The 'stevo' effect


POSTED: Monday, May 25, 2009

Steve Hawkes usually just tells people he's “;an entertainer,”; when asked what he does for a living. After they get to know him a little better, he'll admit he's “;Stevo the Clown.”;




Q: Are there any clowns that you especially admire?

A: No, not really.


Q: What about Krusty on “;The Simpsons?”; Does his character resonate with you at all?


A: I'm not Krusty. He's not a good guy.





“;I stay away from the whole clown thing, because that comes with a million questions,”; Hawkes said last week. “;So I just say I'm an entertainer, because that's what I am.”;

Hawkes, 45, moved to Hawaii when he was 18, after working in time-share marketing in Seattle and Portland. He graduated from the Job Corps in Portland when he was 16. Formerly married, he has a daughter—“;17 going on 30”;—whom he has been raising as a single father since she was in kindergarten. They reside in Kailua.

Mark Coleman: What went into you becoming a professional clown?

Steve Hawkes: Well, originally I was in marketing, working for Royal Hawaiian Vacation Club, in Seattle and Portland, so my checks came from Bank of Hawaii, and I studied Hawaii and I said, “;Someday I'm going to move there.”; What a great place to move to when you're 18.

Q: This is a full-time occupation for you, right?

A: Yeah, and the way I got into it is, I've always unicycled, and did a little juggling here and there, and dabbled with a little bit of magic, just for fun. Then I ran into some guys who were doing some street shows in Waikiki. We got permits, like from King's Village, so we could build a crowd, and that's how I got started, from street performing. From there, I registered with some of the companies here (that catered to parties), so that's how I became a clown.

Q: Had you always wanted to be a professional clown?

A: When I came here at 18, I had no idea. And I didn't realize that 27 years later that I'd still be doing this. But I have fun at work, the hours are good. Usually I do “;first birthdays,”; so as long as people keep having babies, I'm gonna keep working.

Q: What does a typical performance involve?

A: My show usually runs a half hour. It has unicycling, juggling, comedy and audience participation. I use a lot of kids in the show.

Q: Do you sing or play musical instruments?

A: Not really, although in the show I like to acknowledge the birthday child, so I play a toy guitar and sing “;Happy Birthday,”; and the kids think that's pretty funny. I really get into it, like a rock star kind of thing. It gets a good laugh.

Q: What other kinds of events do you perform at?

A: I do a lot of stuff for Japanese conventions. They like to hire jugglers and clowns. Sometimes I just go as a juggler—no makeup—but sometimes they want something more colorful, so I go as a clown, and I twist balloons. Then I also do a show with a partner of mine, Ari Luce; we call it Paradise Jugglers.

Q: How many shows do you do a month?

A: I like to do as many as I can. But on weekends, I like to have a dinner show on Friday and a lunch and a dinner on Saturday and a lunch and a dinner on Sunday—five shows—and that's a perfect weekend.

Q: What kinds of props do you require?

A: Well, I have to buy my balloons, and I have a balloon machine, which is a lot better than in the '80s when you had to blow up all the balloons by mouth.

Q: What skills do you need to do this job and how did you learn them?

A: I'm just self-taught. Most of the things I do you just have to practice, and be tenacious. If you want to learn a really cool juggling trick, you have to practice it over and over and over.

Q: Did you get any help with the design of your clown outfit?

A: I think my costume is pretty traditional. I have this nice lady that makes my costumes for me.

Q: Are kids sometimes scared when they see you?

A: If there are some kids that are kind of scared and crying, I just kind of watch them, and let them watch me, and after a while, if they're being left alone and nothing bad is happening, then by the end of the party, they'll be hanging out with me. The main thing is to just leave them alone. The worst is when the kid is scared and the parents bring them right up to me.

Q: Do you belong to any professional clown organizations? Are there any?

A: Yeah, there is one, but I'm not a member. I kind of just do this as a job. I try to do a good job, be professional. It's fun to make people laugh. But I don't like to get together for meetings afterwards.

Q: What do you find most satisfying or fulfilling about your job?

A: Being on stage, and doing something that's just total improv and making people laugh. It's a great feeling.