finally land that trick, the audience goes CRAZY! You have become human, accidentally demonstrated just how tough what you are performing is, and then you get there... that audience is right there with you.
Personally, Reid is a great friend and a resource. He is willing to help any serious entertainer with resources and wisdom. Fair warning: take him to lunch and he will send pizza back to the chef as many times as it takes for it to come back to the table as black as night, just the way he likes it.
Top: Portrait of Reid Belstock by Phelyx
Gallery SLIDES: Magic Underground Promo animation, Reid with his wife, Mamiko, Belstock by CJ Nicolai photography, Reid and his father with me and my arms around two great men, Reid's Ringling Bros. Barnum and Bailey Clown College graduation certificate (05/01/1991), Reid's promo shot, Reid Belstock by CJ Nicolai photography