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Forums > Technical Discussion > Going Pro (...ish) - Are costumes the big melon?

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Durbs
Durbs

Classically British
Location: Epsom, Surrey, England
Member Since: 23rd Sep 2001
Total posts: 5688
Posted:Hey all!
Right, I'm trying to get our group under-way and get them to a semi-professional (I'd settle for a third) level. I've made some contacts, set the website up http://www.hugbubble.co.uk,
done some business cards and written to lots of organisers. Woo.

As I don't really know what I'm doing I've been getting my ideas from other pro's sites and seeing what they offer that puts them above us on the booking front.

The main thing I can see (apart from experience) is that many/most of the troupes offer Costumes; some have a wide variety others just a set piece, which they wear when being hired out. These range from leather clad temptresses to fully-mental-silver-stilt-walking-robot-warrior-type-things (c)
Are costumes a neccesity? - does anyone have regular gigs just wearing whatever they fancy?

At the moment the group I'm in has a code of wearing all black which personally I think looks quite smart and it puts the emphasis on the poi. However, we're moving to specialise (or at least develop) in UV shows as and was wondering what I could do? I've knocked up a couple of masks and painted them with UV paint which I think looks good, but can't see how to take it to the next level. I'm sh!t at sewing and can't afford to fork out for custom made costumes.
Do you all make your own or is it just something we'll have to invest in? If so what kind of prices are we looking at?

Any more info would be muchly appreciated. Infact, so would some bookings

Oh - And I don't know about the melon thing either...


Burner of Toast
Spinner of poi
Slacker of enormous magnitude

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Blackbird
member
Location: London UK
Member Since: 23rd Jul 2001
Total posts: 337
Posted:Clearly depends on the type of do, but (from the point of view of the audience) for a fire /troupe/, costume doesn't matter too much as long as you're all dressed the same, imho. Although wear something vaguely smart looking...

It's different for a soloist, because s/he really has to stand out.

Cheap stuff that make you stand out a bit are hats and face/body paint (the topless look is always good... if you have a good body...)

Shiny is brilliant if you can do it. Try hanging split rings or bits of chain off things, worst comes to worst.

Black, I think, would be fine for fire, because you're holding big flaming things, but again strict uniformity for the troupe will make you look much better.

If not fire, I'd go with something that makes your limbs show up easily - traditionally, this is the stripey mime's top!

Alternatively, I've seen UV active t-shirts & pants that have a stripe down the arms & legs. They can't cost too much.

Just some ideas.

Me in my costume:
http://www.saperia.com/Harlequin.jpg
br>Obviously not suitable for fire!

I have since got white gloves, a black and white stripey staff, black and white devilsticks, and black and white juggling balls.
Black and white poi are a bit harder to find...

The best thing, though, is that clear acrylic contact balls go with anything!


x X x Ĉ К я x X x

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PK_
PK_

Lambretta Fanatic

Member Since: 20th Dec 2001
Total posts: 4991
Posted:we do things the hard way,
if we get a contract for 12 saturdays in a row, with 6 stilt walkers doing 2 costume sets and 2 fire shows on each night, we never do the same fire show twice and we never never never (we insist on this) do not use those same costumes again at that club. some costumes are made very cheaply some more expensive, but thats 12 costumes to be made for ever night there, 144 costumes for one club! all have themes or a story. we have transport provided and we dont live close by either we travel to europe also.

my advice to you durbs is be as individual as you can... do as many things as you can offer to prospective employers, always be professional.
remember allways allways ask for half costs upfront... club promoters are wankers and half the time do not pay up, so be careful. your in control make it that way.
Buisness isnt cheap make sure you can cover costs and have some left over for yourselves and for the troupe ... costumes and/or themed dress for fire shows is good... scruffy rags and baggy jeans.. not so good... i've been there too.
good uck with your venture i hope it goes kewl.


PK.

