Interview With A "Prince"
Yovanna Bieberich – Petaluma Argus Courier

Parade of KidsOften known as the Prince of Color, Friman is a children's entertainer who volunteers at both Hospice and COTS.

Name: Yuri "Prince of Color" Friman
Occupation: Children's entertainer
Family: Wife Leslie, a graphic designer, and three year old son Eli.

Background: Friman, a Petaluman for six years now, is originally from New York and came to California about 18 years ago. He has a master's degree in psychology from the New School for Social Research in New York City and is also a certified massage therapist. After spending time as a therapist, and also as a cameraman and videographer, he found himself wanting to do more.

"I wanted to give back to the community, so I started volunteering at preschools and also became a Big Brother," says Friman. "Eventually that turned into part time work as an aide in the preschool. One day I came across an ad for Gymboree that said that you could get paid to play. I loved working in the preschools, but I didn't want to change diapers for tons of kids. Being paid to play with kids - that was the job for me."

Hobbies: "I like to hike, but I haven't done a lot of that since Eli was born. We do walk around town a lot and go to coffee houses and to the Tea Room. I guess we've replaced hiking with hanging out in town. Biking has become a hobby too. We have one car and an electric bike, so during the week, my wife drops Eli off at preschool and I get to pick him up on the electric bike. We bike downtown and go for dessert. I also do yoga and meditation."

How would you describe yourself?
"I think of that in terms of why kids like me. I have a spiritual, peaceful, more feminine side in addition to my rowdy New Yorker edge. I think kids sense that edge and not a watered-down patronizing personality. I don't talk down to the kids. I think they enjoy my playful edge and my sense of humor. I'm not wishy-washy."

How did you get started as "Yuri, Prince of Color?"
"I've been working with kids for 10 years," explains Friman. "I was a preschool teacher for a while and I've mostly worked with Gymboree for the last five years. What happened was that I had another friend who was a teacher who happened to do performances for kids. I've always had the performance bone in me, but never followed it for various reasons. I was already working with kids and I wanted to perform, so she suggested we do it together. She started to introduce me to the work and eventually I headed off on my own doing parties for myself. She's in Marin and I'm in Petaluma."

Gingham FreezeWhat do your performances involve?
"I work with children ages 2 to 7 years old. I go to birthday parties and also to weddings and events where children are gathered. It's a variety interactive show for kids with a combination of a lot of different things. I do magic, juggling, jokes and goofy stuff with them. I bring musical instruments and we have parades around the house. It's great fun for them."

Where else does the Prince of Color make an appearance?
"I volunteer at Hospice of Petaluma. I do an ongoing grief group for teenagers and a kind of crisis intervention. A couple months ago two children who attended Wilson School died, one kid was killed by a falling tree and the other died of asthma. A group of us went to the school and did some grief work with the kids in the classes. They were just devastated. We also did a subgroup for kids somehow related to the child who died of the asthma attack.

"I also do a weekly performance for kids at the Committee on the Shelterless (COTS). I've been going there for about six months now to do a little show for them every week. Sometimes there are two kids and sometimes six. Being in a strange place can be scary, but having the undivided attention of a silly guy who gets as many hugs as he gives, makes it a little easier for them."

What do you enjoy most about what you do?
"In general, when I'm with a kid, what impresses me is their spontaneity, sense of wonderment and curiosity. It's fascinating and just plain fun to watch the process they go through when they're learning. It also reminds me of the possibilities for myself. We are socialized and tempered down, and rightfully so, but I think we need a reminder on how to be more spontaneous and take the simple things as enough. Being around kids these many years has helped me with my son. It has helped me to be with him in a different way then if I hadn't spent so much time around kids.

"My philosophy is to let kids be and to let them learn at their own pace. Let kids do their own things. Parents need to be there as an encouragement and safety net, but let them learn from their own activities. It's important to let them find out things on their own. They find a lot of joy in problem solving."

What do you consider as your greatest accomplishment?
"Raising my son and managing a long term relationship with my wife. It has certainly been the most labor-intensive thing. My relationship with my wife and son are what I have really stuck to.

What advice would you give others?
"First of all, I would say I'm not the one to give anyone advice," laughs Friman. "Just follow your instincts and try to be true to what you want to do. Believe in it and do it. It's important that we all do that. A lot of times, intuition is overrated and people mistake a learned response as intuition. In order to be truly intuitive, you have to go past lots of levels. Most of us are so cultured and learned in our response to people and society that what we think is intuition is actually a learned response. True intuition follows who you are and it takes a while to get to know that. It's not just something you learn."

You can reach Reporter Yovanna Bieberich at 762-4541, ext. 221 or e-mail

©Petaluma Argus Courier

Boston Birthday Parties    •    Weddings    •    Corporate & Special Events

Serving the Greater Boston &
Metrowest Areas

Including but not limited to the following towns:

Acton, Amesbury, Arlington, Bellingham, Belmont, Berlin, Billerica, Bolton, Boston, Boxborough, Bridgewater, Brockton, Brookline, Cambridge, Canton, Carlisle, Charlestown, Chelmsford, Chelsea, Concord, Dedham, Easton, Everett, Framingham, Franklin, Harvard, Haverhill, Hopedale, Hudson, Lawrence, Lexington, Littleton, Lowell, Lynn, Marlborough, Maynard, Medfield, Medford, Medway, Methuen, Metrowest, Milford, Millis, Milton, Needham, Newton, Norfolk, North Andover, Northborough, Norton, Peabody, Quincy, Raynham, Reading, Revere, Salem, Shrewsbury Somerville, Stow, Sudbury, Taunton, Waltham, Watertown, Wayland, Winthrop, Woburn, & Wrentham.

Click here to contact Yuri
via email...

Contact Yuri

Or call direct:
(857) 231-2089

Yuri "Prince of Color" Friman