Friday, May 25, 2007

Big Top Bits: Ringling Risks Blue States Fallout ... Chinese Risk Higher Flights ... Rampaging Gorilla Risks a Tour of America. ...

Answering Connecticut’s drive to outlaw use of the bullhook (ankus) by bull handlers, Kenneth Feld threatens to ditch every date in this blue blue state. Now, that takes guts. And may it turn Connecticut truly blue. New Cole Circus’s Renee Storey is taking a tough rhetorical stand against the bill’s co-sponsor, one Diana S. Urban, accusing her of false statements (which, indeed, she has made) and undue action. The circus big shots are suddenly going constitutional. Here’s Storey citing the Equal Protection clause under Section 8 of Article 1. Go, Esquire Storey! ... Kenneth Feld’s daring threat could also backfire: What if he ditches Connecticut and nobody makes a fuss? Might other states and/or cities follow suit against elephant acts? ... Then bourbon for Ms. Urban?

Let’s chill out for a wee moment, okay. Can Feld afford to start a blue-state trend against his three touring units? A few thousand miles away out on bluer than blue west coast, there’ll be no Bellobration at San Francisco's Cow Palace this summer, marking the second season in a row without a Ringling visit ... Who could ever have guessed? All I can get from Cow Palace tickets agents, who grant that Feld ditched them, not they him — is a generic excuse about Ringling wanting to play Stockton instead. Stockton? This year in the labor day slot that for fifty years belonged to S.F., Ringling makes a round trip to Portland between Northern Calif. dates in San Jose and Stockton ...

While America’s big top moguls continue struggling to figure out what their vanishing audience base really wants — if anything at all — the fringers appear to be having a ball out there making hay of traditions in peril .... Up in Portland, there’s the Wanderlust Circus, promising 3 Leg Torso and DJ Global Ruckus, AND "ecological and educational amusements..." Also purring through pc-perfect Portland right about now is the Moscow Cats Theatre. The fluffy eqiuilibrists started out on sawdust and are now the queens and kings of stage. "Direct from Broadway!" spiels an add ... Go, kitties, go! ...

Other oddball offerings that intrigue: San Francisco’s eccentrically kooky dinner-circus under a tent by the bay, Teatro Zinzanni has cooked up a new concoction that sounds deliciously off kilter: Ukranian illusionist and original cast member Veronin returns. So does juggling chef Michael Davis ... Between bites, sample the "sensual power duo" Vertical Tango, opera diva Svetlana Nikitenko and German aerial acrobat Crystalle. And while your chasing those little cable cars half way to the stars — or the bars -- you might check out Circus Center’s first-year aerial program students on high, Ethereal Bodies and Crazy Clowns. Slated to perform June 2 at 7:30.

From hoops to traps, the Chinese are more and more pushing their flawless artistry skyward, and isn’t that a heady turn of events ... The Shanghai Swingers gave UniverSoul's 2005 opus true gold ...Another example of Asiatic stratospherics are the rambunctiously inventive Yunnan Flyers with Ringless Bros. On a stage, I find the various so-called "Chinese Acrobats" from here and there a little predictable and boring. In a ring and in the air, and mixed together with a diversity of performers from far and wide, these gymnasts add guaranteed zing and luster. Soar, China, Soar! ...

The Return of Gargantua? That would be our 400-pound male gorilla, Bokito, who is on display at a Netherlands zoo when not out on escape scaring the living daylights out of zoo goers. Now, what will Peta do about this? Bokito got loose and rampaged all over the grounds, sinking his teeth into a woman and dragging her around, panicking dozens of patrons. Our manic-depressive big ape only needed medication, so they say. In his break-out wake, four people were injured, that’s nothing to laugh about. Everything else — well, Bokito’s news-grabbing behavior marks him as a natural for an American big top in needed of a crowd. Jim Judkins, ahead of his Circus Chimera in an effort to bolster a weak gate (things are "very very difficult," he writes in a humbly haggard tone) might see about importing Bokito for a season or two ... There’s a lovely "jungle condition" cage in Baraboo — maybe for rent.

And that’s a gargantuan wrap!

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