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Thursday, October 3, 2013

The Circus!

Growing up my parents took me to see Ringling Brothers Circus several times.  There was always a charm that the circus had that you didn't get in other forms of entertainment.   Dangerous animals, creepy clowns......what's not to love?  I remember the last time we went and saw the show (sometime in late 80s or 90s) and for some reason they had a boy band that performed several times during the show.  It was pretty terrible.  It was the last time we ever went.  Everyone in the family admitted that the boy band ruined the circus.  The circus jumped the shark, thanks to a boy band of all things.

Back in 2009 I finally broke my circus drought and took my daughter to a local circus.  It was a very small time operation.  The kind of circus that shows up in town for one night and throws up a tent and then vanishes forever.

It was clear that there were corners being cut.  The person that took my money at the ticket booth later came out and did a trapeze routine.  Performers would do their act and then come back out and sell popcorn.

See, same person.
These small family owned circuses are actually fairly plentiful in this country.  For whatever reason they appear to be owned and operated by Hispanic families.

Another thing I noticed was that their was a lack of animals.  They did have some horses and some dogs that did tricks, but none of the big scary animals I was used to.  No lions, no tigers, and most noticeably there were no Elephants, the trademark animal of the circus.  I have to believe this is likely due to the backlash the circus has suffered in the last several decades over the use and treatment of animals.  I don't exactly want to get into that debate right now, but it definitely has not been a positive for the once glorious circus industry. 

The majority of the acts were based around human performances such as trapeze.....


Various gymnastic acts....

Of note was Princess Whitefeather........

She is a performer decked out in full Native American regalia who balanced various objects on her face....

The oddest moment was at intermission, when they offered up a paid photo opportunity with either a boa constrictor or the world's crappiest Spongebob.....

I have been to other small circuses (which are notoriously hard to photograph for some reason) and they were very similar to the above mentioned circus.  However, tonight I took my daughter to the circus and, while it was still very small it was a flashback to the circus of my youth.

This circus did forgo using a tent and instead used a small aluminum building at the local fairgrounds.

Things started with a major staple of the circuses of my youth: Lion Taming.

The act included 2 female lions, a male white lion, two white tigers and a sexy lady.

Things ended oddly enough as the sexy lady hugged her white lion on top of a rotating disco ball.....

For the majority of the show we were treated to trapeze and gymnastic acts.....

Of course the fact that the circus took place in a one story aluminum garage made the trapeze acts slightly less impressive, as they had a less then death defying fall involved.

That would be an angle-sprain-defying drop.......

Of course its all a bit morbid that we take our children to an event where people engage in events that run the risk of death.........

But this circus had no shortage of death-defying.  Their death came in the form of a ball.

Behold:  The Ball of Death!

For the uninitiated the "Ball of Death" is a metal sphere which exists for the sole purpose of driving motorcycles in.

Check it out!

Of course there is only one thing that could make the Ball of Death more awesome.....adding a sexy lady!

Check it out!

Then of course comes the one thing I remembered the most about the circus:  Elephants.

I addition to doing a small routine they sold elephant rides.

There was one thing that bothered me about my recent trips to the circus:  Where are the clowns?  Now, it appears that each circus only has one clown.  Added to the lonely nature of the new clown, the level of makeup and costume they wear has been drastically reduced.

Its almost that America decided that full makeup clowns were no longer funny and were instead terrifying.  Thanks Stephen King!  Personally, I am a purist and I like my clowns to look like this.....

See!  Full clown is far superior to "Clown Lite".....

Good bad or ugly, the American Circus is a big part of our circus and I happy to take the step back in time and enjoy this classic bit of Americana.

The Carpetbagger

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