Sid Korpi

NG Intro: My guest today is the multi-talented, Sid Korpi. We’ll be talking about all the interesting things she’s doing today.

Nadia: Sid, I’m glad we were able to get together for this. You’ve had many careers and/or businesses over the years, tell us about some of them, and tell us about yourself.

Sid K: Thanks Nadia, it’s great to be here. Over the course of my fairly eclectic life, I’ve been—(deep breath)—a high school English teacher; an award-winning journalist, prize-winning novelist, and co-author/editor/designer of a book on reflexology; a blue-ribbon-winning jewelry designer; trophy-winning actor, voiceover actress and member of a comedy troupe; a game inventor; an aerobics/fitness instructor; the singer with//band manager of an early jazz band; Halloween party mogul—I created a line of Morticia Stewart’s Ultimate Halloween Monster Bash Party Kits for adults; a murder mystery dinner theater playwright/actor/host; and have even catered a few weddings (pant, pant, pant). There’s been a bit more in there, I’m sure, but that covers the high spots. I kind of go along with something until I achieve some sort of notoriety or an award of some sort in that area, then it’s often time to move on because I’ve proved to myself I’ve been there and done that. I’m on to the next challenge.

Nadia: You’ve been a busy woman, and you are involved in such a variety of things. How is it that you haven’t yet settled down to doing just one thing, or do you see that happening?

Sid K: If I ever do settle down, start looking for the pod because some alien being has clearly overtaken my body. I’ve been blessed/cursed, depending on how you view it, with an endless need to create and achieve. I’m a true generalist. I don’t wish to delve deeply into just one thing. I’d prefer to make a decent showing at a vast number of endeavors than be an expert in only one.

Nadia: What businesses do you have in operation now?

Sid K: First, it’s Proof Positive Editing—which I’ve done for about 20 years now, going to show that I’m not completely flighty. It’s my bread-and-butter business, I guess you could say.

Then there’s  Nonconformist Nuptials—I’m an ordained nonsectarian minister/wedding officiant and perform weddings, commitment ceremonies and/or vow renewals for people who eschew the $100K weddings.

A favorite one of mine was performed for a young couple that wanted an outdoor winter wedding culminating in a snowball fight. However, we Minnesotans had a heat wave that year so there was no snow. But the bride’s bouquet, consisting of a branch with a marshmallow adorning each twig, later provided us with the makings of celebratory s’mores.

I love true individuals with a sense of whimsy and humor. I cannot bear cookie-cutter ceremonies wherein you could simply drop in a new pair of names and perform the identical ritual for everyone who comes along. I use my journalism background to interview each couple to get at their history, how they met, what they love about each other, what I see as their strengths, etc. Every ceremony I do is personalized.

And also, Authorship of the multiple-award-winning book Good Grief: Finding Peace After Pet Loss—for which I’ve been awarded the Reader Views Reviewers Choice Award for inspiration/spirituality; the IPPY, Independent Publishers Book Award for the pets/animals category; and “The Best Book of the Year in the Self-Help Category” from Premier Book Awards.

Through my Animal Chaplaincy Services, I work with people to help them prepare for, cope with and move on after pet loss. This sometimes involves my accompanying people to their pet’s euthanasia, but it may also entail providing support and assistance in memorializing their pets online or in person.

Not least, is  Two Right Feet Dance—my husband and I teach beginning social dance in our home’s third-floor dance studio. We remodeled it to be like a 1950s malt shop. Our motto is “Forget Fred and Ginger—we’ll have you dancing like Fred and Wilma in no time!” (This ties into the Flintstones shrine we have in our cave-like basement; it’s been featured in the Star Tribune and on “On the Road with Jason Davis.”)

Our approach to teaching dance is low pressure and a lot of fun. We don’t get people ready to compete on “Dancing with the Stars.” We get them out on the dance floor, say, at their wedding or a class reunion, ready to have a great time and enjoy dancing for the rest of their lives.  We mostly want to be the community education version of private lessons and to recruit new playmates for ourselves.

I recently designed a bumper sticker that reads: “How’s My Dancing?”

Nadia: What skills do you bring to bear in each of these? Is there any overlap among them?

Sid K: Writing, acting, public speaking, teaching, performing—all forms of creativity come to play in them all to some degree.

Nadia: You must have some preferences. What do you like or dislike most about each?

Sid K: Regarding Proof Positive, I dislike heartily how the recession led to the demise of many publications for which I’d proofread for nearly a decade and put me out of work almost two years ago. Once things go online rather than in print, apparently, they no longer need to be spelled correctly or use proper grammar. But I still love that I am always proofing or editing something new and different all the time. I get things from single-page ads to brochures to white papers to manuscripts of novels or nonfiction books, the latter of which I sometimes get to help craft alongside a new author. I find it enormously fulfilling to watch the growth, change and improvement in their work as the author’s writing evolves.

