Christopher

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Dance-Puppeteer

There is no doubt that upon witnessing Christopher’s act, audiences will he treated to a unique form of puppetry they have never seen before.

 

No strings attached.

For nearly two decades, Christopher has been entertaining audiences across the country and around the world with his unique and original blend of puppetry and dance. When he performs, you really believe you are watching 5 people dance simultaneously, when in actuality there is only one person.

Actually the artist, who was the 2002 Grand Prize winner in the “30 Minutes to Fame” TV competition, uses poles to move his act into the realm of one of the most creative and unique self-invented puppet tiers seen anywhere in the world. The only problem seems to be that Christopher doesn’t quite know what to call this new level of art.

“Because I invented my act, I have no point of reference for it,” he says. “So I have one of those hyphenated careers, dancer-puppeteer, because I don’t quite know what to call it. It’s one of those things you have to see.”

Let it suffice to say that utilizing long poles and four adult-sized puppets -- with Christopher in the middle – the talented artist is able to be all five Village People at one time, full-fledged dancing and other movements included.

It was the day after Halloween back in 1985 that Christopher, then a factory worker, first came up with the concept, which he thought was impossible at the time. He had entered a Halloween costumes contest and had lost and afterwards pondered what he could have done to have won.

“At the time, Michael Jackson was really famous and the song ‘Thriller’ was really big,” Christopher recalls. “I thought to myself, what if I could have been all of the Jackson 5? I then started thinking about how I could be five people and thought of life-sized puppets. Somewhere in that thought process, I began to see it less as a costume and more as an act.”

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But not knowing how to build puppets, Christopher had no idea of how to make them move. He realized that he had to be on a level with them and that the use of strings would mean that he would have to be above the puppets and also that he would only be able to make their arms and legs move in one direction at a time. He wanted to make them walk and dance, which meant being able to move their arms and legs in both directions. He realized that to do that, he would have to be in the middle. He thought of using long poles but gave up on the idea because, again, he thought it was impossible.

A year later, having left his factory job because he was making a living performing in lip synch contests, Christopher once again thought of the Jackson 5. He realized at that time that it was not an impossible task to accomplish, just a difficult one. He felt that while he might not be able to simulate every body movement, he could still make them move. So on April 8, 1986, Christopher, with the help of some friends, built his puppet act.

“Initially the body movements were as limited as I expected them to be,” he recalls, smiling. “I just didn’t expect all the body parts to fall off.”

As a result, Christopher ended up restructuring his invention. He went to Home Depot and bought chicken wire, wrapped it into body parts and wired them all together. He used wig heads for heads but because Styrofoam couldn’t successfully be spray painted, he had to put paper mache over the Styrofoam before painting the faces. Jheri curl wigs and aviator sunglasses completed the picture and poof, instant Jackson 5. (Audiences will also experience this and some James Brown in Christopher’s act.)

Christopher’s big break came shortly afterwards when his hired a manager who booked him on “The Late Show” starring Joan Rivers. Before he could go on, however, Rivers was fired and the show continued with guest comedians. Christopher ended up being on the very first show that Arsenio Hall hosted. It was a show that Arsenio’s good friend Eddie Murphy was watching. Murphy flipped over Christopher’s act and ended up taking Christopher on the road with him around the country as his opening act for his “Raw Tour” for three months in 1987.

Since that time, Christopher has performed at the Ford Theatre for President George Bush Sr. (1990) and has been seen on TV shows, including the “American Comedy Awards (1995), “The 30th Anniversary of Caesars Palace (1996) and, of course, “30 Seconds to Fame” (2002).

He has performed for 2 US Presidents, Prince Rainier of Monaco and Princess Margaret of England. He's been featured at casinos in Monte Carlo, Switzerland, Bahrain (in the Middle East) and Atlantic City. His indefinite engagement in “Ovation,” however, is his first long-term gig in a variety show.

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Amongst numerous television performances, he has appeared on "The Tonight Show" with Jay Leno, "The American Comedy Awards", "Caesar Palace's 25 Anniversary Special", as well as being a $25,000 winner on Fox's "30 Seconds to Fame." He has performed for 2 US Presidents, Prince Rainier of Monaco and Princess Margaret of England.

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