John Cawley
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Frames of Time...

018_04 - The Role I Was Born to Play
I recently got to portray Felix the Cat at NAAM, the music industry convention. I was helping to promote Martin Guitar's new Felix guitar.

Being Felix was certainly fun, and a bit nostalgic. When I was a youngster, my first attempt at doing impressions was of Felix. It was based on the TV cartoons. I would grab my stomach with one hand, point upwards with my other and proclaim in my best falsetto, "Right-ee-o!" and begin the famed laugh. My mother thought I was quite good at the time.

It was years later that I learned the TV cartoons were quite different from the classic Felix of the silent days. I was amazed when I first got to see some silent Felix cartoons. The shorts were full of eye-popping sight gags and a sharp sense of humor.

It was even more astounding when I researched Felix for a book and found the enormous popularity of Felix in the 1920s. Due to Otto Messmer's classic animation and direction, Felix was the first cartoon character to express emotion, thought and character. Just about every popular cartoon character owes at least a nod to Felix. In fact, it was only due to studio mis-steps that Felix got eclipsed by a newcomer, Mickey Mouse.

Performing was made more fun since almost everyone knew who Felix was. Not bad for a character created almost a century ago! I was continually met with folks singing, humming or whistling the TV theme music when they saw me. One even played the theme on the Felix guitar. The folks from Martin were exceptionally nice to their costume performer. I traveled the area with a Felix guitar, rocking out and strumming the whole time.

The show itself, was an eye opener to the music industry. I would never imagine that musical instruments could be so intricate and expensive! Some guitars sell for over $100,000.

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