December 30, 2008

And the #1 - There's Always The One

I love that all of the comments reflected a different favorite skater for each of us. Who knows with the new competitive season, there may be new favorites on the scene. For those of you who didn't comment the first time, you tell me ... who's the one?

I'm still stuck in laptop limbo ... waiting for a new computer ... checking posts at the library, internet cafes. But I wanted to get this topic posted in honor of the guest speaker at the annual PSA conference.

Let me backtrack a little. When you ask most skaters to name their favorite skaters it's hard to narrow it down. We easily mention four or five and then pause while the next batch of ten great skaters comes to mind. There are so many. Think of any one Olympics and then three or four pop out.

But I really think if you ask the same skater to name their ONE favorite. We can do that ... we have one saved for superstar status. And for every one it's a different skater (again pointing out how many great skaters there are out there.)

For me that skater is Brian Orser. Of course, the picture gave it away. I'm a huge fan, although I'm not one of the official "Orser Endorers" and I haven't joined any fan clubs. I'm just sitting back waiting for someone to ask me who my ONE favorite is and then I'll jump up and down and say Brian. Sir Brian Orser to you.

Besides being such a great skater (too many titles and honors to type up), smart, cute, and funny (how do I know this?), he is downright down to earth and nice to boot. Canada, you should be very proud.

I was in a show where Mr. Triple Axel was the principal and I was hanging back, way back, in the chorus. I didn't talk to him or hang out with him much -- I was too star stuck and tongue-tied -- but I still witnessed all those great qualities.

So for those that went to hear him at the PSA conference this weekend, let me say, I wished I could have flown in for the big speech, cheered him on like a crazed Beatles fan and then ducked out before security nabbed me.

Here's to the One! Let me know who you would pick.

December 29, 2008

#2 Skating Dreams

and I don't mean getting to the Olympics ...

The other day my colleague at lunch asked our server if she'd ever had waitressing dreams. "Oh, all the time," she answered.

Back when I waited tables, I had them too. I would get all my tables' orders mixed up ... I'd have to go through locked rooms with piles and piles of food .... I couldn't find my way to the kitchen, etc, etc

Well, those were short lived. Skating dreams (or should I say nightmares) took over and twelve years after my last show I still get them. How about you guys?

They always revolve around two themes: 1)not knowing the choreography, but having to go out and skate anyway or 2) making a mad dash to the ice, frantically putting on my costume, but never making it on time.

In the ice show world there are big fines for either.

I suppose the adult skaters out there have similar themes: forgetting their program or having their named called for the start of their program but not being on the ice.

Oooh, our brains do crazy things when we're not looking. Tell me your dreams (or nightmares) ...

December 28, 2008

#3 - Ice Shows Getting Some Repsect?


Well, maybe things are turning around for ice shows. We've gone from the butt of jokes from the outside world -- like the Woody Allen quote from the movie Hannah And Her Sisters --

"And Nietzsche, with his theory of eternal recurrence. He said that the life we lived we're gonna live over again the exact same way for eternity. Great. That means I'll have to sit through the Ice Capades again."

To this from today's Washington Post -- "The chief of staff to a former senior of the House Appropriations Committee pleaded guilty yesterday to conspiring to commit fraud, becoming the latest casualty of the scandal centered on disgraced former lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

John C. Albaugh admitted to accepting gifts -- including tickets to sporting events, concerts by groups such as the Wiggles and a Disney On Ice show -- in exchange for helping lobbyists and their clients, according to persecutors."

That's right folks, someone is going to the slammer because he (and I bet he has young daughters!!) wanted free tickets to Disney On Ice. I know it's not as simple as that, but still ... prison. There's your "Amazing Journey" right there.

Although I'm not crazy about the Wiggles getting top billing, I bet Mr. Albaugh wishes the reporter hadn't singled out DOI and the Wiggles among the "sporting events" at the top of the article. The other boys in the pokey will have a field day with that.

The full article right here mentions other concerts by Tim McGraw, George Strait, American Idol and Washington Redskins football games.

So congratulations to the skaters from Disney On Ice for being so desirable ... one Dad was willing to go that extra mile.

December 27, 2008

The countdown continues

#4 The Best Ice Show Themes in Movies or TV

Well, I finally saw the movie "Blades of Glory" yesterday and it inspired me to put down my five top ice show themes from tv and movies ... it may be that there aren't too many more than these five out there, but here is what made the list.

5. "Jeffersons On Ice" from the movie King Pin.


There isn't much of a visual on this one, just a line near the end of the movie, "Look, the Jeffersons on Ice. I love that Sherman Helmsley." Makes me crack up every time. "Go, Weezy, Go".

4. "Smoochy On Ice" from the movie "Death To Smoochy"

This ice show gets much more play in this movie and though the Smoochy character, which is suppose to be a parody of Barney, reminds me more of the Smurfs from Ice Capades. Never mind it's a children's show, the ice show theme steals a sequence straight from the film "Manchurian Candidate".

3. "Krusty On Ice" from the Simpsons

The opening of this episode shows Krusty at the center of a pinwheel with all the skater babes in line around him. My favorite part of this show is when the crew comes in during the second half to tear down the ice to put in the basketball floor.

2. "Grublets On Ice" from the movie "Blades of Glory"

Obviously after the Jeffersons and Smoochy, they had to ramp up the "D-list ice show" theme, so "Grublets On Ice" was a pretty good choice. While I never personally skated as or with the "Evil Wizard" (Will Ferril's character), I have felt like throwing up in my skin (a.k.a. character costume) before.

and my #1 Fake Ice Show Theme from tv or movies?

1. "Ice Capades - The Reality TV Show" with unknown skaters, judges (except for JoJo Starbuck) and tv network.

This one hasn't even aired yet, so I really shouldn't compare it with the other four. Perhaps the real show will be behind the scenes of the lawyers as the old owners/producers of Ice Capades sue the new ones.

Stay tuned!

December 26, 2008

The Year In Review

Yup, lots of "best of" critics lists this time of the year, so Ice Charades decided to have one of her own. Since I've only been in business since April, I don't think I have ten good ones to offer. But I think I can give you five - one for each day until the eve of 2009!


