Blonde-haired woman cracking BorschtBelt jokes and dragging a custom-made
pushcart is just a bit over 5 feet tall when she's wearing a hat in the
shape of a
She looks a little odd at first, decked out in the hat, a flowing black
cape and an array of scissors ornaments (pendant, watch, earrings). But
as soon as she starts cutting,it is obvious that Wendy Brackman, self
described as either Wacky Wendy or Mad Hatter, is going to deliver a lot
more than the punch lines from Henny Youngman's "Private Joke Book", which
sits on a shelf in her office in Midwood.
The secret to Wacky Wendy is speed. She can cut hats from paper plates
at a lightning pace, much like a pizza maker working a piece of dough.
The hats are
artworks in themselves. And even though they take only minutes to make,they
intricate,colorful and compelling. Her audiences only watch a performer's
shtick, but are witnesses to the process of creating art.
"I am totally inspired," said Sharon Gallucci, a student at the Fashion
Institute of Technology, where Wacky Wendy performed last week."She knows
how to do it without looking at it. She has it in her head,you know what
I mean, she makes it.
Her name fits her perfectly: wacky. "She's wacky.
Ms. Brackman, 41, used to be a devoted sculptor and graphic designer and
promises never to leave a crowd disappointed.
She claims to be the only artist in the world capable of swiftly cutting
into hats. She is probably right. From a few plates, she can make a mask
of a rat,
a frog, a devil or an angel. In less than five minutes, she can put replicas
cowboys, gorillas and ladybugs on people's heads. All the while, she tells
"Hey, you know I went to school for this," she said to a crowd of students
huddled around her in the cafeteria at F.I.T., as her left hand held a
disks and her right hand cut away as if possessed, zigzagging through
with her small pair of scissors "I did," she continued. "I went to Origami
University in Japan. But after three years, they kicked me out, for cutting
class. Get it?"
Actually, Ms. Brackman's unusual vocation started in 1986, when she was
at a barbecue and started playing with a paper plate. She cut at it to
make a design and realized she was crafting a hat. She found that she
astonishingly fast and that she could design a seemingly unlimited number
of hats. She began making hats and masks from white paper plates at parties.
She started introducing colors and developing a repertory of jokes. And
soon after, Ms. Brackman became Wacky Wendy, a performer at corporate
parties and colleges and the "queen of bar and bat mitzvahs." "Where else
can you find an elegant, beautiful party with so many nice people? There
is no better job.