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The Art of Puppetry & Marionettes | SubCultures


-I’ll be honest with you,
growing up, I hated “Pinocchio” and lumped marionettes
into the same category as ventriloquist dummies, which means I was
completely terrified of them. But I recently met
two very special people who replaced my anxieties
with a love and admiration for this ancient art. I’m Erin Cantelo,
and this is “SubCultures.” [email protected][email protected]! -Right now you’re up in
my hidden, hidden sanctuary. I have a lot of hidden drawings
in boxes and things. We own the corner here,
and we have the theater, and then we have
a warehouse next to it. There are over 3,000 puppets
in that warehouse. I saw my first show
when I was 6. I went to
a local department store, and we saw the first show
of the day. And because
of certain intriguing things, we saw all six performances. I was in dramatic classes. I was taking piano lessons,
two different kinds of dancing. And my mother said,
“What does he do about learning how to work these things?” By the time I was 8,
I acquired enough puppets to do a half an hour show. I was now an entertainer. [ Laughs ] [ Classical music plays ] I had a business partner
for 50 years — Alton Wood. We traveled all over. Alton was much taller than I am. He had a wonderful laugh. “I’d like to go on your show that you’re gonna be doing
over at RKO.” He says, “I want to see what
you do when you’re on film.” After the filming was over,
he said, “Let me take care of all
of your books and your business, and you build your puppets.
We’ll take shows out.” From that point on,
for 50 years, we performed together
and built shows and did motion pictures,
television. -At the age of 7,
I was helping my uncle. He was Bob’s gardener. And that was actually the first
time that I saw a puppet. What I really love
about puppeteering is getting the crowd
into your show and really making them laugh
and having a good time. [ Ding-dong! ]
[ Laughter ] Just that feeling after —
It’s a very good feeling. -I think that was
the whole thing, really. I figured that this was
a good way to make people laugh. [ Up-tempo piano plays ] [ Cheers and applause ] -When I was 16, I had a tumor growing on the right side
of my cheek, which didn’t allow me
to hear or smell or taste. [ Balloon pops ] Had a good life.
I was never sick. And then out of nowhere,
I become sick. After I had surgery,
that was almost the time — That was my senior year. I went into
a kind of depression, and I was really down
in my own little bubble. I didn’t want to express myself. For me,
if I will see another puppeteer, I always feel like,
“Why did he build that puppet?” And the reason I say is if
you see most of Bob’s puppets, he has something
that he has put in there that’s related to himself. Honestly, after coming
and working for Bob and helping him out
and just knowing that you could project yourself,
project other characters through puppets
was amazing for me. And that was kind of my way
of coming back. -Now that I’ve gotten to be 88,
I don’t know how to act. I’ve never been 88 before. I’d love to be down here
every day and being able to do things
and the thrill, especially. -Bob’s plan is to transform the whole block
into this great place. There’s gonna be
the puppet studio. There’s gonna be
the theater itself. It’s gonna be a gallery. We’re gonna have another
second theater for puppeteers that are coming
out of the country or any performance
coming out of the country. A lot of classes — Puppeteer
classes, building puppets. -I have a few little tricks that other puppeteers
aren’t us– haven’t used. Those are the things
that I want to pass on to somebody else
very desperately. -This has been around
for so long. It’s been a tradition,
and we don’t want it just kind of fade out
and, you know, be lost. [email protected][email protected]! -When you go to the theater,
you pay your admission and you watch a show
with really nothing other than a piece of paper
in your hand. But you take home the idea
that goes on that stage, the illusion, the fantasy,
the love, the drama, the music. And you’ll always have it. You’ll have it forever. I did that when I went —
was 6 years old. And I’m still talking about it.

100 Comments

  1. SrizzilClassic Author

    What a fantastic inspiring video. It's so rare to see somebody love what they do so much like this gentleman. And I love how amazingly positive the comments are. Keep it up, you guys are doing a great job.

    Reply
  2. Patrick Krebs Author

    When I saw this in my sub box I was hesitant to watch it because I thought it would be creepy because I thought puppets were kinda creepy but I am really glad I did watch it because the video was well made and interesting and had great cinematography and music. It really made me rethink my stance on puppets! Thanks!

    Reply
  3. BTS Disi Author

    That was so wonderful. Their passion really touched me. I think these are definitely going to be my favorite part of Soulpancake. Great Job!

    Reply
  4. Pontus Welin Author

    I got goose bumps in the end when Bob said he still talked about puppetry since he was 8. That is passion! Not many people have that. Great job Bob!

    Reply
  5. Kevin Kapinos Author

    As someone who participates in a few subculture communities, I love this show! I've always wanted to know about small communities of underrated and stereotyped fields of interest from the inside.

    Reply
  6. katiedidnt315 Author

    I have another suggestion for a future SubCultures episode – medieval re-creationists. Find a chapter of the Society for Creative Anachronism near you. We sword fight, dress in costumes, make things like they did in the middle ages. It's awesome!

