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Tuesday, September 23, 2008


The information you see below has been personnally submitted by Tony, hope you find something here that will spark some interest

Tony Borders is a former school teacher but his first love was puppetry and ventriloquism. For seven years he traveled around the U.S. and in several countries and had no place to call home. He performed 300 shows each year and enjoyed seeing Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, New Zealand, Australia, and the Philippines. He often slept in the home of a host family. "I noticed that they rarely had a TV as the center of attention. They had the gift of hospitality."
In 1992 Tony married and settled down in Sacramento, California. He went back into teaching and spent 5 years in a Christian school with 5th graders. "I learned more than they did." But after his second child was born he decided to go back into performing so he could have more time at home with the kids. It took two years of substitute teaching before his income was more than replaced, but he is now in his 16th year of performing.
You will know Tony if you have attended I-Fest, where he has taught and judged for 8 years. He has also been a co-director for the ventriloquist Dream Team in 2006 and 2008.
One of his goals is to make it to Vent Haven, but summers are the busiest time of the year for him.
Tony now performs 200 shows each year, but the majority are within 100 miles of Sacramento. Half of his shows are in churches and the other half are a mixture of schools, libraries, and birthdays. "I get to come home almost every night!" He has written scripts for several other puppeteers and is working on two books currently for Axtell Expressions. You can read many of his ventriloquism tips at the Axtell forum on

This is good, but not enough I need to know what inspired him as a child to go into ventriloquism, who his heroes were in ventriloquism, who helped him along the way, where he is now in his vent career and where he plans to be in the next 5 years, high lights of his career....and a photo of himself and his character(s)...

Tony Borders started ventriloquism as a school assignment during his freshman year. Each student was to given an oral presentation of a poem, story, or speech. Tony spent the week listening to Jimmy Nelson's record on how to do ventriloquism and wrote a skit about Christmas. He had a plastic version of Willie Tyler's "Lester" doll with the pull string for opening the mouth. The teacher enjoyed the routine so much that she sent him next door to the elementary school to perform for the kids.
"I ran into that teacher this summer, over 30 years later. I told her that I was doing ventriloquism as a living now and her assignment was what got me started."
But Tony's first love was puppetry. At the age of 12 a man and his wife came to his home church and did a week of puppet shows. They dressed as Indians and had a puppet called Horsefeathers. Tony loved the excitement of the crowds and the humor of the puppet. A few years later the couple stopped traveling for health reasons and started a children's church. Tony Borders was their first helper and they gave him his first puppet.
It was this love of puppetry that kept him busy summers during college and ten years of teaching school, as he would spend many weeks each summer performing shows for churches. Eventually he quit teaching and went into puppetry full-time, adding ventriloquism when he acquired a puppet with legs that was too awkward to use behind the stage. For seven years he lived out of a suitcase, traveling around the country and overseas, to minister in Malaysia, Taiwan, Singapore, the Philippines, Australia, New Zealand and in 20 different states. "I was single and had no home! I stayed in people's houses all around the world and loved it! Now I'm married with children and enjoy coming home nearly every night."
Today Borders performs over 200 shows each year at churches, libraries, schools, and birthday parties. Most of the shows are within 90 miles of his home in Sacramento, CA.
He owns several ventriloquist soft figures from different companies. "I love the look of the Axtell puppets and the light weight of the Pavlov puppets. I also enjoy doing blacklight ventriloquism with a large Dodo bird from One Way St." He has only one hard figure, which spends its time as a household decoration. "I have GOT to work him into the show. He's a great Craig Lovik figure!"
His list of ventriloquists he admires is very long. He met most of them at I-Fest. They include:
Judy Buch, for letting a puppet speak its mind.
Liz VonSeggen for puppet voices.
Gene Cordova for puppet humor.
Jim Adams for puppet manipulation and acting.
Dennis Lee for energy
and Mark Thompson for raising the bar so high!
"That's just the tip of the iceberg but they have each been an inspiration to me. It helps to meet someone personally."
On his way to a show Borders used to listen to Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy. "It built my confidence as I heard the laughter of the audience on the tapes. I realized that everyone was going to have a good time at my show as well."
Although his dream of one day working for the Henson company has faded he still hopes to work on video projects. "I'd also like to do a radio show with puppet voices and songs from One Way Street's RPM albums."

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