for hire Tim Iman trades shyness for smiles By DAN ENGLAND Tlie Salina Journal Tim Iman is excited. He has his clown stuff out, and he has it scattered all over the kitchen table, and he's blowing up a balloon that's shaped like a long sausage. Iman stares at a green balloon as he inflates the sausage, which grows larger by the second. Just wait, he promises, and he'll blow up the green one as well. He keeps his promise and attaches the green balloon to the long sausage. Look, he said, his eyes glowing. It's a flower. And it does look like a flower. When Iman gets excited, you could be there all day, looking at photos of him dressed as a clown, and the suitcase stuffed with balloons, and the clown trade magazines, and the clown makeup, and the books on the history clowning, and the Iman gets into his makeup before heading off to clown around at the In- of dian Rock Wesleyan Church. into 'term' arguments all the time. I call the stuff eyeliner. My wife calls it mascara." But he already had spent $200 on clown equipment — he got excited — and he thought he would have a hard tune explaining to his wife why he spent so much money if he didn't plan on using the stuff. He went to his first birthday party soon after, and it wasn't long before he began to make money at them. This year, he has made $1,000. "It has been a real fast trip into this," he said. "Every time I go out to a party or go out and clown with a friend, I learn something." It takes Iman four hours to prepare for a party. He has to work on his routine, his makeup and his animal balloons before he's able to perform. The clown alley, he said, is going OK. He has a list of 18 members, although he admits that not all of the Photos by KELLY PRESNELL / The Salina Journal Tim Iman, in his "Stitch the Clown" persona, juggles with one hand while warm* Ing up the crowd at the Indian Rock Wesleyan Church in Salina. clown noses, and the clown hat, and the clown whistle, and...and... "I'm sorry," said Iman, 33, 3201 Royal Drive. "I'll go 100 miles an hour sometimes. I get wound up. But this stuff will blow your mind." Iman loves clowning. He really loves it. He has two characters, "Ditch" and "Stich" (catchy, huh?), a ton of clown toys and a lot of talent. So much so that the father of two children, board member of the Indian Rock Wesleyan Church and general purpose mechanic at the Smoky Hill International Guard Range wants to form a clowning club, what he calls a "clown alley." Iman does birthday parties and hopes to eventually become a performer at small-town festivals and gatherings. Iman got interested in clowning after Lindsey, his daughter, wanted to be a clown for Halloween in 1993. Two years later, a member of his church suggested he go to the Mid America Christian Performing Arts Conference. He got some instruction in clown makeup and began to teach himself how to clown. But he couldn't bring himself to put on the makeup. "It's kind of humiliating," Iman said. "I mean, women are used to primping themselves and putting on makeup. But with guys, it takes a while. My wife and I get members go to every meeting. The alley has met four times. He wants to put on a clown production with alley members during the first week of August for National Clown Week. "I don't know if it will happen," Iman said. "I wonder if my expectations are too high. I just don't want to be the one doing it all the time. I'll share the leadership, but I don't want it solely. Right now, I've got it solely." Rachel Drake, 1016 E. Beloit, who has been clowning as "Sunny" for 15 years, tried to form her own group seven years ago. It disbanded because of a lack of interest. Even so, she's joined Iman's group and is optimistic about its chances for survival. "Tim is really capable, both as a clown and as a leader," Drake said. "I think he'll succeed." Iman has his own place in the Yellow Pages under "Clown Services." He's building a good reputation for his clowning. He has gotten over his shy, introverted feelings and can now act like, well, a clown in front of children. "You know, when I get into costume, it changes you," Iman said. "My sense of humor is different. It's a sense of humor that only children understand."
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