    Reply
  7. Eric Jones Author

    This is definitely my favorite segment that you've done on here. I LOVED it. I can't wait to see more. One "subculture" that I would love to see you guys do is marching bands/drum and bugle corps.

    Reply
  8. thisisbecker Author

    This was chillingly brilliant. It left me with such a wonderful feeling and I can't wait for more "subculture" videos! Everything you guys have uploaded so far is just amazing to watch and share. All of the people who worked on this did such a wonderful job and Conner Davis's editing is beautiful!

    A subculture video on Zines would be pretty neat. There are some really talented people out there who devote themselves to creating them. 😀 I've always wanted to learn more about it.

    Reply
  9. jimbolimboboy Author

    This was absolutely fascinating! After 1 week of content I am without a doubt staying around for Soul Pancake. I loved all the shows but this was really touching and it's amazing to see someone who is so passionate about something doing it till their elder ages. Thank you so much for this!

    Reply
  10. Rory Martin Author

    Can I just say that if there was more of this on soul pancake and less awkward talking with ridiculously loud backround music, stories as amazing as this would get better press?

    Reply
  11. Lovethempeas Author

    GREAT VIDEO! I got to be honest, I almost didnt watch and just get rid of it out of my subscription queue. The story, the editing, the quality of this video was excellent!

    Reply
  12. singalonga123 Author

    I find puppets creepy, I always have, but this video touched my heart, what an amazing man with a lifetime of living his passion, I hope he finds his special someone to pass his "special tricks" onto. xxx

    Reply
  13. g s Author

    same here. i nearly cried because his words were so beautiful. he lives his dream and this is what you just could wish every human being.

    Reply
  14. anastasiafish Author

    Thank you so much, Soul Pancake. This was absolutely beautiful. I love the grace with which the puppets move. I've never seen anything like it.

    Reply
  15. sweetLady rain Author

    I'd appreciate meeting you.I wished for Jim Henson to fond me..but things..ya know fate..death.
    I was always hoping he would mentor me. Sure would appreciate a shot..

    Reply
  16. FreeLion007 Author

    Thanks for posting this video. This story was especially touching because of Bob's obvious love for puppets and marionettes, and how they can entertain everyone from the very youngest to the oldest. Eric's story was evocative, also, since he was drawn back to life among the living by Bob & his puppets after enduring his own trials. May Bob, Eric and those who care about them live long and prosper.

    Reply
  17. Zaqory Author

    A cliche that rings true – "Heart warming." It's absolutely heart warming to see that small art forms such as this aren't dead. I FREAKING LOVE SOUL PANCAKE!

    Reply
  18. ThePonderingthoughts Author

    I went to Bob Baker's Marionette Theatre when I was three years old. It was one of my fondest memories as a child. I remember being so enchanted by the puppets and how live like their motions were. I can't even describe how happy I was when I recognized the theater. It's really amazing.

    Reply
  19. Naris_The_Zabrak Author

    It's what I have done–when you make it yourself, you have this…tie to it, I suppose; like it means more than one you would buy. It is a lot of hard work (it took me several days to finish my cardboard and Styrofoam beta-version, but I wanted to get "him" "down-pat" before moving on to wood), but when the project is done, it is worth it. Good luck!

    Reply
  20. Mazahtl Author

    I was always scared of puppets because of my childhood films like chukie and puppetmaster.

    I'm really touched, Puppeteer is such a beautiful thing.

    Reply
  21. Bonobo3D Author

    Bob Baker is a very dear man, he has done so much to promote puppetry, to entertain and make others happy. Very lovely video showcasing his art and his kind heart.

    Reply
  22. Cecilia Friedl Author

    Eric De La Cruz ,my name is Cecilia Friedl I will like to make a question abut marionettes Im a puppeter maker I never studied for that .I just learn for some books but I have many questions about the controls ,material movements ,I speak spanish .please Eric what kind the material you used for the marionettes for the heads?the marionetees I made I think are so heavy ,how much weigth need to have.?I invited you to see my work if you type in 86uzziel or Cecilia Friedl in you tube ,tell me what you think about that .please I will apreciate that.

    Reply
  23. Lookie! Author

    @SoulPancake Nice episode; most enjoyed this quote by Bob Baker: (05:46) 'When you go to the theatre, you pay admission and watch a show, with nothing but a piece of paper in your hand. But you take home […] the illusion, the fantasy, the love, the drama, the music – and you'll always have it.'

    Reply
  24. Paul McGinnis Puppetry Author

    Bob Baker gave me my first paying, long-term gig in puppetry. I will forever be grateful. There won't be another talent like him.

    Reply
  25. ScareKrow Author

    I missed the old days when puppets and marionettes are famous. Now people these days are like, Donate Me the Mini P.E.K.K.A dammit not a freaking SKELETON!sigh I miss the past

    Reply
  26. Starlight Stars Author

    I really want to meet Bob Baker so badly! He sounds like such a nice guy! Also, call me crazy but I've never been scared of puppets and I really like the idea of being a puppeteer! Bob Baker and Jim Henson are such inspirations! ♡

    Reply

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