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"The Mime Speaks": An Interview With Nate Moran

"The Mime Speaks": An Interview With Nate Moran

Nate Moran is an acclaimed mime and performer whose journey has been nothing short of epic. Moran is a veteran who went into the service in 1979. After his first tour of duty, he found himself struggling with addiction issues. He was homeless for a period of two years, facing significant hardship, often sleeping on park benches and the subway, living a life of insurmountable challenges on the cold and brutal streets. Seeking and accepting assistance from the Northport VA Hospital, he overcame his issues with alcoholism and channeled his energies into his art. 

Nate’s story is one of pain, loss, struggle and empowerment. It is a testament to the power of the human spirit to persevere in the face of deep, pervasive struggle. Today, Nate is a highly successful performer and mime artist. A top hat, a tuxedo, and white paint on his face, he has been a mime artist since 2011, inspiring people with his smooth moves and positive attitude. He has performed at the penthouse at the Skyline Hotel for the CMG New York City Fashion Week. He has given stellar performances worldwide, spanning from Nevada to Germany. 

Influenced by distinguished dancers of different genres, Nate showed great passion and talent for dancing since he was young. I connected with him over the phone, and he opened up to me about the onset of his passion, as well as his struggles and the source of his undefeated, elevated spirit. 

“I have been dancing since before I could spell my name. My first name is Nathaniel, which is a hard name to spell, so I was dancing even before I could get that down. When I was a kid, I used to watch Ginger Rogers, Fred Astaire, Nicholas Brothers, Gregory Hines, The Hines Brothers, Bill Robinson, Marcel Marceau, any great names that you can think of,” Nate said. In addition to their dance moves, these renowned dancers left a long-lasting impact with their style. He recalled, “They inspired me when I was a kid, watching black-and-white TV. The dancers back then used to dress up. They put the tails on, the black-and-white shoes, so the presentation was there. So when I perform, I always have that presentation.”

Moran also credited his family as his biggest supporters when it comes to pursuing dancing. With joy in his voice, he told the story of how his mom would proudly show off his dance moves to their guests. He recounted, “When friends came over, she said ‘I’ll give you 50 cents. You do a James Brown split for me.’…My family was really into it. They saw that I had a passion for it, so they supported me. My whole family would call me ‘Robot’ because back in the day, my first dance’s name was robot. When I was in the military, they changed it to ‘Motor Booty”, and then it went from ‘Motor Booty’ to ‘Mr. Wiggle’. From ‘Mr. Wiggle’, I am now ‘Nate the Mime’.”

He has faced significant hardship along the way. Nate battled alcoholism for a long time and was homeless for two years, living a stark life on the streets. Looking back on his hardships, he mentioned several people who gave him a push to turn his life around, from well-intended strangers to R&B artist Ne-Yo who complimented his dance routine. But the most transformative experience was his encounter with a gentleman when he was panhandling in front of a liquor store at Freeport in Long Island. 

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Image: Nate Moran

“A gentleman came up to me and said ‘I know what you want the money for. I just want you to say this one prayer. Take this taste. Lord take this taste from my mouth.’ So I said the prayer, and he gave me some change. I got my drink like normal…But then, one day, I was sitting down and looking at myself, having an out-of-body experience and thinking what are you doing? So, I started saying that prayer, to be honest with you. And I was saying that prayer hard.” 

As a veteran who went on two tours, Nate attributed the most instrumental part of his recovery to the help of staff at the Northport VA Hospital. “Getting into that program saved my life. I knew so many people in the city, and I wanted to go someplace nobody even knew me. So I made a push for Northport VA, and that’s how I got to where I am now. That’s like home, you know.”

Nate’s association with Veterans Affairs also gave rise to an unexpected start to his career as a mime performer. He used to compete in the National Veterans Creative Arts Festival every year, but in 2011, he was particularly inspired by the great mimes and wanted to try something different. He recalled that “I wanted to take the song “There Goes My Baby” by Usher and bring it to life. So, I went to Party City and bought some paint. When I put it on, something felt different. And I literally felt my body leave me and step into this song. So I got into mime because it brings things to life. And I was brought back to life, so I would like to pass that on.” 

What Nate is trying to deliver to his audience is more than his dance moves. In his performances as well as his online posts, he has been spreading the messages of, “Never give up” and “Always take a minute to smile”, two phrases that have inspired him along the way. 

“Man, I was down. I had my socks on my feet for so long I had to peel them off because of the rain and snow. I remember all the pain, and there’s still more pain to come in life because that’s life. But the reason why I push ‘never give up’ is because the light will come at the end of the tunnel no matter what…So I tell people if you keep going, something good will happen. And what ‘always take a minute to smile’ means to me is that if someone really smiles, you have some joy at that moment. That one little bit of good feeling for however long you hold on to it might push you through whatever it is you need to get through,” Nate explained.

Since 2011, Nate has successfully made a career out of being a professional mime performer on stages all over the world. He fondly recalled how he performed in Grand Sierra in Reno, Nevada as well as in Germany. However, when asked about which performance is his favorite, Moran stressed that every show is equally valuable to him. “To me, at every performance, even if it’s just one person, I’ll share my heart…So I have to say every performance is meaningful to me,” he said.

As we discussed how live performance is one of the hardest hit industries in the pandemic, Moran paused and took a deep sigh. 

“Events got canceled or pushed back, and I don’t know when they are going to pop up. One thing I’m worried about is that when events do pop up, they are on the same day. I enjoy the stage, and I enjoy the energy people give me. I miss that feeling,” he said. Fortunately, things have slowly picked up as Nate recently booked several shows in Atlantic City. In the meantime, he encouraged his fellow live performers to venture into more platforms to exercise their creative energy. “I got on TikTok, which is crazy to me,” he laughed, “so what I want to say is that find whatever way you can use your art. Whatever your passion is, try to do it for yourself to keep it in your heart and to keep moving. Never give up, and don’t let this pandemic stop you from sharing your art.”

In addition to being a mime performer, Nate has recently taken on the role of being an author, and his book “The Mime Speaks” is releasing soon. Moran has long had the idea of writing a book of his life stories to inspire others, a dream that has now come true after he met Bathsheba Monk, a veteran and a publisher of Blue Heron Book Works. “My book is coming to life. Just talking about it sometimes brings tears to my eyes. I can’t believe this is actually happening. I just want the book to get out there to many hands, and I want to use my story to inspire people to never give up, to smile, and to follow their passion. You can always pursue your dreams. Don’t let anything hold you down.”

Nate’s presence is both poignant and humble. His journey has been an immersive, painful, and difficult one, but he has resolutely turned his suffering into art and dedicated himself to spreading joy. His talent is exceptional, and his spirit is unbreakable. Strife has shaped him and given him power, his art has propelled him into success and radiance. Nate Moran is a true beacon of hope and possibility. When this mime speaks, the quiet strength of his words and his journey resound with the sheer force of his presence and story.