PUBLICITY & PONG

June 15, 2018 at 5:15 am

A story sure to inspire. At 72-years-old, a rock and roll publicist propels to fame through her new passion in ping pong.

Aired on June 14, 2018. 

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>>> SHE IS A ROCK 'N' ROLL
PUBLICIST WHO IT TURNING THE
TABLE ON PING-PONG, PROVING IT'S
NEVER TOO LATE TO GET INTO THE
GAME.
AT 73 YEARS YOUNG, COMPETITIVE
TABLE TENNIS PLAYER CAROL CLEP
NER IS BREAKING ALL THE RULES.
AFTER A SUCCESSFUL CLEAR AS A
PUBLICIST FOR LEGENDARY ACTS
LIKE THE WHO, DAVID BOWIE AND
ROLLING STONES SHE WAS NO
STRANGER TO THE GOOD LIFE.
BUT IN 2009 THAT LIFE TOOK A
TURN FOR THE WORSE.
SHE LOST HER JOB, HUSBAND AND
HOME.
SHE FELT ISOLATE AND ALONE UNTIL
ONE DAY WATCHING A DOCUMENTARY
PINK UPON ON PBS SHE DISCOVERED
A WORLD OF PLAY WITHIN A TIGHT
KNIT COMMUNITY OF ECLECTIC NEW
YORKERS.
>> TO A LOT OF PEOPLE TABLE TEN
SIS LIKE A PHYSICAL CHESS.
IT'S NOT JUST THE EXERCISE
ALTHOUGH IT'S THE EXERCISE.
IT'S ALSO THE MENTAL TOUGHNESS.
WHEN I'M PLAYING PING-PONG, I
GET IN THE ZONE.
AND IT REMINDS ME OF BEING A KID
AGAIN.
THE NOTION OF PLAY IS
SUPERENJOYABLE.
AND FOR ME NOW PLAY I THINK IS
MOST UNDERRATED FOUR-LETTER
WORD.
I FOUND MYSELF AFTER THE GREAT
RECESSION, AFTER THE DEATH OF MY
HUSBAND, TRYING TO FIGURE OUT
WHAT IT IS I DO?
WHAT DO I LIKE WHEN I'M BY
MYSELF?
SO I WAS OUT OF A JOB, A WIDOW,
LIVING IN A NEW NEIGHBORHOOD,
TRYING TO FIGURE OUT WHAT I WAS
GOING TO DO TO MAKE MONEY.
AND I -- I ALMOST REALLY DIDN'T
KNOW WHO I WAS.
THE LONG MARRIAGE IS -- IT'S
ALMOST 40 YEARS.
AND I SAW A DOCUMENTARY ON
CHANNEL 13 CALLED PING-PONG.
IT FOCUSED ON FOUR PLAYERS, FROM
80 TO 100 YEARS OLD.
AND THEY WERE NOT PLAYING JUST
FOR GOLD MEDALS.
THEY WERE PLAYING TO STAY ALIVE,
TO FEEL LIFE.
I THOUGHT TO MYSELF, THERE IS A
SPORT WITH A FUTURE.
IT OPENS A NEW WORLD TO ME.
I SAW THAT I HAD SOME POTENTIAL.
I HAD BEEN ATHLETIC AS A KID.
AND I THOUGHT I COULD GET BETTER
AT THIS.
I'M GOING TO TAKE LESSONS.
NOTHING I'D RATHER BE DOING.
THIS IS FUN.
I GOT IN WITH A GROUP OF PEOPLE
MY AGE APPROXIMATELY.
AND WE PLAYED TWICE A WEEK.
THROUGH THEM I STARTED PLAYING
MORE AND MORE GOING TO
TOURNAMENTS, PLAYING AT THE
NATIONALS IN LAS VEGAS AND
LEARNING TO COMPETE, WHICH FOR
ME, AS A WOMAN OF MY GENERATION,
NO, YOU WIN.
GO AHEAD.
IT'S OKAY IF YOU WIN.
YOU KNOW.
I HAD TO LEARN HOW TO EMBRACE
WINNING.
THE WHO, THE POINTER SISTERS,
JETTING ROW TULL DAVID BOWIE.
I HAD THE PRIVILEGE OF WORKING
ROCK 'N' ROLL WHEN EVERY KID IN
AMERICA WANTED TO WORK IN ROCK
'N' ROLL.
IT WAS ALICE COOPER.
MY HUSBAND, RON BELCHN E.R.
ABTHE FAMOUS ROCK 'N' ROLL
PROMPTER AND ME THAT'S WHAT I
USED TO LOOK LIKE.
I STARTED IN PR BEFORE THAT
BECAUSE I SAW WOMEN WERE THE
HEADS OF DEPARTMENTS.
I THOUGHT SIMILAR TO PING-PONG,
THAT'S A JOB WITH THE FUTURE.