Let's start the countdown ...

#5 The Showgirl Pose

Las Vegas has inspired me to throw out my theory of the "showgirl pose". See those Ice Charades girls in the photo up on the upper right hand corner? The ones with their knees bent and thighs turned in. They have some old showgirl to thank for trying to figure how to make her legs look their absolute thinnest.

Could it be Miss Chicago?



In this photo I dug up, only Miss Chicago is working the bend and flex. And don't you think it makes her look thinner? If she had a higher arch in her left foot, her whole leg would look thinner because we would see more of her knee area, the thinnest part of her leg.

Yes, someone long ago thought to put one leg directly in front of the other - so we see only the width of one leg - twist her thigh slightly inward - to hide some of the fleshy part - and then keep the leg facing front from the knee down - this time hiding the bulging calf muscle. Too bad she couldn't patent that move. She could have made some big bucks.

I know this doesn't have much to do with skating, but like I said, Vegas, baby, Vegas.

December 23, 2008

Happy Holidays



Sorry the picture is a little dark, but the lighting was that way on purpose.

This was Brian Wright performing to Mannheim Steamroller's Silent Night, waaaaay back in 1987. I know that song's been overdone now, but to see Brian skate this number as you heard the song for the first time was otherworldy.

I'm sorry there's no video, none of us had video cameras at that time.

Happy Holidays to you all! Stay warm, except when you're on the ice.

December 18, 2008

Happy Birthday Brian!


You may know by now that I'm a big, big fan.

December 16, 2008

The Bachelorette Skates


This isn't in my usual realm, but the notice did come via the Professional Figure Skaters Cooperative. I'd nominate my friend Sylvia, but she only looks 32.



December 14, 2008 Dear PFSC Members:

ABC's The Bachelorette is now casting for their next season and would love to cast a figure skater. According to Sunny Willebrand who is the contact for casting, if you are or know a woman who is between 25 and 32, who currently or has competed in figure skating as an amateur or professional, is beautiful, charming, educated successful and looking to settle down, this person may become next season's Bachelorette.

Send a photo and contact information to nominate yourself or a friend. Casting will run through the end of December, with taping to begin in March and will run for six weeks. The program likely will air in the summertime.


So, who would you nominate? Any of you reading this looking for love? Let me know.

December 15, 2008

Thanks

I was feeling the urge to blog today, but couldn't think of a topic. Don't worry, Miss Ice Charades hasn't run out of ideas ... I have a finale that starts Thursday to finish out 2009, but today I feel like I'm coming to the middle of the second half.

In show business, that's probably the worst spot to perform. You know, strong opening (second best skater), strong close to first half (third or fourth best skater), again a strong start to the second half (third or fourth, take your pick) and big solid close (the best skater). Unfortunately, today I feel like the poodle act jumping through hoops.

So instead, I'll take this opportunity to thank all of the skating bloggers out there who keep us on top of the competitive elite. Without you guys, I'd be lost. I value your opinions, because going to sites that only gives me results is not helpful. I want to know what their programs were like, how they skated to it, and what you think was on the judges minds. Can anyone really know that?

Again, my thanks.

p.s. I couldn't find any images of skating poodles (why didn't I bring mine along?) so I give you the circus on ice act instead.

December 11, 2008

More on Christmas

If you read the last post, you might think that I was all Scrooge about Christmas, but for a skater, Christmas truly is the most wonderful time of the year.

Lots of ice rinks open for the season, lots of Christmas shows and lots of jobs.

Take the annual Charles Schultz show in Santa Rosa. Every year it was great pay, new costumes, a beautiful setting - seating at tables with cookies and hot chocolate, and premier guest stars. Robin Cousins, Dorothy Hamill, anyone?

The only problem was the show was over by Jan and you'd be looking for another job.

December 8, 2008

It's The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year



ah Christmas ...

Maybe you started hearing that song in the middle of October, but whenever I hear the Frankie Avalon - big band version - of that song, I think of sweat rolling down my face from a muggy afternoon in southern Japan.

That's right, two of the three amusement park shows I did in Kumamoto, Japan featured a Christmas production. In August. It's a strange association for me, but at least I can still tolerate the song.

I have a harder time with the music from the Nutcracker. I skated with two productions of Nutcracker and probably because the shows came along at Christmas time, I got so tired of the music. Years later if I heard that music in a department or grocery store, I would get nauseous and start counting in my head, as in "right-2-3-4, left-2-3-4."

The only songs I liked from the Nutcracker were the Arabian Dance - because the music's cool and dark and mysterious, the Waltz of the Flowers - because it is one of my all-time favorites and the final Pas De Deux - because it was Brian Orser's big finale (and the show was almost over by then).

But time heals everything and this year I'm taking my kid to see the Nutcracker. Alas, it is the ballet version, so it will be a lot stuffier than what the skaters did and there will be no Brian Orser. So instead I give you this ...



He's looking down in the photo because someone cracked a joke, but that's him.

oh - ps - that's Natalie Seybold, as Clara, standing next to him. I told you she was much cuter than Sarah Palin. So is Lisa on the right!

December 4, 2008

Code Red!

A relative of Red McCarthy - seen here starring in Ice Capades in the early 1940s - is compiling a family history and has asked for personal Ice Capades stories to fill in the family tree. Did you know Red skated in three full-length movies in the 40s? Alas, they haven't made it to YouTube yet.

So, any ex-Capettes out there who skated with Red and stumbled apon this website, please email me.

We've got to get all of the early ice show history on record. A great website to start with is the Historical Foundation of the PFSC. The link to PFSC is on the right, the link to the Foundation here.

November 30, 2008

Holiday On Ice Facebook Wants Your Stories

Hey, I want your stories too! But this message went out from the Holiday On Ice group in Facebook. It's only open to the skaters, so if you skated with HOI and haven't joined Facebook yet, what are yo waiting for? Kathy Hayim-Gringas is the admin for the group and she sent out this plea.

