To the left you see a picture of the world-renowned actor, philanthropist, and pufferfish: Pasha Parovoz. He’s been in the city he calls home, the ever-creative and weird hub of culture that is San Francisco, since February of this year. Fresh off his return from shooting Moby Dick 3: The Reckoning in Brazil, he’s been working to lose the weight he’s put on in the wake of the film’s moderate success in anticipation of his next role (whatever that may be). I traveled to the Mission District and sat down outside of Pasha’s humble tank in the fish theater at 826 Valencia-—the non-profit where he devotes all of his time to entertaining children and adults–to talk to him about his work, his life, and his passions.
Mr. Parovoz, Pasha, thank you for meeting with me. My first question is regarding your influences: who made you want to act? Who gave you your first taste of the stage?
Oh, you know it was the fish I associated with, really. It also helped that that one of those fish was Balthazar, Eddie Cantor’s striped bass, who, as you know, essentially brought maritime vaudeville to the mainstream (pun intended).
You worked with Balthazar the Bass? He’s a legend, but no one’s seen him in decades.
Oh yes, well he was already quite isolated when we met, but as he’s gotten older he’s become very coy.
How do you keep all the shows in the fish theater fresh everyday?
Well I work off the crowd, Del Close is a huge influence. I like to break down the fourth wall with the audience and put my face against the glass and just swim back and forth. It really moves them when I move. Some of the standards are the works of Tennessee Williams, the crowds love when I puff up at the famous “STELLA” line. Other than that I do Shakespearean classics. But it’s my monologues that really draw the people in, my words are so powerful that the other fish actually have to hide.
Your most recent work was shot in Brazil, that must have been thrilling.
Oh you can’t imagine. I always get self-conscious filming, though, because, as you know, the camera adds ten pounds, which for a pufferfish is a lot. It wasn’t easy with all that good food around. The krill off the coast of Brazil has an addictive flavor. But we had a great time, Moby Dick 3: The Reckoning has been doing pretty well in small midnight showings in cult theaters across the country.
Tell me about the place that you call home, 826 Valencia.
826 is a non-profit dedicated to supporting students ages 6 to 18 with their creative and expository writing skills, and to helping teachers inspire their students to write. Our services are structured around the understanding that great leaps in learning can happen with one-on-one attention and that strong writing skills are fundamental to future success. I live in the Pirate Supply Store in front of the writing center.
I understand you have a plug.
I’m plugging Birthdays.
My Birthday, and more importantly your Birthday! This Saturday, August 23, we will be celebrating Vouched San Francisco’s Birthday at Milk Bar in the Haight district of San Francisco! It starts at 6PM. The proceeds from the event will benefit 826 Valencia!
Well I think we’re about out of time, you have a performance coming up right?
Yes, that’s right, thank you for your time and for interviewing me. Will you stay for the show? We will be performing a stage-adaptation of “Bonnie and Clyde”