Clown for a New Day

Clown for a New Day
Dagwood might make it in today's emasculated circus

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Sunday Morning Scramble: Ringling's Latest, Not the Greatest? The Pope Pets a Tiger; Adult Aussie Midways & Bello's Accidental Hairstack ...

Down there in Florida, the Felds have failed so far to impress one fan, who got little zing, zang or zoom from a show of the same name. He's Jack Hunter, who rues that the thrill is gone. Says Jack, exclusive to Showbiz David, “It appears to be a long season ahead. I’m still trying to figure out if what I saw was a magic show or illusion, rock show, a little bit of Broadway or some portion of that thing that comes out of Canada” Jack, what you saw was the Feld smorgasbord (likely inspired by CDS’s Believe), maybe this time it’s just a little too smorgy for your taste.

Now, in all fairness to the Felds at this premature point, I glanced in cyberspace for some reviews; found none. And I’m still intrigued by what the Felds, in their best creative flash —- or creative desperation --- are trying to do to shake the smorgasbord up this way or that ... Heck, John Ringling North is perfect here for a contrasting cameo, for last night on TCM I was struck by how prominent a part his character plays in probably the finest circus film ever made, Trapeze. He is in and out of the circus arena in Paris (what a pleasure to see the acts in a stable ring), until the triple is caught and he’s informing the lucky ones that he'll be taking them to dinner; They by then want nothing more than to appear with Ringling in New York. Paris: you'll have to wait. Remember when the name Ringling was the envy of the circus world?


Papal Petting: The Pope himself was entertained in his gargantuan Roman digs by some jugglers, and also charmed by a baby lion whom he fondly petted ... And while we are here in the tent of divinity, I’m touched by what the Espana family, in Sarasota, have set out to do in their new show called Cirquesa by framing a storyline around the death in 2004 on Ringling of Dessi Espana in a fatal fall. This by way of Covington Connected, in the Sarasota Herald Tribune: “the story enters the dreams of a boy whose mother passes away before fulfilling her promise to take him to the circus.” Okay, you know about me and stories over sawdust, but I’m hoping the family can realize the catharsis and closure it surely deserves. Fabulously fond are my memorizes of the superbly dazzling Flying Espanas with Circus Vargas in the mid-1980s (Ramon, where are you now?) Those passionate show stoppers were Tito Tito terrific!

All or nothing at all: Seems that the Aussie circus scene might be tainted or — how to put this — “high” on the concession racks. Inside word points to vicious rumors, possibly advanced by envious smaller tenters over the bigger tops, that drugs are being pushed in or around secretive midway spots ... Heck, I have no trouble believing this considering how I have been forced to perceive recklessly creative Circus Oz performers. Even that horny robotic dog they had when they last blitzed Berkeley must be test marketing Viagra for mutes ... And, hey, here’s where we part company (divorce proceedings are in progress): They are neither great circus nor great theatre, but an inventive amalgam in defiance of tradition that sometimes amuses. I am all for their kinky inventiveness, if only they could take their theatrical urges all the way. And if only, pardon my prudery, they would cease and desist from calling themselves a “family show.”.

All or nothing, part 2: The Nock family have never fully impressed me. When JRN booked their sway pole antics in 1954, “nerveless Nocks” ads promised breath-taking mid-air exchanges, but when I caught up with them the next year, those passing swoops were so cumbersomely careful that the act left me as unthrilled as Jack above. The only thing I really like about their act were the thrilling descents -- each came head first down the tall spars ... And then, nocking on, here’s pretty boy "clown" Bello Nock (left), ex-Ringling star of eight years, revealing how he got his signature hair stack. By sheer chance, he claims, following a sunburn at age 11 when, headache induced, he just let his hair grow. Hmmm, is that also how the great Italian jester, Fumagalli, got the same hair style? Or did one of them copy the other? You’re not going to like me for this: Bello has never struck me as a "greatest clown" in this or any other circus, for the following two reasons. 1. Simply put, the best jesters are subversive outcasts, bullies and blowhards, show offs and losers and misfits who pretend to importance in the spangled shadows. They are us. Bello is too cute, harmless, innocent; 2: with rare exceptions, clowns should not come off as accomplished performers themselves, for this only dilutes their frail common-man persona. Bello is too good an acrobat. In a novel and highly commercial way, I'll admit, his boyish charm tickled moppets who are said to have loved him. If only I could have seen Bello at Polack when I was a boy ...

Very sad L.A. Story: Sometimes now, it feels lonely on Sunday mornings without the Los Angeles Times — the one I recall from even five years ago. Now at L’Amyx, I read the NYT, a great paper, but I miss the other one. I’m about the only tea drinker in here with newspaper; others with laptops, maybe a book or two, and school papers. The "city of angels" is a place born, carved out and cut up, glamorized and scandalized by many rapes, and surely the latest one, I’d say, is the rape of the Times by a hack Chicago real estate mogul billions in debt. I love LA, and I miss her once great newspaper that for years, I looked forward to every Sunday ... For all literate Angelinos, I mourn.

All or nothing at all. Next time soon, a Ringling private car is restored; a pachyderm to the circus is born, an ugly lawsuit lingers on. Now if only Mr. Feld could work the birth of a baby bull into his smorgasbord. Jack, how about that?

Hey Sage! Anybody out there on the midway? Two people? NONE? Pack it up and down to the runs. By the way, did Bello return my call yet?

1 comment:

Raffaele De Ritis said...

Hair history:
Fumagalli's same hair was before sported by his father, Fumagalli sen., in the 60s. He is the clown in the last sequence of Fellini's "Clowns" movie.
The actual Fumagalli took his father's character for the first time in 1994 at Circus Roncalli, Germany.