We asked Ronn about some of his favorite things...
Sammy Davis Jr. He was always good in movies and TV, but just once when I got to see him live, I left the theater feeling truly astonished! He made me aware that an entertainer can LIVE every single moment on stage and ask the audience to live it with him. He sang all of his old standards of course, but in that live venue, I’d swear he’d never sung those songs until that moment. He meant every word. His songs felt fresh and new even though you knew he’d sung them thousands of times before. He was a story-teller, a mood-painter and a magician. And he did it ALL with body language and the music of his own voice.
I met him later when I was opening for the Pointer Sisters in Reno. He came backstage and couldn’t have been more gracious and genuinely human. Not a hint of ego.
Buchart Gardens, outside of Victoria, BC in Canada. Hands down, it is the Most Beautiful spot on Earth. When I imagine Heaven, or Eden, it’s the Buchart Gardens that I think of.
Place you’ve never been to but want to visit?
Enceladus, the most reflective spot in our solar system and an inner moon of the planet Saturn. Or maybe Zurich.
My wife’s home-made creamy tomato soup made from the mixed variety of tomatoes that she’s grown on our L.A. balcony garden, seasoned with aged Italian bacon for that perfect balance between acidity and saltiness. Wow! I wanna bathe in it! However, MY Texas favorite, corn batter fried okra cut in wagon wheel-like slices, is still a VERY close second favorite.
Strangest thing you have ever eaten?
Rattlesnake meat. ‘En brochette’. True. It was part of a desert survival course I once took as a Boy Scout.
Still Field of Dreams with Kevin Costner and James Earl Jones.
The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran
My favorite song is not a pop song, it’s the Queen of the Night’s solo aria Der Hölle Rache from Mozart’s Magic Flute opera. The lyrics (sung in German) indicate this immortal, semi-deity is really ‘ticked off’. She’s angry. Even her attendants run from her! It’s as if a dark storm with flashes of lightning could somehow be sung by a human soprano. That’s the magic of Mozart in this song. It’s powerful and transcendent.
Favorite TV show of all time?
Star Trek! At one time or another, over the past 25 years, I’ve met and worked with William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, Walter Koenig, and George Takei. Cool!
Favorite puppet that’s not yours?
Animal, from the Muppets.
Favorite thing not mentioned already?
Backpacking and Hiking.
If you could go back and revisit any period of your life again for 1 week, what would it be?
I answered all of these questions out of sequence and THIS took me the longest to answer. I couldn’t decide if I wanted go back in time to correct old mistakes, or to re-visit old joys. I finally settled on ‘joys’.
When I was 20, I went with an eclectic group from El Paso up into the mountains of neighboring New Mexico to close down a summer camp for the winter. It was the beginning of Fall, the camp had been used both by the Methodists and the Boy Scouts that preceding summer. As volunteers, we had to sweep out the cabins, stack beds, air out the mattresses, pack away anything that was loose, lock the doors and board up the windows. It was easier than it sounds.
It was a mixed group of people. All ages. Some were Methodist church board members with their kids, and the rest were adult BSA leaders and families. We ate excellent food in a nice mess hall, and at night we sat around a roaring fire built in the outdoor camp circle, and talked. We laughed almost constantly. We had the mother of all pillow fights one night. The Methodists attacked the Boy Scout group in their sleep. A pillow broke open and it was like in the movies where the feathers went everywhere. Instant snowstorm!
We also took one day off and went canoeing on the lake. Big three-man canoes, they were. We formed in small groups and had boat wars. It was like bumper cars. The goal was to paddle your canoe across the front of the opponent’s canoe, grab it by the prow and twist it, dumping all the occupants into the lake. We were ALL soaking wet pretty quickly.
At the end of the week we had a prayer circle and all went our separate ways. I had gone up to the camp all by myself but I discovered a big family that week. If I could re-live a week of my life, it would be that one. I was young, I was appreciated, life was exciting and full of promise, the food was good, and we worked hard and had fun.
If the vent thing hadn’t worked out, what job would you be doing now?
I like good design. I might have been a designer (or maybe even an architect). I enjoy things that are well thought out, both in looking good as well as being multi-functional. For fun, I’m currently sketching and designing an ultralight back-pack for extended hiking and camping. If it works the way I want it to, it’ll come off your back and fold into a chair for the trail; then later at night it can expand into an enclosed one man tent that’s roomy enough to sit up in. Three things with the weight of just one.
"There was a flash in my brain (as corny as that may sound, I really DID see a flash) and in a snap all of my daydreaming about psychology, those awful teen years, and my interest in gothic mythology crystallized and fused.
Scorch the Teenage Dragon just popped into my head, looking pretty much as he does now."
"Billy is one of my oldest and most evolved characters. He's the chance I have on stage every night to be the kind of kid I always wanted to be. He's bright and precocious; a natural leader and a very much a con-man. His only real goal is to simply get away with things. (What former child doesn't identify with that?)"
THE EARLY YEARS:
"I was very determined to be heard," Lucas says. "They were either going to laugh at me or laugh with me, but I sure wasn't going to be ignored. I learned early that an act using vocal manipulation could be accepted as more than a gimmick if done well. I also learned to think fast or duck.
One night a drunk heckled me, so I had one of my dummies heckle him back. The audience loved it, and when he kept it up, so did I. The crowd was roaring. The guy cursed the dummy and came up on stage ready for a fight.
A couple of his buddies restrained him, but I wasn't in any danger because the guy was actually trying to punch out the dummy. It was a compliment, in a way, his believing the prop was talking, not me."
from www.newinformation.com (Copyright 1998 NewInformation Presentations)
ADVICE FOR YOUNG VENTRILOQUISTS:
"I think the biggest advice I can think of is to study stand-up comedy. What's important to me is to have good puppetry, good ventriloquist skills like good pronunciation, technique and everything, but it's really important that you study comedy and understand all the rules of comedy."
"LA Law was a long time ago but I did enjoy doing it. It was very difficult acting because I had to be insecure and withdrawn and the puppet had to be aggressive, outspoken and angry, so try doing that with a sad face - try talking angry at the same time. That's pretty tough!"
HIS SCARIEST MOMENT:
"Performing for President Bush a year AFTER Sept. 11th. The U.S Secret Service took over the second balcony at Ford’s Theater. They let me know that since they couldn’t see my right hand (Hell, it was inside Scorch!) that I’d be in their rifle sights during my whole performance. They weren’t kidding. During rehearsal I saw the red laser dots dance around on my chest. I’m not making this up."
HOW TO HIDE AN ELEPHANT:
"I’d pretend it was my dragon puppet Scorch. I’d paint it green and give it a fake pair of bat-like wings. Sitting it on my knee would be the tricky part
(Note: this next question was NOT asked as part of the others; I just anticipated you asking this.) Disguised as Scorch, huh? That might not be convincing. What would you do with the elephant’s trunk? ANSWER: After the show, he’d go back into the trunk along with the rest of my puppets."
BEING CALLED THE WORLDS BEST VENTRILOQUIST:
"I'm really just the best in my price range"