His wardrobe is in step with his working mode

CANDID CLOSET

October 29, 1992|By Mary Corey | Mary Corey,Staff Writer

Nearly every day is Halloween for John Taylor. As the Kinderman, a be-bopping teacher and friend to children, he wears high-tops and suspenders the way other guys don suits and ties. It's no longer his costume. "It's just plain clothes," Mr. Taylor, 56, says.

As "The Pied Piper of Dance," he gets little time to relax in his Columbia home, traveling as least twice a week to schools, workshops and conferences around the country. Rest assured, he says, his bow ties follow him wherever he goes.

What part of your costume gets the most reaction?

The hat. Some people say, "Can I buy that derby from you? Can I have it?" I have 36 of them -- red, black, white, three shades of blue and green for St. Patrick's Day. I also wear suspenders, a cummerbund, high tops and a bow tie.

What's the overall effect?

To be a character. When I first conceived this, a friend of mine drew the Kinderman as a cartoon. The character is supposed to be pleasant. I like bright colors and dressing up.

I remember when I was in art school I had a teacher who always wanted her students to wear a tie to class. If we didn't, she made us make one and put it on. The only place I wear a real tie now is to church.

What's the funniest thing that's ever happened to you while dressed up?

The suspenders are the worst. Sometimes I'll be dancing and a suspender will fly off and hit me in the face. Another time, the suspenders broke in two. They don't last me more than a few months -- maybe 5 or 10 times.

What did you do after getting hit in the face?

I grabbed the suspenders, put them back on and kept on moving. The show must go on.

How many costumes do you have?

I have 30 cummerbunds, 30 ties, 15 suspenders, 10 pairs of pants. All my socks are white, and I have 7 pairs of high-tops -- three red, three white and one black.

How much time do you spend getting dressed in the morning?

Fifteen minutes. The only real decision I have to make is color. Red, black and white are my favorites. When I'm doing a hot festival, I'll wear all red. People can't miss me.

Anyone ever look at you strangely?

Sometimes I forget I'm dressed differently. In airports, I turn a few heads and middle schoolers chuckle when they see me.

Surely you must take a break from the Kinderman some time?

I have tie and coats and a collection of T-shirts. When I teach aerobics, I wear a sweat suit and visor and tennis shoes.

Is Halloween a big deal for you?

Not really. I usually go to parties or schools dressed up as the Kinderman. When I was younger, I used to like to be Omar Sharif.

Any purchases in your closet you now regret?

Only the clothes that have gotten too small for me. I keep them and tell myself, "I'll be able to use them when I get smaller." But my waist size has gone from a size 36 to a 42. It's all that hotel food. I eat too well when I travel.

What do you wish you had more of?

Formal wear for the Kinderman. Red tails, orange tails. Eventually I'd like to do a one-man show.

Who most influenced your taste in clothing?

Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly. They always looked so well dancing. I grew up in an era when you dressed up to dance. I've always appreciated that. I've tried to pass that tradition down. I think we're going to return to a dress-up era of putting on top hats and bow ties. You watch, it's coming.

Do you know some dressers? Let us know. Write to Mary Corey, The Baltimore Sun, 501 N. Calvert St. Baltimore 21278.

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