Monday, August 15, 2011

Big Apple Circus Dreams Big ... 75 Steele Years and Still Flying High ... 75 Cent Tix to Ringling ... "I Love You Honey" Author "Loved" Many ?!?

Soaring Senior: The great Tony Steele. Photo from News Chief.
[Update, 8/15, 1:53 PST. I reported in error that the Flying Caceres will be appearing with Big Apple Circus. I should have said Cortes.] Flying my way in no particular order, off radar: Big Apple Circus touting its next show, Dream Big! Press release promises more muscle in the air than last year, what with the Flying Cortes, from Columbia, making a return visit and Russian aerialist Anna Volodko also on the bill. Among other fresh features, there's magic and manikin cutups from Holland's Scott Nelson and Muriel Brugman. China is lending their Shandong Acrobats, a large ambitious troupe working ensemble risely. Another Russian contributor is juggler Dimitry Chernov. By golly by giggles, Grandma will be back. And Jenna Robinson is cast as singing ringmistress; I'm sorry I did not get to see more of short-lived ringmaster Kevin Venardos. The operative word, "Big" suggests as much comedy as circus theatrics. I'm looking forward, if only I was a New Yorker. The Big Big Apple Show uncorks in Dulles, VA, on September 22. New artistic director Guillaume Dufresnoy, visibly in command during a Stamford Advocate interview last month, revealed much about his ideas for upcoming shows, about which, more in serious depth later here ...

She may have loved him -- or them -- until her "season" was over: That's the snickering skinny from an inside source recalling how Duane Thorpe, in a near rage, characterized the backyard antics of author Connie Clausen -- "a little first of may...[not a nice word beginning with s]" -- but what a talented [not a nice word] . Connie penned the terrific tome, I Love You Honey, but the Season's Over. According to my source, Clausen, who got cast as a "ballet broad," did not last the season, but whipped up a great deal of nocturnal action as the circus slithered and screamed up and down the rails -- although, whether for personal pleasure or professional gain, details not disclosed. "She had the gall to write about it," quoting my source. Might he/she have simply been jealous of attention that otherwise might have been directed to him/her? Why such ill will? As I recall, this book is absolutely tops, so what "gall" would the writing of it have constituted? Makes me want to re-read; it's now on my make believe reading list (Oakland Library hasn't a copy, drats), just after The Razor's Edge, my current hold.

75 is BIG ... 75 is the age of legendary Tony Steele, first trap wizard to land the then super duper triple-and-a-half, who now lives down in Haines City Florida and is "soaring" again. Profiled recently in the News Chief, Steel's first job was on the Gil Gray Show as a roustabout, but soon he was flying high. In full commercial bloom, Steel flew in Vegas venues for 20 years. He now guest instructs "across America." And what dramatic audience reactions did Steele steal, such a natural born ham was evidently he. Lillian Letizel, you've got competition! (Letizel would sometimes fake fainting spells at the end of her act, complete with dramatic equestrian director rescues and rushed exits) So, here, from Tony, is his baloney: "I would deliberately miss the triple and bounce out of the net," and, then, in came the medics, onto a stretcher was the felled Steel placed, but not for long. Our battered hero would spring back onto his feet, climb high again and "attempt the trick a second time, and it would bring down the house."

Oh, you shameless hams! Somebody should hand this item to Kelly-Miller's Adrian Poema, Jr., who is on my A watch list. That kid's already a seasoned crowd milker ... Back to Tony, now in his 75th year, the still generally fit leaper recently experienced "the most thrilling thing" when participated, successfully, in the passing leap in upstate NY -- without medic intervention. Way to fly, Tony!

