Have you all ever seen our Living Statue, Randy King, here at The Island in Pigeon Forge? We sat down with Randy to ask him questions about how he got started! Next time you’re on a Pigeon Forge vacation or visiting for the evening, be on the lookout! You never know where you might see him.
1. What made you want to learn your art form?
In 1978, I was searching for a way to present the Gospel message as I felt it was my calling. However, although I was good as a public speaker, I knew in my heart that wasn’t the way I truly felt I was supposed to do it. Also, I was a musician (percussion) yet didn’t feel that was the correct path, either. Then, a young street performer/evangelist came to our church and presented some of the things he did on the street. He was more of an actor yet incorporated some mime into his act. Something struck a chord, and, relying on what I’d seen from the likes of Marcel Marceau, Red Skelton, Carol Burnett and Shields and Yarnell, among others, I knew in my heart it was something I could do and wanted to do. I approached my pastor with the idea, and he told me to just let him know when I had something. I came up with a piece entitled “The Boxer” about a man’s struggle against sin, and let him know. His response was, “OK, you have the evening service in two weeks.” That meant I had to fill 45 minutes, and all I had was about a three and a half minute piece. So, I got to work and frantically put together a complete evening. That was 1978 and, as I studied the genre of mime more, I began to implement other facets which, of course, included “Living Statues”. Using this art-form, I have been blessed to travel throughout the United States, to France, Spain, Finland and spent 11 years touring and ministering/performing in Russia.
2. What are some of your favorite moments, reactions and memories while in costume?
My favorite moments are always the reactions on the kids’ faces. Their look of wonder is something that can’t be described or matched. I have a self written rule to try and never scare a child simply because I want them to leave after having a good experience. However, an unruly child can be “taught a lesson” in a good way. One of my favorite reactions was when I was doing the statue I call “The Protector”. This is the one of the gentleman with an umbrella and usually he had a globe in his hand as if he is protecting the world. Once, an elderly lady came up and proceeded to explain the meaning of the “statue” to her family, not realizing I was actually alive. She commented on the great detail in the “piece” and how much she liked it. As she turned to walk away, I reached out as if to hand her the globe. Having her back to me, she did not see me but her grand daughter gasped as her husband laughed out loud. The lady turned around, grabbed her grand daughter and hid behind her. She said, “I can’t even look at you now because I’m so scared!” One memory I will always carry is of when I was in Russia doing a “statue” on the street giving out information about a local church gathering. An elderly babushka, after realizing I was a living, breathing man, began to berate those who were with me loudly. It turned out she thought I owed them a debt and they were forcing me to stand like a statue in order to repay them. Another is when I was asked to perform in a nightclub in Russia simply because I was a mime artist. My pieces always have a biblical message and, undeterred, I did a complete show in the middle of this club between all the drinking and dancing. When I finished, there was dead silence. Then someone yelled out, “Jesus is alive!” (in Russian) and the place erupted in cheers.
3. What’s your favorite character to dress as?
It’s difficult to say. They each have their own “personality” and get a different reaction. I usually choose the character based upon my mood for that particular day. I guess my favorite would be the one that keeps me the coolest in the summer and the warmest in the winter. There is nothing more miserable than trying to be a statue when you’re freezing or when your sweating profusely!
4. How long can you go without blinking?
The length depends upon many factors: amount of wind, brightness of the sunlight, how rested my eyes are before I begin, etc. Under good conditions, I have gone for an hour and a half without blinking. When I realize the conditions are right, it becomes a sort of internal goal to see just how long I can go. No one is harder on me than myself, so when I do have to blink, I disappoint myself. It is frustrating though, when I am controlling it and not blinking, to hear someone proclaim, “He blinked.” when I know I did not!
5. Do you have any other hidden talents our guests may not know about?
I am a man who is always looking for more ways to be creative. Besides the aforementioned ones of public speaking and playing percussion, I also paint, write poetry, choreograph and perform dances. I’m a baker and cake decorator. I design and sew all my own costumes, cosplay and have appeared on TV as an actor in some TV shows. I enjoy cooking, and I also mix my own soundtracks for my mime pieces – which I still perform in churches and theaters. I work with my wife in interior decorating and also love gardening.
6. What is your favorite part of your “job”?
The favorite part is divided between hearing the people who appreciate the art form and those who are inspired by it. I regularly get comments on my Facebook page from people who, after seeing me at The Island, have been motivated to try to do something they’ve wanted to do but were afraid of being misunderstood or they didn’t know how to do something they felt inspired to do and they got a “revelation” after seeing me. When someone comes up to “challenge” me by showing they can do what I’m doing or that they can do something better, I am not offended or bothered in any way. My goal is to encourage them to continue what they’re doing and use it to enjoy their life even more. Any artist loves to hear their endeavors be appreciated, and, when I hear compliments or have someone talk to me while I’m being a statue and express their appreciation, it makes me want to do better and try even harder to be the very best I can be. Therefore, if someone has “challenged” or tried to do something to prove their own talent, if I see them later, you will always hear me complimenting them, learning from them and encouraging them with compliments to keep at what they’re doing.
7. Why did you choose to perform at The Island? What makes it different from other places?
I was street performing in Knoxville on Market Square. One day I came home to find a business card in my tip bucket with a note written on the back that requested I call as the person might have a job for me. The Island had just opened, and I honestly had not even heard of it. I called, had a meeting with personnel and the rest, as they say, is history. I am thoroughly enjoying being here. There is such a mixture of different people, cultures and even nationalities. Each time I’m here is a unique experience unto itself. Also, the staff and co-workers are amazing to work with and for. Never have I worked at a place where I felt so appreciated and cared for. It’s an amazing place to visit and to work.