Since he was a boy, Charles King has traveled through life with paper and pen, ready to sketch the world around him. In school, his teachers asked him to make drawings for various projects and made him the official artist of the bulletin board in the first grade. And though he went to college to study accounting, he found himself continually drawn back to the arts. While at a party one day, he sat in a corner and began sketching the guests. Soon a crowd had formed to watch, and people requested sketches of their friends. Once Charles had been invited to a few parties and paid for his services, he realized his drawings inspired fascination in those around him and gave him more joy than accounting, so he immediately switched to graphic design.
Charles’s art career has grown in bursts in the 35 years since those early days. His wife persuaded him to sell his early business and go into cartooning full time, and today he receives invitations to draw at large-scale events such as corporate conventions and trade shows. He draws cartoons from photographs for prices ranging from $100 to $1,000 for a color likeness. When performing for a crowd, Charles can draw about 30–60 sketches an hour, simultaneously producing miniature tornadoes with the rapid flicking of his pen. At an event at an Atlanta children’s hospital, he sketched portraits of 700 children in six hours. When Charles draws, his arm takes over and runs on autopilot; he can even look away while drawing and maintain a sharp image and a true likeness.
His skills have even attracted the attention and business of famous fans including President Ronald Reagan and Colonel Sanders. Charles says that he draws because he enjoys getting a reaction from people and “loves to hear his customers, especially the kids, laugh.”
Nearly a century ago, the Hippodrome opened as a combination movie palace and vaudeville theater, spending more than 70 years hosting big names such as Bob Hope and Frank Sinatra. Following a double-decade period of slow business and bad hairstyles, the Hippodrome closed down in 1990. Now, however, after an exhaustive restoration project that reanimated the theater’s chandelier-lit arches, the mural above the proscenium stage, and the grand-theater boxes that hearken back to opera’s heyday, the Hippodrome reopens to the delight of Baltimore’s cultural landscape.
Arthur Murray has been a leading name in franchise dance since 1912, when the entrepreneur began selling mail-order dance lessons. Expanding his reach, he enlisted teachers to spread his signature dance lessons on first-class steamships and skyrocketed to fame in the '30s after introducing the public to such dances as the Lambeth Walk and The Big Apple. By the 1950s, Arthur and his wife, Kathryn, were hosting their own highly popular TV show on ABC, The Arthur Murray Dance Party, which ran for 12 years. Today, Arthur Murray's team prepares students for rug cutting at special events and weekend nightclub jaunts. Clients who arrive to lessons partnerless will be paired up with instructors during private lessons and other classmates for group lessons as instructors assess their current skill level and make recommendations on the most appropriate program. Throughout lessons, instructors teach the foundations of two to four dances from a long list of styles that range from Latin to country-western, helping students to learn basic step patterns, timing, and the ability to lead or follow.
A rotating roster of seasoned comedic pros and up-and-comers has graced the stages at Hyena's Comedy Nightclub's three locations. These featured jokesters typically perform weekend sets, leaving the space free for aspiring comics during weekly open-mic nights. The venue has also partnered with cyber-comedians for a defensive-driving course. Since not much in the rules-of-the-road canon is intentionally funny, Hyena's helps keep Texas drivers safely and legally behind the wheel with digital, state-approved, all-original tutorials written by comedians.
At Kismet Hookah Lounge, DJs’ beats pound out from the speakers, smoke pours out of hookah pipes, and the bottles of high-end vodka, cognac, and gin make their way from the backroom to tables. The twinkling ceiling lights and colorful hues set a festive tone inside for a night of smoking and socializing. Plush couches invite parties to plop down, pick from a variety of hookah flavors, and watch the vapors curl from their mouths and vanish into whatever dimension all smoke disappears to. Between breaths, customers can chow down grilled steak tacos and order full bottles of Belvedere, Johnny Walker Black, and Hennessy to toast a special occasion.
Where there is human life, there is dance. At United Dance Academy, the instructors take an anthropological approach to their adult and children's dance classes by teaching styles from all over the globe. The instructors lead international styles such as the Brazilian samba and African dance, imparting their worldly skills to adults of all ability levels. In addition to perfecting their technique, students can enhance their endurance and ability to bench press a salsa partner in fitness-driven classes such as barre and Latin-based Zumba classes.
Kids age 3 and older can begin their dance voyages with classical styles such as ballet and jazz, or more contemporary styles such as hip-hop. The staff also lends their talents to parties and private events with Bollywood or belly-dance performances, and conduct personal Zumba and Brazilian samba lessons.