Thursday, September 11, 2008

Mr Alexander Böck

We have to thank Mr Alexander Böck for the invention of these stilts. Very little is known about the inventor himself but it is said that the jumping stilts were created based on his in-depth research into the walking and running movements of the kangaroo, the stilt was developed and evolved over time to mimic this and now offers the end-user boundless possibilities. It is widely recognized within the sport that once mastered you can run faster than 20mph and jump 7ft high!

The biggest exposure the stilts saw was when the jumping stilts were featured in an advert for Zurich with the slogan "Because change happens" in which it asks "What if your product goes global?

Luckily for Mr Böck his stilts have gone global and are now protected by a patent in most countries. One of his patent images can be seen below and surprisingly it was originally patented as "A Device for helping a person to walk!"

The brand that Mr Böck created and now sells himself is called "Powerskip". These stilts are regarded as the best and are used mainly by professional performing artists such as "Swebounce" whom you can view in their promo video below!


Traditional circus arts train stilt walkers with "pegged" stilts, these stilts, as with most strap to ones shin and foot plate leaving the walker to balance on a rubber covered "pegged" feet. This type of stilt is very good for walking upon uneven ground and forces the individual to center their balance more directly without the aid of a added "foot" to the base of the stilt.

Voltige stilts are a modified version of a pegged stilt typical of French circus specialist with a stylish and practical design. The stilts support the backs of your calves and allow you to stand on top of the stilts rather than to one side. The telescopic tubular design enables quick and easy adjustment between a variety of height adjustments.

The above image is that of a standard pair of "drywall" stilts, they are used in construction/framing to help apply sheet rock for creating walls, these stilts are most favored in the construction field of work because they allow the user to actually stand motionless for good moments of time. Some types of these stilts have a articulated toe and heel to aid in the maneuverability of the stilt walker, these are very adjustable....some will generally extend up to "48. Personally I tend to stay away from these stilts for various reasons like, weight, bulk, sound (they tend to squeak if not well oiled) and can create a false confidence in actual control of balance.

Currently, the latest design in stilt technology are "Velocity" or "Power Jumpers" , these reflect back to a pegged foot type design, and the wearer is secured into these via a shin guard and foot plate housing. A very aerobic stilt that has a high tech spring which allows the user to make up to 7ft strides 9ft leaps, and move upwards to 20+ miles per hour on them, there are many different companies that fabricate these types of stilts....but I suggest one takes a look at Stiltwerks-Inc. out of Las Vegas, Neveda. The owner Jeff Jay has patented many a design for a variety of stilts and I believe viewing his website is worth it for any stilt walking enthusiasts.

Below is a teaser of some video footage of some of these stilts in action!

Friday, September 5, 2008

A Late Night Stroll

So last month as I headed home from work I decided to send out a text message to some fellow stilt walkers and wait to see what happens. The message was as follows~

Let's take a walk down Broadway, no rhyme or reason, dress to impress....who's up for it?

Well Asraiya responded, I believe the last time I stilt walked with her was for a Petting Zoo Players gig in Tacoma for New Years Eve, the client wanted three stilt walkers and As jumped at the offer but was lacking in the stilt department. Luckily for her and the PZP, a Movement Instructor of mine by the name of George Lewis contacted me in regards to some stilts I fabricated for a production of Shakespeare' "The Tempest". He stated that he was moving and wanted to know if I would hold onto them for him, so this is how Asriaya obtained a pair of stilts to join me with this summer stroll.

We walked about 25 city blocks that night, in a couple hours, and we strolled down hills and back up them too...along the way my housemate Guage joined us, his pockets were packed with Magic and he was raring to go. The photo above was a break moment....going down hill can be physically trying as compared to walking uphill on may not think so, but it's the truth.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

For the Love of it!

I am publishing this particular blog out of love, love for a Mother and daughter, love for the thoughts I am about to share, and for the love of those who may become future stilt walkers of the world.

I met a wonderful woman of the name, Roberta M. (Bobby), and she started a email via a Buskers discussion page for her daughter Heather's stilt walking ability, she will either take over all Internet correspondences one day or Bobby will continue to have to do the management work.