"To be an angel, one need not have wings.
In giving love there is an equal grace.
Nor need one seek the aura in the face,
As love unveils the beauty of all things."

*Francois Couperin.

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_Stix_
_Stix_

Pooh-Bah
Location: la-la land
Member Since: 15th Feb 2002
Total posts: 2419
Posted:I got a sewing machine..

Sites looking good Durbs!!


I honour you as an aspect of myself..

You are never to old to storm a bouncey castle..

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arashi
arashi

Pooh-Bah
Location: austin,tx
Member Since: 21st Mar 2002
Total posts: 2363
Posted:i personally couldn't see charging money unless every aspect of my show was professional. costumes included. we even put masks and outfits on our safety people. luckily i work with others who have the same anal professionalism. if you are charging $$$, then that means that you do this for your WORK, not a hobby, and every day is filled with getting better and working on your show, or it isn't worth the time. and boy do i use the same costumes over and over. my style and skills are always improving, so if somebody even notices that i'm wearing the same costume as i did in a show a month ago then i'm not showing enough abs, or something . or melons! wish _i_ had melons to not show off.
it took me a long time to get the costume thing really worked out... i started off by just wearing layered cool stuff that i altered, and moved on to having one really good costume and then just getting more as i went along. luckily i usually do faery type stuff and characters, so it's easy for me! just some stripes, and some skin, and some cool tattered leather and you're set!


-Such a price the gods exact for song: to become what we sing
-Seek freedom and become captive of your desires. Seek discipline and find your liberty.
-When the center of the storm does not move, you are in its path.

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Noona
Noona

Cake lover
Location: Button Moon
Member Since: 13th Jan 2002
Total posts: 258
Posted:My advice would be:

Whatever you do make sure it's different to what others are offering.
Don't try to offer the universe. Simple stuff is often the most effective. It's better to do something simple you know you can hold together flawlessly rather than promising a million and one different sets with dancing elephants etc.

Oh I'm a dumbass aren't I? I've just read your website and realised it's a fire troupe you're doing, I guess the above applies more to Stilty stuff, but anyway..

Your website is really cool, well done, but may I make a suggestion, that you make the bits about yourselves a bit more positive and change all the bits that sound even slightly negative or unsure, e.g. stuff in the workshops section like
"we cannot guarantee that you will be able to do them after a workshop. We can but try ;- )" and the bit about kids hurting themselves with sticks!
I know it's lighthearted but from the point of view of someone who was going to hire you it sounds a little, well, negative really. Give yourselves the credit you deserve!

For the costumes side of things, I would go with Arashi, I do think that costumes are what would set you apart from other troupes. If sewing isn't your cup of tea they don't neccessarily need to be anything complicated. The simplest of stuff can quite often look the best. I personally love making costumes and think of not much else 24/7, hence the huge reply - it's not often that I write more than 10 words at a time on HOP!

Hope i've not bored your socks off.

[ 27. November 2002, 12:36: Message edited by: Noona ]


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Charles
Charles

Corporate Circus Arts Entertainer
Location: Auckland
Member Since: 27th Jun 2001
Total posts: 3989
Posted:A slightly different comment to what most people will probably say for anyone going pro...

Be professional! Most circus arts and fire performers in the world have reputation of being stoned hippies, turning up stoned/drunk to work, being late, not having clean costumes and generally not acting like a contracter should when they get work.

Please don't add to this stereotype, the few of us who aren't like that have to work hard to get rid of the stereotype, but we get lots of extra work because it.

Turn up early, dryclean your costume before every performance, DON'T DO THINGS that may be dangerous to yourself and others, issue invoices, reply to messages on time etc etc etc.

All the sort of thing you expect from someone else when you employ them to do a job.

Best of luck...


