Friday, March 25, 2011

My Sister Loved the Shrine Bears; Frisco Loved Burck's Tigers; John Pugh Loves Never Selling Cole Bros. Circus ...

A pithy potpourri, plentifully positive, properly plumped for popcorn people, prefaced by this glee-mail from my sister Kathy, in Omaha:

"Hi David,

I went to the Shrine Circus today, and I saw the MOST CHARMING BEARS I HAVE EVER SEEN IN MY WHOLE LIFE!!!! THEY WERE ABSOLUTELY WONDERFUL!!!!! I also saw a fella that worked with ropes and whips (I never would have thought I would have liked that in a circus........but he was a FABULOUS ENTERTAINER! And a high trapeze artist by the name of Rebecca, who was fabulous! I loved seeing these acts, but was somewhat disappointed by some other things. However, it was wonderful attending the circus again......and I am a "kid of all ages".

Can you name the circus? I'm still awaiting a name and place from Kathy.

And here, from the San Francisco Chronicle dated August 23, 1984, discovered whilst purging my papers to de-clutter and hone, bone down to durable dust, and admit fresh air into my musty walk-in closet, is rare praise for the our own ...

"On the other hand, Wade Burck, a fresh-faced tiger trainer from North Dakota, at least displays genuine affection for the beasts with which he shares his working hours. Burck's six Siberian tigers and nine Burmese white tigers are gorgeous, beautifully groomed, and evidently happier with their lot than those pitiful camels. Ditto the performing bears -- despite the foolish tutus and wrestler's togs they've been made to wear."

Oh, but patron Kathy might have adored the bruins in high fashion. High honor, anyway, from Frisco, a town not afraid to turn out real circus reviews! Wade evidently still values the beauty of beautiful animals; take a look at his blog, (the link, his name, to your right) and behold some of the most gorgeous photos you will see of life's living menagerie.

Covinton Connected, Cirque du Soleil is advance puffing record-breaking profits for the year 2011 exceeding (cry your hearts out, Hugo) $1 billion bucks. Revenues last year reached $850 million. Now wait, 2011? Isn't that the year we just entered?

What troubles me about such puffery: Claims second in commander, Daniel Lamarre, " so far, no show has ever recorded a loss." No, no, please Mr. Lamarre, are you telling me that your Banana Shpeel actually made money? I think not. The Beatles Vegas show, says he, "has continued ... to pack in audiences at a 2,000 seat theatre>" I'mmmmmm not so sure, sir. On the PBS Cirque give-away special, I thought I saw an ominous number of empty chairs, no? Now, here's the caveat kicker: The rosy "forecast" -- that's what it really is -- "relies on the success of three new spectacles," including the Hollywood installation at the Kodak Theatre and a stage spectacle at Radio City Musical Hall -- oops, that's New York, not exactly a guaranteed venue for any Cirque offering. Maybe they've learned their lesson and can magically avoid another banana bust.

OK, let it go, to myself I puff. Here's tenuous tanbark talk: Rumorhazzit (I miss Billy Barton when I spell it that way, his way) that John Pugh pitched his Cole Bros Circus to the Byrd family, but they were not buying. Rumors forever. How many centuries now have I been hearing that Johnny wants to get out from under the big top just as soon as he can find a buyer? Strange, he keeps on owning it AND having it up for sale. Maybe he's desperate to raise the $150,000 court fine he has to pachyderm up for his murky elephant sale to a Davenport named Gopher.

Kathy, I'm dying to know of those things at Shrine that left you wanting? Did you know that somewhere in China, a Panda bear performs! Those creatures are so absolutely adorable. How I would love to hug one, if only it would promise not to hug me back. Unrequited love sometimes is the only option, even with a pre-nuptial.


Jack Ryan said...


I suspect that the aerialist named Rebecca is the very talented Ms. Rebecca Ostroff whose single trap prowess never ceases to amaze me.

Becky is currently doing Shrine dates so it just adds up.


Showbiz David said...

Thanks, Jack. Kathy, proud to say, has good taste -- or I brainwashed her!

Wade G. Burck said...

Yeah, Fresno was a tough sell, as were Oakland and San Francisco. I only had one bad review in my career and it was in Oakland, where the reviewer stated simply, "Wade Burck opened the second half with his white tigers...." That chap loved Miguel Vasques and the King Charles Troupe, but thought all animal acts sucked. Folks greater and smarter then me have said often "reviews are worth the paper they are written on, no more, no less" and I adopted that policy.
The camel act the reviewer didn't like was trained by my friend and dressing room mate for 4 years, Daniel Suskow, and the act has been reference by many trainers, including John Milton Herriott as one of the best EVER in the American Circus. It consisted of 4 camels, 4 zebras, and 4 Appaloosa horses, with the later addition of an American bison.
I have mentioned in the past a survey done each summer at Marineland in Niagara Falls Canada to gain insight on public thinking in regards to their one of a kind marine and land mammal show. Consistently, and amazingly ranked at the bottom of "least favorite thing about the show" was the bears wearing costumes!!!!! This reviewer disapproved also, yet your friend liked it. We've had Smokey the Bear, the Hamms Bear, and Gentle Ben. Every day you can read the new school nonsense about animals having "human emotions", even endorsed by a few un-enlighted animal folks, yet the masses are offended by animals in clothes and costume. LOL Go figure.
I think too much credit is given to a producer for being a genius, when he did nothing more then "guess right" as to what the public wants. Just as easily he can draw the low card, and guess wrong, which also doesn't make him a moron. The public is a mass of whims, changing like the weather. The brilliant producer is smart enough to know he needs a lot of money to hire the best director, stars and company for success. The ones that don't know that are gamblers and coin tosser's. No more genius when they have a winning show, that's luck, then they are moron's when they tank and crap out, that bad luck.
Wade Burck

Wade G. Burck said...

Addendum to Showbiz,
To add agreement to Jack and Kathy's comment, Airbex is one of the best at what she does today, with a burning dedication and devotion to her art, that sorely will never be rewarded monetarily in the circus. An artist has to develop a taste for kudo's because that is the only reward in a "with it and for it world."
Wade Burck

Showbiz David said...

Wade, I will agree with you on this that you said.

"The brilliant producer is smart enough to know he needs a lot of money to hire the best director, stars and company for success."