Her daughter has named her "manager" for she does the management work for her daughters stilt waking talents, Bobby believes she does not do anything special for she is just a ground worker....yet special she truly is. And below is the email/letter she sent out the Busker Group~

"Heather is 16, walks on drywall stilts, Juggles, and blows bubbles. She just got, in the last month, Voltige peg stilts(45cm, 90cm, 110cm) and she likes them more than the dry wall stilts because they are much lighter. But she is not yet entirely comfortable with them. She can't stand completely still on them yet, and she wants too. But she found she has more freedom of movement with the peg stilts. She is really working on them.

She has been walking on drywall stilts for about 3yrs, and performing for almost 2 1/2. She has been in dance classes for about 9yrs and attributes her balance to it."

It started when, as a family Bobby had her costuming Star Wars. Heather insisted that she wanted to be Chewbacca. Bobby told her that as a family they were way to short and that she would have to learn how to walk on stilts. They got the dry wall stilts for the stability with a heavy Wookiee costume and mask. Their neighbor then decided that she would make a great addition to a school fund raiser where she taught, this lead to them making pants and tops for these events. They never thought that Heathers desire to be a Wookiee would grow into this much fun, and they do love to doing stilted events. They still have yet to make the Chewie costume yet.
Bobby is not the only one to support her in stilts, her Grandfather helped me teach her how to stilt. Neither one of us knew how, we just bought the stilts, strapped them on and yanked her to her feet. She was much more ready to let go of my hand than I was to let hers go. Story of a mother's life. My mother makes all her costumes (except the few regular cloths that end up in the mix).

We hope to make some money at this on a limited basis. This
currently is not meant to be her life's work. She wants to be a veterinarian and probably a busker on the side. Because of all these web sites and message boards I have recently found that might be possible.

Oh my dear, making money providing ambiance while on stilts is VERY possible, I myself have been doing it since 1999. I suggest a starting rate of $50 to $75 a hour for now and this can lead upwards to $200 an hour with time, and of course children/charity gigs shall always take the financial bite in the is the right thing to do.

Our best performance experience is the confidence that the Children's Hospital puts in her for every event that they want her to participate in. Our worst is when second or third parties don't take her serious. One case in point, a friend who has a business wanted her to stilt on a special day, then the friend's insurance man said that if we showed up with stilts that they would drop the business coverage. Our own school refuses to let her stilt on school property on school time. But the community fair held at the school has her stilt. We don't fight those who seem to be narrow minded. Lets face it even when one wins an argument the hurt feelings won't change the out come.

My suggestion for the future, and to squash any problems that may arise over stilt walking is to check out Clowns of the U.S. because they offer insurance policies for entertainers and stilt walkers are part of the same group. It costs $200 for a 1 year coverage policy...but the insurance policy is good for up to 2-4 million dollars! So now you can imagine if there is a client/school/insurance company issue over the risk of having her perform on stilts at anytime, she can whip out a 2-4 million dollar coverage policy that will leave any future verbal concerns very quiet.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Neil Sauter

Photo is courtesy of Neil Sauters website.

A man raised funds for cerebral palsy with 830-mile (1,335-kilometer) trek on stilts, it is so great to see that another person shares similar thought of a selfless act. I have been working on a project with the same intentions titled the Faith and Healing Tour, click that link for more information about my vision.

In Ironwood, Michigan - A 24-year-old man has completed an 830-mile (1,335-kilometer) trek on aluminum stilts across Michigan's Upper and Lower Peninsulas to make people aware of cerebral palsy.

United Cerebral Palsy of Michigan reports that Neil Sauter (click on his name to see his personal website) has ended his eight-week journey Friday in Ironwood, Michigan, on the Upper Peninsula border with Wisconsin. He began walking in early May from Lambertville in southeast Michigan.

Sauter has raised $16,000 for United Cerebral Palsy of Michigan. A 3-1 matching federal grant pushes that total to $64,000.

Sauter has mild cerebral palsy and used three pairs of stilts on the walk, and at the date of this blog he has currently raised over $73,000 for United Cerebral Palsy of Michigan!

