raider in canada:
portrait of sean martin

a documentary by Randy A. Riddle


Rodeo Clown:
All the World's a Stage

Rodeo clowns not only provide entertainment for the crowds during lulls in competition as contestants get set up for the next event, they also serve an important safety function.  With their traditional brightly colored costumes, they help steer the animals away from the competitors when a contestant is thrown from a bull, for example.  At a Gay rodeo, the clown's routines are geared towards the audience -- you might see a clown at a Gay rodeo planting a Martha Stewart garden or pointing out the differences between straight and Gay cowboys.

When Sean was quite young, an aunt decided that he was to be "the cultured one in the family".  She took Sean to Dallas and other cities to see professional opera and theatre.  With that, Sean was bitten with the performing bug.

After a stint in college and the military, Sean went to New York to pursue a career in stage design.  Living on the Bowery and with few resources, he was unable to break into that competitive field.  But, he kept theatre as an avocation through the years -- in Toronto, he formed a two-man troupe to write and perform plays such as "Friday Night Dances", a comic look at a Gay man's first sexual experience.

"Batman in Kabuki", an unpublished Doc and Raider cartoon.
(c) Sean Martin

Theatre naturally worked it's way into the Doc and Raider cartoons.  Besides poking fun at particular shows, the theatre provided a backdrop for some of the funniest panels in the series.

Theatre and performance influence Doc and Raider.
(c) copyright Sean Martin

A few years ago in Toronto, there was an annual drag competition, part of the elaborate "Court System" of contests that are held throughout the US and Canada.  Sean helped out with the shows -- producing posters or helping with entertainment -- and the competition was particularly nasty one year.  The contestants didn't like each other and the shows were, unfortunately, driving away audiences.

Sean thought it was time for a little comic relief.  So, he produced a sock puppet drag queen, Fluffy, to provide entertainment and poke some fun at the contestants.  (Fluffy claimed she would run a "clean campaign for Empress -- or at least one recently washed", for example.)

Sean and "Egyptian Fluffy"
(c) Randy A. Riddle

Fluffy became quite a favorite with audiences.  She was given a title by one of the Emperors in the system, becoming the only inanimate object in the Court system with a title, and Sean is frequently asked to perform at a variety of events with Fluffy.

Sean has produced dozens of versions of the simple puppet, depending on the show of the moment.  Fluffy might perform grand opera, poke fun at religion (reciting her own version of the story of Genesis, written by Sean) or sing something by Madonna.  The stagings have become more elaborate -- even to the point of building a small Titantic for Fluffy's rendition of the Celine Dion song from the film or presenting PDQ Bach's Oedipus Tex operetta in it's entirety (with one of the characters portrayed by a boot)

Demand for Fluffy is so great that she sometimes travels without Sean -- a Fluffy will go on loan to one of the Court members traveling out of town.  Fluffy is formally introduced with other members of the Court and receives and official ball pin, since she is a title-holder.

Not bad for a nine-inch high sock.

View the Fluffy Collection, 3.15.99