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  • Are you currently doing any live in-person Jane the Phoole events?
    As of 2024, the answer I regret to have to make is: "No." While the #UrgencyOfNormal movement is rewarding government for removing all COVID-19 pandemic mitigations (restrictions on gatherings, mask requirements, providing masks and tests, protecting the vulnerable) and pretending that the pandemic is over in order to enable private businesses to profit...it's not over. COVID-19 is still surging worldwide and killing and permanently disabling wide swaths of the population. My wife lives with rheumatoid arthritis (click here to learn more about this devastating chronic autoimmune disease). The medications she takes for it suppress her immune system, making COVID-19 a much more serious threat. I cannot risk exposing her to this vascular-system-destroying, brain-damaging virus, which is airborne, transmits even out-of-doors, and is increasing in infectiousness with each new variant. Even if I took great precaution in wearing an N95 or P100 respirator while performing at these events (which I feel would compromise my gig in any case), I would still need to quarantine away from my wife for two weeks following performing at such an event, which I cannot afford to do. Outdoor events may be relatively 'safe' for many people, but they are not safe for my family. I will be spending a FIFTH year isolated socially as a result. I want so badly to bring Jane the Phoole back to Faires, but until a truly-sanitizing vaccine like Novavax is approved as a secondary series, and my family and I can get it, I cannot appear live in person at any events for the remainder of 2024. I know that it is not in any way comparable to the experience of getting up to hijinks with Jane in person, but in an attempt to continue to connect with Phooligans, I do host a live interactive webshow called Phoole & the Gang. When it is on the air, it is live online on Fridays from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Central US time (visit https://everytimezone.com to find out what time this happens where you live) at slipmat.io.phoole, mixcloud.com/live/phoole, and twitch.tv/phoole. A guide on how to tune in is available at https://phoole.com/gang-guide. You can watch the show on a mobile phone, a tablet, a laptop, a desktop computer, or a streaming-enabled TV, and you can chat live with other Phooligans who are tuned in from all over the world. You can make new friends, reconnect with old friends, and enjoy a 2-hour weekly visit with me, my wife Tiffany, our cats Tony and Angelo, and our skeleton, Uncle Fweddy. We play music, talk about all kinds of things, and try to make the world a little less gloomy and a little more fun for everyone who tunes in. If you miss the show, you can listen back to it or watch it again using the links at https://phoole.com/gang. If you are (correctly) concerned that you are not receiving correct or complete information about COVID-19, because public health agencies have ceased tracking and providing complete infection data, independent data trackers and epidemiologists have not given up. I recommend following The People's CDC at https://peoplescdc.org/ and using BioBot's tracker at https://biobot.io/data/covid-19. I follow this subject with great interest, to protect my family and my community as much as one person can. I also maintain a list of helpful links at https://phoole.com/links. If you are NOVID, zero-transmission, zero-COVID, or otherwise COVID-smart, and are feeling really isolated and lonely about it, we all are, and the Zero-Covid Community on Reddit at https://www.reddit.com/r/ZeroCovidCommunity/ is a place to commiserate and keep hope alive. To stay informed about upcoming live events, you can join my email list at https://phoole.com/list - I send up to three updates per month, and I do not use your email address for anything else or share it with anyone. If you use social media, I also post regular updates about upcoming events on Mastodon at https://mas.to/@phoole and on the Phoole & the Gang Discord server, which you can join via https://phoole.com/discord. I do have FaceBook and Instagram accounts but they're parked and not active.
  • Why do you say you're a "fool?"
    I am a professional Court Jester! I began fooling professionally in 1996; I've fooled at Shakespeare festivals and Renaissance fairs for decades, and I've fooled on two separate occasions at the the International Festival of Fools at the UK home of the original Tom Fool himself, Muncaster Castle, in England's beautiful Lake District. I'm also the official municipal jester of the City of Milwaukee, as shown in the image above, by unanimous resolution of Milwaukee's Common Council in 2004.
  • Do you get paid to be Milwaukee's Official Jester?
    NO! My folly is provided PRO BONO to the City of Milwaukee. Zero tax dollars pay for my Fool services; no public resources are expended for me to be the City's official municipal jester. I simply am. YOU'RE WELCOME! 🃏
  • What do you do as Milwaukee's Official Jester?
