We all know, I assume, that Miguel Vazquez was and is the undisputed Quad King. It was he who threw the first four somersaults into the hands of his brother-catcher, Juan, during the Tucson, AZ date on July 10, 1982.
A few seasons later, Ringling boss Irvin Feld booked another high-flying troupe, the Caballeros, who had achieved similar quad success with Carson & Barnes. The Big show now gave the public the spectacle of two quad kings battling it out, show by show, blow by blow. And to the latter, it nearly came.
Not sure if this was such a good idea. Seems, in retrospect, like an insult to Miguel, who had achieved such greatness in Feld’s center ring (excuse me, ring number 2), and who would continue with other circuses, near and far, to sustain a legendary record that nobody since has come even close to matching, those anonymous Russian flyers, The Cranes, perhaps notwithstanding.
Tensions between the two troupes fired jealousies and anger, and led to allegations that somebody was trying to sabotage the other troupe's rigging.
In his letter to me dated, September 11, 1988, Don Marcks was addressing the subject of Big Irwin being only one of three Pickle Family Circus clowns to achieve first line success on Broadway, in connection with the MacArthur Genius Grant he was awarded, and of the other two — Larry Pisoni and Geoff Hoyle, naturally wanting, but being unable, to match Irwin’s celebrity. Hoyle came closer, albeit in local regional theatre venues.
Here comes the big shocker, from Don:
“Not sure if you were aware of it or not, but there has been a lot of trouble between the two flying acts on the Blue Unit this year and this has resulted in some fighting backstage, even filing charges against one another, some talk that cables were filed through, etc. Anyway, it all ended here in Oakland when the Caballeros were fired. I don’t know where they went, but no doubt they will pop up on some show soon or at least for next season anyway.”
How fitting that the quad was first thrown, and then thrown regularly by Vazquez, during arguably the last great American circus decade -- the 1980s.
Those greater and richer years, and that greatest of all circus achievement, are now history. Yes, now and then we hear of somebody catching a quad, although sometimes in an easier manner, thus diminishing the trick's integrity.
Now and then, a quad maybe out there, for one brief shinning moment.
During the 1980s, brief shinning moments were a more regular part of the program.