He has a few other projects in the works and he is still accepting donations, I tip my hat to you Neil, and I look forward to meeting you some day.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Seattle Gay Pride 2008

I have been hired by a company a few times called Safeco Insurance and they apparently really enjoy my stilt walking ambiance, this year they called me up and asked if I was willing to help represent them in the Seattle Gay Pride 2008 parade. Of course I said yes, they always have paid what I ask for and even though I am not gay, I am generally happy most of the time.
So I pulled out a costume of a new type of character that I have not giving a name to, nor even a voice actually....I feel like it is really just a internal radiance that I have needed to bring out externally.
Below is a video that is posted courtesy of ed119 off of You Tube, and after the dikes on bikes you will see the first stilt walker of the parade....and yep, that's me!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Coulrophobia: The Fear of Clowns

Photo courtesy of :Peter Demers

Coulrophobia: The Fear of Clowns

What does this have to do with stilt walkers or stilt walking, well I decided to post a bulletin on my MySpace page Sagealicious about the phobia known as Coulrophobia, so I decided to do some research about this phobia....because from time to time I have been known to portray a "clown". And this is some interesting knowledge I obtained from my research thanks to Cristina Olvera~

Everyone experiences a fear of something at some time in their lives. Fear is natural, but sometimes it becomes irrational and develops into a phobia. A phobia is a strong, persistent fear of situations, objects, activities or persons. The main symptom is an excessive and unreasonable desire to avoid the feared subject. One particular phobia affects as many as one in seven people. Coulrophobia, the fear of clowns, is clinically known.

Coulrophobia is the official name for the fear of clowns. This condition is one of the most remarked-upon phobias on the Internet. Coulrophobia was coined during the 1990's and is based on the Greek word Koulon or limb. Related derivatives are suggestive of stilts and stilt walking. For example the Greek work Kolobathristes means one who goes on stilts. Clowns are often known to walk on stilts and so this how the relationship developed and the word Coulrophobia was made.

Those who suffer from Coulrophobia, do so, for many reasons. The most fear-inducing aspects of clowns is the heavy make-up that is accompanied by the big red nose and different color hair. These things completely conceal the identity of the wearer. It is also possible that the costume conceals a darker personality. Although clowns are known for being happy and creating a fun atmosphere, Coulrophobes tend to fear who the clown is as a real person.

Another reason for fearing clowns, is the clowns ability to act outside social boundaries. Clowns have been around for thousands of years and they serve an unique role in many societies. In Egypt and China as early as 1800 B.C. Court Jesters were allowed to mock and criticize Kings when no one else was allowed to. They can get in your face and squirt you with water and generally make fun of you without suffering any consequences. It is because of this that some people feel uncomfortable in the presence of a clown.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Shameless promotion!!!!

So for those of you who do not actually know me I am a man of many talents, be it Magic, Mummery, Stilt walking, or costume creation, and even character interpretation! I do my best to spread my love with my style of entertainment the best way I know how, looking deeply into the souls of others and sharing mine.

If you get the chance, I suggest you check out the banner below, click on it and be whisked away to another web presence I have here in cyberland!

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Kirsty Little and Bob Collins

''We are really very down to earth people. We just love to shop stilt we drop, like everyone else. And we would rather be photographed for a friendly community magazine like N16 than Vogue or Harpers and Queen.''

The leggy stunner was proudly parading her new boyfriend Bob, a contemporary dancer from Finchley, who she is teaching to stilt-walk. 'He is doing jolly well ­ teetering on the edge of professionalism', she said.

''He really knows how to live the high life. He bought me a French-stick at The Cooler, which was really romantic. "

All my other boyfriends have just wanted to take me drinking at the Tup and get me legless, but Bob just takes me up and is all leg. Must dash now, we're off to The Forum in Kentish Town to do a gig at the House of Fun club night.'

For more on Kirsty Little and Bob Collins click on their names and you will see the article in it's original context!

Walking Tall!

When the Rock wanted to promote his new movie "Walking Tall" He contacted Damon Entertainment to provide stilt walkers for a two city promotional tour, Here they are in front of Verssace's house in South Beach

Taking a break!

Photo by Amanda Buckiewicz.

