KC’s Molly Balloons Fashions Hats, Royals-Themed Dresses – Even Dragons – Out of Balloons
“Nobody can be uncheered with a balloon.”
So said “Winnie the Pooh” and thanks to Molly Balloons, Kansas City is experiencing the truth of that observation.
The multi-talented balloon artist, formerly known as Molly Munyan, has long been making people smile — working kid and adult parties, fashioning wild headgear and objects, and decorating events. She has also done inventive collaborations with body painting artist Elsa Rhae. Balloons threw her career into overdrive during the 2015 World Series, when she debuted a different Royals-themed balloon dress each game and an eye-popping number of them for the Victory Parade. It was a gamble that really paid off. Balloons received major press and social media coverage, including a 2016 feature in “Cosmopolitan” magazine.
Balloons found herself in hot demand, “popping” up all over and becoming instantly recognizable. Last fall, her one-woman balloon fashion show in the Crossroads was a smashing success.
And now she has a partner. Recently, famed balloon master Dave Brenn relocated to Kansas City from New York, and the two have begun planning a “Balloon Empire.”
Balloons and Brenn met through balloon legend Addi Somekh, the “Balloon Jesus,” as Balloons describes him, and have become disciples of Somekh’s philosophy of balloons as a “social lubricant.” As a starstruck teenager in Olathe, Balloons wrote to him and was flabbergasted when he invited her to assist him at a show in St. Louis. Brenn, as a teenager in New York, had worked as a clown. He subsequently moved to Los Angeles, where he often worked with Somekh, a professor and television producer. They ended up sharing a house and, eventually, a friendship with Balloons.
The balloon world is one big family, Balloons says. Its members meet on international balloon jobs and at the Twist and Shout balloon convention, which happens in a different city each year. The convention includes classes, competitions, “jamming” and endless parties. Balloons attended her first Twist and Shout when she was 18, after she had performed at events in Johnson County throughout high school and marched in her first balloon dress as homecoming queen.
When life events recently found Brenn at a crossroads, he decided to join Balloons in KC. He had worked with her on the fashion show and other big events and loved the city’s welcoming, artsy vibe.
The two have extensive — and international — experience in balloon arts. Brenn helped break balloon world records in China, and Balloons rode 12-foot-tall balloon dragons in Qatar.
Going forward, working with new employee Grant Lesher out of an office in renowned cirque company Quixotic’s building on Broadway, they hope to make such high-end, newsworthy projects part of their regular repertoire. Brenn, an able engineer, serves in event management and general operations for Quixotic, which maintains a heady schedule of flamboyant events in KC, Florida and worldwide. He and Balloons are working with Quixotic to develop new and innovative collaborations in the world of tech, lighting and balloons.
Brenn and Balloons have a summer schedule full of commitments to private enterprises and corporations; they are also gearing up for the enhanced annual balloon fashion show in November. Other projects and engagements are regularly presented and packaged in uproarious fashion on their social media platforms, most notably Instagram.
For Balloons and Brenn, Kansas City is the perfect place to practice their art form. Yes, the city has a wealth of talent and a supportive audience. It is also home to a major balloon supplier, Qualatex.
For more about Molly Balloons, visit www.mollyballoons.party, Molly Balloons on Facebook and @mollyballoons on Instagram. Visit YouTube for videos of her collaborations with Elsa Rhae.
Above: During the 2015 World Series, Molly Balloons debuted a different Royals-themed balloon dress for each game and additional dresses for the Victory Parade. (Bo Flores Photography)