    Whatever they ask of me - which to date has been...nothing. My appointment is lifetime, and I have never been asked by the City to do any fooling on their behalf. In the past, the Mayor's Office has been concerned that if they use my services, they will appear to be profligate with public funds, despite the fact that I would provide my folly pro bono for public functions. They've also been afraid to make fun of themselves, despite the city's chief claims to fame being beer and the television comedy programs HAPPY DAYS and LAVERNE AND SHIRLEY. I hope that future administrations will have the courage to use me for my talents. I am fantastic at leading parades, hosting events, starting conversations, introducing people to one another in unusual and positive ways, and being heard and understood at great distances. Might be fun, Milwaukee!
  • Isn't a fool an idiot or a stupid person? You seem smart.
    "Fool" is a contronym - it's a word that has two meanings that are opposite to each other. Other examples of contronyms are these: "Aught" can mean "everything," or "nothing." To "bolt" can be "to secure something in place" or "to flee." "Cleave" can mean "adhere" or "separate." Today, in most understandings of the English language, "fool" means somebody who's not smart. But before the Industrial Revolution, a Fool could also be an entertainer, a companion, and someone whose job it was to tell the truth to people in power - even if, and especially if, the people in power didn't want to hear it. Because the Fool lacked political mobility, they were invulnerable to influence; their powerful boss could rely on their word as a reflection of actual truth, instead of merely being flattery for political aims. A Middle-Low-German-folklore-famous Fool, Till Eulenspiegel (depicted in the woodcut image above), has a last name that can mean either "owl-mirror" or "wise mirror." Till is often depicted holding either an owl or a mirror as his symbols, or sometimes both. In many Fool traditions worldwide, fools are "wise mirrors" that tell you the truth about yourself. If you buy a Playmobil jester, half the time you will get one that comes with an owl, and the other half of the time you will get one that comes with a mirror. This is why that happens! "Owl-mirror" - the Fool is your friend who reflects the honest truth back to you.
  • What is a Renaissance fair? Why does this exist?
    Towns and cities in the United States are not built for people to walk around in, to see one another in, and to enjoy as pedestrians. Cities in the United States are built for automobiles. There are exceptions, of course, but by and large, people living in the United States can't just step out of their front door and saunter down to a public plaza, meet up with friends in the neighborhood, sit by a fountain, and enjoy a drink while people-watching or telling one another stories - even though these are all things people are driven to do as a part of being social. Shopping malls briefly satisfied some of these needs during the 1980s and 1990s, but most malls are now defunct and no longer fulfill any of these needs. There are excellent books available giving the full, detailed history of Renaissance fairs in the United States - but, in the shortest possible summary, I will try to outline their evolution. In the late 1960s, in California, a charismatic and inspiring schoolteacher wanted to immerse her students in pastoral Shakespeare-era living for the purpose of an educational experience, and she established the first Renaissance fair as a backyard event, which flourished and blossomed into the first full-fledged "Renaissance Pleasure Faire," fueled by the Folk Revival counter-culture movement. Imitators soon launched similar medieval-and-Renaissance-themed events across the country. Most events were transient happenings in public parks and forest preserves, but some prospered sufficiently to purchase land and build elaborate and intricate towns as settings for historical reenactment and fantasy immersion. Across the nation, guests flocked to these fairs to escape a fraught and dangerous modern world and hide away in pastoral, bucolic bliss amongst verdant hills, shady forests, whimsical cottages, imposing fortresses, and every kind of setting for fantastic adventure. Today, Renaissance fairs continue to attract crowds in the hundreds of thousands annually. Some are families who can't necessarily afford a weekend at one of the massive corporate theme parks on the country's coasts but who are looking for interactive fun for everyone, young and old alike. Some are devoted fans of the milieu who live to dress up, play a part and get involved in a fair's story or theme. Many just enjoy the ambiance of a city, town or village that feels more human, with public plazas, fountains, benches, shady places to repose, and many vistas for people-watching. Many others use Renaissance festivals as a kind of Comic-Con, where they can cosplay to their hearts' content and enjoy the company of like-minded enthusiasts. Yet others just want to immerse themselves in another world and leave the modern world and all of its horrors behind every weekend during a fair's season.
  • Why would anyone want to perform in this kind of thing?
