Clown for a New Day

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

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Circus Historical Society Lands Living Legends for Upcoming Aerial-Intense Convention ...


Warning: on this posting, the word "mechanic" may be dropped at intervals. If you are allergic to this word or suffer an adverse reaction, you are advised either to turn back now or proceed at your own caution and seek immediate medical attention if you suffer the usual I-hate-Showbiz David symptoms.

Count this one for the ages. CHS members about to convene in Bloomington-Normal, Illinois on July 21, to be feted by a consortium of legendary trapeze icons, including the greatest of them all, Miguel Vazquez.

Among academic amusements announced, attendees will attend an actual flying trapeze seminar conducted by Vazquez, his famed catcher-brother, Juan, Tony Steele and Richie Gaona. They'll watch the premiere of a film about Steele, Dreaming in Circus, by Darin Basile. Steele, case you didn't know, twirled out the first three-and-a-half, earning him Guinness fame. That was before Miguel trumped them all with the quad.

And they'll view a panel discussion introduced by Steve Gossard, in which another trapeze legend, diva dynamo Terry Caveretta, will participate.

Scholars signed to hit the sawdust flying include two Aussie gals with papers of peril on modern-day aerial revolutions above the rings: Peta Tait will take up “Extreme Athleticism and Aerial acts,” Jane Mullett, “Alternative Aerial Performance: Breaking Tradition.” I'm hoping, awating the monographs that show up in Bandwagon, that they tackle the issue that has tagged me, whenever I dare go near it, as a number of loathsome things in the eyes of the offended, from pompous to spiteful, bitchy to lame to -— well, you insert your own invective. Those tell-tale lifelines (aka: mechanics) deserve a knock down drag out round-the-table discussion. Speaking of which, about another subject even more controversial, noted author Janet Davis slated to speak about her current book in progress concerning animal welfare laws and activities.

Now, if all that is not enough, while the show is on, L.A. documentary film man Philip Weyland, at work gathering fresh footage for a movie about Miguel Vazquez, will be circling the red wagons with his crack camera crew, hosting on-site interviews with people wishing to share and air views, facts, opinions.

You're not a member and feel the urge to be a part? I guess you could express mail a membership application to the CHS.

Three fanfares for Pfenings & Company!

End Ringers: Can American academia ever produce a decent circus act? (Have I already offended another dozen? – Sorry!). Give Coastal Carolina University a hearty laugh and a half for trying. They’re coming out soon with a new degree in “Physical Theatre” (I guess that’s a fancied up term for what we once called "circus"), in which students will spend their senior year in residence at the Circus Center of the San Francisco Clown Conservatory, HaHa. Okay, with unabated breath, I’m waiting. Call me a ring spoiler, but why do I still see so few, sometimes none, non-exotic faces in our U.S. circus shows? ... The Barnum Museum up in Bridgeport, recently bashed by a tornado, getting a $10,000 check from Feld Entertainment to help them stay solvent and sucker the good sucker. In case you didn't know, I didn't either, July 5th marked P.T.'s 200th birthday ...


Fragile Dreaming: Oakland-based Circus Bella kicking off its new season in San Francisco. A cool, playful and overly short free show out in the open air on green grass, brimming modestly with honorable ambitions. Some very fine creative streaks with the cast sometimes sporting roustabout attire and getting amusingly into each others way -- and acts. Prime example: Jan Damm's whimsical variations on the rola-bola. I hope co-directors David Hunt and Abigail Munn can eventually secure proper funding, get themselves a little tent or enclosure, hire a few more bodies and sell tickets ...

Gotta run. Have a free date with legal council about my latest obsession --- how to reveal to you what I saw when I saw Kenneth Feld sitting across from me in his seat opening night of Illuscination. This must go out as pure journalism, no holds barred, but how not to misrepresent the truth of the moment? How to avoid legal fallout from so exacting an image? ... Hey, look to your right! Is that HIM? Yes, yes! There he enters, the great Miguel! ... WATCH HIM!!!!!

[photo at top courtesy of Philip Weyland]

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Once again, you're lame and off base. Flying trapeze acts work with a net - ALL OF THEM. Does that make them less skilled? NO

Showbiz David said...

To you who call me lame, thanks for keeping your profanities to yourself this time.

As for the point you raise, I am well aware of nets being used under all flying trapeze acts, no problem. I've never protested the use of nets, or pads on the floor. A major reason why is that, while they provide some protection, there can be no doubt as to the life-saving artistry and skill of the aerialist. Mechanics (sorry for dropping the word that nearly drives you over the ring) promote sloppy performances.

My raising this issue relates to the scholarly papers promised on aerial arts in general, one paper titled (if you reread my post),
"Alternative Aerial Performance: Breaking Tradition" Here is where the presenter, I would hope if not assume, might take the time to address this most relevant matter.