March 6, 2005
Special to The Seattle Times
SCOTT COHEN / SPECIAL TO THE SEATTLE TIMES
Gary Watts wants to work as a fire dancer. He has the qualifications: rhythmic skill, a few years' experience, a burning desire (ha!) and a 6-foot-long staff with flames shooting from each end.
Try selling that at a job fair.
Instead, Watts has taken his ambition to a more appropriate outlet the new OutRaGeouS job listings at Tribe.net, a San Francisco-based Web site that specializes in connecting people.
Watts' posting reads:
"Yes, you need a fire dancer at your next party. I'm a beginner, and guarantee to drop my staff while lit at least five times! Need your old barn burned down, that old car burned up, your entire wardrobe of 70's polyester clothing burst into flame? Hire me, I'll bring the fire staff and you bring the fire department."
OK, so it hasn't resulted in a job yet. But then, the site's been up only since Jan. 24.
One week's worth of OutRaGeouS jobs
1) Custom witch spells to get money, win love or curse enemies ($25).
2) Posse looking for leader.
3) I will clean your chimney dressed as a gargoyle ($110).
4) Wanted for hire: pretender.
6) Will (bother) your neighbors for $20 hr + expenses.
7) Need psychic to perform dog séance, $50.
8) SF: Hiring Ms./Mr. Moneypenny.
9) Get paid to smell men's armpits.
10) Fire-breathing, fire-eating ordained minister for your wedding.
Source: Tribe.net www.tribe.net
"I've gotten responses from a couple of people that want to take some photos," said Watts, 42, who lives in Duvall with his wife and four cats. "They've never heard of a fire staff, but they say, 'That sounds cool.' "
Watts, who has worked in Web design and customer service, was introduced to the craft about three years ago during a stint as a barker for Cirque du Soleil. "They had it at a party, and I thought, 'I have to learn that,' " Watts said. "The flames make such a wonderful sound when they're rushing by in the air. It's like at a campfire when a stiff breeze makes a rustle in the flames you have that for one-and-a-half to three minutes."
Fire-dancing encompasses a couple of arts, Watts said staff spinning (his specialty) and fire poi, which involves twirling string with fiery balls at the end. (Watts said his wife, Doris O'Connor, has just started to learn fire poi but hasn't yet ignited her equipment.)
Watts is a novice, as he readily admits in his posting, but he's always working toward working.
"There haven't been any paid jobs," he said. "Usually it's just friends out here having a bonfire. I'll take a staff over and do a little performance. The best way to get good is not only to practice for yourself but to learn a move and want to show it off."
It'd be fair to call fire-dancing a unique talent, but it's not that uncommon. Watts said there are at least 100 fire-dancers in the Seattle area, some belonging to local performance troupes such as Cirque de Flambe or Pyrosutra.
It's also one of the least outrageous OutRaGeouS listings.
Last month, other Seattle postings were titled:
"You be my maid 40 hours a month I give you a free place to live."
"Self-Sustainable Bio-Friendly Dome Communities" (seeking talented people to construct "the world's first monolithic bio-friendly domes in self-sustaining intentional communities").
"Petite Painted Lady for Hire" ("I'm available for your interior, faux or mural painting. Lets [sic] discuss my uniform.")
Gargoyle sweeps chimneys Listings from around the country included a San Francisco man who'll dress like a gargoyle and clean your chimney for $110.
"He has gotten six jobs," said Wade Lagrone, vice president of marketing for Tribe.net. "When this category started, I thought, 'Surely that listing is tongue-in-cheek.' But then I e-mailed and asked how it was going."
Another San Francisco ad offered to pay people to smell armpits. (Two people are lined up for interviews.) Turns out the guy makes deodorant at home and doesn't have a fancy research-and-development department, Lagrone said, "So he needs people to come over and take a whiff."
And The Etch-a-Sketching Troubadour, who makes "amazing line drawings" in that familiar red frame, has had 370 responses.
"It's not a big surprise that it's doing pretty well," Lagrone said of the OutRaGeouS site. "We noticed that there are lots of people on our site with unusual talents, so we thought this was a great way to make those talents and interests available to the broadest amount of people as possible.
"This stuff is out there whether you know it or not," he said. "Now you have a way to get it out there. It so beats going to old places and hiring. This is fresh, created by people."
Job-seekers (and potential employers) can use the OutRaGeouS site for free, Lagrone said, although membership does have its privileges (members can add photos to their postings, for example).
"In the larger picture," Lagrone said, "one of the reasons we like listings in general that are free is that it enables people who might have something of interest to a small group of people make sense to commercially advertise it. All of the interesting stuff in the community gets brought to the surface. That's really what this category is about making the job search a little more fun, Lord knows."
Site's name stands out Even the site's randomly capitalized name is designed to stand out as fresh and different among Tribe.net's more traditional job listings, Lagrone said.
And who knows? If the approach can pay off for a gargoyle chimneysweep, maybe it could work for a novice fire-staff spinner with dance skills, hand-eye coordination and a fire extinguisher.
"I'm a natural-born entertainer," Watts said. "Even when I was doing customer service, I loved being around people. I would very much enjoy this."
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