75 cents to see the Greatest Show on Earth! That's what a circus ticket cost when P.T. Barnum was born (let's be nice and believe the Felds for a moment), and that's the cost in Pittsburgh when Ringling-Barnum hits Consol Energy Center this Thursday, yes, in the year 2011. Each performance includes 200 seats for only 75 pennies each. Too good to be true? Add an additional "facility fee" of 25-cents. And was ticketmaster around when P.T. was born? Once the lucky 200 are ticketed, the rest can still secure seats for only $10. That to me still sounds grandly generous.

I suddenly have a new idea for ground-breaking showmanship: Why not the return of Tony Steele to the ring, as a gesture of compassionate inclusion, complete with 75 cent tickets for seniors over 75?

Who owns the Kelly Miller tigers? I've confirmed rumors that Casey McCoy is officially off the show, all I had to do was check his blog ... It's conventionally understood that Casey tigers are owned by his wife, she said to have filed for divorce. I said "said." It's also been rumored that John Ringling North II (his name grows in stature by the minute, no?) may be in the process of purchasing the animals. Meanwhile, Radar is presenting them. This kid is a crack photographer. Let's hope he cracks the whip right inside the Big Cage ... BTW: What outstanding coverage the show enjoyed from the Toledo Blade, thanks to an inquisitive young reporter named Zoe Gorman, all of age 20, doing a summer internship, in from New York with tremendous talent. This kid, who traveled with the show for three days, has a future, I do hereby declare. Rare to read anything about the big top in mainstream media so well researched. Gotham, grab her!

Okay, I'm out of the tent. Nobody knows my cell phone number ... because I don't have one (yeah, I'm kidding, kind of)


Zoe Gorman said...

Thanks for the shoutout. To my understanding, Radar bought the tiger act when he joined the show and left a business to pursue his dream of working with the cats. As for Adrian "Gordo" Poema Jr....I agree 100%. He's fantastic. Also, thanks John Moss for telling me about this blog.

Alan Cabal said...

The big question on Big Apple is do they have dates for the 2012 summer tour? I have no doubt that Guillaume can put together a great show. The talent and integrity of the artistic and technical staff at BAC isn't the big issue there. The big issue is Eighth Avenue. Are THEY capable of booking and promoting a solid summer tour?

Anonymous said...

I hope you stay with the Radar/Natalie/Casey/JRN tiger story. Circus gossip from 50 years ago is ok, I guess, but there are real and current stories to be told too.

Showbiz David said...

oh how easy it is to be egged on. strange tale, isn't it, the one circling the tigers. even sad. what i'm waiting to see is how much the show changes next year. once a ringlingphile, you can't shake it!

Wade G. Burck said...

Where on earth did you come up with this "Radar bought the tiger act when he joined the show and left a business to pursue his dream of working with the cats." Are you a publicist, because that sure is a wild spin. Anonymous below want's "real" stories told. Help him/her out please.

Wade Burck

Ryan "Radar" Easley said...

She did not get that from me.

Showbiz David said...

I hope I've not been humbugged by the story. I know Zoe reported that the Poemas were at work on a Russian swing act for next year with K-M, and Jim Royal e-mailed me that they, in fact, will not be back. I must re-read the articles; how many inside fans would dare ask KM how much performers are paid? Zoe apparently did, and was told each contract was individually negotiated, which makes solid sense to me.

Wade G. Burck said...


"What outstanding coverage the show enjoyed from the Toledo Blade, thanks to an inquisitive young reporter named Zoe Gorman, all of age 20, doing a summer internship, in from New York with tremendous talent. This kid, who traveled with the show for three days, has a future, I do hereby declare. Rare to read anything about the big top in mainstream media so well researched. Gotham, grab her!"
"So well researched?" You being the elder must warn the young reporter about getting to close and enamored of the subject. They lose a lot of objectivity when that happens. You refer to her as "an inside fan!!!" Boy, did you knock the snot out of her credibility in "mainstream media!!!" I have never done an interview out of hundred's in which the interviewer/reporter did not ask how much I, or a circus performer makes. Back to objectivity, it has been the biggest question in the press's mind for decades, and to this day is still unanswered. So either accept the deadpan look or the run around about free eats in the cook tent and "individually negotiated" Zoe, and media of the world, or keep asking away for the sake of asking.
Radar, a great lawyer will advise a client not to deny to fast. The jury will often interpret it as a sign of guilt. :)

