Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Big Apple Circus Owes Three Performers $200,000 Each, They Claim in Lawsuit. Botched Indoor Tour Points to Reckless Mismanagement by New Owners

From Showbiz David –  Biz Buzz Division

Adam Kuchler, Mark Gindick and ringmaster Stephanie Monseu, photo from the New York Post. 

         How Much Do Circus Performers Really Make?

OKAY, FIRST OF ALL, to prepare you for my headline issue, what do you suppose the average circus performer makes in this country?  I would have guessed  between $20,000 and $40,000- $50,000 a year — maybe the rare ones up to 80, 90 grand.  Ringling may have once gone that high for the likes of a Bello Nock, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Barry Lubin was getting over a hundred grand from Paul Binder for his delightful Grandma cameos.  

I did a little goggling, and settled on the figures supplied by Salary.Com, looking at Cirque du Soleil, which I imagine pays more than any other still-in-biz big top, anywhere in the world. To quote:

"Cirque Du Soleil Inc in the United States  is $56,769 {average] as of July 30, 2019, but the range typically falls between $46,782 and $69,313."
Okay, onto the Big Question: Why did the new Big Apple Circus owners offer three performers $200,000 each for five months of work in the so-called indoor unit, the one that never made it off the ground? And we are not talking Monte Carlo Showstoppers.   We are talking two clowns – Adam Kuchler and Mark Gindick --- and last season’s ringmaster, Stephanie Monseu.

Tour was aborted five days before it was slated to go on, "low ticket sales" the cause.

How do I know this?  Because the New York Post reported last Saturday on a lawsuit filed by the three plaintiffs  in the  Manhattan Supreme Court. Plaintiffs allege they have signed contracts, that they were let go without compensation, thus having to find alternative bookings for 20 weeks of work lost.  I doubt they could have landed such loot elsewhere.   (You may recall another lawsuit against Big Apple Circus, reported here, by two parties claiming they were promised upper-management positions, and then pushed aside and out the tent, without compensation).  Do I spot a trend here?  I have nibbled around the edges of what feels like cloudy ethics in play, to post it politely

 Who is Really in Charge?

The two-hundred-grand figure alone tells me that this show is being run by amateurs. But then, if this Sarasota-funded outfit really doubled its tickets sales at Lincoln Center last season, as heretofore claimed by current CEO,  Gregg Walker (over those of the first season out), that points to a brilliant mind at work.  Whose mind?  The same mind  at work now?  Which brings me back to the subject of Neil Kravnazh --  the retired spinal surgeon to the Supremes (of the court),  accoladed for having “saved” the circus.  Whatever happened to Kravnazh, who was generally profiled as the man very much in charge of every aspect of BAC.    According to Walker, he, Walker, has been at the helm since last summer.  But the doctor was still being quoted in news reports about the circus as late as this past March. Did somebody fail to inform him that he was no longer CEO?   And why?  If another person was behind the soaring ticket sales, Walker seems the likely one, I can see that marketing genius grabbing the power away from the doctor. My best guess.   You realize, of course, the soaring sales were talked up by Walker, but, to my knowledge, not independently confirmed.


END RINGERS:   Barnum is back in fresh print, credit two books, one just out, the other ten years ago..  Barnum: An American Life, is drawing respectable though not glowing notices, while, The Great and Only Barnum: The Tremendous, Stupendous Life of Showman P. T. Barnum drew raves when it was released in 2009.  I'd like to read it ...  Public respect for circus plunges: Just look and listen around, rather shocking.  Ringling’s exit was received with a collective shrug, the public and media sighing, sad, but, yes, it was about time.  Those poor animals.  Circus is a thing of the past. ... Comments at the end of circus articles, one after another, echoing the same anti-circus animals, even clowns, tone: It’s about time! ... The same ill-wishers may not be so happy if race tracks are shut down, and if owning pets becomes the next big PETA-pronounced evil.  As they say, be careful what you wish for.

