So it’s been another year with just a wee bit left to it, and I’ll be honest, we are all tired!

We have had the most working performances since a recession hit in 2008 and although the COVID isolation years hit with the force of a few pollarms, the frenzy that has come after is like whiplash.

So let’s focus on the good things:

We started taking sword classes with William Perrin, Runner of Bayt Al-Asad: Middle Eastern Combat Arts

who in turn introduced us to the awesomeness that is the Philly branch of HAMAA and although we didn’t make it to all the events, we did go to two out of three, and it was a blast. The folks at the Lonny Young Center are amazeballs, and you should support them.

We reconnected with Daniel Greenwolf and did two of his shows this year. In the “How an evil act can turn into something great,.” A particular faire owner/runner decided to follow the Palpatine School of Management and that led to our opportunities, something I’m sure was NOT his intention.  *waves in X-Wing*

And because we did Daniel’s new SOLD OUT first-year Faire, we got to share the stage with an old bud –Sean the Whispy Rover.

We worked at the New Hampshire Renfaire for the first time and have applied to work again. Maybe they’ll forget about all the stuff we set on fire…

And we definitely made some memories this year.  Our weather curse has new facets-we now either get rainy weather OR “OMG, Why is it this HOT?” weather” But we are now the proud owners of sunshades, USB fans, and frozen collars for that!

And this sweetness came our way:
I really appreciate you coming down to the Fantasy Faire.  You inspired me to start the Fantasy Fair and create our fight team.  You’ve been attending for years, supporting the show.  The friendship of you, your wife, and the rest of Phoenix means much to me.

I’m not crying; you’re crying!

We continue to book NEW shows, so maybe we’ll be at a faire near you. But thanks for reading this far, thanks for coming to our gigs and making us twenty years strong.

See you in 2023!

Haven’t been blogging for a few reasons

  1. Busy
  2. have to set up a new computer –which doesn’t sound bad but the old one is sufficiently old that I have to make big changes both physically and software-wise

What was the busy?

We went to Lion’s Den (which should get its own entry) a combination of Persian and African sampler intro courses. It was a fun Saturday/Sunday and we played some games on Sunday. If you would like to try some from the same group-HAMAAS We did some stick, spear, shield and more.

They have an upcoming event in August you should attend:

Then came the Wheaton Arts Fantasy Faire where we got to see friends for the first time in three years with PERFECT weather. Need to post this gallery and write that up

In the meantime, enjoy this GIF

Now we are smack in the middle of the Midsummer Fantasy Faire (our first time at this event) doing sword shows during the day. We hope you’ll visit not only because it’s an awesome faire but because it’s run in part with the help of many hands) by the world-famous Daniel Greenwolf   and we are helping out with the scavenger hunt as well! We plan to stay and watch the night time fire shows and I will get to sit and know it’s not my circus or monkeys and enjoy a fire performance with no stress! It was also great to run into two former Phoenix members and chat!

We are already booking for 2023 as some folks want to GUARANTEE we will be there so that’s nice way to finish out this entry. 🙂

This was our first time performing at this faire and we had *some* idea of what we were getting into but you know you always want to make a good impression and make everyone happy!

The first thing to note is that it takes place at Brookvale Pines Farm a gorgeous location not too far off of the highway and surrounded by beautiful farmlands. And for you HEMA folks, it’s where Iron Gate Exposition will be this fall!

My partner and I came on Friday and set up the tent, then popped back home.

So, so early on Saturday we all made our way to our spot (And shout-out to Meghan, vendor coordinator for such an excellent spot). We were on a corner and that made life both hard and easy. Easy because we were able to extend our ring but hard because a lot of the vendors around us seemed to regard us as an impediment to getting where they wanted to be.

We had three performers making their debut this weekend but they did a great job. Two are second-generation Phoenicians and I’m happy to say the crowds deterred them not at all. The third is a new member who has been very quiet and had not gone to a renfaire before. We think he’s found out WHY we do what we do. The Kids Show is that-featuring kids and we love how much the kids in the audience were so excited to see themselves reflected on stage.

But It was brutally hot on Saturday (Spoiler alert, will be the same this coming weekend) and we were all a little brain-fried.   The temperature ended up being ten degrees hotter than predicted and although we had some hot-weather preparation, it was not enough.

We wandered a bit but as the leaders we usually hold back so others can explore. We did buy some shirts from Emantzi Creations and some icee cups from the ice guy, and these odd treats from Cannon Ranch -Dragon Breath (see below)

The real measure of a faire is the folks who are behind the scenes and when a microburst came through on Wednesday-the staff and vendors came together and notified everyone about the brutal winds that knocked down some tents-including ours.  Before we could get up there, those folks had salvaged what they could and had already covered and staked our remaining tent bits so that they would be safe. (Don’t tell anyone, but I think one of them was the Queen being incognito) We are so grateful for that.

Photo by  JD Lariat

And we made the news-

And good news for you, there is another weekend!  The themes this weekend are pirates Saturday and Literature/media on Sunday

We will be doing:
Historical at 11:30 am
Our Chaos Show at 2:30 pm (first time up North and specially written for this faire)
Fire show at 4:00-always exciting, especially for the spotters!