    Jerzy Grotowski once had the opportunity to ask the great Stanislavski, "Is your Method ideal for training young performers?" Stanislavski laughed in his face. He explained that his Method is intended for performers who are at least of middle-age. The Method is for people who are already emotionallly experienced and who have lived in the world a long time already. What, then, did Stanislavski recommend as the ideal training ground for young performers? Comic opera, circus, rodeo, and Vaudeville. These are the places where you learn technique. Renaissance Faires are exactly these things. Renaissance Faires are a combination of comic opera, circus, rodeo, and Vaudeville. If you are a new entertainer, and you need a crash course in listening, improvisation, second-support, entrances, motivating exits, supporting other players in crowd scenes, throwing focus, pulling focus, learning what the hell 'focus' is, supporting the big picture, playing in an arena, playing with 360-degree visibility, staying in character despite an infinite number of possible disruptions, the RenFaire experience is worth it. New entertainers, or entertainers new to this type of show, should be aware that many venues are run unscrupulously, with the aim of exploiting as many performers as possible to minimize operation costs and maximize profit. Many of these venues will portray themselves as if they are some kind of non-profit or charitable organization. Some venues ARE genuinely charitable organizations, and a little bit of research will reveal whether a venue is exploitative or genuinely supporting charitable aims. If an organization is asking you to perform for very little compensation, and if you can afford to make a bargain in which you trade your labor for the experience and education you derive, weigh all of the factors carefully and do what you think will benefit you most. If you cannot afford that kind of bargain, seek out the small handful of shows on the US circuit that value performers and reward them with a living wage and benefits, such as housing, clothing, relocation costs, and the like. You must make it worth it for yourself.
  • What does a Fool do in a Renaissance Faire?
    At the height of my RenFaire folly, I had the great good fortune to work with a director named T. Stacy Hicks, who for many years directed the Bristol Renaissance Faire's Guilde of St. George, the ensemble portraying Queen Elizabeth I and her illustrious and populous Court, on Royal Progress from London to Bristol, in 1574. If I had been at any other show, with anyone else running the Court, I probably would have just ambled around causing trouble. This is what I do when I'm Jane at a show where I'm booked in for short engagements - I accumulate Phooligans and vent folly around town. Stacy, however, built an entire cosmos, and he let all of us be stars in the vast firmament he launched. Stacy has many gifts, including the ability to create opportunities for every kind of participant, whether they are a gregarious, bombastic, technique-driven actor or a quiet, reserved human who just wants to be in the place doing the thing with everyone else. Stacy sees value in every kind of participant, at every place in their journey, and he does not discourage participants by labeling, boxing, or minimizing their potential for contribution. Stacy understands that audiences require spectacle, and that the spectacle must be overwhelming in scale to begin to compete with what audiences are used to receiving in film, television, and video games. Since live, environmental, improvised entertainment can't benefit from post-production, special effects, or even a physical lens to guide audience perception, all of these effects have to be achieved organically, primarily through sheer scale. Stacy researched Elizabeth I's actual progress from London to Bristol in 1574 and cast literally hundreds of participants to portray Elizabeth, her courtiers, and all of their households and retainers and attachments. He cast people with acting and improv experience and skill in certain principal roles as key historical figures whom the audience might recognize from throughout Elizabeth's reign, echoing the refrain, "We are a chapter, not a page, of history," so that audiences could experience moments with everyone from early-reign personalities to those emerging later in Gloriana's long reign. Everyone from Doctor Dee and Doctor Lopez to Don Bernardino de Mendoza to Sir Walter Raleigh to Lady Elizabeth Throckmorton to Sir Francis Walsingham to Sir Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester to Lady Catherine Grey to Mistress Helena Von Snakenborg could engage guests personally within the 250-member ensemble during a dizzying daily schedule of dances, masques, parades, presentations, tournaments, banquets and audiences. Participants who were less zany and impulsive could flourish in docent-oriented supernumerary roles, each of which had an engaging and fascinating story for guests in smaller and more concentrated interactions. Cooks, valets, maids and servants of every function provided endless "ins" for guests curious about the goings-on and the personalities in play. It was an ideal launching ground for Jane the Phoole, and I am forever grateful to Stacy for the venting of my own particular folly in his playground of power and prosperity. During the height of the Stacy Epoch, my festival day saw me bellowing welcome to guests at the Front Gates of the town during the day's opening ceremonies, joining a company of nobles outside the town's booksellers' to welcome guests through the town and inspire them on their way with wit and laughter, becoming the Mistress of Ceremonies for the first jousting tournament of each day, building the crowd's anticipation of the Queen's arrival mid-day at the stage where her procession would be received by the city's Mayor and other local dignitaries, hobnobbing with guests and introducing them to courtiers throughout the royal dancing and banquet, then spending afternoons strolling the town with my perpetual entourage of Phooligans (beloved and devoted guests-who-became-friends, who went with me absolutely everywhere and even achieved titles and positions in my own little miniature court), eating, drinking, being merry, for ten continuous hours, rain and shine, come ruin or rapture. It was the absolute best, and I miss it with every fiber of my being. We had the best conversations and the most ridiculous adventures, and you cannot explain any of it to anyone because none of it makes any sense at all out of context. You had to be there. I hope you were. I'm very sorry if you weren't.