Here's Kathy's shout-out below:

Hi to all....

Most of you do not know me, we have never met. however, we all share a common experience, skating in Holiday on Ice. some skated for mere months, some for most of their young adult life, some started as youngsters and are still with the show, and some are just getting started.

There have been many photos that we have shared with each other... and now we need to share some stories. Each of us have stories of our time with HOI... some stories are funny, some are sad, some of hardships, of friendships, and lost loves.....

I am compiling a collection, in colaboration with James Clarke and Roland and we need your stories.

Can you please email me privately at
kathy.gingras@sympatico.ca (Subject - HOI STORY)
with whatever you would like to share. I had this feature on my website a long time ago, and it is time again!

Our history of the show is really all that is left of our time with HOI... what it was like to skate with Holiday on Ice... everyone has a story.

If you are not too sure what to write, then send me an email and I will give you some ideas.

There are almost 600 people in this group... that means 600+ stories!

Cheers,
Kathy


I still want your stories too - so get writing. Let's get it on the record!

November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

I think skaters have a lot to be thankful for. Gliding on the ice is one of the best feelings in the world!

I remember celebrating Thanksgiving in '83 in Holiday On Ice - where the cast was only 20% Americans - with the two gentlemen that ran the coffee stand. I was brand new, but since I was American, they asked me to join them and I was honored. We didn't have a turkey or cranberries, but a wonderful chicken and potato stew. We ate in the principle's dressing room which was private, but small with one long table and a mirrored wall up against it. To talk to each other we had to look at each others reflections, which was strange, but, hey, that's showbiz.

It made me realize no matter how you celebrate the holiday, the fact that you celebrate it is more important.

So where ever you are, however you want to celebrate, be thankful!

November 23, 2008

My Fines

... and I got a lot of them, especially in the "Kiddy" Number where I was an Eskimo or penguin. Probably averaged one a week in HOI.

Here's how they often went ... I'd be chatting away in the dressing room, getting ready for the next number, thinking about where to go out for dinner that night, made my way backstage with about a minute to spare before the Eskimo music started and then ...

I'd look down at my skates to see I'd forgotten to put on my *$#@!@ bootcovers.

Panick time! Time for some quick math. With less than sixty seconds of music to go, did I have time to make a mad dash to the dressing room, grab the bootcovers, run back, put them on and zip them up in time for my entrance? Missing part of the number was a $8 fine back then. Or should I have cut my losses, not risking injuring myself or bringing an innocent skater down during my 100 meter dash and suck up the $4 fine for missing part of a costume?

I can't remember how many times I played it safe - probably 50% of the time. At least I know I never plowed into anyone while racing back to the dressing room.

At least not in that show!

November 17, 2008

Fines

As I was watching the Redskins yesterday, I heard that the safety, LaRon Landry, recently racked up $24, 264 in fines. Ouch - one fine was an entire game's pay. But then, the Eagle's defensive tackle LaJuan Ramsey did better at $26, 176. In fact, if you google 'NFL fines', you'll find there have been a lot of them dished out this season.

Maybe a quarter of a million dollars already.

That's a lot of money, but those guys make a lot of money too. I can't begin to imagine if LaRon and LaJuan (let's hope they never form a band) are so into the game that they forget about the money they'll be charged with just one nasty late hit. I bet their wives won't let them forget next time.

But it reminded me of the fine system we had in Holiday On Ice. Capades and Disney had them too. If anyone out there can tell me if the system has changed, please comment. To the best of my recollection, here's a patial list (origially in 1983 prices and a weekly pay check of about $250, I've adjusted for inflation at today's prices with a $550 - 600 paycheck.)

Missing a number - $20
Late for a number - $16
Late for half hour call - $30
Missing costume, any part - $4
Missing jewelry or misc - $4
Costume touching the floor - $4
Taking guards off with gloves on - $4
Extra items in costume crate - $4 an item
Eating in costume - $12
Sitting in costume - $8
Going to the bathroom with costume, any part - $12
Not hanging up costume properly, any part - $8
Not following corrections - $8-16
Talking on the ice - $4
Overweight, first time - $30
Second time - $40
Third time - $50
Inappropriate conduct on or off the ice - $8-20


The overweight fines were always the hardest to deal with. It wasn't that you were overweight, you were over your set weight.

The only good thing about the fines, in my opinion, was the money went to finance the Opening and Closing Night parties for the whole cast. I wonder if it's the same for the NFL players ... doubt it. That would be one hell of a party. Still where does that $250,000+ go?

November 11, 2008

Back to the Ice Capades Rumor Mill

A friend tells me the tv show is suspended at the moment. Lake Placid Skater have you heard anything? Then this new scheduling from the other Ice Capades site, you know the one with those ungodly tall girls!



Hmmm, what's going on. My money's on a lawsuit. We'll see.

November 7, 2008

Winter in Mexico?


that doesn't sound bad ....


Now casting for Leon, Mexico.

Contract, 9th Jan - 3rd Feb 2009. (rehersals aprox. 1 week before)
Looking for chorus girls/boys, principle girl/boy & pair.
50 min show/ 3 show daily.
Travel & accommodation provided.

please contact:-

Francis Demarteau:- francide_7@hotmail.com
Fiona Kirk:- c_feeskate@hotmail.com
Global International shows or
BROADWAY ON ICE

Please send resume, photo´s & DVD or Youtube link when applying!

November 4, 2008

A True Election Story


spoiler alert: this is not a funny post

One thing I remember very well about a fellow skater back in 1983, was that she had to take a day off without pay and take an all-night train to get to a consulate to vote. Her name was Nuria and she was from Argentina. She had to vote.

Here's some background on Argentina in the early 80s (that I looked up) to put her vote in perspective. It was the first democratic vote in ten years. Argentina was coming off of years of it's Dirty War, which was the "forced disappearances" of up to 30,000 people.

On a personal note, I remember that in 1982, in Argentina it was illegal to play the "Evita" soundtrack and a fellow cast member from HOI, spent a year in jail for drugs after the police (on a tip from who knows) knocked on the skaters' doors.

