November 20, 2014
“Aw! Don’t embawass me!” My partner-in-crime Lenny the Lion would say that, and the children would go wild. From an early age, I was fascinated with obtaining the skills of being a ventriloquist. Ventriloquy is a work of stagecraft where one can make their voice come from a specific direction or place. I originally started out with a cardboard box and pretend that there was someone in the box. He would say to me (and me doing the voice of course) “let me out of the box!” I was really skilled in ventriloquism, but I lacked the talent to make a narrative or tell a joke. So over-and-over again, I tried to work out a bit where a man or this voice is trapped in a cardboard box. At the time, I myself felt that I was stuck in a box. I wasn’t proficient in any sort of work, and school was something I did as a pastime - mostly throwing my voice in girl’s lockers in the hallway. It didn’t win me any dates, but it did get me attention that I craved for.
I read up on the history of ventriloquism, and originally it was a religious practice in ancient Greece. They called it gastromancy, which at the time they thought the sounds coming from the stomach were voices from the “unliving.” The ventriloquist would communicate with the voices in his stomach, and sometimes it was used to predict the future, as well as talking to the dead. In the 18th century, Ventriloquism became entertainment. The most famous ventriloquist of the period was Joseph Askins, who did dialogues “between himself and his invisible familiar, Little Tommy.” Over the centuries, the years, the decades, the usual act is between the ventriloquist and his or her’s dummy. The dummy is being a human being. What I did, and what was original at the time, was to have an animal as a dummy. So I was the first one to make an animal character who can speak. My invention, Lenny the Lion, became not only my pet, but after a while my best friend. As I got more famous, and started to do more shows throughout the U.K., I started to have full conversations with Lenny in the dressing room as a practice to warm up my voice. Over time, I found myself in deep and very serious conversations with Lenny.
Since he was a beast, he had some interesting insight into the human psyche. Over time, Lenny had a deep understanding of me, and I would like to think, that I too, had a profound effect on Lenny. It’s obvious that our relationship will not disappear with time. In fact, time will make our bond stronger. When I sleep at night, I usually put Lenny on top of a chair facing me. One time, I was awake when I heard his voice - it was nighttime, and the room was very dark. But usually from the bathroom night light I can make out Lenny - even though he’s in a shadow. But I had the feeling that night that there was someone else in the room. It didn’t scare me, because it seems Lenny was going to take care of the situation. But what I thought I saw was a man dressed in a coat, scarf, and hat. The thing is I couldn’t make out his face or his voice. It seemed like it wasn’t coming from his body. It took me awhile, but I then realized that Lenny was throwing his voice into this figure. At first, I thought the figure was a dummy, but I sense this ‘person’ was moving around. I sense life in this blank human being. He was sitting on a rocking chair by the entrance of my bedroom, and suddenly he got up from the chair. He came upon me and put his face close to mine. What I saw was a face with no facial features. It was flat, and there was no sign that he had eyes, mouth or nose. I sort of saw his ears, but even that, I’m not sure.
The next morning, I woke up looking at Lenny, and he didn’t seem to be move from his spot, and there was no trace of the “Blank” man. I asked Lenny if someone was here last night, but he told me he slept soundly throughout the night. I felt Lenny was lying to me, and this of course, caused a certain amount of heartache for me. From then on, I knew I could never trust my partner-in-crime. I did question him more about it, but he told me that I must have had an awaken dream, and I just imagined all of this. Yet, despite the fact that sounds practical, I got the feeling that he wasn’t telling me the truth.
My stage costume on the last tour was designed by Emilio Pucci. I usually work in drab theaters, so I felt a bit of color and glamour would be good for the act. The change of my costume seemed to perturb Lenny, and he would make cutting remarks to me when we were alone. We never brought up sex in our conversations, but all of sudden Lenny was calling me a sissy-boy. Him, a lion, calling me a sissy? That was a new one for me. Nevertheless our tour together is an endless one, and somehow I’m going to have to learn to work with Lenny, or not letting him bother me. What disturbs me the most is the wonderful intimacy that we have together, and now it has been shot to pieces, because of the appearance of this “blank’ man. Chemistry is extremely important for a relationship. One should not take these matters lightly.