  • How did you become a Fool?
    When I was a freshman at Northern Illinois University in their Acting program, on the Irene Ryan Scholarship, a fellow cast member in a show I happened to be in exclaimed, "You are way too loud and funny to be indoors!" Then they explained what they meant. They were playing a main character at the regional Renaissance fair, and they thought I would have a lot of fun and do well in that venue. I auditioned, was cast as a walkaround "street character" as that show called it, and hopped around as a variety of supernumerary villager characters for the first few years there, learning technique and building ensemble. When I discovered that Jane the Fool existed, I thought, "Why is nobody playing this woman?" Jane is in the triptych at the top of this entry, all the way to the left. The image is an oil-on-canvas allegorical painting showing the family of King Henry VIII - it is allegorical because the subjects depicted in the painting were not all alive at the same time; Jane Seymour died while giving birth to Edward VI, so the situation depicted is an impossible one. But Henry's beloved fool Will Somer appears in the far right arch, and on the left is poor Jane, originally fool to Mary Tudor (Elizabeth's elder half-sister), who passed into Elizabeth's household when Mary ascended to the throne after Henry and Edward died. Jane's last name might have been "Bede," "Bedde" or "Beddes." She was bald, and royal accounting records from the era show a barber-surgeon having been summoned frequently to shave her head, for an unknown reason. Court correspondence mentions Jane as often speaking out of turn, to chaotic and comic effect; it is possible that she may have been mentally-disabled or developmentally-disabled. But she was a well-loved fool: royal accounts list many expenditures for clothing, shoes and pets for her to look after. She had her own horse, which none of the other fools at the English court had at the time; she had ducks, chickens and geese to look after; and while other Court fools were often attired in cast-offs from their patrons, Jane's motley was specially made for her at considerable expense. Royal accounts show her having received several pairs of shoes annually. The more I learned about Jane the Fool, the more desperately I wanted to bring her to audiences. She's a woman with an occupation that seems unusual to the average person, who tends to have been taught a version of history that assigns women to few and strict societal roles. I saw a way to present her as a human access portal to court life - while she is attached to the Court, she is in the center of the social hierarchy, and she can cheerfully and wholesomely connect guests to anyone they'd like to meet in the ranks of nobility. Here is a photo of me as Jane in 1996, in a highly-theatrical, costume-y motley that was the very first motley I made for the character. I built this first motley while co-directing and performing in the children's area of a now-defunct fair near Fredericksburg, Virginia, with a lot of gentle and patient coaching from one of that show's head costume directors. This photo was taken by Dr. Stephanie Jo Draus.
  • Why do you spell it "Phoole?"
    I began my folly at a Renaissance fair, which was a theatrical, environmental, immersive performance venue portraying a 16th-century English city. English-language spelling did not become as standardized as it is today until after the Industrial Revolution. The playwright and poet William Shakespeare spelled his own name 80 different ways throughout his writing. When I started fooling, I based my fool character on Jane the Fool, who was a real person who served as one of Queen Elizabeth I's jesters. I thought it could be fun and different to adopt a non-standard spelling of "Fool" to help add to the uniqueness of my portrayal, so I began to go by "Jane the Phoole" professionally starting in 1995.
  • Who are the Phooligans?
