In the Spotlight: Clowning Around with Sweetheart

Excuse us, while we were silent the past couple of months – both personal and work life were undergoing changes and we were also gearing up The Hooting Post with more articles! This month, we are excited to catch this fun-loving lady, who’s in the entertainment industry, but not quite your usual TV personality. She has been busy zipping in and out of the country too, but we are honoured to catch a few moments and have her share how she discovered her passion at the ripe young age of 16 back then!

Vivien Goh, founder and multi-talented entertainer of Zephyhdom, is no ordinary performer. In fact, she’s taken on the clowning business by stepping up to be Singapore’s first and only female clown. Yes, you read right! Most clowns are males…. but here’s a female one? This passionista started her business at the age when most of us were at crossroads of deciding between heading to the Junior College or Polytechnic routes. By then, she knew what she wanted to foray into, and decidedly took matters into her own hands. Let’s find out more about, Sweetheart the Clown, shall we?

1) How did you get into this clowning business? Not many ladies would enjoy painting their face with thick makeup and dressing up in poofy clothes like Sweetheart!

I was 16 when I wrote my first book of poetry, Vandawall (you can find it in the national library!) and in order to get free rental to sell my book, I had to perform something every weekend at The Substation. One day, I lost my voice, so instead of doing Shakespeare in which I was Ophelia in Hamlet, I did a mime of a puppet wanting to cut her strings to experience life. After experiencing life, she found it was safer to be a puppet and tied herself back onto the puppet wand. That day, a clown, Roy Payamal, saw me and said I was good. He then got me to go on TV with him (star for a day) to do a mime for the BB Sharity Gift Box. That was my first foray into performance, and I have loved it ever since, as I made so many people happy that day.

Becoming a clown came later, and that’s another story!

2) Were there detractors in the beginning of your pursuit of passion? How did you manage them?

My parents didn’t know I had started a theatre and entertainment company till 6 months later, and when they found out, they wanted me to concentrate on my studies while I was in ACJC. But it was too late. I was determined to prove to them that Zephyhdom isn’t an idea on a whim and would last beyond a few months. That’s was in 1995… It has been nearly 20 years now!

3) How has the journey been so far – you’re the only female clown in Singapore, you can conjure creations with balloons, roll seamlessly into being a performer, emcee and more?!

I am also Singapore’s first and only female ventriloquist! Everyday has been a pleasure and I am always thanking God for letting me make other people happy!

Vivien the ventriloquist at a child’s birthday party! Credit: Zephyhdom.

4) What are some of your most memorable performances/shows?

Every performance is memorable, but the most interesting one was for the Sultan of Brunei! I had the chance to travel and ride on their rollercoaster which I was absolutely terrified of! It was also memorable because of the other performers I was there with, and we had a great time entertaining the guests – at the end, we each received a $500 tip!

5) You’re such a busy lady! How do you manage your personal time and other interests?

On the iphone… This interview was answered entirely while traveling to my show!

Vivien does gem stone reading at a corporate event! Need a Tarot Card Reader? Ask her! Credit: Zephyhdom

6) Where do you see Zephyhdom in the future?

Zephyhdom will start to do more theatre, after all, our roots are in theatre. We will also be starting charity initiatives to help children and the intellectually disabled get more confident through performing. These are broad strokes of what’s in the pipelines for the next few years.

7) I’m sure there are some readers who are very curious on the qualities needed to be someone like you, bringing joy to others. Can you share 3 tips on how to be the next “Vivien”?

Focus on the good qualities of every child – they deserve to be highlighted and praised, no matter how naughty / rude they are. Always be positive and point out how good they are at something rather than to ask them to be quiet so you can do your show. Lastly, be happy!

Media attention for this clown – it’s no mean feat, but glad that people appreciate her positivity at events, bringing smiles to everyone! Credit: Zephyhdom

Some time ago, I encountered a rude child screaming expletives during a show – he was doing it for attention, not because he hated the show. So I took the little boy out of the audience and put him on stage, and challenged him to shout “Happy Birthday” louder than I could. Of course, he won a prize for that, and while he was returning to his space in the audience, I told him that he had a nice loud voice, so if the other kids were too noisy, to help me tell them to stay quiet so everyone can enjoy the show together. Throughout the show, he kept very quiet and stopped yelling “a**hole” for attention. At the end of the show, I gave him another prize for being such a good leader, for leading by example. His mom was shocked and asked me how I managed to get him interested and stay quiet for an hour; she was never able to discipline him. I told her to be positive with him and point out how good he was rather than how bad. A year later, I met him at his own birthday party and he not only behaved very well, he was the leader in the group too!

His mom told me that instead of telling him to shut up, she distracted him and got him to read and act the story out for her since he was in the mood to be loud. I was very happy to see the big change in him!

So yes, being a performer isn’t just performing for 30mins and leaving – you are in a position of power, and you can make or break a child. So those who want to be the next Vivien, make sure you love children!

It definitely sounds easier than done, managing children is no mean feat and children at parties are usually rowdy and highly excitable. Looks like Vivien is basking in the essence of her job, while isn’t just a job to her at all. Being able to tread on the paths less travelled is not an easy decision either – support from family and friends is so important, afterall, life is too short to do things one does not enjoy. It’s not easy being able to make others laugh: an intention so simple yet so difficult to fulfil. If you’re throwing a party and would like to bring life to your guests, now you’d know who to look for!

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Time to start planning, we say!

Thank you to Vivien for being such a sweetheart (unintended pun!) and extending savings to our readers! With the team’s versatility (contortionist, acrobatic stilt walkers, magicians and illusionists, interactive storytellers, fire dancers and more!), you know who to look for to add pizazz to any party or event (adults, corporate, children’s birthdays, educational workshops, weddings)!

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Things happen for a reason, and we think that situations pan out on their own most of the time. In times of searching for oneself, it’s crucial to keep the optimism and positive attitude. Look where Vivien has come so far. Success is not singularly measured by monetary value. Happiness is a personal indicator, and could be a measure of self-worth too, don’t you agree? Thank you, Vivien, for sharing with us your joyful experiences! That must be your secret to keeping those youthful looks! :P

Enjoyed reading our exclusive interviews with different personalities? Drop us a line to tell us what you enjoyed reading about them the past year. If you’ve someone in mind whom you think we should speak to, let us know!

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