Thursday, May 30, 2024

Chapter Titles For My New Book Revealed

 Coming from BearManor Media on July 4th


Not Born in a Trunk

On Stage in an Orange Crate 

The Sink in My Salad 

Antenna Acrobat to Cash Man at the People’s Window 
Be A Clown, Be a Sledgehammer 

Furniture, Dogs, and the Moon on Credit 

Broadway Bound at College 

Park Avenue Calls

Why, You Don’t Look Like a Circus Press Agent to Me!  

No, I Don’t Give Private Lessons for Roller Derby 
Pitching Elephants to ABC from a Payphone
Cast and Framed for Restroom Duty 

Clerking for Egg Heads and Hard Hats 

 File Me Out of This Flop 

 Hollywood Takes on Ringling

Dream Boss from Central Casting 
 Just Another Day in Quake City 
 Law Land Follies  

Still Merrily Stranded Out of Town

Curtains Rise, Curtains Fall

Sunday, May 26, 2024

A True Trapeze Queen Shamefully Ignored By History


 Update, 5/28

Our winner had checked in!  He posted under The Magic Guys, but somehow, his full message did not come through.  His answers was:

Latvian aerialist Lena Jourdan, of the Flying Jordans

Congrats, Magic Guys!

End of update. 

Still ignored by writers and historians who should know better: Lena Jordan, not Ernest Clarke, was the first flyer to turn a triple somersault on the trapeze.  Most sources place the feat on Jordan Bros. Circus in Australia, 1897. But according to the Guinness Book of Records, Jordan actually turned the first triple in New York city with the Flying Jordans, an American troupe, in 1896, at Koster & Bial's Theatre 

Not so fast, says Wikipedia, claiming that the New York record has not been officially recognized. Rather,  In May 1897, Jordan, aged 16, "became the first recorded person to perform a triple somersault during a routine in Sydney, Australia."

The Circus Ring of Fame in Sarasota propounded the myth by ignoring  Jordan altogether, in order to give  Antoinette Concello credit for first female to turn the triple. 

How does the Circus Historical Society check in on this?  I once followed a thread on their history message board, all the way to a contributor who confirmed that, indeed, the honor goes to Jordan. 

Sunday, May 19, 2024

SUNDAY MORNING NOW, IMMERSIVELY YOURS: Tornadoes Topple Tops ... Daring Dames Dare Globes of Death ... Garden Goes Nuclear, Vegas Goes Artsy ...

     OLD CAN BE NEW AGAIN: Take a tent fainting under nature’s wrath, and you may have a tour suddenly gone down with a vengeance. That would be our visiting tenter from Germany, Great Bavarian Circus, whose big top got hammered to shreds by a tornado thundering across the East Coast.  Sad sight, the party over almost before it began. They came here to share, and they have my deepest sympathy. 

     ANOTHER TENT IN SHAMBLES is Florida State University’s Flying High Circus. “It was jarring to see it all go down in that manner,” told director Chas Mathes to the Tallahassee Democrat. Not just one, or two, but three EF-2 tornados. Back to Italy goes FSU, needing a replacement top from the land that created (or did they?) those fantastically shaped modern day Scheherazade tents.  Maybe the passionate Italians will give FSU a courtesy discount.  Fly on and Higher, Flying High! 

     TUNE UP YOUR GIRLY GRIT, Brit gals!  Crcuses are looking for you.  It’s happening across the Big Pond, reports our London informant on the go, Douglas McPherson, in The Stage. He profiles the founder of Ireland’s Daring Dames Festival, Dea Birkett.  Now in its third year, her show  fosters an All-Female Cast. While, over at Big Kid Circus (love that name), they’re touting  “Europe's first all-female Globe of Death motorcycle riders,”  the Kirilova Sisters trio.  And just when I was hoping this monster bore of a stunt would blast its way into infinity’s graveyard.  Here’s what I’d relish: Put a pair of high-stepping distaff daredevils teasing trouble on the double wheel.  How’s that for a ballyhoo?     

     DAMES ON FLAMES: These equity-pandering innovators are said to be aimed at challenging gender stereotypes in the ring.  Okay, I’m usually ill at ease with such a hollow premise, except that here, McPherson quotes strong woman, Aoife Raleigh,  knocking down a shamefully biased account peddled for years by hard core feminists headquartered in San Francisco:  “There’s always been a space in the circus where women can be physical.” 

       RECALLING THE ROLE of women in big tops,  Douglas spins magic describing Patty Asltey, wife of modern day circus founder,  Philip, riding on horseback around the ring “with her hands gloved in a swarm of living bees!”

     THEY'VE WALKED HIGH WIRES for years, swung free and high, posed on pachyderms, danced over horses.  For years.  Except that ... Except that what? Well, for starters, did they ever climb the Chinese poles or –  LOVE this one – serve as CATCHER on the flying trapeze?  Those are among the skills our new-line big top disputers are aiming to take on ....  It’s a novelty sure to tickle a jaded public that may be restless for something beyond the current, increasingly predictable staples.

The gang was all there: Kiyome Hara, Chester Cable, Michelle Wiertalla, Wini McKay, Alex Smith, and Betty Smith.

      GOING NUCLEAR AT GARDEN BROS., as reported by a tickled Alex Smith, sounds like a rousing good party  in a semi-brawling concession pit. That is, a little messy and rowdy and more like old  Barnum than new Cirque. Says our man on the lot:  “They’re not PC including a dog act, World’s smallest man ... and they're full of acts I'm unfamiliar with." Now, that I like -- a lot.  "I can tell you already it’s noisy with vendors and uncontrolled audience, but then I guess it is NUCLEAR” Brilliant deduction, Alex!  For the first time, I actually have a yen to take in this easy-to-knock enterprise.

     THERE'S A RESTLESS PUBLIC out there that wants circus, but wants it against safe and stale formats.  Wants a little more, dare I see, gruff and wild? Claims Alex, “They packed them in a straw house,”and that ads up to  2,185 people.  If you dig deeper into the Yelp two-star average reviews, you may find reason to go see for yourself.  Even in a mess, sometimes you can spot genuine quality.


       MAKING CIRCUS ART IN SIN CITY -- MAYBE:  Vegas to host the first International Circus Festival, slated for Nov. 1 - 10, organized by trapeze flyer Renato Fernandes,  seen above, who enjoys credit for the first in history to turn a Double Twisting Layout and Half.  Far from the rowdy Garden party, Renato is burning to produce a  “new spectacle that transcends borders, celebrates diversity, and enriches communities”  Somebody please give me a  break!  Hasn’t circus been naturally doing this for centuries?  

      BUT GOING DEEPER  into the website, this I nearly missed: This project will only be funded if it reaches its [funding] goal by Wed, June 12 2024 12:00 PM PDT

      ONTO THE MORE CONCRETE "IMMERSIVE," the latest new word, which Renato drops and which the Felds started floating on their last show that dared call itself a circus — the one that came crashing down in 2017.  Back at it without “circus” in the tile, heck, if  New Ringling really wants to maximize such all-encompassing encounters, I’d suggest putting the audience in the ring, and running the show around and over it.  And maybe into it.  Oh, what a perverse new spectacle, just in time to be rendered more chillingly harmless when robots in spangles arrive.

Know what? I am already feeling homesick for the Garden jam. 

Wednesday, May 15, 2024

Be The First to Answer the Next Big Question, and Win a Free Copy of My New Book, Keep That Day Job!

 I will post it here at 6 pm PDT, on Sunday May 19

It may be too easy to answer, so I'd suggest you pounce the moment the posting hits.

And remember, you must give a name, either your own or a made-up one.  All answers will NOT be posted.