Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Bellissima Mama Zini

ND131 863, originally uploaded by A J Stevens.

I'm no good at writing about serious things.

Frieda Paras-Jones passed away yesterday.

In addition to being a couture genius, a design wizard, a fabric-shopping Genie of terrifying power, and a not-to-be-withstood force for truth and good in any project she worked on, she was a pioneer in creating the art form that is now my career: Looking Amazing while Walking Around Talking to People. Not content to simply make, design and oversee the most amazing clothes, she created and guided brilliant characters, playing incredible ones herself, like the irrepressible perfect hilarious Mama Zini, Italian mother to 47 bambini, all born in the same year. Poor Mama!

T. Stacy Hicks, another of my mentors and former Guildemaster of the Bristol Renaissance Faire's Guilde of St. George, wrote this about Frieda:

"It is with the heaviest heart I have ever felt that I send out this news. Yesterday afternoon Frieda Parras-Jones passed away quite suddenly. Most of us know she and her husband Guy from their business at BRF where they operate under Muscovy Trading Company. Some of us remember her as Mama Zini and a select few of us remember her as Mary, Lady Sidney. None of you will ever understand the impact that Frieda had on the Guilde of St. George at BRF but suffice to say that the standards she set decades ago are among the founding principles of our group; so much of what we do, wear, and are that is so commonplace it passes as understood and daily routine in our Guilde is a direct reflection of the work and practices she helped form in the early days of the court in California.

"Plans and arrangements have not been set. When I spoke with Guy this evening he wanted everyone in Wisconsin to know that she was completely at ease and in no pain. I spoke with Frieda this afternoon, just in our routine of checking in with each other, and she was her usual brassy, happy, dishy, bitchy self. Thank you all for understanding that Guy would like some privacy at this time, but he's still making plans to be here this summer."

And Andrew Elkins, General Manager of RPFS, writes this:

"Below please find the official announcement on behalf of the Renaissance Pleasure Faire and Guy Jones on the passing of Frieda Paras-Jones.

"It is with great sadness and loss that the Renaissance Pleasure Faire must announce the sudden and tragic passing of Frieda Paras-Jones, Costume Designer, loving wife, dear friend and long-time member of our Faire family. She passed away peacefully late yesterday afternoon after lying down for a nap. Her influence and vision for the Faire was second-to-none and will be whole-heartedly missed. Guy, Frieda’s husband, has expressed his gratitude in the support offered. At this time, he is focusing on the necessary arrangements. There will be a private service for family only, but there will be a memorial service at the Northern California Faire this fall and we will certainly have a memorial at the 2011 Renaissance Pleasure Faire. Guy has asked that during this difficult period that he not receive any phone calls or flowers. Please wait until he contacts you or reaches out through a message from us. At this time, all the family has been notified. You are now invited to express publicly on Facebook or other forums your feelings of loss and memories of this wonderful, beautiful, creative woman who we dearly loved.

"ON A PERSONAL NOTE: Nothing can express the pain and hole in my chest at the loss of Frieda. She was my friend, co-worker and someone I held in high-esteem and with great love in my heart. Her passing is a great loss to Guy, the Faire, our community and personally. She was at the top her game. We were working on many exciting projects for the faire in the near and upcoming future. She had a hand in all of them. She would tell me that the show must go on and it will, but everything I do will be influenced by her incredible vision and creativity and I do it in her memory. All she ever wanted was for us to be at our best, but she was the best of us. I will miss her terribly."

She was the best of us -- that is beautifully said. I miss her so much already.

Many thanks to A. J. Stevens for the kind permission to use the brilliant shot above of Frieda Paras-Jones as Mama Zini, horsing around with Her Majesty's Master of the Horse, Sir Robert Dudley (played by T. Stacy Hicks) at Renaissance Entertainment Productions' Renaissance Pleasure Faire South last Spring.

No comments: