What makes an entertainer? Ask Chic Fojtik

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Chic Fojtik, retired professor emeritus of marketing at Pepperdine, is an entertainer in heart and in fact — just ask those who saw him as Jagger, Crocker and Bowie. Photo by Marshall Smith

What is it that causes your eye to go to one person on stage rather that a host of others? Why do you want to watch that person instead of all the rest?

Although the recent Idyllwild’s Got Talent spectacular delighted many, there was one person who everyone talked about afterward. Was this person an experienced actor, dancer, singer, impersonator and seasoned entertainer who could hold an audience’s attention and double them over with belly laughs? Well, in a way.

Charles “Chic” Fojtik, who sashayed, gyrated, pranced, sang and danced his way through guffaw-inducing performances as Mick Jagger, David Bowie and Joe Cocker, has that quality some call “it.” “It” is indefinable. But whoever has “it” as a performer, is the one onstage who always catches your eye.

So how is it that Fojtik has “it?” Maybe he gained career experience in a performance-related job. Well, in a way.

Wisconsin-native Fotjik attended Northwestern University, known for its acting program. Maybe that was where he honed his chops. Well, actually no. “I cycled through a number of majors while at Northwestern,” said Fojtik. “First physics, then math, then sociology and finally I graduated in physics.”

Well, maybe then he became an actor in graduate school? Not in Fojtik’s case. He attended the University of Southern California as a marketing major in the masters in business administration program. After obtaining his master’s degree, he stayed at USC in its business doctoral studies program. While still a doctoral student, Fojtik began teaching at Pepperdine University. He retired in 2008 as emeritus professor of marketing. Hmmm?

Fojtik has a merry spirit and that prompted him, in teaching night students in Pepperdine’s Graziadio School of Business and Management, to invent ways to make night courses interesting, innovative and interactive. “It was such validation to see the faces of business people who had been working all day, the energy we were generating together. That was so satisfying,” said Fojtik. “Other professors lectured. In my class, we did projects, taking the reading materials and applying those concepts to real company issues.”

And always, there was the entertainment factor in Fojtik’s teaching that kept seasoned business executives focused, engaged and often amused. “My courses were geared to their experience levels. I would say to my students, ‘Here are some tools, now go and apply them.’”

After moving to the Hill, Fojtik began exploring his acting chops appearing in the musicals “The Wizard of Oz,” “Into the Woods” and “Clue, the Musical.” He appeared in comedies including “Calendar Girls,” the “Little Grimley Sagas,” “Legal Ethics” and multiple Christmas shows for the Stratford Players. And, of course, his recent turn as multiple rock singing idols will continue to define him.

“Pamela [his late wife] encouraged my acting,” said Fojtik. “She was a harsh critic but saw how much the acting pulled me into the community. She always wanted me to be happy. I love that I can make people really laugh.”

Fojtik is currently working on a George Carlin show. “I’m writing and putting it together as a one-man show.”

From an entertainer in a classroom devoted to serious business, to a strutting rock star does not seem such an odd and uncharacteristic transition for Fojtik. That’s because he has “it.”

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