Wade Burck

Showbiz David said...

first of all, my term "inside fan" was meant to refer to circus fans whom I can't see asking owners what they pay; I did NOT mean to imply that Zoe is an inside fan. Perhaps I hastily phrased the sentence wrong.
I intend to re read the stories, I was impressed with the scope and depth compared to so many yarns that are not much more than warmed over press releases.
Maybe I jumped superficially, not having examined the article with greater scrutiny. Which would be foolish, yes.
More to follow ...
P.S. what about Bill Ballantine writing years ago that even the tap of a bull hook can cause an elephant to feel "exquisite agony"? Might you be so kind as to respond to that statement?

Showbiz David said...

Wade. Please read the articles and tell us, if you will, what errors you find. Was Zoe wrong in reporting that JRN II told her they are now "breaking even," that John Moss declined to specify performers salaries, stating that each is negotiated individually, that Niki Ogle told her she wears a safety harness because "they don't pay enough" to risk injury; that she, Zoe, stated "the pay is low." That at a Kelly’s Island performance the energy level “reached a peak when Adrian ‘Gordo’ Poema, Jr., danced to "Gasolina"? Wrong reporting?
Yes, she reported that the Poemas were preparing the Russian swing act for next year; perhaps they and K-M have parted company since the interview. And NO, she did not report anything about Radar purchasing the tigers, at least not in the three stories from the Toledo Blade that I have. She did mention it here in her posting as "to my understanding." I’ve reported here that JRN II according to rumors, may be in the process of purchasing the tigers.
So, please tell us, what about these stories strikes you as shoddy journalism or fan speak? I did myself wonder how JRN II could have served as "general manager" when his uncle owned the show, but that assertion has been put out before. I find no evidence in old route books and program magazines for what strikes me as a curious claim. But he surely received prominent attention in the 1967 program magazine piece by JRN alluding to his nephew as being the next to run the circus. On balance, I thought Zoe produced a good look at Kelly Miller in context of the circus scene today, and gave us generally accurate background on the Ringling family, far more accurate than I would ever expect from your former employer.

Showbiz David said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Showbiz David said...

A message to visitors:

I have removed a posting from yesterday in which I endeavored to accurately represent what Wade Burck found in Zoe’s article that constituted, in MY words, “shoddy journalism or fan speak,” fulfilling an implicit pledge I made to present his reply. However, since Burck’s response contained an angry insult against at least one person actively involved in the circus business, I chose not to print it. But I did want to give him fair coverage for his views. He then sent another message, accusing my selective representation of his reply as amounting to “censorship at it's evilest” That was hardly my intent, but rather than prolong an act of free expression repugnant to Burke, I have removed the entire posting. I did suggest to Burck that he could of course present his views on his own blog. Since he has such strong feelings, I would think he would take advantage of the freedom he enjoys as a blogger.

I trust he will appreciate my removing a comment that he finds unfair and misleading.

M.A.D. said...


M.A.D. said...

..David..Sorry about the giggle above..I couldn't help myself.."Censorship at it's evilest." Oh Wade grow up..Last time I looked the title of this Blog was "Showbiz David." Maybe David works his Blog like you do, if someone ( like say an ex-wife), pisses you off, you just don't print any of her comments on your Blog. Isn't that a form of Censorship.? No matter how much you want it, you can't have your cake and eat it too.. Hope all is going well for you in Mexico, darlin..Margaret..

Anonymous said...

I love it! Now this is circus! One of my all time favorite quotes from a clown at an independent date in the 70's, "This is a hell of a show. Everyone is going out with everyone else's wives, and I'm going out with the husbands."