    You are! You've begun to explore the Phooliverse, so you are a Phooligan. Thank you! Many wonderful people are Phooligans, with some having been gathered by Jane the Phoole in person, and some having joined Phoole & the Gang online. The first photo above shows me with Phooligan Nicole a/k/a 'Frenchy,' in a photo taken by Phooligan Tom George Davison; the next photos is of Nicole's husband Chris, a/k/a Panse de Brebis Farcie (French for 'Haggis', commemorating his fondness for wearing kilts), taken by Phooligan Nicole. Next is a photo by Phooligan John Karpinsky, with Phooligan Propellergirl, who also happens to be portraying Lady Lettice Knollys, Countess of Essex and Leicester, with Phooligan Ivan Phillips a/k/a Dr. Logic in the background. In the next photo I'm being photobombed by Phooligan Stephen, a/k/a Jestr2, in a moment captured by young Owen Karpinsky. Finally there is a photo by Phooligan Nicole of Phooligan Ray, a/k/a Wildbear IL, who is the MOST HUGGABLE GNOME EVER, with Phooligan Ivan and me. These are only a tiny fraction of the Phooligans who have joined my entourage live while I'm being Jane the Phoole. All are welcome and adored! Some Phooligans are very brave and march right up and join in the fun. Others I have to encourage to join the party. Still others wander on the distant fringe until I rope them into the core. At the time that I'm writing this FAQ, Year 4 of the COVID-19 pandemic has begun, and it is uncertain when I may get to spend time with Phooligans again in-person. Some Phooligans who have joined the Phooliverse by interacting with me live in person have moved across to the online Phooliverse by tuning into Phoole & the Gang and joining its various communities on different online platforms, but I know the format isn't for every Phooligan. I am always looking for the next way for us to be together and have insane times again.
  • Why aren't you working for a billionaire as their fool?
    I am registered with several domestic staffing firms worldwide, in the event that a billionaire ever suddenly decides they are tired of the sycophants flattering them constantly. But a Fool is an entertainer, a companion, and a truth-teller - and today, entertainment is ubiquitous; companionship is weird and too often digital; and no powerful person wants to know the truth. No one hoarding the majority of the world's resources wants to be told that, in order for everyone to survive and thrive, they have to give up what they're hoarding.
  • Do you have special fool skills?
    I can juggle three objects, and I know how to say the phrase 'bad monkey' in 159 different languages as of March 2022. In college I studied with a Kristin Linklater certified vocal trainer, and I continued that study after college, so I can free my natural voice and be heard over great distances, especially when I'm laughing. Many Phooligans report being able to pinpoint my location in a large festival by listening for my laugh. (Photo by Ivan Phillips) When I entertained at Muncaster Castle during their 2007 International Festival of Fools, I also competed in their Jester Tournament, which I knew from the outset that I would not win, since all of the other competitors were what are called 'variety performers' or 'cabaret artists' with high-spectacle stunt-type acts: jugglers, fire performers, acrobats, physical comedians, prop comedians and comedy-music acts. When I arrived at Muncaster Castle, a girlfriend of one of the other competitors, another American entertainer, said to me, "I've seen you at RenFaires, and you're fine and all, but...what do you do? You don't really do anything. You just walk around talking to people." She was quite right. I do just walk around talking to people. And I very much didn't win the competition. But I did have a crowd of patrons around me at all times when I was 'onstage' (in the public and in the view of the public), and I had a specially-devoted entourage of small children who went with me everywhere and told me the most amazing things about ideas they had for screenplays and telly programmes they wanted to write and produce, and one of them, the child of the Master of Ceremonies for the competition Maynard Flip-Flap, had given himself a fool name, Eric Tree-Head, which is pretty much the best thing ever. And as soon as the competition was over, and the winner had been whisked away to do television studio interviews in Carlisle an hour and a half away, all of the television crews at the castle turned to me. "Get her," a producer said, pointing at me. "She can talk." And talk I did, to several BBC numbers, and Sky, and ITV. And as you can see in the image here, I ended up as the "poster girl" for the festival the next year - and the kind Pennington family has invited me to come back and fool up there whenever I wish to, which is pretty wonderful. So that's a thing I can do that some people value. I can talk, about anything, with anyone, for any length of time, sometimes even remembering to finish every point on which I begin to expound. And even though I didn't win the competition, all of the other "losers" and I won bowls carved from the very wood of Tom Fool's Tree, carved from a large branch that fell off during a storm. I cherish my bowl, as you can see in this picture from my weekly webshow Phoole & the Gang. And Eric Tree-Head bestowed upon me a gift of a Very Good Stick, which was too large to fit in my luggage to take home, so I stood it by the trunk of Tom Fool's Tree, and I mean to make more than one pilgrimage back to Tom Fool's house to visit it in the future.
  • What is a 'motley'? What are you wearing when you 'Phoole up' as Jane the Phoole?