This is 1956, not 2017

IN THE CLASSROOM, ALL IS WELL: Argues noted academic author Janet Davis, having penned an op-ed piece for the Wash Post, chirping that we are actually living in a very good time for the circus.  Arguing we lived through the same emotional frame back in 1956.  Really?  Back then, the public wept over the demise of the Ringling big top. Newspapers wept.  Editorial cartoons wept.  All of them to my knowledge.  Back then, the public en masse flocked to big tops, GUILT-FREE, to enjoy performing animals and slightly, lovable, eccentric (okay, devious) clown characters, along with the thrillers.  And back then, shows like Ringling-Barnum and Beatty-Cole did not fade into history books, but rebounded for another fifty seasons.  And what have we to support the Davis doctrine:  She cites two shows as examples of a still-thriving big top scene:  Circus Flora and Cullpepper Merriweahter ("still going strong").  Lame.  I’m canceling your course, prof.  Think I’ll enroll in Gender Detection Studies.  I hear the actively dating young are lining up to grab that one.

Lastly, "circus arts" as they are called, may do well in more precious venues.  But acrobatic arts, which is closer to what they really are, and which have existed for centuries, are not circus.  There is a difference.

Many thanks to Barry Lipton for the New York Post link.  

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Seeking Circus in a World Without Ringling: Two Years Later Feels More Like Twenty, as More Shows Shorten Routes, Shrink Big Tops, or Fold

      THESE DAYS, I am wanting something to be there that almost never is anymore. And so, I see it through and beyond other things that come my way.

    * WHITE SHAFTS  of light streaming through a TV commercial, and I see  sunlight pouring in through the sidewalls and down onto the hippodrome track of an old fashioned big top in halcyon days gone by.  Gave me a  short-lived tingle.  Was only a car commercial.  Above, a photo that matched my memory, not of Ringling, as I recalled, but of the smaller Daily Bros. Circus in 1949. Smaller then seems giant now.

    * CANADIAN BASKETBALL  stars cheering victory a few nights back in Oakland at Oracle Arena.  Watching it on TV, I saw in my mind's eye an older version of the same building, then called the Oakland Arena, when the Moscow Circus in 1967 packed ‘em in and even turned ‘em  away.  I saw Ringling the following year begin its nearly half-century run there.  Then, they kept the house lights on most of the time — shows seemed  sunnier, easier to watch.   Seasons came and seasons went, rose and rocked, fumbled and fell.  Crowed sizes shrank, until the house lights went dark, the Felds, I figured, wanting to hide thousands of empty chairs from view.  And then you know what happened.  

    * RADIANT GHOST-LIKE images of prancing horses, perfectly in step,  surreally circling a German ring, making Circus Roncalli an easier sell to a public losing faith in the ageless delight. The owner offering lovely  “holographic” stand-ins for the real thing. (look up the word.)  And I strain to imagine myself in the tent feeling any visceral connection to this synthetic substitution. Too perfect to appreciate. 

How can audiences claiming a moral high ground cheer such illusions that celebrate the very thing they find so onerous in the real world?

     SOMEDAY – SOMEONE may ask me,  why did you leave the circus?  And I will tell them no, I did not leave the circus. The circus left me.  Nothing is forever, they say.  Maybe not even what Philip Astley so brilliantly invented.  Can you imagine Astley atop a holographic horse?  I prefer my circus organic, weeds and all.

So close to the abyss?  Now, Kelly Miller, like Carson & Barnes has been doing and might still do, is going dark during the summer months.  Might we ponder the meaning of it all?

    “TOO NEGATIVE are you!” you may cry.  Go ahead, yes, there is still plenty out there to see, you will claim    Sure, there is – in bits and pieces, in ever-smaller servings under ever-smaller tents.  American circus is devolving down closer to the six-hundred seats that the Ringling Bros. offered Baraboo when they opened in 1884, not to mention discarding half or more of its defining features.

    A FINE LANE TALBURT  video update on Carson and Barnes follows their new European style one-ring tent being hydraulically raised, resembling a high-tech construction project -- so far a cry from Dory Miller's messy five-ring smorgasbord.  But how can you not admire these Byrds, still refusing not to fly.
TINY TENT, the new normal?  Take a gentle, supporting visit to the Venardos Circus. Reviewed with embracing flexibly by Herb Ueckert in the Circus Repor, he found much to enjoy:   “At times, words are inadequate to accurately describe a circus performance such as the case with Vernados.”  (I would love to know what Herb honestly thinks of the entire circus scene, in words inadequate or otherwise.)

