It is so much easier to scribble in the corner of the stage directions a brief and endlessly perplexing “exit, pursued by a bear” than it is to build a bear costume or hire a trained bear. Whenever Dinobot and I are told about a certain prop or costume we have to build I end up wondering how much easier it might have been to just think about something less complicated in the first place. Unfortunately we rarely complain in time and at the stage where we have already drawn the blueprints and purchased the materials, the idea has developed too much of a life of its own to undo.
When Mike volunteered me to build a cake for a grown man to hide inside and then pop out of, I sort of groaned inwardly, but by the time the Tuesday show that I was slated to make it for came rolling around, I couldn’t not build it.
A cake big enough for a large man to hide inside is the second installment in our DI – Why? Series: you can make it yourself, but why would you? Over the years Dinobot and I have had to create everything from a Japanese Seal made out of light named Okatikamo, to the bloody corpse of Leaping Lanny Poffo, a victim of The Predator.
The Predator, you will know from the movies Predator through Alien vs. Predator, Leaping Lanny Poffo, victim of the Predator, you will remember from Wrestlemania (IV? I don’t know) and Okatikamo you would only recognize from the imagination of Mike Paterson.
Of the aforementioned props, one was much more difficult to create than the other, obviously. Guess who made which.
(Here you see a prop for Mike’s act, the top one created by me, the bottom one created by Dinah. This should help you to guess who was up to creating Okatikamo, a seal made out of light straight out of Mike’s imagination, to appear floating in the air in a puff of smoke, and who spray painted a sex doll red and tossed it over the balcony at Theatre St. Catherine.)
And now we are going to share the secrets of how to make all the things that you will likely never ever in a lifetime need or want!
Materials, or A Visit to the Dollar Store.
2 Large hoola-hoops,
2 smaller hoola-hoops
7 Sheets of poster board – White
2-3 rolls of white masking tape
1 pkg of white tissue paper for the top
craft wire for reinforcements.
I built the cake to fit around a chair so that the poor guy who had to hide inside it for almost two hours could sit down. It had to be a folding chair because that is the only kind of chair allowed inside a wrestling ring, I imagine.
To start with, we taped sheets of poster board horizontally along one of the large hoola-hoops in a circle, finishing the loop by taping the loose ends to the other large hoola-hooo, making a wheel.
This was a two-person job, I’m so glad Karen stopped by early to help, after I called her in great agitation a few hours earlier. This whole job was so much easier with one of us holding the thing together and the other one taping like mad with cheap dollar-store masking tape. *
When all the sheets of paper were taped on either side to the hoola hoops, and all the seams between the sheets taped with masking tape, the base of the cake was actually surprisingly strong. It stood pretty nicely on it’s own. I used two more sheets of poster paper to make up for the icing on the top of this layer, and then I cut a hole big enough to fit a man inside.
The first step for the second layer was to wrap one of the two smaller hoola hoops in white tissue paper. In order to create the more delicate icing on the top of the cake, where the man would pop up and out of. The only problem with the delicate tissue paper layer, was that it made it more difficult to affix the poster paper to the top hoop. But it was doable, using lots of tape.
The second layer was exactly the same process, with smaller hoola hoops and lots of masking tape to stick the pieces of poster paper to the rings and more masking tape to seal the seams between the sheets of poster paper. By the time we had gotten to the second layer, the wrestler of the hour had arrived, as well as his entourage of sweaty man-children (I guess here I am referring to my boyfriend and Cat Raz’, Mike and Walter.) We set them to work blowing up balloons.
Then we simply rested the second layer atop of the base layer and gently adjusted the whole creation over the human filling, sitting upon a folding chair. A taller man would not have fit, it was snug as it was.
We had some jellies that spelled out Happy Birthday and Cat Raz drew the Phantom’s outline on the cake. We stuck some balloons on top and it looked very convincing as a cake that did not have a human in it.
After an hour and a half of knowing that a man was in that cake on the stage, there was discussion at the table of beautiful comedy wives hanging out at the back of the room about whether there was actually enough airflow in the hastily constructed desert. Karen volunteered to go check on him, and returned a few moments later with the grim news that she had heard not a peep.
He was fine.
*We love the dollar store, thank you for providing for years of cheaper shows, events, and plays.