    A motley is a fool's livery or uniform. Most people today will recognize a fool's motley from the image of a Joker card in a standard deck of playing cards. In folk-literature imagery, a jester or fool commonly wears a coxcomb, or a cap with many tails or horns sprouting off of it which terminate in bells; many fools' coxcombs are depicted with donkey ears as well. Fools' motleys are frequently depicted as being covered in diamond-shaped patches of many bright colors, with triangular 'dagges' hanging from various seams in their garments, also adorned with bells at the points. Jesters or fools are also commonly shown carrying a 'bauble' or 'marotte' - a fool's head on a stick, which the jester may use as a puppet or a weapon, according to circumstance. (Photo of Jane the Phoole with a tiny orange fairy by John Karpinsky.) The image of a fool or jester in the modern mind descends from stock characters in commedia dell'arte, chiefly the character of Arlecchino ('Harlequin' in late-16th-century French). The most common analogue in present-day pop culture for a trickster fool character is Harley Quinn in the DC Comics universe. The real Jane the Fool only appears in one painting from the 16th century, as shown in the detail here from the triptych of The Family of Henry VIII, photographed at Hampton Court Palace by Phooligan and good friend Richard Dally. The very excellent company of researchers and experimental archaeologists at The Tudor Tailor have painstakingly recreated Jane's gown from this painting, and I dream of doing the same myself one day. When I set out to portray Jane, I knew I had to build a bridge between the reality of Jane in history and what modern audiences 'know' about fools and jesters. My Jane the Phoole motleys have always been a compromise between the authentic construction and silhouette of an attachment to a Royal household and the harlequin-diamonds, dagges, bells, coxcomb and marotte that appear on Joker cards, incorporating enough of both so that someone seeing me from far away can at least begin to understand that I'm silly. Most people who meet me as Jane the Phoole do not ever see my feet, and since I am typically on my feet for up to ten hours a day when I'm performing as Jane, I do not usually wear historically-appropriate footwear. I opt for nondescript shoes that are comfortable. In many venues where I perform as Jane, the lanes are very dusty, and my shoes get rapidly coated in dust in any case, so I don't worry very much about 'breaking the magic' if a guest happens to see my incorrect shoes. I do own a very expensive pair of custom-made historically-approximate shoes, which I reserve for indoor events to help them last longer. If only one could have as many shoes as the real Jane the Fool did - up to twelve pairs a year! I make all of my motleys myself, except for the shoes and stockings. I make the shift, under-drawers, garters, farthingale, petticoats, gown, pudding-caps and hats myself. I am not accepting commissions currently, and I don't expect to accept commissions in the future unless I suddenly come into a great deal of free time. But I am already working on my next motley, which will be 'less wrong,' in terms of historical inappropriateness, than most of the motleys I have made to date, though it will still have some ridiculous appurtenances in accordance with...me. The first layer of the motley I wear is the underclothing layer - a long shift that goes down to my calves, and stockings. Clothing historians feud on whether under-drawers for women were common in the era, but they're mandatory for me, in the event that I should tip over! Knee-high stockings with garters and shoes complete the first layer. Among the structured-bodice class, it is popular to chant, "SHOES BEFORE BODICE," because it is not often possible for one to reach one's feet after one is laced securely into everything on top. (Photo at Milwaukee's lakefront with a float from the Great Circus parade by Stephen Milanowski.) Next on for me is the farthingale, an underskirt with horizontal casings in it containing hoops of reinforced steel. In the era, reeds or whalebone supported this garment when it was worn. While it is unlikely the real Jane the Fool ever wore a farthingale, I've gotten so accustomed to it over the decades that I find it difficult to part with it, and audiences enjoy it so much. Guests often feel more comfortable asking me questions about 'noble underwear' than they do asking performers portraying more staid and upright historical personas, so I am happy to be a 'dress-up doll' for guest questions about weird things like farthingales, busks and bumrolls. A petticoat goes on next, over the farthingale. (Garment count so far, with shoes and stockings pairs counted as one item each: Six.) If I am wearing a closed-skirt motley, the petticoat is plain or a uniform color throughout (or patchworked from multiple pieces of suitable-texture fabric if I've been in a fabric crisis). If I am wearing a motley with the overskirt open in the front, the petticoat will fit closely over the farthingale and have a 'forepart' attached to it, which is a slightly-structured panel of decorative, showy fabric that gives the illusion that the entire petticoat is extremely fancy. Next on is the bumroll, a padded crescent that ties on at the waist, expanding