      IT ALSO HELPS to downsize your expectations going in.  These days, I’m going in with my mind gratefully set on the John Strong scale.  John may have taught me at the county fair  decades ago how to savor a home-cooked little circus show.  Cozy and close.  Neighborly.  Less can be, must  be also entertaining. Maybe Mr. Sanders on the campaign trails can figure out how to have government fund  our circuses, too.  Free shows for all, but even then, how many people would come?  (Yes, that was a bit cruel – I have shed enough to tears to earn my observations)

Got a big hand, John!

   ALL AROUND us near and far, larger realities deliver what I can’t refrain from reporting:  Dare I mention that Switzerland’s  Circus Nock is now calling it quits?   I read about this in the circus Report, which itself is calling it quits end of the year. “The deficits have grown,” writes someone for the Nock family.   Animal rights pressures, the key reason.  You aren’t surprised, are you? 

Similar problems said to be facing and maybe dooming Circus Knie, too. Yes, I typed Circus Knie (1803-?).

    LET'S FACE IT, Kids.  Okay, I’ll kindly skip what I  was about to say.  Let me default to my good friend Kenny Dodd. We were chatting on our old land lines quite a few years back about the  state of the circus, and Kenny, as if I needed a gentle nudge  away from my functional optimism of the moment, said: “David, ah, remember vaudeville?  And .. what, David ... happened     to     vaudeville? ... Remember?”

    “NOBODY WANTS to be in a circus tent” under the heat of summer, said the unnamed  Knock family source quoted in Circus Report.  Maybe our friends on summer hiatus in Hugo can relate to this curious development.

    BACK TO THE CELEBRATION at Oracle, where the legendary Warriors played their last game of the season, ending up in shreds. “A Shakespearean  tragedy,” a local sportscaster called it.  Oakland got the dream team’s golden years — never having seen a game, yet I have followed a touching story of these hoop wizards and their forever-loyal fans with respect. But now, the city of insatiable greed and self-glory across the bay, where the team is headed to play in a new luxury arena fit for fickle billionaires,  may be stuck with the leftovers.  Oh, how sweet can be the instructive hand of fate!

    PEOPLE ARE WONDERING, now what will happen to Oracle, still a quite attractive arena, thank you. The ice shows, I imagine, will still come, and sporadic rock concerts will draw rockheads and preen and blast away.  Another circus, ever?  One came so close, maybe,  but based on recent  news out of New York, I guess I won’t be going to Oracle anytime soon to see the new “indoor” version of the Big Apple Circus.

It closed before it opened.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Big Top Aftershocks: Big Apple Circus Arena Tour Crashes Before it Opens ... All Dates Cancelled

ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) - The Big Apple Circus said it has canceled its shows in Albany next month.

The Albany Civic Center announced the shows back in April.

The circus was set to do an arena tour this summer, performing in Albany during the first week of July.

The civic center posted on Facebook that the circus cancelled its arena shows to “reconceive the tour.”

The civic center said that if you’ve already bought tickets, you will get a full refund.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Management Earthquake at Big Apple Circus: Kahanovitz Axed ...Dufresnoy Signing Acts, Guiding New Show ... Horses Out ... Olate Dogs In ...

This just in from the latest issue of Spectacle magazine on-line:

Ernest Albrecht, who has been trying to chase down rumors of a shakeup in top tier management, was able to get the Big Apple Circus to  issue  the following official statement:

 “Neil Kahanovitz is focusing on other pursuits and is no longer working with the Big Apple Circus. We are extremely grateful to him for getting the circus to where it is now and wish him the best of luck with his new endeavors.”

Writes  Albrecht, "Dufresnoy, in fact, continues to be involved in all aspects of the circus including the beginning discussions for the new tent show." 

He's scouting and signing acts.  West Hyler to direct new tent show, Housch Ma Housce to clown.  Show to erect heavy aerial rigging and have people "flying around everywhere,”  And I LIKE that. I have all along felt a lack of earthy excitement. Vidbel's horses and mutts are out,  Olate dogs acts are in, set for two ring romps.  

I have sensed a cloudy deviousness about the retired spinal surgeon who will have managed Big Apple for less than two years. This feeling is  born partly of his shocking lack of ethics in touting reviews of the show (see my postings on the Wall Street Journal below).  As circus producer, he seemed to favor a rather staid, if respectable, lineup of acts.  This is not based on my seeing  either of the editions. but of impressions gained from reading New York reviews.

