Inside that store front on 34th Avenue, before your
very eyes, mystical and magical, exists the world of Deano the Clown (aka
Dean Petrich). Not his entire world because he still lives with a
group of friends in a big house across the street. But he's moving
into his shop because he says he is so busy he is not eating enough; because
it will simplify his life to get all its accouterments in one space, and
bexcause Petrich is in a period of transition in his life, which he says
he always begins every year about the time of his birthday in September.
This year transition-time came a little later -- in January.
It means re-organizing, codifying and sorting the papers, journals, costumes, tricks, pianos, computer manuals, Amway selling guides, composter toilet brochures and floppy disks from past year's accumulation and from 35 years of saving things.
"It's usually orderly in here," Deano maintained, eyeing his 17x43' space. Out in front of hte shop, labeled with huge colored letters "Deano the Clown," is parked a totally disreputable-looking truck which works well enough to move himself and supplies to his five-acres on Whidbey Island, his "castle on the Rhine."
The dream of his life is to move to the huge environmentally positive home he has been building on the island for eight years and open a camp for adults, who would like to spend a week as kids again, and to teach clowning, music, swimming, and archery to children, pre-school and older.
The house, not on the water but carved out of a mediocre lot in the woods, is astonishing. An aerial picture of it shows a large, spiral hand-made concrete swimming pool leading to a man-made pond supplied by the reservoir to collect rain water Deano has built in the woods. There is a secret tunnel leading to a cone-shaped plywood structure 22 feet high, separate from the main compound.
Deno knows about camps having been a camper and counselor at various summer establishments in the San Juans. He said that he love children and knows how to make them joyful. He could do this at a summer camp and be able to live on Whidbey Island, too.
Because he enjoys kids so much, the mos important of his three businesses is clowning. January is a quet time for practicing his art. Summers are crazy. He is invited to perform at company picnis and huge family gatherings. As one of his 12 possible clown personalities he attends weekend birthday parties, which keeps him solvent during the rest of the year.
He is "Whirly the Clown" at the Seattle Center during the month-long festival for children each spring. The city's budget has been cut for such frivolities, but Deano does not see Center activities as anything less than necessitites. "It's one of the few places left where the whole family can go free and have fun," he said.
He went to Lakeside School and Willamett University. He has been a magician since he was 5. He always wanted to have his own television game sho which he achieved with "The Great American Game" on channel 5. The man of a thousand interests now has pared his formal business enterprises under the unbrella title, Petrich Productions, to three: clowning, piano tuning and keeping computerized mailing lists for clients. Then he remembers his Clivus Multrum toilets, the three books he has partly written and the Russian lessons he is taking so he can to to the Soviet Union with an entertainment ensemble or a group of ski instructors and be able to speak to people.
Deano staunchly maintains that he does nothing which does not earn him money nor does he acquire anything which can't be used gainfully for some other purpose. That's difficult to believe about a fellow who is so up-beat and concerned about people and his world. He plans every half hour of his day and sets goals constantly which he always achieves, though usually not in the time he allots, he said. Clowning is a high energy profession. Deano works at it diligently, then distributes the rest of his time to his other passions.