Thursday, May 24, 2018

Pepe the Clown

I'm relatively shy. I don't like going up to people to ask for permission to take their photos, and in the case of performers I generally don't stick around after their performance to introduce myself (a lot of the performers tend to act really arrogant and stand-offish, too). So, for the first 4-5 years I was in Kagoshima, I'd take lots of event photos for the blog, but most of the musicians and jugglers I watched had no idea who I was. That changed somewhat about 3 years ago, when one of the other fans decided to talk to me. He's an older Japanese guy that is very outgoing and loves to dance right in front of the stage, and heckle the main singers. At one point, he decided that I was his friend, and he wanted to introduce me to his other friend, the lead singer of the SKA band Bon DX. From that point, Bon would wave "hi" to me, or talk a little, whenever I showed up at events he was playing at. Eventually, I'd get introduced to other singers, or I'd work up the courage to introduce myself, and then I'd tell them that I was putting their photos or video on Facebook or youtube. For the most part, these activities still remained fairly low-key.

Until the Kagoshima Music Fest the second weekend of May. I suddenly found myself talking to several musicians a lot more than I normally do, and some of them were actually coming up to me to talk between sets. I started thinking about working a little harder to become an "unofficial photographer of Kagoshima-based performers," and actively try to meet more people this way. This idea was given a bit more impetus when I got 100 likes on my KMF photos of Toshi the Wanderer, especially when one of the likes was by a Japanese stage magician. I like stage magic, and it would be nice to meet more magicians back, or off-, stage. I also thought I recognized this magician from his FB avatar photo, and that maybe I've seen him busking down at Dolphin Port.

So, I went to Dolphin Port during my break at the English school last Saturday. The above performer was setting up on the boardwalk, and I went up to him to ask if he'd been one of the people that liked Toshi the Wanderer's KMF photos. But, he turned out to be a different person from the magician I was expecting. He introduced himself as Pepe the Clown, and we talked for about 15 minutes. He's an incredibly nice guy, but fairly shy as well. Unfortunately, the weather was bad, and there were no tourists that day, so he decided to pack up all his gear and try again at a later day. I came back on Sunday, but the wind had shifted, blowing volcano ash from Sakurajima into Kagoshima, and we started getting drizzle in the afternoon. None of the buskers I've seen at Dolphin Port ever showed up that day.

Finally, I was at the Volunteer Center on Thursday, a stone's throw from Dolphin Port, and the weather was perfect. I swung by the Port, and discovered that Pepe was just starting up his routine. I realized then that I have seen him several times before at events in Tenmonkan, often teamed up with the juggler K@ito. There were a few tourists this time, but most of them were waiting to get into the restaurants for lunch, and didn't stay for the full routine. One German tourist did toss a few hundred yen ($2 USD) into Pepe's hat before continuing on his way, but I made a point of watching the entire act and then reintroducing myself when he was done. He said that this lack of crowds is normal during weekdays, but that he might do 4-5 more sets before the end of the day, and that he does get bigger audiences on the weekends. I hope that's true, because he is a hard worker and very dedicated to his art. I took a few photos and a sample video of his chair balancing act, otherwise I just watched and applauded to provide moral support. I had fun, and that's all that really matters (and, I did give him 500 yen when he passed the hat, too.)

Direct youtube link

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