Enthralling youngsters hospitalized with terminal illnesses is relatively easy for Jason Gadino — aka “Balloon Guy” — of West New York. He also was able to convince La-La Land celebrities to give him money during the premiere episode of “Bank of Hollywood.”
Gadino was working at an IHOP when he got the call to be on the show, which first aired Monday night on E!.
“I was overwhelmed and humbled and I cried,” the Memorial High School grad told
To this point, Gadino has been “background acting” as an extra on “Law and Order SVU,” “Mercy” and “Royal Pains,” as well as in movies and videos, while making kids laugh with his elaborate balloon and bubble creations.
The “Bank of Hollywood” program “posted an open casting call that read ‘Do you need money to make your dreams come true? Tell us about it,’ ” Gadino said, in an email interview with CLIFFVIEWPILOT.COM .
“So I told them of my dream to travel the country doing balloon animals at children’s hospitals for sick kids. I went to the auditions … the call backs… the background check… the phone interviews… and finally got the call to be on the show.”
According to Lisa Berger of E!: “This series is centered on the concept of innovative philanthropy. We’re giving real people the opportunity to garner life-changing sums of money and, at the same time, fulfilling our judges’ desire to make a difference in the lives of others — one person at a time.”
Ryan Seacrest, one of the show’s creators, said there are more than 60 requests over the season’s eight episodes that produce a total sum “in the seven-figure range.” The trick for the panelists — including Pussycat Dolls singer Melody Thornton — is sniffing out the bogus requests from the genuine.
Gadino’s is definitely the real deal. Check out: JAYJAYTHEBALLOONGUY.COM .
A graduate of The New Jersey Institute of Technology with a Bachelor’s Degree of Science in Management Information Systems, Gadino worked for several companies — among them, Sony, AT&T, American Express, and J. Walter Thompson — for nearly 20 years. He ran thousands of computer training classes and wrote more than 100 computer-tech training manuals.
At the same time, he was “Balloon Guy” at countless parties, while DJing at weddings.
“It finally became clear that entertaining only on weekends just wouldn’t do,” he wrote. “My computer training classes became infused with such an entertaining flair that everyone could see my true calling clearly reached far beyond the world of PC training.”
After 9/11, Gadino “left the warm safety of corporate computer training classrooms for a full time career as an independent children’s entertainer.
“I can now usually be found blowing soap bubbles or practicing balloon twisting making my amazing original balloon creations.”
Gadino is also a member of OceanTroupe, formerly the Ocean Players, a collection of creative and performing artists who stage productions along the mid-Atlantic.
His influences include Al Jolson, Lon Chaney, Charlie Chaplin, Lou Costello and one of the greatest clowns of our generation, Bill Irwin.
“I am a one-foot-in-front-of-the-other kind of person,” he told CLIFFVIEW PILOT . “I’m hoping this will give me some tremendous exposure and God only knows what doors this may open up as an actor and as a balloon entertainer and/or both…hopefully more roles on TV/movies as a balloon guy.”
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