Friday, August 13, 2010

All the World's a Circus: Laotian Elephants to China; German Bathtub Acrobats to Edinburgh; U.S. Billposting War Lithos to Shelburne

Covington Connected, here are a few juicy finds around the globe:

Bathtub acrobatics: Edinburgh Festival crowds were left "open mouthed" by the rare spectacle of scantly clad circus type performers cavorting as much in water as out of. Circle of Eleven, a German produced show that just completed a two-year run in Berlin (where else?), sends its sexy stars flipping and flopping, turning somersaults and hand stands over and around bath tubs. Will a shower circus be next? Here, in the photo, is Fernando Dudka, whose splashy exploits are described by The List, "a perfect balance of strength,precision and wet muscles. Show is said to give off "more louche cabaret tone."

Here's a kid in Laos (heck, he looks like he could be from Hugo, Oklahoma) who might become a professional elephant handler, and maybe the next Gunther Gebel Williams. He might go to work for a Chinese circus. He'd reap the whopping sum of $150 a month, more than a hundred bucks he could earn in his own country, "The Land of a Million Elephants.' Not nearly quite that many any more. More pachyderms, considered sacred for thousands of years by the respectful Laotians, being shipped against the will of local preservationist to other ports of entertainment in Asia. So revered are the Big Buys and Gals in Laos, that mothers bring their babies to be blessed by them ... "We are very concerned to see so many elephants, especially young ones and females, being exported to foreign countries," said Sebastian Duffillot, co-founder of ElefantAsia. Rues he, for several years now the best and the healthiest have been "rented" out of the country against existing laws that condemn such extractions. Worse still, once ready for return, the foreign agents often renege on funding their passage back. 19 elephants were dispatched to a Korean circus in 2002, and all of them were not returned but sold locally ...

Old Lithographs Never Die: Thrilled, tickled and historically impressed are they to have accidentally discovered several old 1883 Adam Forepaugh lithographs during a 1991 home restoration in Northern Vermont; better yet, underneath, the lithos of a rival operation named John B. Doris Menagerie and Circus that evidently lost the battle of the billposters that day. During the period, Forepaugh and Doris were embroiled in a nasty slander war, each slinging rat sheets at the other. Among the scurrilous insults, Forepaugh's worst charge was this rival had actually advocated the assassination of President William McKinley. Hmmm. Might McKinley have favored Forepaughs elephants over Doris's? ... Lithos on display in Sheulburne, under "Circus Day in America" until October 24.

Oh, to have lived then! When the circus came to town, all sorts of real-life drama followed it, as rarely it does any more.

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