Regarding Nonconformist Nuptials, I love that I never have to deal with a Bridezilla! As I shared earlier, I enjoy down to my toes working with quirky, creative, mold-breaking types of people. Helping them to get married in a ceremony that their guests will talk about for years to come just tickles me. Sometimes there’s crossover into our Two Right Feet Dance business, too, in that we frequently help couples get ready for their first wedding dance. Oh my gosh, we once got to choreograph a swing dance routine for a couple to do to Tony Bennett’s “Steppin’ Out With My Baby!” The couple was awesomely fun, free-spirited and theatrical—that was heaven for me!

And regarding Good Grief and the Animal Chaplaincy Services, I am deeply moved whenever someone tells me how much my book helped them through one of the hardest times of their lives. Though it is a privilege and a poignant honor to be present at an animal’s transition after euthanasia, I bawl as hard as the pet parents do. I can’t say I look forward to doing these, but I always come away afterward feeling very glad I did.

Nadia: How do you handle wearing so many hats simultaneously?

Sid K: You have to perfect multitasking. Marketing is never-ending. It helps to find common threads or areas of overlap so that when, for instance, I’m updating my blog, I can tie it into all sorts of social media, namely, my Facebook pages/Twitter/LinkedIn, emails, etc. That brings more bang for my buck, as it were, with very little more effort.  For things at which I’m totally helpless, such as computer technology, I call in my tech experts who I’ve been fortunate enough to have join my team (thank you Tony Julian and Christopher Mihm, both of whom have made me terrific websites at prices I could afford). I also network with other pet-related-business owners through a group called PetPAC. They help me get the word out, some have offered to try and sell my books for me, and others simply have expertise I need to employ myself.

Nadia: I understand you also pursue a number of creative ventures without any chance of a paycheck attached. What are some of those and what about them draws you to them?

Sid K: Two things are at the core of all the following volunteer endeavors: 1) they each allow me to express my creativity, and 2) they each show my gratitude for the gifts I’ve been given, all I do have, and all I want to share with the world. There’s so much negativity out there, I want to remind people there’s room for joy, too.

a)     Geezer Galas—1950s Sock Hop & Alzheimer’s Fundraisers we hosted through Two Right Feet Dance to both celebrate my hubby’s 50th birthday (when he became a “geezer” himself), and to help raise money and awareness for the Alzheimer’s Association of Minnesota because we’d recently lost one of our best friends and one of my husband’s aunts to the disease.

b)     Plays—I do community theater because if I didn’t perform somewhere, my soul would wither and die. I get paid in unusual ways, however. For instance, I was recently Mrs. Banks (the mother) in Father of the Bride, and I later got to perform the real-life wedding ceremony for the lovely young lady who played my daughter in the show!

c)      Flintstones shrine tours—I get to share my love for my favorite animated childhood TV show as well as subliminally reminding people that, having a passion—no matter how eccentric it may be—and expressing it is a good thing. It’s terrific to see people’s eyes go wide with wonder and to hear them start to reminisce about their favorite episodes, as well as what their childhood loves were.

d)     Christmas cookie baker—I’m the self-proclaimed Patron Saint of Saturated Fat. Around the holidays, I’ll bake about 1,800 cookies, fill 100+ tins, and drive all around town delivering them to friends and family just because.

e)     B-movie aficionado/P.R. person for other creative types—That brings us to a discussion of the films of Christopher R. Mihm.

Nadia: How did you first come to know about Christopher R. Mihm and his B-movies?

Sid K: When I was proofreading the Southwest Journal a couple of years ago, I read about this local filmmaker who was making authentic, black-and-white, 1950s-drive-in-style creature features and sci-fi movies. He named his production company “All For George Productions” because every movie he made was to honor his deceased father, who had instilled in him a love of these wonderfully cheesy movies. His stepdaughter had just battled cancer (and fortunately survived!) and that gave him a sense of urgency to not put off pursuing his dreams. I thought to myself, “This guy really gets it.” I read that Cave Women on Mars was going to debut at the Heights Theater in Columbia Heights, Minnesota, and my husband and I went to see it. It was so bad it was truly awesome! I determined right then I had to have something to do with a Christopher Mihm movie before I die.

Nadia: You’re now acting in one of those movies, how did that come to pass?

Sid K: I stalked him. By that I mean I sent him an email telling him I loved his work and was willing to be a prop mistress, dead body, an extra, etc. to be a part of his next project. I downloaded a photo of my theater trophy for “Outstanding Dramatic Performer of 1980” as “proof I’m talented!” I also remembered he’d said in the newspaper article that he liked to write his scripts geared toward places he knew he could film rather than write a story and have to search for a site. So, I also invited him to check out our ‘50s-style dance studio as a possible place to film future movie scenes.

About a month after I’d written him, he contacted me. He and Dan Sjerven, one of the stars of Cave Women on Mars, came and spent about three hours at our house. He was very excited about the room’s décor, loved the house in general, and determined I might be perfect to play a Canoe Cop’s harpy wife if he ever wrote that screenplay. (I’m still not sure how I should take that assessment!)

