Hello and welcome to the world of the Big Underwear Social Tour.
The story of the Big Underwear Social Tour begins nearly 30 years ago, when I was traveling and performing throughout Mexico. At the time, my street show highlighted a classic Vaudevillian style with a Harpo Marx type lead. Over the course of several months, I traveled the country making friends and connections through the universal language of clowning.
My experience in Mexico left me with a desire to return one day, with more artists and a bigger show.
In 2009, my wife Irmi and I purchased a 1978 AmGen retired city bus from The Circus Contraption folk in Seattle, WA, and outfitted it to our project idea. We began serious planning for a trans-Central American voyage with a collection of artists from around the world.
Setting out from Portland, Oregon in Autumn of 2010, Irmtraud Spiegel, James Sibelle (one of three working as film crew), and I set out to meet 14 performance artists in Puebla, Mexico. One by one, sometimes two by two, the artists arrived in Puebla from their homes in Scotland, Germany, France England, Poland, Brazil, USA, and various parts of Mexico.
Over the course of the next couple months, the group of Big Underwearing performers honed their skills, polished their show, and worked on the bus. In Puebla, many of the 18 persons on the bus and film van engineered contraptions for the tour including a trapeze rig and a show curtain that attached to the bus. Besides performing shows in small villages and plazas the group also cleaned the streets and beaches of garbage adorned in their Big Underwear comical costumes, in an effort to inspire the public.
There were the challenging times as well: steep hills to climb, diesel fuel running low (or empty), border crossings, bribes to be paid, and dishes lying around in the bus. Perhaps it was some of these hardships that caused a slow disintegration of the group, perhaps it was just the dishes...
By the time we crossed the border into Honduras, some of the artists had begun to loose their enthusiasm and were making plans to leave the tour. Within weeks of the official finish of the tour, (3 months) our group had whittled down to less than half its original size; in the final days of our performances we were a group of five.
The shows were still great and in some ways even better with 5-7 artists rather than with 14 artists, certainly the shows were easier to conduct. The feeling after the show was maybe more rewarding when there were less artists to share that feeling of giving a show to an audience of 3-400 people. living in the bus was also much easier. and the dishes were easier to clean.
The combination of youthful differences between Irmi, Brady and some of the artists played a role in some of the artists leaving early. Hygiene was a factor as well, when some of the artists became sick and overworked, tensions raised and attitudes formed. My focus on the dishes seems to have contributed to the breaking point.
We looked at the changes along the way as an evolution of the project, we were staying with our goal. And with the push of the public who cheered our shows, gave gifts of food and praise, and inspired us, right to the finish in Chinganola Panama we finished the tour. When it was time to turn the bus North and head home, we knew that we would be returning to Central America in the future.
In Autumn and Winter, of 2011-2012, Irmi and I traveled south from Oregon, and made our way to Mexico with a new group of performers. This time our group was half the size as it was the previous year, only seven (actually seven and a half). Seven was enough to perform amazing shows throughout Mexico, Honduras, and Costa Rica. This group of artists were from France, Mexico, Germany, and U.S.A. Perhaps it was the prior experience Perhaps it was the smaller size of the group, perhaps it was that I chilled out a bit and became a better leader, or perhaps it was because of the help of friends like Roberto in Puebla or Sebastian and Hugo our Costa Rican contacts; whatever it was, we were all more comfortable.
This year Irmi and I are taking some time off to market our one-of-a-kind designer underwear and to spread the word of our 2013-2014 tour. We hope to save some money in preparation for an even bigger tour back thru Mexcio and Central America and then to put the bus on a boat and ferry the bus to Columbia, for a tour that would travel thruout South America.
We plan to take this time to talk with old friends, new friends, and friends we have not met yet, about our ideology of picking up garbage and slowing the pace of life, and really smelling the flowers, and also that you have within yourself the power to choose your own path, and that consumption is not a positive vehicle for living a healthy life.
One path we are exploring is the relationship between money and friendship. We encourage all of our fans and friends to make they`re contribution to help us continue this exploration.