Today we’d like to introduce you to Dune Johnson.
Dune taught himself to juggle at the age of 12, and has been in the entertainment business since he was 16 years old.
He started out as a clown, working at a business called California Clowns in San Diego in 1977. Then, he started his first business (Dooney & Balloons) in Seattle in 1980. At the same time, he began working for McDonald’s as one of the few ‘field’ Ronald McDonalds of the world. For the next 20 years he ran his own business and worked as Ronald McDonald; doing every kind of party, promotion, and appearance imaginable.
Also, during his time with McDonald, he trained with the top family entertainment professionals in the country, as well as the top advertising and marketing specialists. At one point in the 1990’s, Dooney & Balloons also provided in-house balloon sculptors, seven nights a week, in over 14 different restaurants nationwide.
In 2000, the business was renamed Looney Dooney Productions, and has continued providing between 600-900 gigs a year with every form of family variety entertainment imaginable. Some of the highlights of their many years in business include: body painting 6,000 fanatical football fans at the Coca Cola booth in the NFL experience before Super Bowl XXXII in 1999; working for the San Diego Chargers, San Diego Sockers, USD Torreros, and The San Diego Spirit all in the same year in 2002; in 2014, he led a team of 16 airbrushed artists at a pregame party, hosted by Chevrolet, where they painted 3000 fans in four hours for a Manchester United Soccer game; and just this year their team painting 11,000 fans in four days at Comic Con for Netflix, True TV, and Funimation. Some of their longtime clients in San Diego County include Picnic People Catering (30+ years), The Farms Golf Club (29+ years), Fairbanks Ranch Country Club (25+ years), Del Mar Racing (20+ years), Sycuan Casino (10+ years), and Lincoln Military Housing (10+ years).
Dune (AKA Looney Dooney) has been a magician, juggler, stilt walker, face painter, balloon artist, game show host, clown, and business owner since he was nineteen years old. He’s trained with the top variety entertainment artists in the country, and he is now considered one of the masters in the family entertainment industry. His company is not a talent agency: instead, all of their entertainers are apprentices of Looney Dooney, and most of their artists have worked with them for between five and twenty-five years. Therefore, they are the strongest team of entertainers in the country.
He has also written eleven books and produced three videos on entertainment skills, and he is the inventor of The Ultimate Airbrush System (which enables them to paint colorful airbrush artwork on skin in less than a minute each). He has also developed a show, (the zany game show extravaganza) which literally brings the “feel” of a television game show (fun, competition, stunts, and prizes) to any event.
Has it been a smooth road?
Our biggest disaster was in 1995 when we were in the early stages of developing our Ultimate Airbrush system, and we were just beginning to learn how powerful this kind of fan-painting could be for sporting events. We worked almost every Charger game that year, and even a few playoff games out of town, and the fan’s just loved it! We couldn’t paint them fast enough.
We were so successful that we talked our way into Super Bowl XXIX as well as the Pro Bowl that year as a part of their merchandise sales. However, what we hadn’t counted on was that the actual Super Bowl Game is not attended by many fanatical fans…The fans that day a mix of basically everything except the insane fans of the teams playing.
At the Pro Bowl in Hawaii, we were set up to make a killing, and then it rained. It rained exactly when our prime fan-painting window would have happened, and we were completely washed out. Between the two events we lost $6,000+ in two weeks! That was a very hard pill to swallow, but it turned out to be a stepping stone to the future success that we now have in the fan-painting arena.
Also, this is a business where the show must go on; personal lives and professional lives don’t always remain separate. In 2006 I was scheduled to work at the Del Mar Racetrack for their final Labor Day weekend of the meet. At 4:00 in the morning I got a call from a Riverside County Sheriff saying that my 18 year old son, Joshua, had died of an ecstasy overdose at a concert earlier that night. Obviously this was a horrific experience, and I was lucky enough to get one of my right-hand-guys to cover the work for me that morning. However, I went to work the next day, because there was no one else that could cover for me. Yes, it was my responsibility, and yes, they could probably have lived without me that one day…but in my work, what I really do is bring joy, laughter, and fun to thousands of families. That day, working was very difficult, but it was also more healing than staying home doing nothing but grieving.