That led to my hubby and me having a single line apiece in a walk-on in his 2010 movie Destination: Outer Space. Then, when he was writing the character of Administrator Ripley in his current masterpiece, Attack of the Moon Zombies, originally with his lovely wife Stephanie in mind, he got to thinking that this character was too mean for her to play. As the character developed, he realized he needed someone who was a much bigger bitch (my word, not his) to play her. Naturally, he thought of me. I get to kick some zombie ass, and I couldn’t be more thrilled. The movie will premiere sometime around next Memorial Day (2011) at the Heights Theater. That’ll be a red-carpet affair with tuxes and evening gowns and, most importantly, CAKE!

Working with him has been so much fun, we crack up all the time. Until, that is, he says, “Are you ready for your close-up? Remember, your head is going to be 90-feet tall on that drive-in screen!” Then he’s just pure evil.

On October 30, at the Grand Little Theater in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, there is going to be a Mihm-Movie Marathon followed by an exclusive sneak peek at a scene from Attack of the Moon Zombies with a glimpse of the “Monster,” created by an extraordinarily talented artist Mitch Gonzales. It’s my husband Anthony’s major acting debut, and he’ll be the first to tell you he can’t act his way out of a paper bag, but Chris still manages to make him look good. Only those who attend this event will get to see this scene before the movie opens in 2011.

Nadia: This is a good spot to tell the listeners where they can learn more about these movies.

Sid K: Go to www.sainteuphoria.com. Or Google “Christopher Mihm,” the filmmaker, not the basketball player. You can become an associate producer for just $50 and see your name on the silver screen and get to go to the premiere for free. Our dearly departed dog, Mortimer, was named an associate producer of Destination: Outer Space, and our four current Westies, Blanche, Keely, Ambrose and Oliver, are associate producers of Attack of the Moon Zombies. (See, there’s that crossover into my Good Grief realm, memorializing and celebrating out pets’ lives in unique, lasting ways.)

Nadia: What would you say is the common thread you’ve detected among your widely  varied pursuits?

Sid K: I think I’m always raising the bar, looking for the next creative challenge. It’s another chance to face a fear and live fully in the moment. After a tsunami of loss over a few years’ time, wherein I lost my mother, stepfather, uncle, three dogs, two cats, cockatiel, 15-year marriage, and two of my best friends, I learned not to waste time being afraid of failing. I often say I’m proud to have already failed at more things than most people will ever attempt in their whole lives.

Nadia: What advice do you have for others who seek to follow their passions as you have yours?

Sid K: Don’t take yourself, or life, too seriously. Laugh! If you can learn to define success as something other than just material gain, you’ll always have a clear path to your passion. It’s worry over money or a fixation on materialism that blocks you. When you trust the universe to indicate when the time is right and you do what it is you’re supposed to be doing, doors will open and your needs will be met. It’s magical.

And speaking of that magic, there’s been a lot of that surrounding Attack of the Moon Zombies. For instance, one of the cast members procured a large donation of white lab coats for the actors to wear in various scenes. My husband had to dig through to the bottom of the box to find one that fit him perfectly. When I looked at him, I screamed. There, embroidered above the pocket was the name Jenny Pavlovic. Those who listen to your show regularly may remember that she and I were co-guests a month ago, each of us talking about our pet books. Jenny is the author of  8 State Hurricane Kate. She is, in real life, a biomedical engineer and this was her lab coat, long retired from Boston Scientific or someplace like that. It had found its way into this director’s basement and onto my hubby!

Then, that same night, we raced over to JC Penney to buy Anthony a pair of old-fashioned men’s pajamas to wear in another of his scenes. When we were checking out, I was babbling about what the PJs were for, naturally, when the teenaged cashier asked about when the movie would be out. She said she was interested because her grandfather had written a horror movie in the late ‘50s. I asked which one and she said, “Carnival of Souls”!! I flipped out because, among B-movie horror flicks, this is a classic. I even have it on DVD. I promptly called Chris Mihm and told him whom I’d just met. We spazzed together over the complete coolness of the Universe. It’s these kinds of signs that tell me I’m meant to be doing this stuff. I just love it!

Nadia: Sid, I’ve had such a good time having you here. It’s been great to talk to you today and hear about everything you are doing. You are unique and fascinating. Before we go, please give listeners your website or blog, and tell them again where they can get your book, and anything else you think they should know.

Sid K: Thank you Nadia, I’ve enjoyed this too. It’s been just wonderful to be able to babble like this. People can buy my book at www.goodgriefpetloss.com where they’ll have it inscribed any way they’d like and $2 from each sale will go to support a no-kill animal shelter. It’s also available on Amazon.com and at bookstores and in libraries all over the country. More info on Two Right Feet and Nonconformist Nuptials are both found at www.tworightfeetdance.com.

To listen to the BlogTalkRadio interview, Click here.

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