Originally published December 11, 2010
In the land of Bottom Feeder Big Tops : What a place to start, but you want the fun stuff, right? ... OK, I had almost forgot the names Dick Garden and Gopher Davenport (or maybe I wanted to forget) until Sir Harry of Kingston dropped both, apprising me of two sorta new shows aiming to join the perilous parade in '11: One to be called Piccadilly Circus, fronted by Canada's ill-distinguished tanbark hack, Dick Garden, our man who comps in moppets by the thousands, then sells $30-plus mandatory ducats to the parents they must bring along ... The other, yet another return or revival or re-booting of --- drum roll, please! --- Clyde Beatty Circus. Latter title been a bust ever since Johnny Pugh went with Cole Bros. only. A Davenport played with the name for a time in Texas; then came Mr. Garden to the ghost of Clyde's rescue, that short-lived; "If Clyde was alive," says Harry, "he would turn over in his grave." Now the hapless task of thrilling or re-killing Clyde falls to Ned Tooth, proudly touting everything he learned from his uncle, one-time Ringling manager, then Beatty-Cole co-owner Frank McClosky. Mr. Tooth evidently striving to make happen in 2011 what hardly happened for him during a very short Tooth Tour last season. His shiny website offering a show for tents or arenas, sponsors or buy-outs. Forty-Four weeks said to be projected for the coming season. Yes, we must project, which comes before reject, or eject ... And may all your days be circus dayz, Mr. Tooth!
Naughty Backyard Bed Bouncing: Rumors bolt my way concerning a not-very discrete tryst causing aggrieved party to explode and possibly an act or acts not to return to show at which the fire burned out of control. All I'm saying at this point is, the scandalous tale of daringly intimate infidelity only emboldens my belief, to wit: Those PBS cameras that earnestly dug for dirt on the Big Apple Circus scene would have found a heap more drama on the road had they freely panned this particular show. Most juicy tidbit here: Nasty marital fall out led to one party taking critical props needed by the other ... OK, how Billy Barton did that sound?
Kink, be gone! ... In with a bright morning smile comes the Circus Historical Society's cheerful new monthly newsletter, News & Views, briskly brief, brightly wrapped and graced with graceful nuggets: Among which, we learn that Kelly-Miller manager, James Royal, as a young man started out in the biz with Kelly Miller on their Menasha, Wisconsin lot in 1966, only two days after graduating from high school. So nice it is to learn of a young Jim having leaped to the top of the tent, playing Art Concello to North II's John Ringling North I. Other tidbits: That Antoinette Concello once partnered with Gracie Genders on the Roman Rings in the 1930s; that the old Heidelberg Raceway outside Pittsburgh, PA, where the mighty Ringling-Barnum delivered its very last big top show to the world, is now only just another blah shopping center, Raceway Plaza. Nobody going there other than a die-hard fan would know this. (A local group are trying to raise money to make of the old Heidelberg an historic signpost , promising a plaque or sign honoring that last fateful Big Show stand under canvas in 1956.) And that CHS will hold its annual convention next year In Cincinnati, where at the Cincinnati Art Museum, they will glimpse The Amazing American Circus Poster exhibition, featuring 80 posters put out between 1878 and 1939. This perky little newsletter, edited by Bob Cline, is but another reason why any hopeless circusphile should be a Bandwagon subscriber if he/she not already is. Bob (he did not ask me for this pitch) can be reached at 2707 Zoar Rd., Cheraw, SC 29520.
Big and/or Little Top Bits: Engrossed in a fine read, The World of Entertainment (about the MGM musicals), I learned that legendary film director Vincente Minnelli was born to circus parents. Sir Harry, of above, seeming sure that Kelly Miller "made nut" in 2010. Other sources telling me that advance agents already tracing out a path farther north through New England for Kelly Miller next season, one reason being to capitalize on Big Apple Circus giving up some long-held dates up that way ... Agent A slipping this my way, about Big Apple: Current performance is not viewed as able to jump-start sagging ticket sales into the next season, and in the works, under grim consideration, a more drastic shakeup of entire operation.
A Circus to the Cow Palace This Way Comes! That poor neglected old barn of a once iconic arena in San Francisco, where Ringling, when it first appeared there in 1948, turned 'em away by the thousands, finally hosting a circus show after several dark years -- not counting Carson & Barnes under canvas on one of its parking lots in 2008-09. Here comes the INDOOR version of Cirque du Soleil's very long-running-in-some-form-or-another Quidam. Wonder if CDS knows it might be playing on a jinked spot? I might make the trek just to see how how Cirque comes off in a huge arena, that is, if Dick Garden will comp me in ...
From December 11, 2010