Do we assume that lackluster business played a part?   This would not apply here if a claim made to the Wall Street Journal  by (new?) CEO Gregg Walker is true.  He stated that Lincoln Center ticket sales jumped by 95% over the previous year.  An astonishing accomplishment.   If really true, one can only speculate on any number of possible reasons that may have hastened the doctor's exit. CEOs who produce such dazzling results do not as a rule suddenly disappear.  

Reports Albrecht, "there are several rumored explanations still hanging about."

I feel a renewed hope for the Big Apple Circus spirit, but feel a futility in their flirtation with a second unit for big arenas.   And I continue to believe that  they need to  let go of  their insane addiction to the long Lincoln Center date, the punishing rental fees being what they are, and focus more on other city parks.  Cunningham in Queens is heavenly.   They say Brooklyn's Prospect Park is more beautiful than Central Park.

Where is Paul Binder?

And, they need to reach out and ingratiate the support of Big Apple circus founder Paul Binder,  the best pied piper the show ever had.  I am sure, with a smile and call for advice (heck, send him to Monte Carlo to scout acts), he would be a happy trouper once more.  Better than that alone, offer him a second act as top dog -- but confine his role to the performance and hold him to the tight budgetary restraint of others whose control over the kitty is absolute.   

Albrecht is riding the story, promising more news is it surfaces.

Monday, May 27, 2019

Chance Chat with Circus Bella Fella Leaves Me Felling Blue ..

Just back from an afternoon stroll.  Quiet sunshine, trees above a sleepy stream below, a guy and girl sitting on the edge, about where you see that rock, looking down.  Passing by, I glanced back -- had I seen  “Bella” on his jacket?  

Reversing course, I had to ask “Circus Bella?”

Yes, said the guy.

“Were you with it?”

“I was."

“How did they do on Treasure Island?”

He brightened, they did good, I think he said.  Excited, I wondered about business — wanting something a little more specific. "So," going gentle at first, I guessed "the houses, half full?' 

“Well, yes," he answered, "and we had some sellouts.”

“So, are they going back next year?”

He answered no.   And I wondered why, and  yet could not  bring myself to ask if it had  been profitable.  He talked up the annual summer season ahead.  Was that all, to myself I wondered.  He turned my attention to big plans in the works.  They had signed a memorandum of understanding with somebody, and this would  bring them new dates in the spring and fall.

I could not help wondering if something had gone wrong on Treasure Island, so I returned to the subject.  He gave a little, revealing that a restaurant, maybe the Mersea, for they played in Mersea Meadows, had backed out, or tried to, of some agreement.  From there, I let up.

“We are not returning to Treasure Island,” he said once more, with a bleak, almost disparaging finality, and it felt as if something had gone wrong that he would not disclose.   They are animal-free.

I wished him well, and walked, on, and crossed the street and sat on a bench on a pleasantly detached  dead-end street, where people with dogs sometimes pass, and sat there under the sun feeling a pang of sadness for Circus Bella.  It made me realize how happy I had been when I learned last year of the Treasure Island date.  It sounded like a bold new future underway.  Already history.

Another setback for the contemporary circus in this country.  The visit to Treasure Island had sounded so promising on the rise, they had secured an attractive tent, as it turns out,  on loan from Ramos Bros. Will they be using it again, I had asked the fella. He seemed unsure.

Circus Bella  will be out again as usual, come summer, playing free shows on variable grass and dirt in variable city parks around the Bay Area.

On Treasure Island, where they had played through the month of December,  they had added acts and sold tickers at surprisingly high prices.  I can only conclude that not enough people bought tickets to make the venture worthwhile.     Surly, they do not shun success.

But of course, I did not share this feeling with the nice fella wearing a Circus Bella jacket.

These days, one holds their breath with a kind of sensitive respect for the trouping wounded.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

MIDWAY FLASH ... California Senate Bans Performing Circus Animals ... Assembly Expected to Ditto ...Horses and Dogs May be Spared, Camels Not

Bye Bye Big Top, headlines the Sacramento Bee.

Another cold curtain comes close to crashing down on our disintegrating circus scene.  Remember the circus, anyone?

Sacramento, land of leftward politicians, is voting exotic animals off the lot. Next stop, the Assembly,  then likely onto a signature from Governor Gavin Newsom.