So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Looney Dooney Productions story. Tell us more about the business.
We provide fun-that is our number one commodity. We bring experiences of joy-professionally. We offer a variety of different forms of amusement that bring love, laughter, merriment and recreation. We are committed to that goal. That is what we are most proud of.
Yes we are an entertainment service (not a talent agency), and our entertainers are skilled at all kinds of variety entertainment (magic, juggling, balloon sculpturing, face painting, stilt walking, airbrushed body art, game shows,, etc.). But that is not what we provide (even though that’s what it seems).
Our specialty is finding the best ways to use our skills & experience to make sure that the guests at every event enjoy themselves, and go home with amazing memories.
We are fun facilitators, and our #1 goal is to raise the fun level of every single party or promotion.
For our private party clients, we want their family to come together with laughter, color, and fun (and also have great pictures afterwards),
For our commercial clients, our goal is that their guests leave with great experiences, amazing memories, and a good feeling in their hearts about whatever business it was that hired us.
For our marketing/branding clients, we provide a maximum amount of fun and enjoyment for their guests…and this process increases our clients’ social media presence, and positive word of mouth advertising.
In other words, we believe that joy, recreation, fun, and love are necessary for life, period. By using our entertainment skills to generate these experiences…everyone benefits from it.
One of the other things that sets us apart is that we are all trained by Looney Dooney. Dune has been training other entertainers since he worked at California Clowns when he was 16 years old. Our entertainers are apprentices, and we are also hard workers. Dune believes only a certain amount of experience can be gained in the classroom, but it is the experience in the field that makes a difference. Therefore, not only does he train us well, but we then get better by working! Our crews are the most professional “fun” people around.
How do you think the industry will change over the next decade?
We’ll always continue to work with families at private events and for our commercial clients. The wonderful thing about children is that they just keep coming. Dune continually runs into adults now that saw him as children and are hiring them for their children. Children open the door for us to share all the wonder of life with every person at the event.
As for our business, we are currently growing in the areas of;
Marketing/branding services with airbrush body art and tattoos, and Game Shows/team building events.
In the marketing/branding area, we can cut specific stencils for every event. Our Ultimate Airbrush System allows us to paint this artwork on guests in as little as one minute, and our teams can paint any kind of fanatical fan quickly, enjoyably, and with great artwork when we are done. Our goal is to send the maximum number of guests into the world (and the social media world) with artwork which looks awesome and also spreads our client’s branding.
Dune has also developed a series of game show extravaganzas that bring the fun of a television game show to any party or event. These shows keep all ages interested, they are very personalized (because it’s your family and friends that you are rooting for), and they offer a very high level of fun, laughter, and memorable moments. We currently are performing 50-60 of these shows a year, but since they are so successful, we are hoping to expand that to hundreds of shows every year in the next 12 months.
Those are answers as to where our particular business is going. As for the industry…the art of creating JOY hasn’t changed in the past 40+ years that I’ve been in business. It is just the tools we use to create those experiences that continue to change. Tools change, joy doesn’t.
- For Birthdays, we have a 90 minute “Magic” package that includes a 30 minute magic show, airbrushed face painting, and zany balloon sculptures. This package is $295.
- For a 90 minute game show/bingo event, the price is $375, and this includes staging, a full sound system, all props, and a game show host (prizes are separate)
- Stilt, walking, walk around magic, jugging, caricature art, balloon sculpture artists, airbrush face painting, and airbrushed body art run between $145/hr and $225/hr.
- Website: www.looneydooney.com
- Phone: 619-315-8580
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: @looneydooneyproductions
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/looneydooneypro
- Yelp: https://www.yelp.com/biz/looney-dooney-productions-san-diego