Friday, July 27, 2007

Ever been afraid?

Good Morning all.

I received several e-mails from Charlie who owns P.J., a figure that we made here at Gepetto's Workshop. His father, a very nice man, ordered P.J. for Charlies birthday.

Charlie asks if I have ever been a ventriloquist and if I was afraid the first time.

I emailed him back but thought it would be a good topic to discuss.

I have been doing vent acts for many years and it never changes. I always have butterflies before I start. Once I start and get my first smiles and laughs, it goes away.

There was a time that I dreaded different groups to perform in front of. I finally picked a certain group that I felt most comfortably working with. The audience I prefer is children. I have never been comfortable doing adult comedy although I have done it. Children receive ventriloquism in wonder and become mesmerized while they watch. That's what brings me joy, therefore, they are the group I prefer. Their laughter is addicting and their energy levels are great for ad libbing.

Don't ever be afraid to entertain Charlie. It is the greatest feeling in the world when you bring laughter and smiles to others. You'll get over the butterflies and want to do it all the time.

Anyone else have a story they would like to share about entertaining in front of their first audience? If so, email me at I will share them with my readers. Thanks!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Bruce arrives safely in U.K.

Today I received a letter from a happy father and his son. It is letters like this that I treasure the most. In his letter, Andy, (Olivers father) tells me that Bruce arrived safely and that Oliver takes him with him everywhere! He learned the practice dialogue I put in the instruction booklet immediately and has since taken Bruce to school with him where he did his first public vent act! Your on your way to being a professional ventriloquist Oliver!. Thank you both so much for the letter. It put a big smile on my face!

Oliver asked me what the hardest part of making a ventriloquist dummy is. I told him the hardest part is sending him off to someone wondering if he will get a good home and be taken well care of. In Olivers case, I know Bruce was one lucky dummy!

Friday, July 20, 2007

Lip control

I received an email from Rainy in Montana (I asked her if it was.... She said that was old)

She said she can't help moving her lips when she comes to those difficult words and letter pronunciations. She asked me how i take care of that problem.

The one thing a ventriloquist should always do is interact with his dummy by nodding or disagreeing or roll his eyes anything that will distract the audience from his mouth. Unfortunately, when people go to see a ventriloquist, its like going to see a magician. Everyone tries to see how the trick is done so instead of enjoying the show, they tend to watch the ventriloquists mouth instead of the act. If you're always looking at the audience, they will watch your mouth. If you're looking at the dummy, they will watch him. DISTRACTION!!!! That is the key to successful ventriloquism.

I was taught by Paul Winchell when I was young to clench my teeth together and smile while the dummy is talking. He said always look at the dummy when he's talking look to the side at him while he is talking. There is less movement seen that way. Always make sure your figure is animated. Shifting around looking side to side turning his head etc. All this distraction takes away from the audience watching your lips. After i do demonstrations and kid classes The Adults usually tell me. I wanted to see if you moved your lips but I got caught up in the act.

There's the secret. If the dialogue and manipulation is good, No ones going to see the times you move them. And as always PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE IN FRONT OF A MIRROR. The more you do that, the better you will get. Hope that helps Rainy!

Monday, July 16, 2007

Bashing and Harassing

I finished saying what I wanted to say on the "Forum". I e mailed several of the people who were beating up on conversion vent makers and told them I thought they were slanderous and unprofessional. I wanted to see what they did when THEY were criticized. I proved my point very well. They got right on the forum and started taking cheap shots at me. It proved to me what I wanted. They can criticize you.. BUT!! As soon as you criticize them back they get ignorant. This one guy has emailed me ten times count'em TEN! Anyone wants copies I'll be glad to send them to you. He's telling me he wants to beat me up! Hows that! Definately staying away from that forum.

One thing that came up in the discussion was my figure had sticky hands. The sealer that I used wasn't curing right. It started to get sticky when it got warm. They were dry when shipped but somehow became sticky afterwards.

I contacted the manufacturer and told him what was going on. He sent me some more and it did the same thing! I finally went to a different supplier. If any of you have that problem, If you wipe them with mineral spirits it will get rid of the stickiness. (It won't affect the paint) My sincere apologies for this. I didn't know there was a problem until one of my customers told me about it. They were dry when they left.

This guy was complaining about a figure that he didn't even buy. He just wanted to start something. The body is too big, the string broke. Hey, strings break, thats why I guarantee my figures. If something happens, send it to me and I will repair it free. Every figure maker has repairs. No one is perfect. This guy seems to think he is

Here is a picture of the figure he has been complaining about. The same figure sold on Maher Studios website for 350 dollars. Mine have specially made hands that are more realistic than the juro doll hands. He says it's not a pro figure. Maher calls them pro. They set the standard. I call big figures "stage figures" Thats what they have been calling them for the last 30 years.
Again, a community that diminishes it's participants, diminishes itself.

