BubbleMania

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NOTHING IS GOING TO BURST HIS BUBBLE

DOUG ROUGEUX ENTERTAINS CHILDREN WITH LOTS OF BUBBLES AND GOOD, CLEAN FUN.

Reprinted from the Post-Standard
August 3, 2000
Janet Gramza, Staff writer

All Doug Rougeux needs to amuse a crowd of kids is some bubble soap and a wand. But when he's working as "The Bubble Man," Rougeux goes beyond your basic bubbles.

During a recent performance at Sumner Pre-K in Syracuse, Rougeux made two trips to his car to lug in a fold-up table, an amplifier with microphone, a tape player, three containers of soap solution, a suitcase full of wands, hoops, straws, fans and bubble guns, and a blow-up kiddie pool. As his audience filed in, Rougeux silently tossed a bubble wand toward a bowl of soap, missing by a mile and grimacing as if embarrassed. The kids giggled as he missed again and again. When he finally made the shot, they cheered wildly.

They hadn't seen anything yet. In the next 45 minutes, Rougeux used wands, straws, his bare hands and his "Super-Duper Bubble Hoop" to blow what seemed like a billion bubbles: kissing bubbles, attacking bubbles and tightrope-walking bubbles. Bubble space ships, bubble popcorn machines and bubble chains. Bubbles dancing to swing music in "The Bubble Concerto." And, as his grand finale, a bubble with a youngster inside.

Rougeux, 35, of Liverpool, is the star of "Bubble Mania," a show he has performed all across upstate New York since 1991.

Rougeux is also a juggler, an actor in community theater productions and a member of the Syracuse-based Off-the-Cuff Comedy Troupe.

He began performing at age 12, when, he says, "I bought a "Learn to Juggle' kit for a friend and never gave it to him."

Juggling taught him that he enjoyed entertaining audiences. After graduating from Liverpool High School in 1982, he attended the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Clown College in Venice, Fla., obtaining his clown degree in 1984.

For two years, he traveled with the circus, performing nationwide and living on the circus train. "My private room on the clown car was 3 feet by 6 feet," he said. "But it was a lot of fun. The most valuable thing it taught me was that I could actually make my living doing something like this."

In 1986, he returned to Upstate New York and worked on a television production degree at State University of New York at Binghamton and State University of New York at Buffalo. In college, he got his first paid juggling performance. After graduating, he hooked up with a fellow Ringling Bros. clown, Casey Carle, and the two performed for a year as "The Loons."

"Slowly, performing became enough to pay all my bills," he said.

It was Carle who taught Rougeux the art and science of bubble-making. Carle invented "Bubble Mania" after seeing a street performer in Louisiana use bubbles in an act. Soon after launching "BubbleMania!," Carle decided to move to Connecticut. He offered to bring Rougeux into the business and teach him everything he knew about bubbles. Rougeux agreed not to perform outside of New York and Northern PA and to pay Carle royalties for using his material. Today, Rougeux says, "80 percent of what I do is bubbles."

Actually, it's more than bubbles. Rougeux uses elements of clowning, mime, slapstick, juggling and magic to enhance his bubblery.

"This man is so wonderful," said Carol Simson, who booked Rougeux to perform at Sumner Pre-K. "He puts on these round glasses that look like a bubble. His whole body is fluid like a bubble. He captivated everyone's attention, young and old."

Rougeux figures he did 300 performances last year, mostly in Central New York. He plans to keep at it as long as he is able.

"There really was a moment about three years into it when I discovered I was happy," he said. "I was like, "Oh, this is going to work until I can't do it anymore!"'

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