LOVE AMONG THE CLOWNS
by Kirby Lindsay
Previously published, under a slightly different title, in the North Seattle Herald-Outlook on March 20, 2008
Since age five, Rebekah Ginda recalled, “I’ve said I wanted to be a clown.” After moving to Seattle in 2001, she took up with Cirque de Flambé and she thought her ambitions fully realized. How could she know she’d just begun.
“I saw him leading the [Fremont Arts Council Solstice] Parade back in 1995,” Katherine Bragdon recalled, “it truly was a love-at-first-sight crush.” Hearing the story umpteen times, a girlfriend jokingly dismissed him as ‘Theater-trash.’ Instead, when Katherine spotted her heartthrob around town, at Whole Foods and while collecting signatures for a petition, she thought of him by this nickname.
At Moisture Festival, the annual three-week vaudevillian showcase of comedy and variety performances held at Hale’s Palladium (4301 Leary Way North), love – and marriage – came to both women. As these couples relate their stories it was friendship, and the camaraderie among cast and crew, that made it possible.
In addition to his work on the Solstice Parade, Ted Lockery plays with the Fremont Philharmonic, one of the house bands for Moisture Festival. He and Katherine worked together on the 2004 and 2005 Festivals, and as she recalled, that time together “solidified our friendship. We became very good friends in the Moisture Festival trenches.”
According to Ted the band and the performers often pull pranks on one another, and Ted came up with many of those perpetrated by the band. “Often Katherine was my accomplice,” he explained, also, “we tore up phone books together.” For a closing night show, Katherine, then stage manager and now a producer, wanted confetti to rain down so Ted helped her create it.
Friendship didn’t morph until eight months after Ted became newly single. Then, coming home from a clown party they’d both attended, Ted recalled the moment Katherine, in full clown makeup, “confessed her feelings.”
A year later, in July of 2006, they married. “The whole band was there,” Katherine explained, “it was like an Oregon County Fair wedding – lots of men in skirts and people in sombreros.”
Moisture Festival isn’t their only common interest, but Ted and Katherine credit its atmosphere. “Every night the performers and producers have dinner,” Katherine explained, and from there collaborations and friendships develop. Ted agreed, “I think the dinners made a difference.”
“The major motivation [of Moisture Festival] is to create a place where performers can come together and celebrate,” Katherine explained, “the talent is high and the egos are low.” Ted suggested there might be more. “It is not so much who shows up but what happens there. There’s a magic to it.”
Magic remains a valid explanation. From only its second year, the Festival attracted remarkably talented performers from around the world, including father and son team, Hacki and Moeppi Ginda. Moeppi met Rebekah during his first Festival, as well as hers. Friends from Cirque had suggested Rebekah volunteer as a door babe (ticket taker/greeter.) “I like to dress in costume,” she explained, a primary motivator among many Festival volunteers.
Moeppi returned the following year to perform at the Festival, as well as “taking a screw gun to work” to help with construction and painting. He spent most days at the Festival, “Rebekah was there so I wanted to be there.” The feeling was mutual. According to Rebekah, the first time she had to say good-bye to Moeppi, “I could tell he was something special.”
Their wedding took place December 30, 2006. “Without Moisture Festival, there would be no us,” Rebekah admitted. “It is nice to come where people are for fun, not money,” Moeppi explained, “it is all about friends who come together to do a show.”
Without Moisture Festival, there would also be no Diemo Ginda. Festival co-producer, Sandy Palmer, declared him “the cutest baby in the world.” Moeppi recalled, “at age four I had to go into the big top tent and take a tricycle back from a clown.” At age one, their son Diemo already has stepped in to the family tradition. At last year’s Festival, Rebekah and Moeppi proudly brought their then three-month-old son into a performance. Audiences this year might have a chance to glimpse the now rambunctious toddler.
Last year, a Festival founder, Maque da Vis, married his long-time steady, Norma Baum, another Festival performer (N.S.H.O. Oct 19, 2007). When asked what has caused the Festival’s marital phenomena, Katherine referred to the “laughter that stays with you.” However, her husband, Ted, and Moeppi both joked about the shows’ convenient location, behind Hale’s Ale Brewery. “There is lots of beer,” Moeppi pointed out, “so that helps…”
For 2008, Moisture Festival runs March 27 – April 13. For more information about the Festival, and tickets, refer to www.moisturefestival.com or call 206/297-1405.
Kirby Lindsay works, lives and attends Festival shows in West Fremont. She welcomes your comments at email@example.com
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©2010 Kirby Lindsay. This column is protected by intellectual property laws, including U.S. copyright laws. Reproduction, adaptation or distribution without permission is prohibited.