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Puppeteer Freddie Spencer holds up his Mick Jagger marionette in his garage studio in Park City. Spencer, who has worked with TV producers Sid and Marty Krofft and filmmaker Tim Burton, will perform at the Park Silly Sunday Market on Aug. 25 and Sept. 8. (Christopher Reeves/Park Record)
Among other things, Freddie Spencer is a master of puppets.

He has pulled his creations' strings for TV show producers Sid and Marty Krofft and filmmaker Tim Burton.

He owned a production company called Image Creators in Los Angeles from the 1970s through the 1990s, and worked as a puppeteer with musicians such as Barbara Mandrell and the Mandrell sisters, ZZ Top, Gwen Stefani and OutKast.

Spencer, who now lives in Park City and creates and sells bronze sculptures, will perform his puppetry at the Park Silly Sunday at 7th Street on lower Main Street on Aug. 25 and Sept. 8.

The showtimes for Aug. 25 will be between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. and the performance on Sept. 8 will be held between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.

"I got involved back with Park Silly Market the first season they started a few years ago," Spencer said during an interview with The Park Record. "They were looking for entertainers, ideas and acts and so forth, and I met with them and performed three or four times during that summer.

The last time Spencer did a Park Silly show was four years ago, so he's looking forward to doing it again.

"This time around, I approached them and we worked out a schedule," Spencer said.

"I have some new characters that I want to introduce," he said. "I have Johnny Cash and Mick Jagger and another puppet called Big Mama Blues that I'm starting to develop now.

"She's kind of like Big Mama Thornton, whom I love.


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Her song 'Hound Dog' was great and that was what gave Elvis the idea to do his version."

Although Spencer does some shows that are adult in theme, the performances for Park Silly will be family friendly.

"I'm pulled in two different directions with what I do because I can do shows that adults will enjoy and I can do work that appeals to kids and families," he said. "I've always performed for adults and have done work in night and comedy clubs, and I enjoy that kind of work. But when I do performances for families and kids, I know I need to make sure that what I do and say, or what I have the puppets do and say, is appropriate."

When he has children in mind, Spencer is careful of what puppets he uses.

"For the kids' show, I have some skeletons that I will introduce," he said. "It can be a little scary looking, because it looks a little edgy, but I'm making it a little friendlier by putting a big smile on the skeletons' faces."

His regular family act will also include three penguins, a clown and a trapeze performer.

When Spencer gets an idea for a new character, he goes through a series of steps to make sure he can pull it off.

"The first thing I have to do is build the character and get it developed," he explained. "I need to work with the strings because I work with marionettes. So I have to constantly readjust and figure out how to make it move."

So far the puppeteer has three skeletons he's created.

"I am kicking around the idea of putting two of them into the Park Silly shows," he said. "If I do that, there are a lot of modifications I need to think about, because controlling two of them would obviously be different than working with one.

"For example, the strings need to be longer and I have to crisscross them so the skeletons can interact with each other," Spencer said. "I also have to figure out how to move them in tandem, so when they do something together, it is together and not sloppy."

Rehearsals have taken quite a bit of Spencer's time.

"One of the important things is to get the timing down — it's like being a musician — because rhythm is always something that is important with me.

"The key is to make it look simple," Spencer said. "I don't want the audience to see me fumbling around trying to work the strings and I don't want the puppets to be doing a bunch of things that I'm not controlling."

Spencer will be controlling the puppets in full view of the audience, but he'll be dressed in dark clothing, so the focus will be on the bright characters.

"The act I have now is at a good length and it's self-contained," he said. "I have my own little stage, and I have drapes behind me."

The Park Silly shows have forced Spencer to think about his future.

"I performed with puppets and was an opening act for Fats Domino and Neil Sedaka in nightclubs in Canada during the 1960s and I worked with Tim Burton on some of the puppets in the 1980s on the film 'Beetlejuice,' and did 'H.R. Puffnstuff' and 'Land of the Lost' in the 1970s with the Krofft Brothers," he said. "I'm 68 now, and I still go back to L.A. every now and then and do stuff when things come up, but all the performances I have been doing regularly have been live. So I thought, with the live acts I'm doing now, I should bring in a little of my history into the shows and create a Fats Domino puppet and do a little thing with that.

"I have all these ideas, but I needed to home in on something," he said. "So the Park Silly show is one way to do that."

Puppeteer Freddie Spencer will perform at the Park Silly Sunday Market on Aug. 25 from 2 p.m. until 4 p.m. and on Sept. 8 from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. at the 7th Street Stage. The Park Silly Sunday Market is open on Main Street from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. through Sept. 22 and is free and open to the public. For more information, visit www.parksillysundaymarket.com .