Olympia’s own Jusby the Clown and his sidekick Draco will light up New Year’s Eve with a fire show in front of the Museum of Glass in Tacoma.
As a bonus, couples can kiss under Jusby’s flaming mistletoe.
“If you want to have sparks flying and have a red-hot kiss under the mistletoe, this is a unique opportunity,” said Jusby, who made the mistletoe out of fishing lures. “It’s a celebration of new beginnings. We’ll burn away the old and kindle the new.”
The duo’s free 30-minute performance starts at 4:30 p.m. Thursday outside the museum at 1801 Dock St. as an unofficial kickoff to the annual First Night celebration.
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Jusby, known legally as Justin Wright, took his act to another level after teaming up with Draco, a neighbor and recent Portland transplant whose real name is Theodore Jerdes.
The duo recently performed without flames at a children’s Christmas event in Renton, but fire will be the main attraction at their New Year’s Eve gig. The act will be backed by appropriate tunes, such as a techno version of “Auld Lang Syne” and Jimi Hendrix’s “Fire.”
While Jusby aims for laughs with flaming pies and a big red nose, Jerdes moves with grace as he twirls a pair of flaming staffs, flaming hoops or flaming poi.
Jerdes has been performing his “fire and flow” art for 13 years and at one time earned a living doing it. He credits his martial arts background for his fluid form.
“I’m a dad now. It’s now just a hobby,” said Jerdes, 35. “I love having fun. I love seeing smiles on people’s faces.”
Jusby, 46, has been performing regularly since 2008 and frequently hosts clown camps. Gigs range from singing telegrams to birthday parties to summertime shindigs.
When he’s not clowning around, Wright works as a substitute teacher in the Shelton and Yelm school districts and has past experience as a paraeducator.
Sometimes his two careers overlap. Wright said his hair, which he dyes red, is a good conversation starter with students who are curious about his other job.
The clown bug officially bit Wright in 1996 during his senior year at The Evergreen State College, where he studied performing arts at what he called “one of the most prestigious clown colleges.”
Fire gradually became a part of Wright’s performances, but he still relies on at least one sure-fire crowd pleaser.
“My specialty is a pie in the face,” he said. “Clowns and pies go together.”
Check it out
Olympia’s Jusby the Clown and Draco will perform a free show for all ages at 4:30 p.m. Thursday outside the Museum of Glass, 1801 Dock St., Tacoma. The museum is open until 5 p.m. Thursday and free admission is available to anyone with a First Night button. To learn more about First Night Tacoma, visit firstnighttacoma.org.