Yonge Street is bustling with all things wacky as the first annual Toronto Just For Laughs festival takes over the city. The street festival kicked off last night with a free Russell Peters show with guests Jo Koy and the Doo Wops. Dundas Square was packed with more than 15,000 people eager to be entertained by the comics, and they definitely were not disappointed. After the show the crowd stuck around to be entertained by dozens of performers doing everything from stilt-walking to acrobatics to balloon costumes. It was almost overwhelming at times with how utterly awesome it was.

And as you can see, even stilt walkers need to take a break from time to time, the longest I have been up on a pair is 3 hours straight...and that was long enough!


Moko Jumbies first protected believers from evildoers. Originally a West African tradition, men and women on gigantic stilts would dress in long gowns and masquerade as gods. Gods can look down on humanity from above, and foresee danger better than mere mortals. The stilt-walkers would collect donations, from revelers and onlookers on second-story balconies.

They now dance in the streets of Trinidad and Tobago for every Carnival. ‘Moko’ is the name of the an old African god, ‘the diviner.’ ‘Jumbies’ - ‘ghosts’ - was added by the emancipated slaves. After decades of decline, a man by the name of ‘Dragon’ Glen de Souza actually revived the Moko Jumbie tradition in the early 1990s, in an effort to teach children how to dance.

Stilt Walking Victorian Policemen

I really would love to see these guys in action. This photo is courtesy of Phillippe and Philloppe
some fine entertainers out of the UK!

Stilted views from the Playa!!

So here is a great shot of some stilt dancers at the Black Rock desert celebrating a sunset stroll for Burning Man. I have yet to experience this event, but I do have some wonderful ideas for creatures that may stroll the playa in the night...but that is another story!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Cirque Berzerk

Rob Crites & Jenn Berry in a dolls on stilts piece that I give a 2 stilts up!

Stilt Dig Weed Dancer!

But the thing to really watch is when he decides to do a head stand and then get back on his feet!

A little You Tube Video for stilt walkers!

This little piece offers some thoughts about our other brother and sisters from Trinidad. Love it, live it, love them....feel it!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Vintage stilt images!

I love the above vintage add for stilts and accessories, it is such a great thing to know that this type of art form has existed for many a long time, I wish I had a copy of this catalog. Below is another image I found while searching the web for more of this artistic performance of mystery. I actually used the image for a benefit I had for a project titled "the Faith and Healing Tour" which is something that will still come to fruition when the time is right! The benefit was in Georgetown, Washington...and I lived there for 3 1/2 years, it's an old industrial part of Seattle and the buildings still look like the ones in the photo below.

All types of Event!

So these photos were taken by Philip Kramer at the ZAAZ company Christmas party that I worked providing ambiance to the part goers as they arrived. We, meaning the Petting Zoo Players, were asked to provide our stilt walking services on behalf of the Adventure School, who was hired to bring this party to life.
Stilt walkers always add a higher level of entertainment for all types of events.

It always intrigues me on the amount of enjoyment people receive from interacting with a stilt walker, and those that are wanting to learn....and in this near future I look to be the man willing to teach. I have already taught a few performers out there how to build, and walk on stilts, now the plan is to work on getting paid to teach we ALL can have more fun.

New Years Eve 2007!

photo image by Dave S.

So this New Years I was forwarded a gig by a mutual magician named Geoff Kanick and he pointed me towards a alcohol free and family event called Tacoma First Night. It was a great event, I help to provide 3 stilt walkers in which we shared our type of interactive theatrical ambiance. So Shannon Lindberg, Asraiya Deyo, and myself headed on down to Tacoma Washington to entertain the masses.....and we did, and they loved us, and we loved doing it.

photo taken by Joseph Kapler

This was the first time in my career as a entertainer since 1999 that I have ever been asked these various questions-

"Why did you choose this as a career?"
"What made you want to do this as a job?"
"Why did you decide to do something like as a source of income?"

photo by Joseph Kapler

To which I replied to those questions-
"Well after 37 years on this planet I figured it was about time for me to take a different perspective on my life and all that is around me!"

There was a great Reggae band that pretty much closed the show, I danced my butt of on stilts to the amazement of the crowd, and most likely have ended up in many a family albums.