the line of the backside and hips. It is unlikely that the real Jane the Fool wore anything but the most modest of bumrolls. But I wanted to be silly, and I also wanted to create the illusion that my waist is much smaller than it actually is, so I went a little crazy and made my bumroll exceedingly vast. It's so big that I've named it: BUMROLLIO. It creates a rear shelf on which guests and fellow participants alike like to leave items, messages, and small birds and animals. Babies have been placed on Bumrollio and left there, quite comfortably, for longer than one would expect. In the photo here, a tiny baby coati named Myrtle is on Bumrollio. Sometimes people leave things on Bumrollio which I don't discover for hours at a time. Next on is the motley itself - the gown, with overskirt, bodice and sleeves. Many of my past motleys have overskirts that are separate from the bodices; my most recent two motleys feature gowns in which the skirt is, correctly, attached to the bodice, as will my next motley. Separate skirts require that 'points' or short laces be threaded through eyelets in the waistband of the skirt and at the bottom edge of the bodice to keep the pieces anchored together, in case one's hem gets trod on by someone, so that the skirt waistband does not get pulled below the bottom edge of the bodice. Because the front of my body curves extremely, I smooth my silhouette by adding a solid hardwood busk in the front of my motleys' bodices. This is inappropriate historically to any part of Elizabeth I's reign except the very end, but I didn't choose the busk life; the busk life chose me, and it is now how I live. I am currently undecided about whether my next motley will use a busk or not. The skirts of many of my motleys have large pockets concealed in the seams for carrying all of my Phoolish Things - a timepiece, lip paint, toys, books, extra ribbons and bells, and anything else folly may require. PRO TIP FOR SEWING BELLS ON THINGS: Either procure expensive bells cast solidly as one piece, with only the clapper being a separate bead inside the bell, and polish the hasp of the bell so that no edges remain to chew through thread, or attach bells with a very small split ring. Jump rings are too structurally weak and are unsuited to this purpose. Attach the split ring to the bell, then sew the split ring to the garment. The bell will jingle more freely and readily, and the bell will remain on the garment longer, even through washing and being grabbed by curious children and monkeys. While I would love for my motleys to feature solid-cast bells exclusively, these are both prohibitively expensive and very heavy, so I frequently use lighter, historically-inappropriate, stamped-metal jingle bells instead. (Photo by John Karpinsky) To create the illusion that I am bald, when I am performing as Jane, I shave the lower 3 inches of the back part of my head, and then I wear a pudding-cap covering the rest of my hair, which I secure to my head with approximately a tablespoon of hair glue. Then I attach my hat at an exceedingly jaunty angle to little tabs on top of the pudding-cap. In the era, women would cover their hair with a coif or biggins-cap for some hair and hat styles; Jane the Phoole's biggins-cap is a bit more like a padded helmet for a baby, to protect her from head injuries, based on what the experts at The Tudor Tailor have been able to determine about the hats the real Jane the Fool is wearing in the Hampton Court triptych referred to above. Because the upper hat can sometimes be a bit heavy, depending on its fabrics and ornaments, the hair glue and tight-fitting pudding-cap act as a solid anchor for the hat at its severely-jaunty angle.
  • How can I register an account at Slipmat.io so I can watch Phoole & the Gang there?
    In a web browser, navigate to slipmat.io/account/signup (or click here to open another browser tab and navigate to this URL). Complete the registration form. Enter your email address (one that you use frequently and know how to access easily, not one that you haven't used in a long time or one that you don't know how to access), create a password, then retype the password to confirm it. Then click REGISTER. Check the email account you used to register. You will receive a message from Slipmat.io - click the link in the message to proceed with account creation. If you don't see the message in your Inbox, check any junk mail folders, spam folders, or clutter folders your email account might have. It's a good idea to add noreply@slipmat.io to your contacts to make sure your email application doesn't designate the message as junk or spam. Once you click the link in the message, you will arrive at this screen: Complete the "Create Your Listener Profile" form as shown immediately above. Pick a fun display name - this is the name that will represent you in the chatroom! Complete the rest of the form and then click "Save changes." After you click "Save changes," you may or may not be taken to another page. If nothing happens after you click "Save changes," just click the Slipmat.io logo in the upper left corner of the screen to go to the main page. You can complete your profile with additional info and your picture by clicking the circular avatar in the upper right corner of the page!
  • How do I watch Phoole & the Gang at Slipmat.io?
