Going Nuclear at Garden Bros. Circus Can Be Crazy Fun, Or So It Seems ...

Going Nuclear at Garden Bros. Circus Can Be Crazy Fun,  Or So It Seems ...
Kijome Hara with the World’s Smallest Man and Wini McCay

Friday, October 28, 2016

Baraboo Shelters Fallen Big Tops ... Wild Animals Face New York Eviction ... Bloody Buffoons a Curse on Jolly Jesters ... It’s Not Been a Pretty Circus Season, Kids ... Cry, Clown, Cry! ...

Scott O'Donnell and Dave SaLoutos review documents received from Cole Bros. Circus

“Looks like the fat lady really sang for Cole Bros.  So sad!” e-mailed Barry Lipton.  Yes, Barry, so very very sad.   With the season over, now the question is, who will go out next year?   How close, I shudder to think, are the likes of Carson & Barnes and Kelly-Miller to the brink?

At least there is Baraboo, where old circuses go to die gracefully, their once vibrant wonders still wonderful to true blue fans of Hemingway’s Ageless Delight.  Remember when going to the circus was a GUILT-FREE amusement?  Go watch Ring of Fear or The Greatest Show on Earth.  Behold the audience un-ambivalent,  and savor their innocent engagement -- embracing believers, all, in Circus Day.

Into the protective barns of Circus Wold Museum went collections from Cole Bros. Circus and the Royal Hanneford shows, both now officially off the road.  The Cole treasure includes attendance records, marketing notes, press kits, 130 video tapes and blueprints, and “a lot more,” reported the Baraboo News Republic.

At the receiving end, museum director Scott O’Donnell delighted to be adding a significant trove of recent circus history to his holdings.  “It was a challenging year for some circuses,” he told the News, “but thankfully they didn’t toss everything in the dumpster.”  Scott has a gift of some 28 filing cabinets and nearly 40 boxes to open.  The catch spans a good 25 years, some of it extending back to 1978.

But the donation gives Cole’s long slow closing a  painful finality.  I can only hope that Johnny Pugh will talk to somebody about what he has had gone through the last difficult seasons.  Lane Talburt, where are you?  Please, get your camera down to DeLand!  Surely Johnny will talk to you? 

Ringling elephants en route to Madison Square Garden in the 1950s.

First, it was the elephants. Now, if the New York council has its way, other wild animals will be banned from circus rings as well.   New York Post none to tickled with a city council wanting “to run the circus. Strangely appropriate, isn’t it?” 

Egging the NY Council on to codify the proposed ban is a group, NYCLASS, that fought for a ban on horse carriages in Central Park!   Why do I have a feeling that I am back in Berkeley.

Back to the Post:  “Here’s hoping the more adult lawmakers find the spin to ignore the animals rights activists.  If the council insists on messing with the circus, it’s proving itself a pack of clowns.”

Ah yes, a pack of clowns, remember them?   Now tagged with the “C” word — CREEPY – many are being shunned from parades, losing out on clown bookings at kid parties, even accosted verbally by screaming hysterics.  “It's not funny being a clown these days,” said Gerald Herdegen (Cho Cho) to the Wall Street Journal.  Some risk arrest in the act of performing.  The mere sight of a funny-now-creepy face can cause a crowd to panic.  The very word “clown” on a poster can cause screaming reaction.

"I am a comedy character," says English Clown Alex Morley, in his sixth year with Russells International Circus.  He may be wearing less makeup, as, indeed, other jesters are doing in these dispiriting times.  He is hoping to reverse the public's negative attitude toward clowning in general.  "Killer clowns are making people afraid."

So, we have fewer animal acts.  And clowning is in peril.  What next?  Vulgar Human Daredevils?  Humans even?

An adult in the tent worth quoting:   Drama critic and perceptive circus fan and follower, Chris Jones, of the Chicago Tribune, whom I believe speaks for many of us: Often I've sat wondering if that tiger or that elephant is happy, musing to myself how you possibly judge animal happiness, especially given the Darwinian alternative of the wild. And what of those circus animals of a type that have centuries-old working relationships with humans? Would they really be happier put out to pasture? Who could say? They look like they're having fun. And since I'm recounting those justifications, there is the further question of when some kids would ever otherwise see a big cat. Is it not conceivable a conservationist could be nurtured right there at the Greatest Show on Earth?”

END RINGERS: Target to stop selling clown masks ... Are you afraid of the dark? That means you are more creative, so says a survey ... Allen awful, Woody's latest stillborn, Cafe Society, is so anemically bad, if you do rent, skip trying to watch, but play the hapless flick as music, and enjoy many great old Rodgers and Hart tunes in the background ... California banning bull hooks, the kill bill signed by Gov. Jerry “Moonbeam” Brown ... Garden Bros. Circus now retiring its elephants ...  The retreat goes on .. and on ... and on ...   What will next season hold? ...

Thanks to cyber courier Don Covington, for linking me to some of this information.

Thursday, October 13, 2016


This just flashed my way from Douglas McPherson:

"As the evil clown craze sweeps the UK, Zippos has turned it into a publicity opportunity by removing clowns from the show. Not strictly true, as revealed on my blog, but still a reflection of how the pranksters have unsettled the pros."


Or scroll down to the Circus Mania link on the right sidebar 

As reported also in The Sun: "Martin ‘Zippo’ Burton, who used to be a clown himself, is worried the ‘killer clown’ trend will affect his shows."

