To wear shoes or not to wear shoes

Shoes optional

The last thing I put on, is my shoes.

It’s been written that you can tell a lot about an individual just by their shoes. Author and blogger Seth Goldin once gave a presentation on stage dressed in a suit and barefoot.

Genesis drummer and legendary singer Phil Collins in the 1980’s accepted awards in a suit and gym shoes. A trend that entertainers still mimic as gym shoes has taken on there own personal status ranking.

The Covid-19 effect has created a market for virtual shows, and it had me wondering, are virtual entertainers wearing shoes?

The assumption about male TV sports broadcaster or news anchors is, the pants don’t match the suite. We joke that pants are optional in a zoom meeting as the webcam only broadcasts the top 1/3 of our body.

“Yes, I wear shoes. But because I’m shooting a 3/4 view, where I’m only seen from my knees up, I wear very comfortable shoes that don’t match the rest of my outfit since they are never seen on camera”, magician Robert Baxt.

So I asked this question to the entertainment community and was surprised and the results.

Karen Burris performing a virtual show

My first thought was people would be performing in their home studios, barefoot. Unseen by the camera, the need for shoes would be a nonissue. Boy, was I wrong?

Shoes are a requirement for many entertainers doing virtual shows.  “I put them on for how it makes me feel rooted and on a solid foundation,” Magician Benjamin Feinblum.

Magician D.R. Schreiber told me, he felt incomplete or not in character.  “Yes. My attire is part of my character, which is key to my act.”

Which when I think about it, it’s not surprising because, in my early years as a professional clown, I needed to be in full costume for the character to come fully alive.

It wasn’t until I evolved into a balloon entertainer that I realized I didn’t need a costume to make people laugh. Yet, people spend their entire life branding a character; I can relate to that need to be fully in character.

Panio entertainer Dan Gillogly said,” he wore socks.” Magician Michael Karl wears house slippers, and magician Jeff Quinn talked about how he abandoned his shoes as his footsteps and shoe squeaking on the hardwood floor was picked up by studio mics and had to go barefoot to reduce foot noise.

At one point, magician Phil Ackerly questioned, “What kind of shoes?” As he is getting comfortable in sneakers.

The smallest group was the freestyling barefoot entertainers. Who like me have their feet free of confinement. Toes are clutching at the floor carpet. “Nope. Bare feet all the way here in Southern CA!” replied balloon entertainer Annie Caldwell.

I have to admit that when I was building my virtual show, I too questioned do I wear shoes or not? The first time dress rehearsal, I was dressed from head to toe and walked, or should I say glided across the carpeted studio floor.  Walking felt different. Up to this point, I was so fixated on getting all the technology right and new material in place that I practiced barefooted. Wearing shoes just felt wrong.

What was my takeaway? Every entertainer has their style, but I never would have guessed the number of people wearing shoes for a virtual shows, outnumber the barefoot performers.

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One Comment

  • Julie Brooks says:

    I always wear shoes no matter what. There’s a pair of slippers beside my bed so my feet never touch the floor-the one exception is on the beach I’ll go barefoot unless I’m walking out in the ocean and then I wear water shoes. It makes me feel more professional when I’m doing a zoom or live performance to have my shoes on…unless of course it’s part of my act that I can’t get my life together as a accidental housewife because of covid19

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