Cross-dressing trapeze and tightrope artist Barbette
seems to have sprung out of a Jean Cocteau fantasy, but surely was a real person. Exact birthdate and parentage subject to dispute
, but somewhere around the dawn of the 20th Century in Texas. Subsequent to highschool, he replaced a deceased woman in the Alfaretta Sisters aerialist circus act. Barbette toured the vaudeville circuit and debuted in Europe in 1923. Barbette's curtain-call wig-ripping-off move was ripped off for Victor/Victoria. [more inside]
posted by larrybob
on Aug 13, 2014 -
Bloodletters and Bad Actors
Mefi's Own Max Sparber looks at the early days of Omaha theater, back when it was a frontier town, its amusements were questionable, and vice was rampant, with occasional forays into more recent performing arts misbehavior. [via mefi projects
posted by The Whelk
on Jun 11, 2014 -
("Almost nightly she bent iron bars, broke chains, supported enormous weights, including a 1,200-pound cannon on her shoulders..."
("...she became vice-president of the suffrage group that formed within the Barnum & Bailey Circus in 1912"
("But by his own account he recalled only entering the ring, a blue sky and being carried away from the ring by Kate like a prize"
("... Sandwina had to crawl under barbed wire to get herself to a hospital. When she arrived, the hospital was full and she gave birth on the floor"
("After her retirement, Kate, Max and Ted opened a bar and grill in Queens, where the entire family performed on Saturday nights. Though advanced in age, Kate was still able to bend iron bars, lift heavy barbells and support her husband with an ease that showed she still possessed great strength"
), and devastatingly charming interview subject
("And, besides, a man who is embracing a woman wants to hold a supple and warm body in his hands - not a lobster!"
). Also: one of the subjects of the cutest marital photo of all time
posted by julthumbscrew
on Jun 7, 2013 -
On a gloomy Veterans Day in 1998, Janice Pottker answered an unexpected knock on the door of her home in Potomac, Md., a woodsy, upscale suburb of Washington. Standing there was a man she’d never seen before, a private detective who introduced himself as Tim Tieff. He told Pottker, a freelance writer married to a senior government official, that he had a discreet message from Charles F. Smith, a former top executive with Feld Entertainment, owner of the Ringling Brothers-Barnum & Bailey Circuses, Disney Shows on Ice, and other subsidiaries that make it the largest live entertainment company in the world.
Smith wanted to see her, he said. [more inside]
posted by marienbad
on Jun 2, 2013 -
What's disgusting, looks like a peanut and tastes (vaguely) like a banana? A Circus Peanut
! They are so reviled, they merit a page on bad-candy.com.
Strangely, though, Circus Peanut sales are up, at least according to "USA Today"
(most interesting link of this post). How can this be? I've never met anyone who likes them (except for one person -- see [more inside]). Margaret Husfelt of Houston, Texas
is equally confused. SOMEBODY must like them. The little suckers have a Facebook fan page
, and they are, perhaps, palatable in a Jello recipe
(here's an alternate recipe
) or dipped in chocolate
. Heck, Jolene Sugarbaker likes them in her salad
. And if you're really brave, you might want to try a Circus Peanut Margarita
. But don't be surprised if you get ostracized. Some people
will never understand
. Where's the love? [more inside]
posted by grumblebee
on Apr 1, 2010 -
J. Tithonus Pednaud herein presents for your edification and enlightenment a curious collection of human marvels
. You may call them oddities, freaks or monstrosities—whatever you will—but I call them incredible, persevering, resourceful and marvelous human beings. I chronicle their inspirational stories of triumph over nature, fate and the judgment of man. [Previously seen here. See also.]
posted by parudox
on Jan 3, 2009 -
Every trade has a history, a culture and secrets, all most vividly expressed in the special terms used by its workers. The circus is, of course, no different as this handy dictionary of circus slang shows
. It contains entries for both American and European circuses, and has a handy list of vaudeville slang words as well. These unique words used on the carnival lot around the world demonstrate a language that defines a world of wonders, and now you can use them to impress your friends and insult your enemies!
posted by Effigy2000
on Sep 25, 2008 -
The Greatest Sideshow Video Ever Made.
