Page 23                                             Spring 1987

The last weekend features Ben Decker and his comedy juggling. Unlike other shopping centers, such as San Francisco's Pier 39 and Boston's Fanuiel Hall, Seaport Village has chosen to keep the number of jugglers at a minimum to limit competition for space, material overlap and "pass-the­hat politics" that so often plague areas with more entertainers than space.


By far the most ambitious juggler working in the San Diego area, Decker is also the only performer not associated with a single location. He performs regularly at Seaport Village, Horton Plaza (a shopping mall) and two cruise ships out of the Los Angeles area. When asked about performing on a moving ship with 7-1/2 foot ceilings, he joked, "I wear knee pads and take a lot of dramamine. "


Decker's nightclub routines are filled with original comedy that is delivered with a "nice-guy" approach. His performance includes a three ball routine complete with head rolls, a scarf routine that is as silly as it is stupid, a bowling ball routine and neck catch, and a rola-bola using a volunteer to hand him knives and be the subject of light-hearted humiliation.


Other jugglers and street performers often visit the area, but few stay for any length of time. Juggler Ron Meyers performed in San Diego for a few months before moving on to Los Angeles. Daniel Holzman and Barry Friedman, the Raspyni Brothers, occasionally come down from Los Angeles to work on the weekends, and some San Francisco performers have stop­ped in and done shows.


Juggler and unicyclist Chuck Marquette has also been working in Balboa Park, riding a 22-foot unicycle between the museum buildings for his finale. San Diego also has a few part-time performers who work on nights and weekends.


This group includes Susie Williams, a college student at U.C. San Diego, Brad French, and "Air Technology," a new group consisting of Milt Tate, Gaye Tate and Dick Rainer. The part-time performers are generally happy only doing occasional shows. Williams said, "I only do about five shows a month, so each one is special to me. I don't have the pressures of performing every day, but I have enough work so that I can improve and try new things. "


What each San Diego performer wants to do in the future is as varied as the areas they perform in. "Sea World and Balboa Park are OK for developing an act. The pay isn't good, but it's steady work and a good experience. Now I hope to get back in a European circus," Wiles said.


David Kell, who is a licensed chiropractor but prefers juggling and its easy-going lifestyle, is content with his present position at Seaport Village. "I hope to be doing this the rest of my life," he said. Hershey would like to continue his recent trend towards nightclub work and find some fame and fortune if it happens. . 'Sure, I've got one eye on Vegas, but I take things as they come," Jim answered when asked about his future.


Decker, who graduated from DC-San Diego with a computer science degree but makes his living as an entertainer, has mixed feelings about his plans. "More than anything, I want to be comfortable in life. If that means juggling, that's great. I'll always be pushing for bigger gigs, but while I'm promoting myself I'm also keeping up with other things like computers and real estate. I love what I'm doing, but I realize it might not last forever."

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