See you there!

Starting a performance troupe is awful, you have to make ALL the mistakes, learn the boundaries and fork over stupid mounts of financial outlay.  But once it’s up and tottering, it can look pretty good for short periods.  Some folks don’t want that first step, they just want the tasty bits-and that doesn’t include you, the owner.

TL;DR If you are not the power behind the group, you are not going to get the group if you don’t work your ass off.

And that’s where we get into the title

Although my partner thinks that Ohio is the worst Phoenix Job we ever did my least favorite was the Summer Camp.

It was bad

Guest post by our Fearless Leader, Fenix

Back in 2004 was one of our jobs that ranks in the top 5 worst we have ever done with Phoenix Swords.
Not the worst. It isn’t that summer camp or Ohio.
It started as a one day show on a cold and damp mid-autumn Sunday. That alone would be enough to keep it from being a good show.

Image by Wolfgang Vogt from Pixabay

It was an expensive show. They charged $15 to get in when most shows of that size charged $10 or less. And, on top of that he didn’t give you a program when you came in. You had to pay an additional $5 for that.
I don’t think anyone ever bought a program. He had boxes of them left at the end of the day.
Instead, people just began to follow us around. As we were involved in every act that went on, if you followed us, you’d find an act.

It was at an outdoor area where they usually had concerts. So, it was set up for one big stage at the end, not several smaller ones as we needed.
The organizer took some cement blocks and put some boards over them and called it a stage.
Being told to perform a sword fight on two boards on some blocks isn’t really what we consider a good idea.
Sadly our member who had volunteered to be in charge of safety had not thought to bring rope with him, or anything else. I guess his plan was to tell people “don’t go on the stage” and that would be enough.
It wasn’t.
Of course it wasn’t clear to most people that it was supposed to be a stage either. Many people just stepped over it and kept walking.

The faire organizer was that same knightly mime I have written of before. He had asked my wife to organize most of the entertainment for the faire. So, we showed up with more than two dozen performers including dancers, singers, sword fighters and story tellers.
As he is a musician himself, he said he would bring a musical act too.
Turned out it was a high school marching band.
Not really something that blended well with a ren faire environment. Once they marched around to marching music, they got bored and began playing Frisbee through the whole faire.

The organizer asked us to write a big part for his girlfriend. So, my wife did.
We sent it to her 3 months before the show. We heard zero feedback.
My wife asked if it was OK, and the organizer said “It’s fine.”
The day before the show she showed up and we asked her if she was ready.
“Oh yeah,” she said. “I remember that. I read it when you sent it to me.”
“Did you memorize your lines?”
“Oh, no. Was I supposed to?”
“Yes, you have the major speaking part.”
“Oh. I’ll look back through my email and read it again tonight.”
So, when the time came for her to give the inspiring speech to the good guys to go fight the bad guys?
Yeah. Not so much.

One of our members decided to “organize” our tent. So, when my wife went to grab the props for a show they were missing and no one knew where they had gone.
Our people did a good job of using a bucket to stand in for another prop, but still…

While we were doing the bucket stand in show, the Roman reenactors decided to test fire their ballista to show people how it worked.
I was standing on “stage” with some of our other folks and I watched this big iron bar fly up, over our heads and stick in the ground behind us.
“Maybe it is a foam practice one,” someone said.
We looked. It wasn’t.
I sent [name redacted] over to express our feelings on the matter as he was friends with them.
I’m not quite sure how he phrased what I had said about my feelings to them, but they didn’t fire any more.

We were working with a different branch of the same LARP group that put on the show this weekend.
Their leader was very clear that they were excited to be a part of it and wanted to be very involved.
So, we had three big fights planned for the day.
The first would be 100% them.
The second would be half them and half our group.
The third would be 100% us.
So, when it came time for them to do their big fight, two people showed up.
Those two had never heard about this plan.
They did go and do some stuff, but it wasn’t the epic battle we had been promised.

The big battle at the end did go fairly well, minus the inspiring speech part. But, the week after I got a call from someone in the audience about how unsafe he thought the fights were. He had called the organizer to complain, and the organizer told him to call me direct and gave him my number.

His major complaint was in one of the final fights one person disarmed another and he felt the sword went too close to the audience when this happened. Not only could someone have been hit, but audience members could have picked up the sword and started attacking other people.
He told me how the person who did the disarm should be talked to about being so unsafe.
He then asked to join our group as what we did was so very cool.
We had video taped the whole thing. I was fairly concerned about this as I was the person who had done the offensive disarm in question.
When I reviewed the tape I saw that the sword in question had landed a good 10 feet (3 meters) away from the safety rope around the fight and in front of one of our safety spotters.
This did not make me think that it almost hit anyone or that someone would have been able to grab it and start swinging it around.
I wrote an email back to the guy saying I didn’t think it was a safety problem, but I did have a long talk with the person who had done it, just in case. I also told him we were all full for members.
I had to carry a copy of the still image from that fight with me for the next two years as every time I saw the faire organizer he reminded me of my group being “unsafe”.