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(andrew)
member
Location: lost in pink sugar musing
Member Since: 30th Jun 2002
Total posts: 140
Posted:Leather body armour!!

practical, and slightly kinky.

leather braces for your arms are great for fore arm wraps, get inventive with some flexible knuckle buster typo things, for punch wraps and stuff.
hmm,i made my stuff by stencilling out desired shape, cutting out leather, then connecting together with pop studs, though i'm now thinking sewing elastic on either side would be easier and more conforming.

hmm, i havent figured how to do greaves ot leg armour type things yet that dont look el'weirdo, but im working on it.

what about something leather for your face/hair? hmmmm


The main reason Santa is so jolly is because he knows where all thebad girls live.

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Altera
member
Location: Sydney
Member Since: 24th Nov 2002
Total posts: 38
Posted:ok
well i got a new one for you....
im fire staff twirling at a fancy dress party soon and im gettin an artist friends to paint my intire body in fake tatto's im just gonna be wearing shorts and doing the show in a circle of candles.... though i will be wearing some sort of hat... hair burns!!!!
so what do you think!!!
Altera


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Durbs
Durbs

Classically British
Location: Epsom, Surrey, England
Member Since: 23rd Sep 2001
Total posts: 5688
Posted:Wow - no replies one day, loads the next! Thanks all.

Charles - Behind you 100% here. I know, and have done from the start, that I've really got to take a step outside and look at this as a pro affair. Just because it's fun doesn't mean it isn't serious work...

Blackbird - Good point about group vs. solo performer. I always have issues with hats, they either fall off or get knocked off. For contact stuff I think it's very different because you have to be the background for the ball. Stripes all the way!

PK - That's crazy!! Just out of curiousity what counts as cheap and what's expensive? Are we talking 50 cheap or 200 cheap? Thoroughly agree about club promoters though. The one we went through was even called "Dodge"... Name says it all really

Thanks to everyone else too. Any and all advice is gratefully received. I'll have a bit of a pow-wow with the group and see what they think. (Bloody stoned hippies...mumble...mumble...mumble )

MisStix - I've got a sewing machine to, but buggered if I know how to work it See you tomorrow! (?)

Oh - Can you get UV clothes paint easily? I've got my hands on some acrylic paint but I think it'll wash straight of off clothes. I just think painting clothes is less messy and easier than body painting - especially in the winter...


Burner of Toast
Spinner of poi
Slacker of enormous magnitude

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_Stix_
_Stix_

Pooh-Bah
Location: la-la land
Member Since: 15th Feb 2002
Total posts: 2419
Posted:Hi Hun.. I have one and I can use it!

Re UV on clothes - those paints I have are plain water based stuff - but in the little pots I've mixed it with a plasticier medium so it become water proof.. Also now I got my job with Temple - I got access to very good quality UV paint - I'm sure Tim won't mind selling us some trade

I'll chat to you tom hopefully - but I got a huge back drop to do by sunday and I'm only getting it tonight - so I will see.. we back at York tom?? But most likely.. I think we all need to sit down and have a good chat - bloody stoned hippies indeed! Shame we've lost one of our group for a while tho - spoke to him yesterday - how excited did he sound? Lucky bugger - he should have landed by now..


I honour you as an aspect of myself..

You are never to old to storm a bouncey castle..

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ivan..
ivan..

member
Location: Halifax, NS
Member Since: 12th Oct 2002
Total posts: 165
Posted:costumes.... i dislike costumes , they take a long time to make , but man do they work .... so far.. we allow each performer to develop their own persona, and have a costume that fits their persona , my partner ( rick ) spends hours and hours and hours making his costumes, i have mine made for me or make something quickly, ( not the armour .. the armour cannot be made quickly ) makeup / costumes very important ... i suggest staying away from all black as then you may blend into all the other performers who wear all black and have black face paint .. but do what you feel is proper for the feeling you want the audience to have...

ashcircle web page we sorta lean to the medieval


thats right i look like an albino ape that has had a bad day.. go ahead say something stupid... i dare ya !

