Nicholas J. Interview
(World Gate Entertainment)

Nicholas J. is the owner of World Gate Entertainment, an agency that provides models who perform as Living Floral Trees, Living Topiaries, Living Statues, Stilt Puppets and Marionettes, not to mention Toy Soldiers.
What an entertainment offering it is!
There’s nothing like it in the world which is probably why Nicholas J. called it World Gate Entertainment.

Q – Nicholas, how is business for World Gate Entertainment these days?
A – It’s good. It’s wonderful. We have so much demand that my phone doesn’t stop (ringing) which is actually a very good thing. (Laughs).

Q – Living Floral Trees was at the New York State fair here in Syracuse this year (2012). Were you there then? From the Fair your next stop was Paris?
A – Actually I travel a lot. I’ve been all around the world. I was student of Marcel Marceau. Do you know of Marcel Marceau?

Q – He was the pantomimic artist.
A – Yes. He was a very famous French artist. He passed away 3 years ago. I was his student, his private student and I was also in his school. I was doing the shows with him and I worked with. That’s how I started my whole show and entertainment business. Basically I make the show and I train all the people. Sometimes 44-48 people.

Q – You own World Gate Entertainment then?
A – Yes. It’s my business. It’s my baby.

Q – You don’t perform as a Living Floral Tree yourself do you?
A – No. Living Floral Trees I don’t do myself.

Q – So who thought up this idea of performing as a Living Floral Tree?
A – Actually we’ve been producing already for a long, long time. What is called the old type of flower shows and customized events. For example, we started with the Living Topiaries and then we work a lot with the Stilt Puppets, the 4 legged stilts. The first time they started doing it was in France. And they were doing what is called animals on the 4 legged stilts. They were doing dragon stilt puppets. When we did it we decided to make a tree on the stilts with the flowers. So, we wanted to kind of continue from the Living Topiaries which is a special Living Statues Show and make more like a Living Floral Tree. You look anywhere and you see a beach with a floral tree and you just put the two together and you came out with so many ideas. That’s how we also did The Living Topiaries. It’s coming from the Roman Empire.

Q – Where is the market for your co? Besides fairs.
A – Usually we do a lot of private events, special events, festivals. Fair market we do, but, it depends. We do longer term fairs, like the 10 day fairs or 20 day fairs. When it’s longer it becomes great. But, we do a lot of corporate events. There is a huge market in corporate events in the United States. It can be the organizers who organize these big events. What they do is they call us. They find us. We are one of the biggest producers of The Living Statues in the world. We have 158 character statues. For color we mostly use green, red, white, blue. It depends on the type of event and what they would like to have at that event. We also have strolling and atmosphere entertainment for those big corporate parties. And, it’s also very beautiful. It brings a smile and happiness to the people. There’s nothing more beautiful than to do that.

Q – Nicholas, is this type of work what you’ve done your whole life?
A – I wish I could do something else. That would be wonderful. (Laughs).

Q – So, you’ve never worked in an office for example?
A – Well, I do work in my office. We have to work not only with the creative part where we’re directing shows, we have to go in the office and respond to all of the emails and promote the shows.

Q – Do you promote your shows at trade events?
A – We do that. It depends. It’s a good idea to do it, but it gets too expensive sometimes. It’s not only that we’re paying for the booth. There are many things involved. We have to bring the show. We have to pay our performers. We have to make a brochure. There’s the hotel. If the booth sells for $3,000-$4,000 in reality it sometimes costs 3 or 4 times that.

Q – If someone gets tired of portraying a Toy Soldier, can they transition to a Living Statue?
A – In the co. where we have an office we also have a big rehearsal space. So, twice a week we have classes. We pay for the teachers. Sometimes we ask the new performers, people who want to be in our business, we don’t let them pay for the classes. They just come for free. We teach them so they can acquire the skills. We teach them pantomime, dance movements, slow movements, fast movements, expression with the faces. So, there’s a huge training going on. You know how you go into the gym you start working out? We have like a pantomime work out set up. We pay for that. Every time the performer is good, that’s great. We use them. The people that do the Living Trees also do the Living Statues.

Q – Do you get a lot of people who come to your co. and say I want to do this work?
A – Yes. We have auditions for that. All we ask is please come to the classes, if they are good of course. We want people to come and learn and use them for the shows. And then we have rehearsals. There is a huge group of people that would like to work with us. It’s just sometimes it’s physically very hard to take a look at everybody and see everybody, so we do whatever best we can. We have approximately 50-100 resumes every week that come to us.

Q – Once they start with World Gate, do people stay on or is there a high turnover?
A – Once they start working with our co. they want to stay with us and they want to work with us. Actually it’s the other way around, they want more, more, more work! (Laughs). We want every co. to do great because when cos. are doing great, people spend the money and we’re doing great!! (Laughs).

Q – Is the money good for one of your performers? It seems like a lot of work!
A – They make very, very good money. I cannot really tell you the exact amount because it depends on the performers. They have to make 20 times more than the regular people make by hour, the reason is because they only have one show a week, two shows a week and there is also a rehearsal. They get paid very, very much. Sometimes we get fund-raising and charity phone calls. We do one or two a year, but it’s very hard to ask my performer, ‘Hey, c’mon and entertain the people for free’. It’s hard work. Even when we do the trade shows my performers are always paid. Having a great performer means a great show. It’s always a chain reaction. When I was a performer I liked to get paid good. You don’t want to think about the money when you do the show. You want to think about love. You want to think about what you can give from your heart, your energy. You want to get paid good!

Q – The venue must pick also pick up the tab for the performer’s transportation, hotel and food, right?
A – Yes. Every time they travel we always pay transportation, ground transportation, air transportation, accommodations. Everything is paid. Sometimes on the food it depends. Sometimes we offer them the meal if I’m there or we just include everything in their salaries. It depends. It depends on what statue you’re in. In New York the per diem is $85 a day. In Syracuse the per diem is $50 a day. In Dubai or Istanbul your per diem is only $20 a day because you can get more. It really depends on the place where they are.

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