Originally posted 4-12-06 in MBD2
Debbie Stevens, balloon twister, says she is living a wish come true. Her company, The Twisted Ones, based in Ontario, Canada, which predominantly entertains at corporate venues, is a real family affair. In addition to the corporate functions and occasional private event, they regularly appear as pregame entertainment at games for the Toronto Blue Jays, the Toronto Raptors and the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Stevens and The Twisted Ones seem to have taken balloon twisting to another level completely by creating, among other things, unique, high energy stage shows; puppet shows using neon balloons and black lights; and living statues, where a balloon costume is created and a person (wearing puppeteer black) is inside bringing the “statue” to life.
It all began back in 1997. “It was kind of an accident. I used to do in-home day care and I would tell the kids stories,” she said. A neighbor heard about her storytelling skills and asked her to entertain at the Neighborhood Watch festival. For three hours, she said, the children did not move as Stevens told them her stories, performed with puppets, and basically entertained them. She was hooked. Stevens began the birthday party circuit with her stories, puppets and magic tricks. She also beefed up her balloon sculpting skills. “After I got over the initial popping, well, you know…when you start doing balloons, they take over!” she exclaimed.
Her husband got involved entertaining shortly after she did. Her oldest son, currently at university, has been the behind the scenes wiz assisting with the production of the stage shows and creating all their promotional materials, including the design of their website (www.thetwistedones.com ). Her middle son was recruited around six years ago to help with the entertaining and other duties. And her daughter knows all the ropes and is quick to assist others in any area of the business.
Many would consider Stevens a success and she knew she made it when The Twisted Ones became a family business. “We are all so involved,“ Stevens said, referring to all aspects of the business from the creative and entertaining aspects to the behind the scenes components of running the business. “My family inspires me. They are my biggest fans and my biggest critics,” she said.
Any advice for those just starting out?
“Practice, practice, practice,” Stevens said, and “Enjoy what you do and others will too!”