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Charles
Charles

Corporate Circus Arts Entertainer
Location: Auckland
Member Since: 27th Jun 2001
Total posts: 3989
Posted:quote: i dislike costumes , they take a long time to make They don't have to. I've got costumes that I made out of an assortment of opshop clothes and regular clothing.

I've also got some that took longer. Costumes are as varied as music, there's no real reason why they should take forever, unless you are happy to spend forever making them.

I really think costumes main role in our arts is that they should not hinder our movements or be more flammable than thick cotton.

In my opinion of course...


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* Is it the Truth?
* Is it Fair to all concerned?
* Will it build Goodwill and Better Friendships?
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Fire By Riz tm
member
Location: tampa fl usa
Member Since: 31st Dec 2001
Total posts: 212
Posted:costumes ???????????

damn no wonder i keep getting arestted we spin nude :::::;;laughs::::::::;

Ivan great look i like the ren fair look..
all my shows are fetish shows so it is leather.
all the way i have been thinking of adding some chains ...
But i dont think costumes have anything to do with being a pro you can dress up a monkey and you still only have a dressed up monkey.

Charles hit the nail right on the head with it
act like a pro and you will find your self getting treated like one ..
and always remember your 1st impression with the promoter..the one I make with most promoters is seeing me in bussiness attire reaching into a breif case pulling out a folder with his shows name on it then taking a contract out of it which is drawn up by my lawyer.. doing fetish work i deal with alot of shady promoters and this scares the hell out of them which is good . Sometimes i lose a gig because of it but to me it is worth it cause more than likely i would have trouble with that type of person..
Then i show up with my clean(washed) and sober team always early and set up or check my fire zone go over exits I always let the promoter see me check everyones fire tools and i always set my safety gear out in very plain view i want people to see it it gives them the feeling that they and we are safe. i make me working for the promter as easy as i can cause chances are high on show night he has 400 other things to do other than hold my hand or kiss my ass
or tell me what my job is.. and i give him the most show for his money i just dont show off
those are some of the reasons I make 5 times more than other people who do the same thing
and who have alot more talent..and more than not after i do a show we are asked back at our price
just because we were professianls.


I have been cursed with the imagination to envision it all

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_Stix_
_Stix_

Pooh-Bah
Location: la-la land
Member Since: 15th Feb 2002
Total posts: 2419
Posted:Hey Durbs - can we get into fettish gear? Can we, can we, purlease?? Huh? Huh???

You know K would love it too!


I honour you as an aspect of myself..

You are never to old to storm a bouncey castle..

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Durbs
Durbs

Classically British
Location: Epsom, Surrey, England
Member Since: 23rd Sep 2001
Total posts: 5688
Posted:I've got this lovely red dress but I would burn like tissue paper...

You got the job?!!! Cool - well done. Started already?

I think it's more a fitting for the booking. So Fetish would be ok for that kind of night but I don't think the old National Trust would be too impressed (It's great working for a company and selling yourself to them - might of wangled a spot spinning after Jools Holland & Status Quo at Petworth)

Fire-proofing isn't as much of an issue as we're going more towards the UV side of things, personally I'm starting to like it more than fire anyways.

It has to be said the Guildford isn't the best base of operations for spinning in clubs though - S Club and Britney anyone? (Mind you - Ricky Martins' Livin' La Vida Loca isn't tooooooooo bad)


Burner of Toast
Spinner of poi
Slacker of enormous magnitude

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_Stix_
_Stix_

Pooh-Bah
Location: la-la land
Member Since: 15th Feb 2002
Total posts: 2419
Posted:livin da vida loca... la la lalalalalalaa! <taps foot, - Durbs if this tune is still in my head when I see you... >

Yeah I got the job - but I'm doing back drops for someone else (Spotted Dog - Willesden - London 3pm to Midnite Sundays - PLUG!!PLUGG!!!!)

I got the wording done all last night (after 4 hours of back/ knee crunching work .. So I think I'll be able to pop over tonight..

