Taking a break away from you know what (OK, it continues to sell well up there north of the border) , once again I have been egged on by a number of items to revisit the subject of subjects. Blame it on kid clown blogger Steve Copeland. On Sir James Royal, now of Hugo (perhaps nursing PTMS – Post Traumatic Mud Syndrome), who has a way of teasing me with references to touring in adversity. Okay, Jim, you asked for it ...
Without a decent press agent to tout its quirky ways (Jack Ryan, a little pro bono from your pen?), Kelly Miller Circus, now an arm of the self-restoring House of Ringling, manages to tickle and infuriate me with its peculiar very un-Ringling like penchant for operating without adequate flackery.
Latest un-publicized giggle where today’s resurgent Ringling descendants hold merry court (you can thank unofficial KM press agent Steve Copeland for the scoop) must be the reincarnation of Louse Ringling (Louise, the wife of Albert, charmed snakes, rode horses, et all) — in the form of fill-in clown, Shirley Ringling North, wife of John II. Shirley I had such a “blast” filling in on the skeleton chase for Steve Copeland while he was away tending to his brother's legit wedding, that she-Shirley, per he-Steven, was “a little disappointed” that he made it back so soon, only one day later, and in time for the first show. Seems Ms. Shirley is sawdust smitten.
Now, to Shirley’s husband John II. He owns the party, in case you didn’t know. [is anybody out there not a Ringlingphile?] They will tell you he watches every show like a hawk (hnmmm, a circus critic in the making? Pity him.). That is, when he himself is not performing in it. He now and then cameos in the ring, spinning cowboy ropes, pasturing with tigers, beating drums for the band. What next, the peanut pitch?
Indeed, Mr John the Second has joked to me (or was he serious?) about cracking nuts together in missives dated Ireland, and so, who knows ... He is very much a Ringling original, as were all the originals.
Perhaps John and Shirley are now designing clown props for themselves. Keep in mind, the founding five worked backwoods Wisconsin vaudeville circuits, all of ‘em, before setting up under a tent in 1884. Are you getting my Great Legacy drift here?
North II is spending more time each year traveling with the show. Which evidently makes it less imperative for James Royal, official show manger, to travel too. Which relieves him (is that the incorrect word?) to hang out more in Hugo, I suppose working the front end from a telephone. Or maybe in secret honing his inner hula hoop urges, just in case ...
The Royal of Royals tells me he makes the first two weeks in Texas (how heroic), where, I say, mud is king. So I guess he is a glutton for brown goo, following which, perhaps dreading the comparative boredom of sunshine and blue Irving Berlin skies, Jim hits the road back to Hugo.. He does, periodically, visit the lot to “check on things.” This has been his way the last two seasons.
He once liked to call himself North II’s “Art Concello.” Now, can you picture Art sitting at desk all day long? But since North II is acting not at all like North I (the playboy producer who rarely ever visited the show), perhaps Concello II feels a need to mellow out and smell the Oklahoma weeds.
But I’m not buying. Says I, Royal needs to get back on the lot. And I’ll tell you why. Recently, a Huge Historical Ringling Family Photo Op was recklessly missed, and for that I say, shame on those frolicking Ringlings! One of them needs to get OUT of costume, get a CAMERA and try being Alf T. Ringling, the brainy brother who turned himself into one of the best press agents in circus history.
The photo op that drives this post: In attendance at a recent show, all of them out of makeup and evidently controlling their thespianic urges in the seats, were John Ringling North II and wife Shirley I, John Ringling North III and his wife, AND Charles Ringling with spouse. Charles is the son of Robert, grandson of the original Charles Ringling (sweetest of all the brothers). This, relayed to me by Royal, whom you can blame for this edgy post.
And where, may I ask, was there a soul with a camera and a sense of exploitable Ringling history while all of this was taking place?
I asked Jim for a photo, he pledged to look for one. Came his shocking reply: “Sorry, so far no luck in locating a photo. Damn it!”
Does nobody on the show own a digital? Even I own a digital!
Jim Royal did assure me, had he been there he would have snapped away.
I say it’s time for Art Concello to get back on the lot. Those giddy circus-struck Ringlings need an adult to monitor, with camera in hand, their giddy reimmersion into the world of sawdust and spangles.