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Puppet Confidential

July 21, 2002|GINNY CHIEN

Marionettes, animated socks and their puppet brethren gathered at Cal State Northridge for the "Day of Puppetry Jamboree." Hosted by the Los Angeles Guild of Puppetry, the affair featured workshops with titles such as "Anatomy of a Hand Puppet" and "How to Write a Great TV Script for Puppets." We spoke with a few incurable hams, whose handlers may have been pulling our strings.

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Horse

Found-Object Marionette

Christine Papalexis

45, Puppeteer, Los Angeles

How did you break into show biz?

I was cast in this dream part. I play the horse in "Amaterasu." It's about the sun goddess of Japan.

How do you grab an audience?

By being very dramatic. People love drama.

What's worst about puppet life?

Life is usually grand, but onstage, I have this really dramatic death scene.

Are you and your puppeteer alike?

We both love to run wild and free, but I'm much more free than she is. She has a very boring car.

How do you get a good performance out of your puppeteer?

We feed off of each other. If I'm on, she's on.

Which famous puppet do you admire?

I've always been fond of Topo Gigio from "The Ed Sullivan Show."

He was so charming.

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Mother Goose

Marionette

Philip Morrison

60, Arts Professor, Cal State Northridge, Altadena

How did you break into show biz?

First I was a gourd, honey. I was growing on a vine, and someone put papier-mache on me.

How do you grab an audience?

Honey, it's all eye contact.

Are you and your puppeteer alike?

I think I'm his alter ego. A tiny part of him is always in my heart.

How do you get a good performance out of your puppeteer?

We have to be rested, and we have to have good lighting. I'm gettin' on in age, you know.

Which famous puppet do you admire?

Jerry Mahoney. He was a dummy from the '50s. Always thought he was kind of cute. Howdy Doody's OK, but he smiles too much.

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Frances

Glove Puppet

David J. Candelaria

26, Puppeteer/Stop-Motion Animator, Canyon Country

How did you break into show biz?

I'm really loud and obnoxious.

How do you grab an audience?

How do you think I grab an audience? I'm the brightest star in the sky.

Best and worst about life as a puppet?

I tend to make people run and hide.

Are you and your puppeteer alike?

I'm the king and he's the village idiot.

How do you get a good performance out of your puppeteer?

Just throw him a bone sometimes.

Which famous puppet do you admire?

Punch, from "Punch and Judy." He was totally disruptive. It was great.

"Pinocchio" versus "The Muppet Movie"?

Pinocchio wants to be a "real boy," so who cares about that guy?

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JoJo

Hand-and-Rod Puppet

Gregory Ballora

37, Puppeteer, Los Angeles

How did you break into show biz?

I had a guest spot on the "Keenan Ivory Wayans Show." I was on set with a transvestite, some prostitutes and me. It was a "Sesame Street" spoof.

How do you grab an audience?

I grab them by the jugular. Just take hold and don't let go.

What's your day job?

Loafing around the house. It's sweet. Greg does most of the work.

What's the role of puppets in society?

World domination.

Are you and your puppeteer alike?

He used to be furrier, but not anymore.

Why would people skip "Must-See TV" for a puppet show?

Human beings are limited by flesh. You can drop me off a 10-story building and I'll be fine. Try doing that with Jennifer Aniston.

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