My Favorite Freak of the Week
I met Penny Walter in 2013 when I was the artist-in-residence for Portland Story Theater's solo performance festival, Singlehandedly. She was on the board of PST and was also doing a show for Singlehandedly. I think it took about five minutes for me to fall in love with Penny. She's a lot of things--brilliant, beautiful, talented, hardworking, generous--but most of all, PENNY IS FUCKING FUN! She has this big crazy laugh and a sharp irreverent sense of humor. She sees the humor is EVERYTHING. And she tells great stories.
Penny is not just a storyteller, though. She is a puppeteer. A very successful puppeteer, to be clear. She's loved puppets forever. Her ringtone is Rainbow Connection. She is a FREAK for puppets! She's made a great career out of her loony fucking obsession with shoving her hand up the ass of strange little felt beings with googly eyes and making them talk, I mean, her passion for the art of puppetry. I would say she's lucky to do what she loves for a living, but I think hardworking, dedicated, talented, creative, and totally nuts, are better descriptors.
Since that first trip to Portland in 2013, I've been back twice to do shows with PST. I usually stay for a month. I stay at Lynne and Lawrence's house and make Penny hang out with me as much as she can. I adore her. During my stay last year, I was basically her stalker/captor.
If you know me, you know that I went through a really bad depressive episode earlier this year. I don't know why she started doing it, but during that time I kept getting little postcards, silly gifts, and cat cards from Penny for no good reason. I don't think she knew what was happening with me, not consciously, but some part of her seemed to know exactly when I needed a little treat in the mail. I think Penny is MAGIC.