"The Greatest Sideshow Video Ever Made was shot at the Moore theater in Seattle in 1992. The oddball cousin of Seattle's grunge music scene, the Jim Rose Circus Sideshow mixed vintage sideshow acts with novel stunts never before seen. Previously available only on VHS tape or DVD, this mind-blowing collection of feats of human daring is now available online in six parts for your viewing pleasure: 1 2 3 4 5 6
As an added bonus, watch as Eddie Vedder
of Pearl Jam participates." [via mefi projects
] [more inside]
posted by stet
on Jul 13, 2008 -
's 1932 cinematic masterpiece Freaks
tells the story of a close-knit group of circus sideshow workers who are wronged and take revenge. The film's use of real-life freaks
so disturbed audiences that some ran screaming from theaters, distributors refused to handle the film, and it was banned in Britain for over 30 years. [more inside]
posted by flug
on Jul 8, 2008 -
the Big Top
: Shhhhhh! The Show's about to start*
... quick, take your seat
, sit down, and don't
make a move. It's been going on for centuries
, and now--lucky you
will be able to be a part of it
, if you haven't already
as a child (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
. Honestly, who hasn't thought of running away
from home and joining
the Circus (but I'd suggest you wait a couple of years, until you're a little
older, and a little wiser
, to make these decisions
). It is tempting though, when they roll
into town with their fancy wagons, and their loud music. Although, the circus may not be as prevalent
as it once was, there are new
acts being created to entice
crowds around the world. [previously]
posted by hadjiboy
on Mar 31, 2008 -
The diminutive but intensely powerful Lillian Leitzel was known for her fiery temper, her flirtatious banter
, and her ability to spin her entire body in the air while supporting herself by only one hand upwards of 200 times in a row, much like a human pinwheel
. She was one of the Ringling Bros. brightest (and most petulant) stars
, famously firing and re-hiring her maid several times a day. She married 3 times - (the second marriage ended after she cut off her husband's finger) but her last marriage was to the purported love her life, trapeze artist Alfredo Codona, a master of the triple back summersault off the flying trapeze who also enjoyed success as a Hollywood stunt double
. Their passionate (if mercurial) relationship was cut short when, during a performance, Lillian's ring broke
, and she fell 45 feet onto a concrete floor. Two days later she was dead. Alfredo, devastated, became reckless and was injured in a fall of his own, cutting short his career. His subsequent marriage to another performer failed, and while meeting with a lawyer to finalize their divorce, he shot her and then himself. Alfredo and Lillian are reunited in death, buried under a marker of their lives and love
posted by serazin
on May 9, 2007 -
Alexander Calder's Circus.
A movie by Carlos Vilardebo
, in four parts: one two
, [YouTube]. Calder developed his own one-man circus, with tiny performers made of "cork, wire, wood, yarn, paper, string, and cloth," carefully engineered to walk tightropes, dance, tame lions, lift weights, and engage in gymnastics and acrobatics in and above the ring. Acting as omniscient ringmaster, Calder would manipulate the wire performers while his wife wound circus music on the gramophone in the background. via
posted by nickyskye
on Jun 29, 2006 -
Quick change artists
David and Dania, who got her start in the Moscow Circus, entertain crowds at NBA half-time shows by performing quick changes of clothing. They've performed on numerous
other shows around the world. You can even buy one of David's quick change tophats
posted by saketini99
on Mar 29, 2006 -
LA-DEEEES AND GENTLEMEN!
STEP RIGHT UP! THE SHOW IS ABOUT TO BEGIN! The Strange and Unusual, the Freaks of Nature, the Shocking and the Bizarre! YOU won't BELiEVE your EYES!
posted by crunchland
on Oct 26, 2005 -