For the last 25 years, Tom Noddy has occupied himself by blowing a lot of hot air. "I have no time for a vacation," says the self-proclaimed "bubble magician" based in San Francisco. He can blow a bubble into a bubble, and then two more bubbles into that one.
That's how he starts his shows. Today he is scheduled to perform at a variety and comedy show in Berlin. Next week he's due in Switzerland. That same week he will appear on a Portuguese television show in Lisbon.
During his performances, Mr. Noddy blows different kinds of bubbles: "caterpillar bubbles" (a long string of connected bubbles; his best was 22 bubbles long), "carousel bubbles" (he uses a straw to make it spin like a merry-go-round), this bubble, that bubble. His favorite bubble? The "love bubble," in which two bubbles come together to make a single bubble.
"If a 12-year-old wants to do the tricks I'm doing, I can teach him in a moment," Noddy claims. One of the easiest tricks is blowing a bubble inside a bubble.
"You have to do three things," Noddy says: "Make a little whistle mouth, get very close to the bubble, and make a short, quick blow. Every time, you can do it."
Blowing a bubble inside a bubble inside a bubble, however, requires a straw and considerably more practice to control the short, quick puffs of air.
After thousands of shows in 71 countries, what strikes Noddy most is the look of innocent wonder he sees on the faces of his audience, adults as well as children.
His most memorable show was in a noisy pub in Dublin, Ireland. There was clamor everywhere at first, he says. But when he took the stage and started his performance, it became so quiet that you could hear the bubbles float in the air, he says. After every act, the applause was so thunderous it could burst a bubble.
"For them, it was a reminder of their childhood," Noddy says. "I could see the innocence on their faces."