We should have a good chat boss.. I got more input/ feed back from Tim last week...


I honour you as an aspect of myself..

You are never to old to storm a bouncey castle..

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Trippie Hippie
Trippie Hippie

old hand
Location: Bewildered state of nothingnes...
Member Since: 18th May 2002
Total posts: 733
Posted:quote:Originally posted by Durbs:


(Bloody stoned hippies...mumble...mumble...mumble )
Oi!!!!!!!

Hey Durbs, the sites looking great,
Just a thought but i think that Rufus is into costume desigh, might it be worth getting in touch with her for ideas/costs???? Just a thought.
Best of luck
LOL
Taking it easy
Trippy

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Last night i met some pixies and we danced around a stone.

"I Got Soul"
Non-Https Image Link


N.E.W.B. Agent #012

[ 17. December 2002, 00:56: Message edited by: Trippy Hippy ]



Trippie Hippie- Monty Dons secret love child

Fly like a mouse, run like a pillow, be the small book case.

"Last night i met some pixies and we danced around a stone".

Because dressing up is fun.

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Rick aka Loki
Rick aka Loki

member
Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Member Since: 18th Dec 2000
Total posts: 134
Posted:Okay, so Ivan's right. I do spend hours on costumes. But I love it, dammit.

One thing to take note of as well is: are the audience members going to be in costume? You can feel how you want about this, but I for one would hate to be wearing a simpler or more cheaply done costume than the audience members. We did one gig where the theme for the event was "jungle love" and we spent a LONG time on costumes and makeup. Turned out to be worth it (especially for the money we charged). Some of the attendees had gone all-out, but we STILL stood out.

You like all black? How about adding just a touch of colour to each person's costume, like their own symbol or a flame design somewhere, but keep the black cohesiveness. Our old troupemate, Amber, who was and is a cutie-pie, would wear black pants and a black tank top, but with red and yellow flames sewn onto the legs. Made all the difference, and it was quick to do.

I believe costumes are important at least because it's what audiences and employers EXPECT. We're fire performers. Unless your onstage character is an "average joe" character, I think your costume should make you stand out at least, and sky's (and fire hazard's) the limit as far as how fantastical it can get.

Learn to use that sewing machine. It can't take too long. We sew all our own (although, since I still have a dayjob, I'm considering just designing and then farming out a few costumes to folks I know who are in the business. It's just too much time alongside everything else).

On a separate note, nice website. How did you embed the fonts? Ivan tried, but didn't have time to pursue it. Could you possibly PM him or start a thread and let us know how to do it, if it's simple enough?

And I aggree 100% about acting and corresponding professionally. So important if it's gigs you're after. And crucial if you're going to convince them you're worth money. This is another point: you can build the cost of costumes into your bill. If we do a show and use generic costumes, we charge a certain rate, but if we structure a show based around the themes or desires of the client, that includes new costume design and fabrication, which is included in our performance package description, which justifies the higher price.

Congrats on getting the shows.

Learning to sew will make your life easier!



-Rick aka Loki
oh, man, a signature?... uuh... this is like coming across wet cement... uuh, shoot, I had something clever I was saving... I hope I don't run out of sp