Side note: Hey,kids,don't do drugs. But really don't do drugs in another country.

Back to my main point, I recently found out that Nuria had passed away. She was a wonderful person and I hope her story is an inspiration for today's election in the U.S. She didn't complain - she just did her duty, and it told me how important it is to vote.

My last side note: when I originally drafted this post, I had no idea how long the lines would be in many polling stations across the U.S. I find it simply amazing that Americans are waiting up to eight hours to vote! Wow!

October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween


... or as it's known in the ice show crowd - a gay man's favorite holiday!

Yes, any ice show worth it's salt, wait no - ice, had plenty of time on it's hands and a desire to change into a costume of their own choosing. Some of the ice shows went beyond the costumes with skits, awards and even choreography.

Now my halloweens are reduced to Disney princess costumes and screening the candy bag at the end of the night for the worst offenders to the teeth. I miss those elaborate parties.

So if tonight Disney, Holiday or one of the cruise ships, if you're celebrating before or after a three show day, please do a high kick for me!

October 27, 2008

Street Performers


...often of the juggling persuasion, trying to earn a little money.

And by street performers, in this city, that means walking out into some massive intersection during a red light to give it your all for sixty seconds or so. That's not that much time to both juggle and walk down the row of idling cars, hat in hand.

They remind me of so many that performed in ice shows and that is why I always give them some money.

In most of the ice shows I did, we had some kind of novelty act. We had poodles, badmitton players, a trampoline artist, a comedian who played guitar, gauchos, lots of jugglers, and of course those zany skating comedians who love to get cute with a bucket of water.

But back to the jugglers ... while these guys (and gals - often children) in the street are no match for Albert Lucas, there are pretty good. Even though Albert often did his act on the ice (how many years in Ice Capades and Tampa Bay's Busch Gardens?) he never had to dodge this traffic.

October 22, 2008

Immigration - Part 2

Back in my day, the going rate for a green card was around $5000. I had two offers to marry, one by a gay French man and the other a straight Canadian man, although it was never pursued seriously. I admit though, I did stop to think what I could buy for $5000.

I wonder, can anyone tell me, what the going rate is today?

October 20, 2008

Immigration Issue


This one hasn't gotten much play in the real election, but here's my two cents.

I just got fingerprinted this morning for my new non-immigrant visa. I will live in the country for two years and then go back to the US. Only took three months to get all the i's dotted and t's crossed. YIKES!

It reminded me of the issues we show skaters have faced in order to earn a mark a yen, a buck or a pound. (I know, I know, it's the euro now, but I was thinking of the Cabaret song.) A life in ice shows means packing up your suitcase and taking the show on the (foreign) road.

My first job in an ice show, for Holiday On Ice, came with explicit instructions NOT to tell immigration that I was coming into the country to work. But in 1983, an airline ticket from the midwest to Switzerland was very expensive, so wouldn't a single, 19 year-old coming in on a one-way ticket with a large, large suitcase raise eyebrows? I guess they didn't care so much at that time.

That has not been the case for the Canadian skaters who came to the states to work under the table(without a visa). They often got a grilling. One skater I knew told me he mailed his skates ahead of his flight, wore a suit on the plane, and never traveled with his address book in a carry-on. Another skater got held up in customs for a full day because she was planning to skate the summer in Japan, but rehearse in the US. Immigration officials didn't like that idea. Yet another skater said goodbye to family and friends at an early Thanksgiving dinner (Canada's thanksgiving) to drive to the states for a Christmas skating gig, only to be turned around at the border (immigration went through his address book).

As an American I'm glad I never faced that kind of scrutiny with the border to the north. But then again, I never got hired for any of the shows in Canada either.

October 14, 2008

The VP

Well, I've spoken on some of the issues. But what the election is all about (this time) is the running mate ... so I'll propose one too.

There are so many good, good show skaters out there, past and present. But I have to go with the one that fills the bill as the best VP - it's my blog after all.



Wayne Seybold



As you may have read the article on Icenetwork, he's now a mayor in Marion, Indiana. He could be a REAL candidate. Marion's population at the 2006 Census was 30,830. (Compare that to a small, random town in, say, Alaska at 9780.). He's got actual political experience. Always handy when negotiating contracts for big name skaters.

Plus, he's a great guy. He was the company manager of one of the dozen or so Nutcracker shows and kept our little skating family happy. He also managed to skate for only two minutes (out of a 90 minute show) and could take his skates off for good by intermission. Great time management right there.

And you'll have to trust me on this next one, but he got the "3 am phone call" in that show and rose to the occasion. Some egos, lots of chaos, and last minute re-choreography, all in one night. Suffice to say, he was cool under pressure.

Now I hear you saying, he won't excite the base like a certain mom of the other icy sport variety!

I've got that one figured out. He could have his sister, Natalie, at his side, literally for the rallies, speeches, even the inaugural -- maybe in pair position instead of this spiral one-- and she could excite the base.

Natalie's much, much cuter than you know who!

October 10, 2008

More Election Issues


Aaron of Axels, Loops and Spins wrote and asked me about Energy policy. (Confession - I just discovered his website yesterday and it's amazing! I can't believe I've missed it all this time.)

So here you go Aaron, two more policies for today -

Energy: As a show skater, you might think that we were/are athletes in prime condition and I would say, in my case, you would be wrong. Remember, the nice thing about skating the same show everynight ... you don't need to practice anymore. Your body goes on automatic pilot - even for the principals and their triple jumps. Of course, the showgirl diet of wine and cigarettes, may help one look better from a far, but doesn't really help out the cardio.

So for one Capades skater, who always picked between his A, B or C show, you can probably guess what he gave you on a Saturday matinee of a three show day. (That's a hint for you the next time you buy tickets for Disney On Ice. Don't go with the 10:30 am show on a Thursday.)