Writes Andrew Sheeler in the Bee:

"The language initially could be interpreted as banning not just circuses, but also wildlife conservancy and education groups’ outreach efforts.

'These animal act bans are superfluous laws that will be selectively enforced, making criminals out of good people,' the U.S. Association of Reptile Keepers said in a statement upon the bill’s introduction.

The bill also was opposed by groups including the Cheetah Conservation Fund, Discovery Valley Animal Hospital, the Snow Leopard Conservancy and the Southwest California Legislative Council. While the USARK has withdrawn its opposition, the other groups have not
In response to the criticism, the bill’s author, Sen. Ben Hueso, D-San Diego, tightened up the definition of the bill, specifically wording the ban so that only circuses would be affected."

Lions and tigers and elephants.  Camels, too, then why not horses while they're at it?

Dogs next? Don't rule that out in the State of Insanity.

Which makes me wonder, if one blunderful day, some genius doctor At UC-SF advocates gender reassignment for strange-acting animals.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

My Letter to the Wall Street Journal, Re: Big Apple Circus Ad Fraud, New Arena Unit, Biz Claims ...

Actually, an e-mail I sent to  Charles Passy at the Wall Street Journal regarding his story, "For It's Next Act, Big Apple Circus Goes on the Road," reprinted in The Circus Report.  

UPDATE:  Read about Mr. Passy's reaction to my post below.

Dear Mr. Passy,

When last we met by e-mail, I shared my astonished reaction to a review by your paper of the Big Apple Circus -- as quoted by the Big Apple Circus.  You may recall they merely lifted from a story you did on them, quoting how they described their own show!  That you allow this ad fraud to continue (take a look at their website) suggests the Journal is a party to the brazen deception. No?  I wonder what really went on behind the scenes to allow for such. 

Strange, the Journal, whose Saturday edition I read regularly,  sometimes stresses its adherence to rigorous ethics.  Evidently, at the circus, this may not apply.  My guess is that somebody made a little easy  money on the side, or a huge stack of free tickets -- or maybe a free spinal adjustment -- in order for the Journal's good name to be nailed onto a fake review.  Does this not bother you?   Oh, that's right, it's only the circus.

Huge indoor arenas have become the morgue of the modern day circus, plagued with ever-declining attendance.  More than ever, the public seems to want small -- at least the illusion of a half way decent crowd around them.  BAC is a small show, no longer "produced" so costly as it was under Paul Binder, so the idea of their saving money on not having to "produce" the indoor trick, since it will be a carryover from last year, is a bit of a stretch. 

Their claim of skyrocketing ticket sales is impressive, if anywhere near the actual truth. I remember once being interviewed by Forbes, and questioning Kenneth Feld's claim that his circus played to 10 million people a year.  Forbes evidently did some intelligent fact checking of their own (rare for a circus story), and estimated the figure to be around five million.

Anyway,  I will be looking forward to the next review of the Big Apple Circus by the Wall Street Journal.

 From The Wall Street Journal story, High Wire Act for Big Apple Circus,  October 26,   2017

As quoted on the Big Apple Circus Website, featuring a string of excerpts from reviews.


I emailed Mr. Passy a link to my blog, and he responded, assuring me that  nobody at the Journal would have gained from any association with the Big Apple Circus.  I printed his full reply, believing it to be fair,  and sent him the link.  He was taken aback by my doing this, so I offered to remove his reply, and he gladly accepted.

In his e-mail which I deleted, he remembered my bringing the matter to his attention last year (In fact, I published his reply then), and he believes he forwarded the issue on to higher levels of management at the Journal.

He wrote, “to be honest this happens all the time ... Broadway producers are legendary for ‘finding a quote’ and taking things out of context.”

To be honest, I find his last assertion more than a stretch and a bit wobbly, for while Broadway producers are known for quoting out of context, they quote from actual reviews, not from advance feature stories, as Big Apple Circus has done here.  This is what in my view makes the matter doubly astounding, and begs the question, why does the Journal allow such a blatant deception to continue?

Interesting story.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

The Mourning Midway: Shocking Evidence of Bogus Big Top Rip-Off in the Garden of Hell ...

Whose Garden?  There are, as most of you know, two Gardens putting on circus shows (and I often get them mixed up) -- one fairly respected, the other a shameless shyster who is now tarnishing yet another great old circus name -- Cole.    Was he not the one who  gave Toby Tyler a bum rap?