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Pele
Pele

the henna lady
Location: WNY, USA
Member Since: 15th Dec 2000
Total posts: 6193
Posted:If you don't want to make them yourself, then find a friend who like to sew and commission them. Or there are a TONNE on ebay. Or you can get the Sew-Easy patterns which are really not hard and use them as basic guidelines. Or you can go to 2nd hand clothing stores and refurbish those clothes, putting them together in unusual fashions. Thing is, be flexible. Don't get locked into one style of costume because then you are seriously limiting how many venues you are open to. I perform at ALOT of themed events, which requires alot of ingenuity and creative costuming...I have performed in Bellydance gear, leather and gauze, Renaissance, Victorian, funky, preppish costumes. You name it I have prolly been there!
Things to remember when costuming, practice in it before presenting your show. Know the twists and bends and make the appropriate adjustments. Do not pick costumes that impede your movement, cause you to overheat or impede your vision.
I find all leather actually makes an act look as if they are afraid of the fire. A nice balance is sexy though. Remember that unless you are going for a fetish show, most places do not want the sex approach, seduction maybe but not sex. Black is a good color choice for the daytime, but for night performances it sucks, your body movements become lost and to the laymen all they see is fire in circles so it looses it's magic after a bit. Also try to stay away from Red (and I would suggest for shows, flame patterns). Red, orangy colors absorb the flames when you really want it to stand out, so choose contrasting colours, not complimentive colours. Flame patterns just seem so cliche. I tend to keep those for day wear when not in a show. Also think reflective, always a pleaser!

Costumes are very important. If I want people to see me spinning in jeans and a halter top, I will invite them into the back yard and not charge them. When you are paid for a show, you are paid for a SHOW, which is much more than spinning. It is how you interact with the audience, how you appear to them, how you carry yourselves and act.
A nice costume is a HUGE part of that. Clean, pressed, showing of your personality and somehow catchy.
In July I had a show that kind of crept up on me, to make a quick costume, I went out and bought this really cute one shouldered tank top and matching capri pants. I bought fringe and a border ribbon to match and sewed these onto the bottoms of the pants and across the front and bottom of the top for accent. Quick, easy, cheap (About $20 all together) and I received more compliments on that "costume" than on most of the other ones I spent hours on, and people remembered me by the fringe. That is what you want. Something to catch them when you are not spinning, and to show off your body when you are.

I know I am missing something as costumes are something I LOVE....anymore questions feel free to email me.
Have fun!


Pele
Higher, higher burning fire...making music like a choir
"Oooh look! A pub!" -exclaimed after recovering from a stupid fall
"And for the decadence of art, nothing beats a roaring fire." -TMK

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FireSpirit
FireSpirit

Classic 90's Fire Dancer... Poi, Staff, Doubles, and Breathing
Location: South Lake Tahoe
Member Since: 29th Mar 2001
Total posts: 743
Posted:Derbs,
The sight looks Good!! Hey where can I get a Toy Box like that? I never knew you could flogg 'poi style' Very nice!

As for costumes I am a big fan of black lether! Tight or loose. Hard to make though i have found.
Black Lether straps hald together with steel rings in the center of chest, and lether pants. That was my plan, but Lether is hard to sew though.
~Fire Spirit


FIRE IS ALIVE!
IT LIVES AND BREATHS!
IT CONSUMES, AND DISTROYS!
BUT WE CONTROL IT,
AND DANCE WITH FIRE!!

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Pele
Pele

the henna lady
Location: WNY, USA
Member Since: 15th Dec 2000
Total posts: 6193
Posted:FireSpirit, there are two tools you can use with leather that is tough...try a leather punch, a tool specifically designed to make the holes in leather (or you can use a fine tipped ice pick and a rubber stopper underneath the leather). Also leather needles are good.
There are many grades to leather and many hides to choose from. I prefer deerhide. It is really soft, easy to come by at hide shops. Thin enough to work with and heavey enough to not burn. It is flexible and supple. And you can get it in a variety of colours.

I have Wilson Leather company pants. They work well enough, and on sale are cheaper than making your own. For a stripped leather piecem such as the one you are talking about FS, you can buy the leather, cut it into inch wide or so strips. Loop it through the rings/hoops and tie it off, while it is wet. There is no sewing involved and if you pull it tight when it is wet, there is no way it is coming undone once it is dry! The metal rings are pretty cheap in the craft dept of Wal-Mart and the leather is not bad if you buy scraps.
Hope this helps!


Pele
Higher, higher burning fire...making music like a choir
"Oooh look! A pub!" -exclaimed after recovering from a stupid fall
"And for the decadence of art, nothing beats a roaring fire." -TMK

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