The best part of my energy plan was in Japan, where I got hooked on a drink from a tiny little brown bottle called "Real Gold." It was the perfect choice between shows, when I didn't want a big ol' sandwich to show up in my gut halfway between the bra and g-string costume. It was a combination drink of vitamins, caffein, and nicotine. Liquid Cigarettes that tasted like a Flinstones chewable! Mmmmmm! Couldn't get enough of those, because like real cigarettes, I got addicted.

and

War: I tried to stay out of them. But many times the dressing room was on the front line. They were often between the principal and understudy, but two chorus girls fighting over the same guy could produce some damamge too. In my tenure, I witnessed the usual screaming, swearing and backstabbing, heard rumors of costume tampering, planting evidence (of the snack food kind) and undeserved fines. But most of the wars did not go nuclear, because of the close quarters we were in. Living, working and socializing together. So unless you were planning to quit the show with your skates still on (it happened), you had to plan your attack carefully.

Stay tuned for the running mate - I'm vetting the short list this weekend!

October 8, 2008

Election Issues


Okay, as I was scrambling for a topic today ... (How do Lifeskate and Required Elements do it? Hats off to you!) I realized I've been too distracted reading up on the election.

Maybe living in another country right now gives me an excuse to hang on every word and every other article, but I've got to slow it down. I've known who I was going to vote for since the primaries and unless one of the candidates bites the head off of a chicken in the next debate, all the news I can digest won't change my mind.

So allow me to get back to the world of ice shows and answer the election issues as only a show skater would.

Economy: For skaters of the chorus variety, this is not a good outlook. Most of the shows I did, I was pretty poor. Right down there with starving artist/perpetual student status. Indeed, in Holiday On Ice, the skaters had to pay for their own hotel rooms (like Capades and domestic Disney), so sometimes by the end of the week, there wasn't enough money to eat. But on the bright side, that helped my weigh-in at the end of the week.

Health Care: What health care? Actually, I was covered in Holiday, but the rumor was try not to get sick in your first year, because you have to pay H.E.P.A. out of pocket first and then wait years for reimbursement.

It seemed a little better for Capades - as long as you got sick or injured on the ice. Hello workman's comp! Yes, there is the story of one skater who busted his ankle skiing on his day off, hobbling into work the next day, putting on his skates and gingerly walking to the ice backstage in order to fall and scream out "My ankle!"

It was a little better for me in Japan - where you were fortunately covered by government insurance, but unfortunately, I couldn't understand a thing the doctors said to me. I developed a nasty rash under my arms in the third month I got there (spread it down the pinwheel and earned the nickname "Germ Queen") and went to the doctor for medicine. In Japan, doctors earn money by how many prescriptions they provide, meaning I walked out with six different creams and no idea which one might work.

and finally

Foreign Policy: I skated in eight different countries, so I gained experience after being so naive at first. In fact, by my fourth show in Japan, I became the unofficial tour guide to Tokyo for the new skaters. From my own trial and error, I showed them the shopping highlights (Harajuku's Takeshita Dori), which bars to enter after the requisite stop to the Hard Rock in Roppongi (Deja Vu or the Train Bar) and where to hang out while you're completely spent - both literally and figuratively - waiting for the 6 am trains to start up (the upstairs of Mister Donut).

So there are my election issues. In my next post, I'll tell you about my running mate. I'm open to suggestions!

October 6, 2008

Required Skills for Showgirls


Climbing Stairs!

Went way out of town this weekend to a city with some ancient ruins. You know those tall, tall pyramids that were started in something like 200 B.C. when people had a lot more free time. Why did they make these things so tall?

And steep? Really steep? We had to walk down the stairs diagonally.

Halfway down and hanging on for dear life, I flashed back to my time skating, when we showgirls had to walk the narrow stairs, with blades - that add another three inches to the length - and without looking down at the stairs.

But I can hear you saying, Vegas showgirls make it look easy. They do, because they're wearing high heels which shorten the length of their feet.

Still, they can't look down either.

Stairs were a skill that took practice, although I looked like an idiot practicing walking down stairs during open ice time. Some were naturally better at it - not me - than others. And it seemed to have little connection to what jumps a skater could land. More about grace and an aversion to accidents.

One night I proved it was not my forte when I took one step at the top and slid off the staircase, about twelve feet down, landing on the ice in a big blur of red sequins to the horror of my cast mates. And by the laws of ice show etiquette, they couldn't laugh at me until they saw I was okay. When I didn't get up at the speed of light, the law of falling in skating in shows or competition, they had to sweat it out for a minute.

So, I'm grateful that yesterday I didn't fall back to my showgirl ways and tumble down the side of a pyramid or my next post would be about this crazy country's medical system.

October 2, 2008

More Skaters Reuniting



This is a call out to any of you who skating in Holiday On Ice .... Facebook wants to find you, say hello and get your picture. Please join up. It's a great way to find out what everyone's up to ....

Val Mileham Abraham is collecting all contact information in order to make it easier to keep contact for future reunions, connections, etc.

She has requested that we send her an email with our contact information. You can feel free to share as much or little as you like. this list will not be public... but used for mailing lists for reunion news in the future. For example, I gave Val all my info, I do not want to be lost in the shuffle, so she has mailing address, phone numbers, email, etc. You send what you feel you are comfortable with.

Please send to this email address which has been set up only for contact info.

val-abe@cox.net

And, thanks to some little birdie at the Prague reunion... there is a NICE, France reunion in the works for 2010. What better place to have the next one (aside from Vegas of course) than Nice in September, 2010. Roland is on the committee along with others, so this should be an amazing time for all. Thanks to the wonderful reunion in Prague we have an idea of how it is done WELL!! With enough notice we will reach those who might have missed out for Prague... we are not getting younger and who better to spend time with than those with such a wonderful experience in common. Who else can understand our laughter and tears.

So, start saving your money, start planning your holiday time... and get excited! If you are having trouble in the excitement area... just send Roland an email, he will get you going!!

In the meanwhile, send an email to Val... let's get the ball rolling!!


So start saving for Nice. Hope you can make it!

September 28, 2008

Reminder of Ice Capades Reunion in Vancouver


Don't forget the reunion's coming up! October 18th! Email me if you need more details.