    Before a Show is Live: Visit slipmat.io/phoole and click on the show listed under Upcoming Events that you want to join online when it goes live. Click on the "Subscribe to Get Notifications" button to subscribe to receive a notification when that show goes live if you need an email reminder! At slipmat.io/phoole, be sure to click the "Become a Fan" button! Once a show goes live, you can access the show at Slipmat.io in these ways: Visit slipmat.io, find the live show displayed at the top of the screen, and click it to join it. Visit a specific show link posted for the specific date at facebook.com/phooleofficial, twitter.com/phoole, sent out in the Phooliverse Flash (phoole.com/list to join) or posted to the Phoole Patreon Platoon at patreon.com/phoole. Sign in, if you are not yet signed in, and join the fun!
  • What can I do if the livestream is choppy or buffering?
    Make Sure You Take Care of Your Internet Speeds! Make sure you don't have a data cap on your internet service account that could be keeping you slow! Check your internet service provider's website to find out how to access your account's details and ensure you have sufficient speed. A minimum of 2.5Mbps speed is needed to enjoy streaming shows. Reset your router to refresh your internet connection. Use an internet search engine to find the instructions for resetting your particular router - you may need to go look at your actual physical router to learn what manufacturer made it and what model number it is to be able to get correct resetting instructions. It may be as simple as turning it off and back on again; it might be as easy as unplugging it and plugging it back in. It might be even easier if your router has its own webpage where you can click a "Reboot" or "Reset" button on it, or if your internet service provider has an app that lets you do this remotely! Reposition your router if you are relying on wifi. Connect directly to your router with an Ethernet cable - wifi isn't always the best for streaming shows! Use a streamlined browser like Firefox or Opera. Google Chrome can be a sluggish browser that hogs system resources and needlessly invades your privacy. Install a 'clear cache' plugin in your browser if possible. If you are a wizard at clicking through the many menus needed to clear your cache, go with what works for you, but if you can work smarter and not harder to have fun, opt for simple plugin elegance. Some browsers call plugins 'addons' or 'extensions.' If your browser still seems slow, try accessing the show via a private or incognito tab or window in your browser. Asking Phoole to help you resolve viewing issues while she's broadcasting live might not go well. Phoole has a LOT going on when she's broadcasting live! Other viewers in the chat room might have advice, but helping yourself to the information below will always be more effective and efficient. If show is buffering or getting "stuck": Click on the settings in the lower right corner of the video player (look for the word "AUTO" and click on it to see options for different speeds you can select). Change to a lower bitrate. (Click "AUTO" A minimum of 2.5Mbps download speed is needed to watch shows on slipmat.io. Internet speed can be checked at speedtest.net. If you subscribe to a fast internet speed package with your internet service provider, but you find that you are getting slow speeds while using wifi, try connecting the device on which you're watching to your router using an Ethernet cable. Newer laptops and devices may not have an Ethernet port; however, inexpensive Ethernet cable adapters can be obtained online at a wide variety of sellers. Chrome users may find that accessing slipmat.io in incognito mode may solve their viewing problems. Firefox users may find that accessing slipmat.io in a private window may solve their viewing problems. Clear cookies and local data - click here to download a PDF guide to this process. Try the steps in "Make Sure You Take Care of Your Internet Speeds!" above. It's important to note that while Twitch is a major corporation (owned by Amazon and armed with all of the money in the entire world) with platoons of support staff and developers, Slipmat.io and Mixcloud are one-person operations who occasionally-but-not-often have help from volunteer collaborative developers. Mixcloud and Slipmat.io are not money machines or giant entertainment monoliths - they're programmers building you a music-appreciation venue with very few resources and very little time to make improvements or changes. That the sites are as great as they are is due to love of the work, love of the community, and a lot of hard work by one person at each site. Tune In Early to See If You Connect! Most Fridays, there is a show on at these sites that you may love even more than Phoole & the Gang - it's the Urban Love Ulcer rock'n'roll show, live from Glasgow, Scotland! Tune in at Slipmat.io at https://slipmat.io/urbanloveulcer Tune in at Mixcloud Live at https://www.mixcloud.com/live/urbanloveulcer/ Tune in at Twitch at twitch.tv/urbanloveulcer Pete Howard, who is the host of the show, goes live Fridays for 2 hours before I go live - so that's from 4pm Central US time! See if you're able to tune into his show - and if you can get him at slipmat.io/urbanloveulcer, he automatically transfers his audience to my show, so you're already tuned in for Phoole & the Gang! US audiences may love Pete's excellent taste in music more than what I play - and everyone will enjoy his antics and lightning wit! He's the real stuff!
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