Harper has debut as clown named Blu

Posted: Thursday, May 24, 2001

For four years Seneca Harper has been transforming himself into his own clown creation, Blu, with the help of grease paint, a rubber nose and a blue wig.

This Saturday, Blu will hit the big time. Harper, a Dzantik'i Heeni Middle School eighth-grader, will perform a clown and magic show, "Blu Magic," at 7 p.m. in the Juneau Douglas High School auditorium. The show is the culmination of Harper's ROPES project, a long-term middle school assignment that requires extensive research and involves a mentor.

"They said do something you really like doing," Harper said of his project choice. "The two things I liked doing at the time [were] magic and clowning."

With the help of local magician Jeff Brown and businessman Jim Barnes, also known as Buttons the Clown, Harper began planning the project in December. He's since constructed several illusions which will be used in the show, including a 6-foot cabinet and large "tipover" trunk.

"I learned how to use all kinds of power tools and stuff," Harper said.

Though he's technically too young to join the Juneau Joeys clown troop - the age minimum is 16 - Harper has participated in clown activities since he marched with the group in the Fourth of July parade four years ago.

"I went to the parade dressed as a clown, hoping someone would let me walk alongside their float," he said.

He ran into Barnes, who calls Harper, "an amazing young man.

"He's got a real passion for (clowning,)" Barnes said. "I showed him how to put on his makeup once ... and then what you see is what he developed himself."

Harper visited 60 local businesses in character as Blu, hoping to convince them to advertise in his program. Twenty took him up on it.

"I think this has really opened a door for him," said Woodland Hood, Harper's homeroom teacher. "It's something he was interested in before; this gave him an opportunity to push himself."

Harper remains passionate about clowning. If all goes well, he hopes to put on another show next summer.

"I just like the bright colors and the fact that you can go around and make people smile and then you can get undressed and take off the makeup and ... nobody recognizes you," Harper said.

In addition to Harper's clowning and illusions, the show will feature an intermission performance by Buttons and several other local clowns. Tickets are $5 and may be purchased at the door or in advance by calling 364-3141.

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