Saturday, July 14, 2007


I contacted Dan Willinger this week and we have put our differences behind us. Dan has a great site. The interviews as well as the information are overwhelming!

There is a great deal of effort put into these websites so please fequent them as much as possible. and

I do however have a problem with the forum. A forum is to discuss information not to drag people across the carpet. I noticed a thread about conversion figures. Everyone was taring them apart and criticizing those who make them. There are three of us who sell them on ebay. Kenny Croes, Jack Jackson and myself. It seems we were all being badgered.

Although I make conversion figures and these people are "competition" in the market place, I have contacted each of them at various times and complimented them on some of their ideas. That's what "professional people" are supposed to do. I get a kick out of the people on Dan's forum who rip apart conversions and call them "junk". They themselves have probably never built a model car let alone any kind of figure. "Walk a mile in a mans shoes lest ye judge him."

It's like gradeschool. One person criticizes and then the rest follow so they "fit in." I though maturity does away with that. I guess in some cases it doesn't.

Conversion figures have been a mainstay for beginner ventriloquists since the 1920's. The first vent dolls that were on the market were converted and used by professionals in their acts.

There's that term again. Professional. Wheen I was young I was lucky enough to be on Paul Winchells "Winchell Mahoney Time" which was taped in both New Jersey and New York. I was in the bleachers with the other kids wearing my Jerry Beanie. Paul was a very nice man. There was no showboating. He was real and down to earth. When the show was over, he spent hours talking to the kids until their parents dragged them home. I told him I wanted to be a professional ventriloquist when I grew up. He laughed and said you can do that now. I said to him well, all I have is a Danny O'day that my parents bought me. He's not a professional dummy. Paul smiled and said "You know what a professional dummy is?" I said a big one? He said not at all! Senor Wences's Johnny is only 20 inches tall! He then said " A professional ventriloquist dummy is one who has made money in his field. Until then, big or small, he is just an amature!"

It took years before I realized what he meant. So there's that word. "Professional" If some of these "Ventriloquists" who find the need to criticize those who don't make what they consider professional dummies could be half as "professional" as the figures they brag about, the ventriloquist community would be alot friendlier. It's a shame. A dying art that is helping get killed off by negativity from within.

I posted a picture of one of my conversion figures next to one of Dan Payes heads. Not much of a difference in size.

I also posted a picture of a stage figure I am in the middle of making for a friend next to Dan's.

Peaches has been put on the back burner. I have alot to do and orders come first. For all the people who feel I should list my ebay figures as conversion figures, I have done so and will continue to do so. They'll still find something to put down. That's what they're best at.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Getting ready to fill my store

I have been busy in my shop working on new figures and getting a few new orders completed. I am making a clown right now with cross eyes and a spitter. He should be done this weekend.

I completed a fellow for a french ventriloquist and he decided he didn't like him. He wanted a carbon copy of the figure I made for someone in my earlier blog. I tried to explain to him that I do them by hand. I don't use molds so each one looks a little different than the next. Anyone interested in him can contact me at He comes with raising and lowering eyebrows, blinkers, side to side self centering eyes and slotjaw mouth. AND IS FOR SALE FOR 399!!! He is 34 inches tall. I thought he came out pretty close! Oh well, can't make 'em all happy! Here are some pictures of him and some heads I am finishing that are waiting for bodies. Have a great week!

Peaches is in shock!

Peaches had her face lift finished this weekend and got a new hairdo. I am trying to keep her what she was... but fresher and prettier. I was told by several of my readers that she looked like Carmen Miranda, so I am staying with that look.

No matter how hard I tried, I couldn't rescue her gown. It is falling apart because of its age, so I am looking for some new material and match it up to creat a newer version of the same dress.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

"Peaches" gets a face lift and augmentation

I've been really busy this past week. I don't feel like I have time to catch my breath. I finished a couple of orders and recieved two new ones. Not much of a chance to work on "Peaches." I did however remold her body and got rid of the "skin condition she had on her face. I alsosculpted out a bottom "skull" so to speak to build under her chin and make a neck. Her eyes are sitting in the socket right now and I need to sculpt around them so she doesn't look like a martian.

The medium I am using is paper clay. It is a great sculpting medium to use and dries almost like a plastic. It's durable and light weight when it dries. Bill Nelson, famous for his artwork in New Yorker, The Wall Street Journal, and many other publications, told me about it. Bill is a master figure maker, the best in my belief. I am lucky enough to own one of his figures!

By next week, I should have her head completed and painted as long as nothing else comes up.....