The Casual Reporter: July 2008

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Two New Cowboys Arrive from the USA

This is old news by now for those still working in Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show (La Legende de Buffalo Bill) Disney Village, Disneyland Paris France, but over the past month ago or so a couple new guys joined the show: Ryan and Justin. Justin is from Roswell, New Mexico, home of the UFO center and a host of sightings of extra-terrestrials. He's not one of them, as far as I can tell. Justin's a nice guy doing his best to make the transfer from being a team roping header to roping ol' Cremelo in the arena.

Ryan is from my home state, Wyoming, having spent the last 8 years in Cody, Wyoming. I thought it was a coincidence that Jesse James Townsend had a similar past to my own, but Ryan's is even better. His step-father started in the show back in 1992 when Ryan was about 14. Ryan's family operates a wilderness outfitting operation similar to my families, only 50 miles or so from where my family's is, near Meteetsee Wyoming. He knows my adoptive father Nate Vance first hand, as well as all those "old mountain men" as he refers to the outfitters in the area. He's a nice guy, thrilled to be in the show, and a dang good hand. It's a pleasure to have them both on board.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Didier Marries Two Gay Men

DIDIER COURQUET MARRIED TWO GAY MEN the other day. Here's the whole story:

One remarkable aspect of Disneyland Paris Resort is the vast diversity of the workforce. Dozens of countries are represented, dozens of languages spoken. Men, women, straight, gay, single, married, black, yellow, white, with and without children, small people (politically correct lexicon for “dwarves” or “midgets”), big people, Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Jewish, Atheist, god-fearing American conservative, Liberal socialist European – all are represented at Disneyland Paris. It should come of little surprise then that at the same time former cowboy Couy Griffin is riding across France in a self-proclaimed one-man crusade to spread the message of the love of Jesus, our own Didier Courquet, a self-proclaimed Buddhist who plays the character Auguste Durand Rouel in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show (La Legende de Buffalo Bill), Disney Village, Disneyland Paris Resort, France, recently performed a marriage ceremony for a gay couple.

Here in France, both gay and straight couples can be legally bound through what amounts to legally recognized common-law marriage, with similar benefits as couples who are married via legally binding ceremonies. When couples are married in a civil ceremony, the town mayor performs the official duties, but mayors are strictly forbidden to preside over ceremonies for gay couples.

This is where Didier comes in. One gay couple, keen to marry as straight couples do, decided to hire Didier to play the role of the mayor in a faux-ceremonial marriage. So effective was Didier’s performance (says Didier) that the guests were initially uncomfortable that (they thought) the mayor was performing an illegal ceremony. In addition to functioning as the faux-mayor, Didier sang a French love song for the gay couple, at their request. Didier said it was all very nice and beautiful, but the kiss at the end was a bit uncomfortable. With good food, a festive atmosphere, and plenty of gay couples to draw from, I think Dider may have discovered an enjoyable and sufficiently lucrative second career for himself.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Arnold Does Face-plant

Arnold planted his face in the sand during the Pony Express. Arnold, (Arnaud), a French intermittent performer who sometimes plays Cowboy at Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show, attempted to make his second mount during the event but couldn't get on. It seems little wonder to me - although a very nice guy by all accounts he's only slightly bigger around than a toothpick. I'm a little surprised each time he does make the mount, which is most times despite his delicate build. This time however he fender-dragged around the corner of Green Mountain before finally giving up and letting go, the momentum of his forward motion propelling his face into the sand with considerable force. He got up in good spirit, delivered the letter, and ran to his ranch regardless. Annie Oakley disqualified him and I explained, "That's right Annie.. your face cannot hit the ground." Byron laughed.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

The Boys Watch The Palio in Italy

Mike, a Stuntman and Buffalo Bill Understudy, and Brice, Cowboy and Stageocoach driver - both in Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show (La Legende de Buffalo Bill), Disney Village, Disneyland Paris Resort - took some time off recently to visit ex-WWS Cowboy Jean Carlo and his wife Tracy at their remote horse ranch in the Tuscany region of Italy. Ryan was also there, still on his European visit from Canada. While there, Mike and Brice got a front-row view of the famous no-holds-barred Palio horse race, featured in these videos. I was talking to Brice about his experience and I mentioned to him that before I moved to France I imagined Europeans as generally more sophisticated and less wild than Americans, especially cowboys. That stereotype gets badly thrown out of kilter, however, with European traditions like the Palio. These videos show the Italians who ride in the Palio, as well as their frenzied supporters, as downright crazy, at least during the brief time of the race.

Brice also told me about some volcanic tombs they visited where the density of the pourous volcanic stone was so low he could easily pick up a calf-sized chunk with one hand. Of course stuntman Vincent can do the same with solid granite. He is so very LAARge.. he will Mess you UP!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Bald was Beautiful at July 4th Wild West Show

Paris-based American singer and voice coach Barry Johnson sang The Star Spangled Banner a capella on July 4th 2008, American Independence Day, during an extended version of The Final Revue in Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show (La Legende de Buffalo Bill), Disney Village, Disneyland Paris Resort. Barry was introduced by Buffalo Bill with the following text:

"Ladies and Gentlemen, on this day, July 4th, back in 1776, a group of colonists gathered and signed The Declaration of Independence, thereby with the stroke of a pen creating The United States of America and laying the foundation for democracy as we know it today. To commemorate that historical event, Mr. Barry Johnson has agreed to lead us in the American National Anthem."
Barry was accompanied in the spotlight by a "Cowboy" carrying the American Flag and an "Indian" carrying a live Bald Eagle (Barry's also bald, hence Bald was Beautiful). The talent, accompanied by fireworks prior to the scene and stars and stripes lighting effects decorating the arena, emotionally moved the show's managers according to the Artistic Coordinator.

Unfortunately, the emotionally moving production failed to keep from moving many Spanish guests who left early, as is their habit, during the Final Revue of the second show. Why the Spanish customarily leave before the end of a show remains unclear but both personal observation and testimony by our previous Spanish manager confirms this to be true. I've learned not to take it personally but it's a shame they missed Barry and the Eagle. We'll just see how much celebration happens on Spain's Independence Day. Two can play at that game. Maybe I'll just not do the Final Revue.

The Eagle, a truly majestic bird whose name escapes me at the moment, has become a regular feature of the guest photograph area in the pre-function of the show. In addition to appearing alongside Barry, the Eagle also flew during the Buffalo Dance portion of the show, from the Canyon to a Bird Handler in the arena.

Independence Day and Thanksgiving are important holidays in the United States but expatriates know that neither day has special meaning to cultures overseas. The small added scenes in our show were the only tangible deviations for many Americans in the show, but backstage wishes of "Happy 4th of July" were plentiful. The Casual Reporter extends a "Happy 4th of July" to its readers as well.

July 4th also was the 2008 debut of the 6:00 p.m. Wild West Show Parade through Disney Village. The parade will continue daily, weather permitting, through the end of August.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

10,000 B.C. Released for iTunes

The film 10,000 B.C. featuring our own Afif Ben Badra as the main bad guy, has just been released for download on iTunes. Ben also plays Cowboy or Indian on an intermittent basis for our show, Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show, (La Legende de Buffalo Bill), Disney Village, Disneyland Resort Paris.