Remember kids, this is for the real Ice Capades, not the mystery tv show JoJo's been quiet about.

Anyone on the west coast should try to get on up there. You could see what tickets for the Olympics are going to cost right now!

September 22, 2008

Figure Skaters and Traffic


I just got a new driver's license today. I hope I never have to use it. I'm glad to walk here. The driving in this country is insane - one part video game and one part chicken. Stop signs in my neighborhood are ignored and stop lights are optional.

Yesterday, we witnessed a car make a left turn from the far right lane (of three lanes) during a red light. Why? Because he could, I guess.

It makes being a pedestrian here like playing a frogger. But I'm good at it. Why? Because I'm was a figure skater. Anyone who has been on an over-sold freestlye session knows.

You know how some people make it to the top of the escalator, take two steps and stop? And the same folks who drag heavy suitcases through the gateway at the airport and stop three steps beyond it to look for their next gate? These are not figure skaters. Figure skaters know that seats 23A through 40E are still walking off the plane. Figure skaters know what's behind them as much as what's in front.

I know there've been collisions from time to time, but that only makes us better for the next time. (Here's my alternate theory for another day .... just like drivers there are defensive and offensive skaters. Guess which ones win the medals? They manage to dodge or more likely intimidate the other skaters, avoiding puncture marks. Either tactic makes you a better competitor.)

But back to my first point ... Figure skaters are good in a crowd of people ... we can dart, dodge and bypass folks as well as any basketball or soccer player. Unfortunately, this is nothing you can put on your resume or even use to help pass skating tests.

But here, it helps me get across the street safely!

September 16, 2008

Need a Job for Christmas?

Germany's nice that time of year.


From Fiona Kirk of Global International Shows


Looking for skaters - 1 GIRL, 2 BOYS, Xmas show in Europapark, Germany. Contract from 29th Nov.2008- 11 Jan.2009 with rehearsal from around the 24thNov.2008. Maximum 3 shows/day plus 1 parade. Accommodation,travel and 1 meal/day provided.

Please include resume, photos, DVD or Youtube link when applying for the post.

Francis Demarteau
Tel: (+32)478642247
E-mail: francisde_7@hotmail.com

Fiona Kirk
Rosengarten
17 Mahlberg
77972 Germany

September 10, 2008

Remembering Brian Wright



For anyone that knew Brian, they would know what a loss his death was to the skating community.

He was a fantastic skater, phenomenal choreographer, and as funny as he was smart. And he was very smart.

I know this is a cheesy picture, but it's from 1987. What do you expect? Even then, he had style.

I had the personal good fortune to skate in a show with Brian before he officially became choreographer to the stars and charged accordingly. We had a lot of free time in this show so he choreographed programs for me and others. It's too bad no one had a video camera at the time, because it showcased his range and talent as a choreographer.

His best work (although they are hard to pick from) in my opinion was Michael Weiss's long program to Santana. It was so fresh and original. I heard a rumor that the day Brian died (in Seattle) the fire alarm went off in Michael Weiss's rink (in Fairfax). Hmmm. Coincidence?

Well, I'll stop blabbing and let you read Christine Brennan's article on Brian in the USA Today if you want. One thing Christine, he was 42, not 43.

Thank you Brian for all the great memories on and off the ice!

September 8, 2008

The Best Five Ice Show Themes on TV and Film

Well, I finally saw the movie "Blades of Glory" yesterday and it inspired me to put down my five top ice show themes from tv and movies ... it may be that there aren't too many more than these five out there, but here is what made the list.

5. "Jeffersons On Ice" from the movie King Pin.


There isn't much of a visual on this one, just a line near the end of the movie, "Look, the Jeffersons on Ice. I love that Sherman Helmsley." Makes me crack up every time. "Go, Weezy, Go".

4. "Smoochy On Ice" from the movie "Death To Smoochy"

This ice show gets much more play in this movie and though the Smoochy character, which is suppose to be a parody of Barney, reminds me more of the Smurfs from Ice Capades. Never mind it's a children's show, the ice show theme steals a sequence straight from the film "Manchurian Candidate".

3. "Krusty On Ice" from the Simpsons

The opening of this episode shows Krusty at the center of a pinwheel with all the skater babes in line around him. My favorite part of this show is when the crew comes in during the second half to tear down the ice to put in the basketball floor.

2. "Grublets On Ice" from the movie "Blades of Glory"

Obviously after the Jeffersons and Smoochy, they had to ramp up the "D-list ice show" theme, so "Grublets On Ice" was a pretty good choice. While I never personally skated as or with the "Evil Wizard" (Will Ferril's character), I have felt like throwing up in my skin (a.k.a. character costume) before.

and my #1 Fake Ice Show Theme from tv or movies?

1. "Ice Capades - The Reality TV Show" with unknown skaters, judges (except for JoJo Starbuck) and tv network.

This one hasn't even aired yet, so I really shouldn't compare it with the other four. Perhaps the real show will be behind the scenes of the lawyers as the old owners/producers of Ice Capades sue the new ones.

Stay tuned!

September 5, 2008

Mini Ice Capades Reunion in Vancouver

Thought I should pass this on from Gloria Spoden

Hi Gang:

I know that not everyone is signed up on the Ice Capades Performers site, but thought you’d like to know that there is a mini-reunion coming to the Vancouver area on Sat. Oct. 18th.

Just thought I’d pass it on as it would be fun to meet more alumni and get a taste of what’s to come when we meet for the big reunion in 2010.

If you know of anyone who lives in the Vancouver or Seattle areas, please forward this on to them as I’m sure there are more gypsies out there who would like to get re-connected.

2010 will be upon us before you know it. Details will be out as soon as we get the cruise schedule.

Gloria

September 1, 2008

Rachael Flat with Band Together



I know you've read about her and seen the famous braces all over the place, but I wanted to mention it again, since she was a guest skater at the Ice Capades Audition show with JoJo Starbuck, as reported by LakePlacidSkater.

I know, I know, I can't get enough of Ice Capades coming back. As I predicted in this older post!