I COULD BECOME A HEAD OF A
DEPARTMENT.
HERE "I" WITH ELTON JOHN.
AND HE PLAYED CARNEGIE HALL.
THIS IS BACK STAGE AT CARNEGIE
HALL.
I HAD THE PRIVILEGE OF WORKING
ON THE 1972 STONES TOUR RIGHT
THERE AND ONE OF THE PEOPLE THAT
GOT THE LIMITED EDITION STONES
TEE SHIRT.
THEY ONLY MADE 32 I THINK.
AND ON THE BACK YOU CAN SEE WHAT
IT SAYS.
SO THEY WERE PERSONALIZED, EACH
ONE.
I HAVE BEEN OFFERED $5,000 FOR
IT.
AND I'M NOT SELLING.
BACK IN THOSE DAYS IN THE EARLY
70s, BACK STAGE WAS A MAN'S
WORLD.
AND MY CLAIM TO FAME -- AND I
ALWAYS TOLD MY DAUGHTERS THAT IT
TOO -- WAS THAT I COULD TALK MY
WAY BACK STAGE.
EVEN IF MY NAME WASN'T ON THE
LIST.
AND THE WAY I WAS ABLE TO
ACCOMPLISH THAT WAS BY BEING
FOCUSED STRONG AND PERSISTENT.
I DIDN'T TAKE NO FOR AN ANSWER.
IT'S BEEN AN INTERESTING CAREER.
AND I GOT TO BE IN THAT SPACE AT
THE MOST EXCITING TIME.
SO I TRY TO GET THIS IN FOUR
TIMES A WE CAN.
IT'S LIKE THE TEMPLE OF TABLE
TENNIS IN MANHATTAN.
RIGHT NOW I'M SITTING IN THE
PRIVATE ROOM AT SPIN WHICH IS A
PLACE WE SOMETIMES HAVE MEETINGS
FOR THE AMERICAN YOUTH TABLE
TENNIS ORGANIZATION, WHICH HELPS
KIDS IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS IN YORK.
>> WE BASICALLY CREATE PROGRAMS
WHERE IF CHILDREN IN A SCHOOL
CAN MEET AND PLAY LOCALLY.
GET LESSONS FROM A COACH WHO CAN
TEACH THEM THE PROPER WAY OF
HOLDING THE PADDLE, LEARN THE
RULES.
WE GET FEEDBACK ALL THE TIME
IT'S GREAT FOR THE KIDS, THAT
THE CHILDREN BEFORE THEY TOOK UP
PING-PONG WERE QUIET, LACKING
SELF-CONFIDENCE.
I'VE BEEN TOLD THIS BY
PRINCIPALS, TABLE TENNIS HELPED
STUDENTS GET BETTER.
>> I WENT TO THE FINALS THIS
YEAR.
AND IT WAS PRETTY IMPRESSIVE.
>> WHICH FINAL WERE THEY, THE
MIDDLE SCHOOL.
>> THE MIDDLE SCHOOL.
AND THESE KIDS WERE REALLY GOOD.
AND THERE WERE LOTS OF THEM.
LOTS OF GIRLS.
THERE IS WHAT MORE THAN 50%
GIRLS.
>> ONE OF NICE THINGS ABOUT THE
SPORT IS THAT IT'S ONE OF THE
BETTER SPORTS FOR WOMEN TO PLAY.
>> AND CHOOSE WHETHER YOU WANT
TO GO BACKHAND OR FOREHAND.
>> TABLE TENNIS OPENED AN
AMAZING NEW WORLD TO ME OF MUCH
MORE FUN WAY OF WORKING OUT, A
GREAT NEW ARRAY OF NEW FRIENDS.
IT'S A WELCOMING FORUM.
>> PEOPLE ARE VERY GENEROUS.
>> INCLUSIVE AND KIND.
THE NICEST PEOPLE.
>> DIVERSE.
>> YES.
>> WHEN I CAME BACK FROM THE
NATIONAL SENIOR GAMES, I
RESOLVED THAT THIS IS IT, IF NOT
NOW WE?
TIME IS NOT INFINITE.
AND I WENT FOR IT.
I'M DEFINITELY IMPROVING.
I WANT TO INCREASE MY RATING.
I'D LIKE TO BREAK A THOUSAND
WHICH I THINK IS DOABLE.
IF I COULD GET OUT OF MY HEAD IN
COMPETITIONS THAT I WOULD BE
ABLE TO. I AM JUST GRATEFUL

THAT I CAN STILL PLAY THAT I AM
STILL GETTING BETTER. AS LONG AS
I CAN STILL PLAY, I'M DOING IT!

Mutual of America PSEG

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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