Peter Straus knows more about menopause than he ever wanted to. He knows more about it than most women, as a matter of fact. The former Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey circus clown is also the designer/illustrator of MenOpop, heralded as the world's first pop-up activity book about menopause.
Michelle Cohen brought Straus on board to work on a comedy television pilot, but one member of the company, Kathy Kelly, was going through a difficult menopause. So, as Straus recalls, "We were all going through menopause! Kathy kept saying she had to write about it, but it had to be funny. So one day, I suggested, 'how about a pop-up book?' Everyone loved it."
Straus made some rough humorous sketches, but he had no previous experience with either illustration or design. "We knew we wanted to be totally irreverent, and then one day the three ladies turned to me and said, 'you're going to do it.' And that's how I learned that I can do anything."
"He now has honorary ovaries," Kelly laughingly confides.
What's it like to create comedy with women? "Challenging—they are more discerning than I am. They keep me honest, but once in a while they still let me get in some cheap humor."
Kenwyn Dapo, a comedian and writer herself, led the foursome in riffing on possible funny ways to re-examine this time in women’s lives but soon realized, "We didn’t have a clue as to what menopause was, let alone any of its potentially life altering side effects."
They quickly learned that actually many women in menopause felt lost. Not only did most of them think that they were going crazy, not only did many think they might not survive, the overriding feeling among them was that they were each alone. These women needed something to lift their spirits and put a new spin on menopause.
Cohen summed up the challenge, "What the world needed was something to cut through the depressing clutter of clinical information; something that gave an introduction to 'the change,' yet was so irreverent and entertaining that you could forget to be terrified."
So together this determined band set about to learn everything there ever was to know about the ins and outs of menopausal symptoms and then proceeded to hire an incredible pop-up engineer. With him, they discovered the intricacies of paper and calculated the hours between Hong Kong and America as they patiently waited while many amazing Chinese* workers cut out paper fallopian tubes and a menopausal centerfold.
And now thousands of women and their loved ones have found great solace and delicious giggles from this delightful book that can be enjoyed as a purely entertaining and enlightening experience, and also as a tool for educating both young and old alike.
*Note: The books were created and shipped well over a year ago and have been stored in the United States ever since. No worries about Coronavirus coming over from China with them.
Kathy Kelly (co-author) has led a checkered past, performing extensively in TV, radio and video as well as being an executive in the corporate sector of television. Kathy also taught at Long Island University and SUNY. Her business background includes over 20 years of experience in communication environments. Kathy was at News Corporation as Manager/Corp. Communications. She was also recruited to work for Dow Jones and ITT as Director/Cable Affiliate Relations for its broadcast station, WBIS. Currently she is the founder of Make Your Own Heat Media Consulting.
Peter D. Straus (co-author & illustrator) is an actor & physical comedian. Along with many film and television appearances, including multiple times on The Late Show, he has become world renowned as TV’s “Pierre the Mime” on both Impractical Jokers (TruTV) and Keeping Up with the Kardashians (E!). He’s toured America as a clown with Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, and performed at countless special events, including Aretha Franklin’s 73rd Birthday. He continues to bring his many years of service as a pediatric “Clown Doctor” to some of the nation’s finest hospitals with the Big Apple Circus’ “Clown Care Unit” and Healthy Humor’s “Red Nose Docs”.
Kenwyn Dapo (co-author) is a full-time performer, appearing live, on TV, and even twisting balloons at the White House. Her character Mistress B has been featured on David Tuterra's "CELEBrations" with J-Wow, as well as on French TV, live at The Box in London and New York, and in "La Soiree" in NYC. She appeared as “The Bubble Lady” on Late Night with David Letterman, performed on Royal Caribbean Cruise Line, and has worked with organizations such as The Big Apple Circus and the Bindlestiff Family Cirkus.
Michelle Cohen (co-author) is a writer, director, producer, and performer. Her diverse talents have been featured on CNN, Good Morning America, MTV, NPR’s "All Things Considered", as well as People Magazine, Entertainment Weekly, The Chicago Tribune, and The Washington Post. She produced the off-Broadway megahit, "Schoolhouse Rock Live!”. She is part of the creative team for Jeff Corey’s memoir, "Improvising Out Loud: My Life Teaching Hollywood How to Act" introduction by Leonard Nimoy and art work by Jack Nicholson. She has also served as an adjunct faculty member at several acting schools, including NYU.
Andrew Baron Men-O-Pop’s pop-up designer is none other than the international award-winning Paper Engineer, Andrew Baron. Pop-up awards during Andrew’s career have included honors from Newsweek, Smithsonian, Movable Book Society, Swedish Design Award, and the New York Times. Andrew’s work has also achieved amazon.com's Best Seller status in three categories.