But I never thought it would be so in terms of a reality tv show. Then again, what haven't they done in a reality tv show yet? Did any of you catch "Skating's Next Star" on the WE network? I'll save that for another blog ...

Now back to Rachael and those fabulous braces ... She's a figure skater, orthodontic patient and 2010 winter games hopeful - urging the 5 million plus North Americans with braces to flash their pearly whites, reds and blues in support of Team USA. She is ‘Banding Together’ with the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) to support Team USA by wearing patriotic-colored bands on her braces.

You can find out more about Rachael and the ‘Band Together’ campaign at www.braces.org/bandtogether

August 27, 2008

Lake Placid Skater Writes About Ice Capades Audition



Here's an article by LakePlacidSkater about the auditions this past weekend for Ice Capades. Please check it out. Unfortunately, she can't dish too much, because she promised confidentiality.

Doesn't surprise me ... The Ice Capades website isn't including too many details either ... like who the judges, the skaters and the novelty acts are or even what network the reality show will be on. Will they go into Ice Capades history or just ignore the storied name? (At the bottom of the website they state that they have nothing to do with the former.)

So all of those unanswered questions will have to wait until it airs. That's why I'm grateful for Christie's article.

Thanks LakePlacidSkater!

August 24, 2008

Ice Charades Has Moved!


... not the blog, but the girl herself.

So sorry that I haven't been posting regularily ... I've got a lot of posts to catch up on. For those of you that sent me emails, I will post them.

But it was a little crazy while Ice Charades and her family moved out of the good 'ol US of A - packing up the house, squaring away the visas, canceling all the mail and utilities, and saying goodbye.

It took four packers, three movers (luckily no shakers), two trucks and eight pages of inventory t0 empty out our house over the course of three days. And we had a little house! Man it adds up.

Looking at all the boxes stacked up on our sidewalk made me nostalgic for the days on the road when all I owned I could fit in one large suitcase and half a trunk. Okay, okay, I probably had a few cardboard boxes sitting in my mom's attic, but it was nice traveling so light.

The suitcases needed to be as light as we could manage, because we had to lug them up and down the stairs at the train stations. Usually when boarding the trains, the strongest guys would help by throwing my suitcase through the train door, like a throw double axel. But getting off the train it was usually every man or showgirl for themself.

Travel days to me (with Holiday On Ice at least) were often more tiring than show days. But they were more exciting too.

So this travel day I had two suitcases and I one big "trunk" (with 1400 pounds of "necessities" being shipped via the company and hopefully not held up in customs).

Again, I'm sorry to be behind with postings, but now that I'm back on the internet with a Skype phone, it's like I haven't left the Midwest. I'll try my best to keep you posted on the Ice Capades reality show.

August 12, 2008

Ice Capades is Back


and coming to a TV show near you! Dust off your skates, get out your fishnets, and get ready for your closeup! This, from their website ...

The Ice Capades™ team will be conducting auditions for their new reality show and tour slated for the 2009 season on Saturday August 16th, 2008 from 8:00am to 5:00pm at the Olympic Center in Lake Placid, NY. Those selected to participate in this first of several preliminary rounds will be introduced on August 17th on the Ice at 7:30pm as part of the Citizens Bank Saturday Night Ice Show, featuring Ice Capades at the Olympic Center – 1980 Rink Herb Brooks Arena.

We’re looking for skating performers and acts of all kinds - jugglers, clowns, comedians, barrel jumpers, and chorus girls.

I'll keep you posted, as best I can, on who auditions (one of my dear friends is giving it a try), who makes it, and who makes the show interesting.

JoJo Starbuck is slated to be one of the judges, but I don't think she's going to be the Simon Cowell of ice show reality shows. Who do you think they'll get?

July 23, 2008

Update on Beijing

We won't be seeing Kathryn at the Olympics this year. I think she explains it best - here's excerpts from her 13th post ...

I finish that stage, barely, and the final two days of the race. Every day there is a chance for points. Every day there is a fight to the finish line. Every day I try. But I come up short. The points cut-off date approaches, and since I don't have the 45 it would take to rank me among the top 100 cyclists in the world, I won't be an Olympian in 2008. And that is that.

Though it is nearly impossible to describe precisely the emotion that comes with the ending of my quest, the best I can do is this: fulfilled emptiness. I have emptied myself physically and emotionally into my goal. I left it all on the line.

No one, myself included, should be able to make an Olympic team with less than two years of experience. If that starts happening, we need a new Olympics. Maybe 20 years ago a few "fringe" sports had so few competitors it was "easier" to qualify for the Olympics. But not today. There is not one sport on the Olympic roster that is easy -- trust me, I've tried them all.

So, whether my readers have been rooting for me or against me, let there be one thing everybody can agree on about this quest: The Olympics are no joke. The Games are stronger than ever. I was a professional athlete going into this project, and I'm twice as strong now -- head, heart and body -- as when I started, so I can attest to the fact that the athletes who are going to Beijing deserve to be going, and those who did not qualify can hold their heads high knowing they competed against the very best.

Two words -class and dignity.

Coaches out there should be taking notes from her 13th post, because there are enough psychology-of-competition nuggets to get you through Regionals to Nationals and beyond.

I'll still be catching some of the Olympics (I've got my money on the fireworks in the Opening Ceremonies) but it won't be the same without the former showgirl there.

Well done, Kathryn.

July 21, 2008

Ice Capades kicks the Bucket

This article in Slate states Ice Capades is dead.

Okay, no secret there. Below is a quote from the article. You can also read the whole article here.

"The Ice Capades is dead. America's most glorious ice carnival, which barnstormed civic centers for nearly six decades, vanished about five years ago. That its death has gone largely unreported is puzzling."

First off, two things ... 1) Five years ago? It was more like ten years ago, buddy - nice investigative work - he obviously doesn't know there have already been two reunions in 2000 and 2005 and 2) why is this covered in Slate? Don't they have some campaigns to write about?

But back to the article - it's not puzzling to me. I'm willing to proclaim that Stars on Ice and Tour of Champions shoved the sword in the belly (nice and flat and sucked in - thank you very much) but the "Stars" didn't want to shout about it.

