Life and work can be a rather serious business all too often; the pressures, the bills, the deadlines can all mount up.
So it’s important to take some time out and rediscover the value of having fun, something tourists and locals alike have discovered under the smiley spell of the Brick House’s latest addition – Wannabe A. Clown.
Ms Clown – aka Kathryn Bender – works at Triple C school and volunteers at The Pines, but come 5.30pm on a Friday night the make-up and wig come on and she’s ready to entertain kids big and small.
“I’m getting a following which is kind of funny; there’s more and more kids every week, probably over 30 in an evening, that come and circle around me. Sometimes I do helium balloons, but usually I do balloon animals. My favourite is a monkey in a palm tree; I can do a huge butterfly wing with multiple balloons. Everybody wants a parrot cause he sits on your shoulder and of course the boys love the swords. I do crazy, crazy, crazy hats.
“I try and get the kids to think of a joke during the week to tell me. We talk about how school is going and I do little tricks,” she said.
The clowning is unpaid, she said, with Brick House donating a ‘generous sum’ to The Pines.
Ms Bender said she first got into clowning through a friend who was already performing. Subsequently she took a clown course at an adult education centre and joined Buffalo Clown Alley, a group of like-minded clowns.
“At clown school, it’s kind of intense – we start by going through different types of clowns, make-up techniques, illusions, face painting and balloons which are really my thing. I dabble with the rest, but I can do some really cool balloons,” she said. “When I came down I was thinking, ‘I can’t wait to meet all the other clowns in Cayman,’ but I’m still looking.”
She grew up in a small community where people helped each other out without thinking about it and this, she mused, made the move to Cayman in August 2010 rather easy.
“Cayman is perfect for me,” she said. “I tell people, get out there in the community, volunteer and do what you can.”
When she became a clown, she added, she had to have her own unique make-up.
“You can get sued if you use someone else’s make-up or name, it’s serious stuff,” she said.
The regular spot at the Brick House began after she performed at the venue as a fundraiser for Kemar Golding. Subsequently the management invited her back on a regular basis. Of course, the kids love her interactive performances, but there are joyous moments for the clown, too.
“There was a line of boys waiting for a balloon and a little girl came to the end of the line with her mum,” she said. “So the boy at the end of the line let her go in front of him and I asked the other boys who else wanted to do the same.
“Each one of them let her in front. It was so, so sweet.”