King-Cole is, or was, ripping and tearing through,among other victimized communities, parts of Utah, with a "show' from first hand accounts so terrible as to merit infamy in the Guinness Book of Records.  One patron, Stephanie Mair, who shelled out $82.09 to get her family in, reported, "It was lies. Promised were camel and pony rides, a kids' fun zone, acrobats and motor cycle stunts.  None of that happened."

She added, "It was completely bogus.  If you went to a high school to see a talent show, that's what you would have seen here."  I beg to differ. Based on a hula hoop work-out and one lone clown in the King Cole ring, as shown on local KTUV in its report, that's an insult to high school productions.

Even the old crooked shows in days gone by front-loaded with pick pockets and card sharks (Daily Bros comes to mind) delivered acceptable if not noteworthy entertainment.

Circus Report, upset over isolated media coverage of King-Cole's brazen con job, wrote.  "Our industry does not need this kind of press."  No it does not, but I would argue, Bill and Jan, that sometimes facing the truth can have positive long term benefits. And I do gratefully thank you for covering this sordid episode, which I followed all the way to the most despicably cheap set up -- seats and ring -- I have ever seen posing as a circus.   Hold your breath!

Is there anyway to shame the offending Garden off the road?  Does he hobnob with insiders at the Showfolks clubs in Sarasota?  I'd urge them to turn their backs on this traitor. Revoke his pass.  Deny him access to any lot.

One woman took her little boy, and he knew he was taken.  "My son told me he hates the circus."  Another nail in the cross?

Are we in the last days?  It feels like how, when a corpse rots, in come the maggots to suck up what's left of it. 

A customer seeking a refund shot a video of a staffer shouting him down and asking him to leave.  Yelled another staffer, "It's a freaking a circus, and it was cheap!" 

Okay, the bitter truth laid bare:  First, a King-Cole poster on its website:

And now, what spectators actually got.

Sometimes the bare truth is almost beyond belief. I could never have imagined anything as crummy as this.  So here, let us respect and ponder the words of one stunned patron, who was there to witness this wretchedly fraudulent operation.

"This was absolutely the worst circus I've ever been to in my life!  Even my 5 yr old daughter got bored and started resting her head on my knee before the 20 minute intermission came up.  After that we left.  It wasn't worth seeing the second act.  Total waste of money.  The concessions stand is ridiculously priced for such a horrible show.  Here's what we did see and it was not as advertised.  We saw two really bad clowns.  I mean bad.  Trying to act like mimes, but they give mimes a bad name.  There was an amateur acrobatic (Only one) who did some hula hoops and hung on a rope for 5 minutes.  Separately.  She hula hooping and the rope together might've been cool, but no.  We weren't that lucky.  Toward the end of the first half some dogs came out and did some tricks.  The kids play zone was cancelled for the day.  So no horse rides or camel rides as advertised.  No bounce house.  Just a tiny circus act on a tiny mat I can fit in my backyard by 6 people.  No lions, camels, horses or elephants.  The worst part is my daughter didn't like it.  Don't waste your time or money.  I wouldn't go see this show again if it were free.  Worst circus on Earth!"

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Big Tops Falling, Fumbling: Dumbo Gets Bumbo Reviews ... King-Cole Folds Early – Again ... Big Apple Tackles Dying Arena Market — Are They Kidding? ... Incredible Update to Candid Circus Report Review ...

DISNEY’S REMAKE of its 1940 classic is being savaged by the critics, Rotten Tomatoes  giving  it a whopping 47%, compared to The Greatest Showman’s 56%.  Film clip tease  shows period wagons and yet new age Ferris wheel on the midway, DUH?  Opened big at box office, but in third week,  looks to be sinking fast. If it's as lame as critics say, I can’t see it trumping the bad reviews like Showman was able to with its socko musical movie layout ... What next from Hollywreck? A remake of The Greatest Show on Earth starring Lady Gaga as Rosa, the Beauty Queen, Johnny Depp as The Great Sebastian?

BIG APPLE to launch a “national” indoor tour, first venue the 10,00 seat Times Union Center in Albany NY.  These big cement barns have become circus morgues, thousands of empty chairs mocking the commercial value and relevance of  what passes through the ring(s), however worthy it may be.   Only inside a smaller tent might a circus have much of a future these days.. “National” to the  man who runs Big Apple apparently means a date or two beyond New York city.