As the article points out all of those skating champions decided they didn't want to play second fiddle to Goofy or Big Bird, and I can't blame them.

But here's my prediction - Ice Capades will make a comeback (limited time only).

I think the television audience is getting tired of seeing those champions rework the same old signature jumps and spins into new show programs presented with yet another singer who has slid down the charts a ways.

Don't get me wrong, they are great skaters, but they can't do a kickline, eggbeater or pinwheel in their programs by themselves (and they can't do one together either.) Sorry Brian, not your specialty, you're the triple axel man, and we love you for it.

So for the sake of variety (and time for costume changes) I think a new ice show with a couple of well-choreographed chorus number would be a big hit on TV. (Are you listening Karen Kresge? Paul Guerrero? Chris Nolan? You guys could do it!)

Any predictions out there if and when Ice Capades returns?

July 14, 2008

Skating Dreams

and it's not getting to the Olympics ...

The other day my colleague at lunch asked our server if she'd ever had waitressing dreams. "Oh, all the time," she answered.

Back when I waited tables, I had them too. I would get all my tables' orders mixed up ... I'd have to go through locked rooms with piles and piles of food .... I couldn't find my way to the kitchen....

Well, those were short lived. Skating dreams (or should I say nightmares) took over and twelve years after my last show I still get them. How about you guys?

They always revolve around two themes: 1)not knowing the choreography, but having to go out and skate anyway or 2) making a mad dash to the ice, frantically putting on my costume, but never making it on time.

In the ice show world there are big fines for either.

I suppose the adult skaters out there have similar themes: forgetting their program or having their named called for the start of their program but not being on the ice.

Oooh, our brains do crazy things when we're not looking. Tell me your dreams (nightmares) ...

July 7, 2008

Figure Skater in the Olympics

... and it's not Vancouver, people. This athlete was a former show skater, so I'm very proud to announce Kathryn Bertine here. She's also an elite triathlete and accomplished writer. Amazing.

First - here's a fun fact that ties in with this post. Did you know that Figure Skating was the first winter sport debuted in the 1908 London SUMMER Olympic Games? Take that hockey.

So, figure skating has an old connection to the Summer Olympics. Now we have Kathryn, former show and competitive figure skater trying to qualify for Beijing in a summer sport. She didn't make it as a pentathlete, team handball competitor or U.S. cyclist, but through a lot of training and tenacity (not to mention citizenship from St. Kitts/Nevis in a brilliant marketing campaign for the islands) she could be going as their cyclist.

Yes, this girl basically bought her ticket to Beijing first and then went for the sport giving her the best chance of qualifying. Check out this post of her blog - So You Wanna Be An Olympian?

I also want to plug her book - All The Sundays Yet To Come- about life in an ice show - here as well.

You Go Girl! We'll be looking for you in the Opening Ceremony!

June 30, 2008

Calling the PR Department

... of King'sSixFlag'sBusch'sSeaWorld'sKnott'sGreatAmerica's Theme Park -

Why is it that there is rarely any press/commercial screen time/endorsements of the ice shows inside your park? Are you hiding it?
When I skated for King's Dominion and Williamsburg Busch Gardens, both times the ice shows were the #1 live attraction. Now don't get me wrong, people, I know nothing beats the latest/tallest/fastest rollercoaster for these theme parks, but the ice shows were packing them in -- if nothing else, so people could sit down and cool off -- Virginia in August anyone?

When I was at Busch Gardens, the park orginally scheduled two shows daily. Then the wizards working the numbers and crowd control realized the park would make more money if they canceled the early show and made people who wanted to see the show (a.k.a. the groupies) wait until 9 pm, meaning they would have to eat at the park, rather than catch the early show and head to town for dinner afterward.

Can a rollercoaster do that? Do they have groupies?

I know, I know, they probably do.

June 25, 2008

Ice Classics 1948 - A History Lesson



I got an email from Mark Traversino, whose father started a small ice tank show (tank = putting a sheet of ice anywhere you can) in 1948.

They wound up in Manilla, by his account, the first ice skating show that ever hit Asia.

Mark was the piano player for the show and his sister, Marion Traversino, pictured on the right, was the female principal, along with her co-star Buddy Schroff, pictured on the left.

Fascinating stuff for any ice show skater to discover how it all got started. Here's the link (warning: if you're at your cube, you probably don't want the music to come on - set your speakers to mute) to his website that has many more photos, a YouTube link to skating in the '50s, and press clippings galore.

I pointed Mark to the PFSC Historical Foundation, which is where any of you should go, should you have stories like this to share. There's a link to the PFSC on the right, or you can click here.

Let's keep the history alive - thanks Mark! - can you hear Hollywood calling?

June 19, 2008

Calling all Showgirls and Guys .... to Sun Valley


Brought to you from the folks at the PFSC:

In case you haven't seen this advertised anywhere else ....

Sorry, I couldn't find the date, so if you're interested, email them.


2008 Show Skating Seminar
New posting
The 2nd Annual PFSC Show Skating Seminar will take place from 10:00 am - 12:00 pm Mountain Time in Sun Valley, Idaho on the Indoor rink. Any skater over the age of 13 is invited to join. If you or anyone you know is interested in attending, please contact us at info@proskaters.org Some of the topics covered will be.. -what to put on your resume -how to present yourself to producers -what to do and what not to do when signing a contract - theater class -edge class -character class -show tricks -introduction to adagio/pairs -much more...


2008 Annual Meeting in Sun Valley, Idaho USA New posting
The 2008 PFSC Annual Meeting will take place in Sun Valley again this summer. All members are welcome and encouraged to attend either in person or via internet at by logging into this website and going to the Chat room in the Resources folder during the meeting time. Member meeting - 3 p.m. - 4 p.m MT. The meeting will take place on the terrace between outdoor rink and Sun Valley Lodge. Please email info@proskaters.org for more information.




Facebook
Check out our Facebook Page! Go to www.facebook.com and search for the group Professional Figure Skaters Cooperative