"Hog Wild"

Kids go hog wild when 4 little piggies perform
by Tan Vinh - Seattle Times Eastside bureau
(taken from the Seattle Times)

Even before their performing pigs took the stage there was little doubt that Steve and Priscilla Valentine would turn yesterday's exhibition into a pun fest.

Perhaps it was their promise that the pigs would "ham" it up for the crowd.

Or their line about quitting their day jobs and relying on their show pigs to "bring home the bacon."

Packing more puns than an episode of "Sesame Street," the Valentines and their four pigs hogged the spotlight at the Bellevue Regional Library as more than 250 delighted children packed a small room to watch the act.

The Vietnamese potbellied pigs have performed at 500 shows and fairs, appeared on NBC's "Today" show and won first place on "America's Funniest Home Videos" for "Jurassic Pork." Nellie the pig had an encore on Phil Donahue's TV show after being named 1993's most popular female guest.

"She beat out Demi Moore," Priscilla Valentine bragged.

Valentine said she got a rubber pig when she was 3 and has been attached to porkers ever since. Later, she trained a real pig to do dog tricks, such as fetching and sitting up.

Over time, she and her husband got so many requests for fairs and birthday parties that the Gig Harbor couple realized they were on to something. She quit her teaching job; he quit his job at a Kent manufacturing plant.

They are like traveling circus performers now, doing 150 shows a year.

"I went to Toys R Us and looked at the toys (and realized) that the pigs could play with many of the toys for 3-year-old children," Valentine said.

Yesterday, during a 30-minute show, the pigs pushed a plastic lawn mower, dunked a basketball and rode a skateboard on two legs. They also performed household chores such as picking up a telephone and fetching a note from a mailbox that read "Eat beef."

Then, 7-year-old Nellie finished the show by popping a balloon. Said Priscilla, "We like to go out with a bang."

Copyright © 2002 The Seattle Times Company