Friday, October 07, 2016

Creepy Clowns Grip the Nation! ... Letizel and Codona Movie in Works at Warner ... Cirque’s Paramour Gets Scripting Overhaul, Biz Remains Stagnant ... Vinyl is Back ... Farewell, Jack Ryan and Pat Cashin ... and More on the Inside!

Do Creepy Clown lives matter?  That’s what I heard this morning on a radio talk show having fun with the issue.

This latest media storm is becoming fodder for late night  TV comedians.   It’s also no laughing matter for our struggling big tops, unless some really smart circus can spoof its own jesters into a new kind of merry mayhem.  Ringling, you’ve tried outer space. What say, a trip to the asylum for retired clowns on parole?   Bring on the Scariest Show on Earth!

Creepy clown sightings are spreading like a visiting virus    Another gift of social media, the demented darlings are rattling news wires, stalking schoolyards, scaring kids half to death.  But what a nice diversion from that political circus going on all around us.  Maybe Lady Hillary or Lord Donald will show up at the next debate in gory greasepaint, or is that what they are already wearing?  (shhh! Think Hillary's laugh, kids ...)

Pity the well-intended circus clown: If this creepy movement isn’t reason enough for all circuses to ban traditional jester makeup in favor of the harmless red nose, (okay, to be extra safe, a pink one)  I don’t know what is.  More and more adults are outing their own fear of funny faces.   No longer something to hide from.  Simon Cowell on America’s Got Talent, for one.   Just another nail in the coffin of our sadly beleaguered big tops.

P.T. Barnum once said that "clowns are the pegs on which the circus is hung."  Well, these days, they may be hanging it — literally

Onto great promising news  Have we, at last, a high-drama quality film for adults about a genuinely tragic American circus story?  New flick about aerial thrillers Lillian Leitzel and Alfred Codona in the works at Warner Bros, and how I hope the Weinsteins have their hands in this one.  Heavy weights already signed on include producer Andrew Lazaar, who handled Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper, and Aussie actress Margot Robbie, right (The Wolf of Wall Street, Suicide Squad), to play Leitzel.  I’m thinking this could be The One I’ve been waiting for through too many mediocre big top flicks  Think of the background alone --- Ringling in the ‘20s!.  The rivalry between Leitzel and her scheming nemesis, conniving Vera Bruce ... Of the tragic ends that would befall both icons.  

To be based upon Dean N. Jensen’s 2013 book Queen of the Air, and I can’t wait.  Yes, I might have said that before another film, Water for Elephants, came out, but I’d not yet read the wretchedly brutal book from which the latter was faithfully adapted. 

Can Queen of the Air achieve what all other circus flicks have failed to do: Mine cinematic gold from genuine big top history? Film Makers and documentarians  have long shunned compelling subject matter staring them in the face: I’m thinking the towering figure of reckless circus king John Ringling, who lived a colorful and ultimately tragic life, and I’ve thought of Leitzel and Codona, and of course of the catastrophic Hartford fire, not to mention its genesis in a fractious war among Ringling heirs for control of the circus.

What do we usually get from Hollywood?  Of late, Water. I mean, tell me, please, was there ever a circus as thoroughly sadistic as that one?   As improbably untrue to any semblance of tent show history, then, before or now?

Another Cirque du Fizzle?  The company’s ill-reviewed New York stage show, Paramour, closed down quietly for a few days in late Auguest to reivse script in reponse to public feedback, some fans wanting “more acrobatics earlier in the show during the exposition,” others hungering for more meat on the bones of an empty-headed plot.  Post revamping, the altered Paramour is enduring ticket sales still ranging from pretty good to ominously stagnant, hovering too often in the 65% range.  I still think they have a chance.

Will the eggheads on the lot ever learn?  When I came across a New York Times review of two new stage shows, headlined “Identify Crisis: Theatre Productions That Refuse to be Theater,” I thought of how well it applies to circuses refusing to be circuses.

END RINGERS: Sadly, the passing of  Pat Cashin, clown and blogger, and only 48-years-old.  When I started up this blog, he was an early supporter.  That support faded away over the years, down to zero. I never exactly knew why, but likely something I said ... Also departing us, on August 25, another early supporter of my blog and the person who coined "May all your days be circus days," Ringling PR man Jack Ryan, at 77 ... Yet another circus school is rising, this one over Philly, site of the first circus to play America .... Warning to freak show imitators:  If you try dining on blades, be sure to order them Dull.  An Indian man suffering acute stomach pains, discovered by doctors to be harboring 40 various blades and knives in his guts.  About the unnamed patient, you’re thinking. extreme side show trickster?  No, think 42-year-old policeman – and maybe, on the side, a petty thief with a built in fencing flow  ... Retro trendy vinyl record lovers not going away.  It’s no passing fade.  Some new CDs coming out on old wax, too.  Down the street, just opened a vinyl-only shop.  Exciting!  Many of my old LPs from the fifties are still cracking-free good, I’ll have you know ... Sinatra never sounded better ... Oh, you gotta love the kids who don’t dismiss everything that came before them ...

Chase a creepy clown into a panic.  Pray for a great circus flick from the great Warner Bros.  And buy a vinyl record on me! 

Thursday, October 06, 2016

How Well is Cirque du Soleil's Paramour Doing Compared to Other Shows on Broadway?

Currently on Broadway, 29 shows are up and running.  The Broadway producers data base issues weekly business records.  One of the key factors reported on is gross percentage potential. 

Last week, Paramour ranked at 44.1%.

This would place the Cirque du Soliel production at number 26 out of the 29 shows.

Only three others ranked lower thank Paramour.