The German Wheel is one of the most painful pieces of equipment I’ve ever had the pleasure of working on. Thankfully I’ve gotten away lightly with only bumps, bruises and the occasional crushed finger (unlike my former partner who suffered a torn calf muscle and a broken foot at various times).

One of the best German Wheel artists was Wolfgang Bientzle who, in the video below, performs one of the most painful routines I’ve ever seen – in a whole other way! He’s very good on the wheel though!

The Quadruple Somersault

Miguel Vasquez, of the Flying Vasquez, one of the world’s most famous flying trapeze troupes,  catches “the most difficult acrobatic feat in the 20th century” – the quadruple somersault.

I love flying trapeze but what I love most about this video is that in slow-mo you can see two of the saltos just hover in the air defying gravity at the peak of the pass.


Circus Skepticism

I’ve seen two student shows the last few days and I’m due to see another this weekend. It’s the time of year again; the time for the End Of Year Student Performance.

After each of the shows I found myself having a familiar conversation with a number of people: “what did you think of the show?” It’s not a strange question to ask. I must have asked it and been asked it thousands of times over the years after almost every circus show, theatre show, film and music gig. And obviously some I like and some I don’t like.

There are very few movies I don’t like. For the most part I can accept them exactly as they are and exactly as they’re not, regardless of whether they are Hollywood Blockbusters or Indie Flicks I can enjoy them, letting the story and the fantasy wash over me, taking me away from my life and letting me get wrapped up in an alternate reality for a while.

But when it comes to circus I find myself stuck. I no longer get wrapped up in the thrill and the excitement of the circus, I struggle to be amazed. I find myself waiting for the fake slip on the high wire, watching the acrobats intently for flawed technique, or watching the use of safety lines instead of the trick itself.

I find it hard to enjoy circus these days and am pleasantly surprised when I walk out of a show having enjoyed myself, having been entertained, and having forgotten about the safety lines.

Is it just me? Am I overly critical these days? Or do you find yourself doing the same thing?

Circus Girls

It came to my attention today that nearly two weeks ago another interesting circus-related blogging site has popped up on the interwebs. Circus Girl Magazine is “devoted to bringing news, tips, and a backstage tour for Circus Girls by Circus Girls around the world!!” and promises “in-depth interviews with your favorite circus stars from venerable legends to rising newcomers to circus school students. Also you can look forward to insights into fashion and circus-fusion entertainment, product reviews, and much more!

There’s not a huge amount of content yet but go check it out. The more Circus Geeks the better!

I Can Ride A Bike

From summer 1998 through to the summer of 1999 I was living in America. During that time I went to see Cirque du Soleil’s La Nouba, their permanent show at Disney World in Orlando, Florida. Cirque du Soleil didn’t have as many permanent shows then as they do now and to get to see one of them was pretty special for me. Generally speaking, I’ve rarely been a big fan of Cirque du Soleil’s shows but I have to admit that I remember thoroughly enjoying La Nouba, particularly the Flying Trapeze. However, there was also something unusual in the show, something I don’t think I’d ever seen done, as an act, in a circus: Bikes. Continue reading “I Can Ride A Bike”

The Lost Circus Sideshow

From midgets, wolfboys and human pin-cushions to Siamese twins, snake charmers and sword swallowers, the circus sideshow isn’t often seen alongside the main attraction any more.

But while the Sideshow element of circuses, carnivals and fairs may have dwindled, the Circus Sideshow, the Freakshow, and the Circus Freaks and Geeks themselves (see my previous post) are aliving and kicking. Continue reading “The Lost Circus Sideshow”

Geeks: Coming Home

I thought it appropriate that if we were to go around calling ourselves Circus Geeks that we take a moment to explore Geeks, or Geekdom as the collective sub-culture is sometimes known. Being a geek myself, I started by looking up the word in the dictionary. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the word geek as:

1 : A carnival performer often billed as a wild man whose act usually includes biting the head off a live chicken or snake.

2 : A person often of an intellectual bent who is disliked

3 : an enthusiast or expert especially in a technological field or activity  *computer geek*

A carnival performer? In the first definition? Interesting. I would have assumed that the second or third definition would have been the primary definition. Let’s leave the fact that is says geeks bite the heads off live chickens for a moment and take a quick look at the origins of the the word geek.

It turns out the word geek actually has its origins in carnival and circus. Etymonline.com describes the history of the word geek in the following way:

“sideshow freak,” 1916, U.S. carnival and circus slang, perhaps a variant of geck “a fool, dupe, simpleton” (1510s), apparently from Low Ger. geck, from an imitative verb found in North Sea Germanic and Scandinavian meaning “to croak, cackle,” and also “to mock, cheat.” The modern form and the popular use with reference to circus sideshow “wild men” is from 1946, in William Lindsay Gresham’s novel “Nightmare Alley” (made into a film in 1947 starring Tyrone Power).

So the original geeks were fools and sideshow freaks and over time it came to be applied to anyone who got paid to do work considered odd or bizarre by mainstream society. Nowadays you’re a geek if you are particularly knowledgeable in any particular field, especially if it involves technology (computer programmers were the original tech geeks, an activity that was considered odd or bizarre by mainstream society a number of years ago) or is a subject that most people wouldn’t know too much about.

And so here we are: Circus Geeks – circus folk geeking out on an internet blog about circus. It seems we have finally come home.