KING COLE’s website page of future dates is now blank, and should this surprise any of us?   I don’t know how or why he does it, unless he works many angles in raising money and selling on line tickets that are not refunded because buyers don’t make the effort to seek such.   Your guess, Processor Fate? ...  Here’s a raw review of one aggrieved customer: “Omg! I don't even have words for how awful it was. We were at the 4:30 show and left at intermission. That's how awful it was. My 4 year old asked if we could leave 3 times before intermission. It was a disgrace!”

CAN SOMETHING so bad be converted into Premium Camp and become the Next Big Thing?   I remember wishing that satirically wicked Circus Oz would take is inclinations all the way, and stage a complete comic collapse of the old circus they enjoy making fun of.  We’ve had tears.  How about some laughs?

ONLY PERFORMERS can review (shame on me!):  In his heated rebuttal to Herb Ueckert’s review  in Circus Report of  the Friesan riders in Cirque Ma' Ceo (see my last post down), trampoline veteran Jack. M. Beebe argues that only a select few have the right to discuss and argue the artistry of a particular performer’s work.  And who might they be?  “Only performers and show people have that privilege and right to argue that forever. ‘So called’ reviewers do not!” ...  So preposterous a notion is ill-deserving even of a rebuttal.

END RINGERS: Crowds and no crowds.  Kelly Miller you tubed in high speed by visiting Lunas Circus folk, best act being a  compelling rope jumping by the young Mongolians, and seen by all of, what – maybe 15 people in the tent, or am I being kind?... Over at Circus Vargas, Alex Smith in CR noting business in Burbank, slow at first, but building to full houses mid week ...
OKAY, WHEN my train pulls into Chicago tomorrow afternoon, I will try posting this in the Metro Lounge, assuming they still have Wi-Fi. How nice not be near media hysteria the last two days ...

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

The Morning Midway: Melha Shrine Hits the Dust ... Ringling's Last Show a Doc Obscurely In the Making ... Overweight Riders Outraged By Circus Report Review ... Take a Break From Fake Racial Attacks!

"The opening, when your heart beats like a drum ... The closing, when the customers don't come" - Irving Berlin

"DECLINING ATTENDANCE," the reason cited for the collapse by Melha Shrine Circus Chairman Allen Zippen, who made a valiant effort. He had removed the elephants a few years back, and patrons were outraged.So he reinstated them, but not all those patrons reinstated themselves. Melha will no longer be a "fixture" at the Eastern State Coliseum.  Now turning their attention to "other forms of fundraising." 

HOW BETTER to lift our battered spirits than a footnote documentary from billionaire former circus lord, the strange Mr. Kenneth Feld,now working with ASTX TV to produce "The Final Farewell" (is he trying to rub it in?).  This one about the final edition of the circus--the one that nearly got lost on the moon.  I still believe it never found its way back ... Enough said.

REMEMBER FATSOS and bean poles?  I was called the latter.  As for " body mass" as doctors now call it, afraid, I suppose to use the F word around blubbery patients, and face lawsuits and questions from what passes for news reporters these tabloid times --- as for body mass, yes, I am getting to the point ... This issue reared its ugly head in, of all places, the Circus Report, when veteran reviewer Herb Ueckert, in writing up a review of Cirque Ma' Ceo, took the Friesan riders to task for excess poundage:  "At least one unnamed pundit noted that perhaps the horses were more attractive than the riders who might lose some weight and acquire new costumes." 

WELL, ALL HELL broke in the stable.  Keep in mind, kids, that a circus performer in this country can spend a lifetime away from critical scrutiny and never know the hurtful (and constructive) challenge of a truthful review.   Desiree Hermann, one of the riders, fired back, in a letter to CR, mortified over the review, shaming CR "for printing such a mean-spirited comment."  Granting that she and sisters are not "built like a Barbie doll," and asking for a "formal apology," predicting that letters like hers will follow from other offended readers.    

THE BIGGERSTAFFS, tactfully responded,noting how much audiences enjoyed the show, but making clear something we need to respect: "We do not censure articles that are opinions of our writers." Yes to that ... I can't wait for the next issue. Oh ... sigh ... and just when sparks are starting to fly out of Circus Report, and you really have to leave us, Bill and Jan?

Gotta go and feed my mass-less body.