We had a written contract with the faire organizer that said that we would be paid at the end of the day when the gates closed.
When they closed I went up to him and asked him for our pay.
He didn’t have it. And, told me it would take several weeks to get it to me.
We had flown people in from several places around the country.
We had paid for other entertainers to be there, and paid them up front.
We had paid for people’s food and accommodations while there.
We had paid for costumes, make up, props and all sorts of other things that went into the show.
We had another show two weeks later down south, and were counting on this money to pay our bills before we went off to that show.
We had a written contract saying we would get that money on that day.
My wife had to borrow money from her mother to pay our bills as we didn’t get paid.
The organizer did pay us a week later and I made him drive the 5 hours to our home to bring it to us.
But, that was pretty bad.

The organizer also decided to walk through our fire show at the end of the day. Our fire breather, who already hated the organizer, just took a big mouthful of fuel and was about to do it when the organizer stepped in front of him.
“I just have a few announcements,” he said, and started to read a list.
I motioned for our breather to hold it, and he could for a short time.
After a couple of announcements I told the organizer to move and let the fire breath go through where he had been standing.
If I had known he wasn’t going to pay me, maybe I’d have done it the other way…

Anyhow, at the show this weekend someone came up to us and said:
“I think I recognize you from a show I went to many years ago with knights and necromancers and all sorts of other things going on.
“It was the first faire I ever attended and I loved it. It was great!
“Because of that show I got involved in this and now have a lot of fun at LARPs and doing shows.”

One of our worst shows ever, and it changed this kid’s life. In a way he thought was for the better too!
It was big enough for him that after not seeing us for 10 years he was able to recognize us on sight and ask.

Maybe the memory of that show has grown in my mind over the last 10 years. But, I certainly never expected to get any positive feedback on it. Especially after 10 years.
You just never know.

This faire doesn’t rate as my #1 worst event we did.  But is one that I can honestly say has left me with some mental and emotional scars. (Even my therapists agreed, not joking)

You may have read part I which is an excellent overview with *kind of* a happy ending

Organizing Faires is a form of torture

Read the rest of this entry »

Since we have few loyal readers of this blog I am going to share a super-secret bit of info with you

Read the rest of this entry »

TLDR: Gatekeeping definition

I’m sure I don’t have to tell you what this feels like if you have any social interest that involves other people but I’m going to detail my own experiences and hopefully warn/reassure you and hope that you’ll share your own experiences in the comments

Read the rest of this entry »

We have returned from this event and it’s our first trip south in over two years.  I won’t lie, several things gave us pause when we agree to do this faire.

One, it’s new and we’ve never been there

Two; it was held at the Jefferson Davis house in Biloxi…here’s the hard swallow, founder of the Confederacy. Jefferson Davis House

Three we are not doing the Gulf Coast Faire because the troupe had reservations and kids. This faire falls on our troupe members’ kids February vacation schedule.

But we did say yes, and we did do it because (see “kids” above) and we have a long-standing relationship with organizers DeeJeania and Sadie.  I was super-happy to see a diverse group of visitors and a lot of veterans at the faire.  This location is a good rental site and Emerald Coast productions is doing a number of events here.

On to the good stuff

We did three shows a day-our historical, our silly pirate show, and the fire show.  As is usual with Phoenix Swords, we brought the cold weather with us.  But we know to layer so we were on and ready!

Here are some pictures from the Silly Pirate Show which are fights, games, and making the audience entertain US. They included “collecting rats”, (for supper) “No Scurvy,” “Squid Game,” and “Drankin’ Game”

It was chaos and ridiculousness. As all good things should be.

For most of us, it was our first time in Biloxi, MS

And we did a fire show. Unsurprisingly, away from the historical buildings.

Things we loved about this faire:

The organizers-they are very open-hearted and trying to make a difference. We love working with them and if that means having to make Civil War Ghosts spin like tops in their graves, we are here for it! The staff is super nice and it’s a family thing.

The location is at the far back of the property and with a view of gorgeous old oaks and the ocean. We had a VERY generous space and were good enough to put solar lighting and signage over the red ant hills. It was wonderful to work on grass after practicing in snow.

For a faire its size, it had lots of food vendors-all tasty. Papa Johns, a fried food/Thai, Greek girls yummies, a coffee tent and a Biloxi local who was expensive and cash only but GOOD. All within sight of our tent, I might add.

Lots of places to stay and SO MANY restaurants

A gorgeous beach across the street to add to the atmosphere.

The faire worked with differently-abled folks to get them onto the grounds which were flat and had roads and paths.

The FB event


The event seemed like the locals didn’t know about it, we went around and spoke about it in costume.

It’s competing with a lot-on Saturday we were up against Mardi Gras parades. And it’s in a strip with lots of casinos.

A lot of acts/attractions didn’t come last minute, and in the time of COVID we totally understand.

But to finish up, we were awarded “the Star of the Sea” a prize for being the best pirate act and we have to bring it back next year so it may be awarded to someone else.

So, it falls at a good time and the troupe feels it’s a great, friendly faire to shake off the rust and start the year