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It is a long journey to becoming a professional children’s theatre artist. This blog is the transformational tale of how Dustin Anderson became the children’s icon, The Purple Pirate. It is a non direct route of challenges and distractions overcome by perseverance and self discovery.
Committing to the bicycle as my sole form of transportation had it’s challenges. The obvious were time, weather, and smell. I could plan fairly well and arrive on time…but learned some the hard way.
I had just converted and thought that children would think that a pirates ship bicycle would be really cool. I hunted on the net and couldn’t figure it out how to do it with a road bike and when speaking to a fabricator about building something custom he suggested a recumbent. I was a little indignant at first but it had the best shape to be a pirate ship.
After some research I had decided that supporting a local bike company was what I wanted to do.
The bike was quite comfortable and getting it decorated like a pirate ship was really enjoyable. There was a large geeky component that was very fun. I thought it was cool and children also thought it was cool…but something about seeing a person sit down can make some people uncomfortable….especially when you ride to their home in Langley from Vancouver (about 28 kms – not a lot for an experienced cyclist).
To cycle for pleasure or fitness a distance takes a certain fitness level and understanding of diet. To add the added challenge of performing for children is another world. I didn’t understand how much I needed to eat in the beginning and would be “bonking” (low blood sugar) while performing. I would be dizzy and barely make it through.
I had to get specific costumes made so I could just get off the bike and go into a show. I had to have snacks ready to eat while cycling. I had to plan my route for efficiency and ease of travel. Some roads are friendlier than others. All this added a whole other dimension to being a performer.
I had a reputation with other performers for my commitment. It was intimidating for some. Magicians are notorious for ‘adopting’ others ideas and I remember one guy had heard about the press that I was getting and started cycling….he didn’t last. Poor guy had no idea what he was getting into.
One of the greatest benefits was that I could eat anything at anytime. At the start of this adventure I didn’t eat enough and got really thin and sickly. I think I even tried to go vegetarian shortly after and got anemic. Go hard or go home!!
I had some very prominent clients that had hired me for several of their children. I believe it was a January and I had 3 shows. The first one was in Delta, and the second one near UBC and third in East Van. It was drizzly and gray and my first show went well but I goofed on my food and started getting dizzy, a pedal broke, and I overestimated my ability to make up the time.
I was late and the client was not happy. I felt terrible but did the best I could do at that time. I did the show and then made my way to my third party. On my way down a large hill my brakes failed. The pads wore out faster than I had anticipated and I realised at a stop light. I was lucky that the taxi that wanted to turn across my path was patient.
I was also late to my third party and that client was understanding. I was gritty from the sand of the road and dizzy from the lack of food. It was a learning day for me. I never repeated those mistakes again.