Thursday, January 19, 2017


I will never forget the sense of joy, connection, excitement, and longing I felt when I saw my first circus clown. 
Her name was Jennifer Edgerton, and as a 6 year old attending Carson and Barnes in the early 90s, I wanted to be like her some day.  As years went by, life and reality set in and I was encouraged to pursue academics and science, nearly mentally purging my secret ambition.  Several years later, upon attending Ringling Brothers for the first time, I felt like that child full of dreams again.  I was so taken by that experience I became a clown myself.
As a fledgling clown, my two biggest sources of learning were the Ringling clowns I had befriended and the rabbit hole that is Pat Cashin's Clown Alley web archive.

I feel, in the course of recent events, the need, now more than ever, to keep spirits and hope alive, to cary on, to continue to find inspiration and be an inspiration.

For a drought-ending first post, and with the recent heart-breaking Ringling closure announcement, I felt it fit to share the wonderful words of Steve Smith, former Dean of Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Clown College and current Creative Director of Circus Center San Francisco:

Sunday, January 15, 2017

As the news of the demise of the Big Apple Circus was finally finding a place of uncomfortable compromise in my psyche, came the thunderbolt announcement that the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus would also more.

To some, these are just sad but true realities at the level of difficult business decisions - hard to make but necessary. To others, just another news story of yet another shop that has to shutter its doors. But for some of us, this is news that shakes the very foundation of our souls. This hits at the level of who we are, what we do and why we’re here. This is devastating.

For me, these were more than just places of employment. These were the incubators of my dreams;
These were the classrooms for my creative spirit;
These were the playgrounds for my imagination;
These were the places that gave me purpose. They gave my life purpose.

For 45 of my 65 years on the planet, this is what has forged my love & passion for performance art with all the different parts and pieces of who I am - This is what has

And so...where to from here? How do I make sense of it all? How do I unbreak my heart?

    I.    Get.    Up.

I feel the full force of my loss. I wail and howl and weep with grief. I fall to my knees asking why & how and cursing the cruel, heartless fickleness of fate...but, I.   Get.   Up.

I honor my teachers and my colleagues and my friends and my family by not giving in to despair. I salute all those who came before me by not giving up. I reach down into the depths of my shattered soul to find the strength to give this life my absolute best.

And I am painfully aware that this will take more than strength...this will require courage. There is a terrific quote from Mary Anne Radmacher that says:

“Courage does not always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, 'I will try again tomorrow.”

And so, I must get up; I must try...again and again and again. It will most certainly not be easy...but it will be worth it. Because the alternative is not acceptable.

The circus ring is a circle...a symbol of unity. It is continuous - it has no beginning, it has no end. A great and glorious part of circus history has come to an end, but the circus, as an art form, didn’t die today. It is evolving. It is up to us to pick up the dimmed & tattered torch that has traveled across time and through the ages; to dust it off; to reignite the fire of wonder and awe and to fan that spark into an unquenchable flame that is the future of the circus. To do anything less is simply unthinkable.

And so, get up.

Onward,...ever onward!

~ steve ~

This site shall be maintained again.  Thanks to Pat Cashin's wife, in partnership with the International Clown Hall of Fame and Research Center, may it be a rabbit hole for years to come.

-Beth Grimes, Board Member, International Clown Hall of Fame

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

On a very limited basis we will open up this blog for guest posts.
If you would like to be considered to author an entry, please submit your name and email address. After consulting with advisors, a small number (at least at first) will be selected and invited.
Once we have some guidelines and procedures set up, we may open it up to additional authors.
Thank you all for your tremendous support and interest in keeping this blog going - it was a tremendous source of pride for Pat to share his knowledge - with all that would listen (or read).

Thursday, May 19, 2016

PRINCE PAUL ALPERT: Madison Square Garden

Photo courtesy of Beth Anne Duze Woolley

"Thought you might like this photo, my father took it at Madison Square Garden. My mother was Prince Paul Alpert's 1st cousin and as a child it was always a thrill to see him leading the big parade riding an elephant."

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

IN MEMORIAM: Ken "Ken-Zo" Horsman

Kenneth L. Horsman, who performed as Ken-Zo the Clown in the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus and later established a South Baltimore magic shop and entertainment center, died of melanoma cancer Thursday at his Federal Hill home. He was 58.

Born in Baltimore and raised in homes on Williams and Clement streets, he was the son of William V. Horsman, a merchant seaman, and his wife, Mildred Flippo, who worked in a printing company.
"A city boy, a shy, frustrated problem child, leaves town to join the circus. He becomes a clown and puts on a painted smile, unicycling around the sawdust track, juggling and coaxing smiles from children of all ages," said a 1981 Evening Sun profile of him. "Kenny Horsman's story is such a classic it's hard to believe it really happened."

"He was always an entrepreneur," said his son, Spencer Horsman, who followed his father as a comedy magician and escape artist. "He sold apples at the Cross Street Market to buy his first suit."
The 1981 article said Mr. Horsman had been a circus nut since a young age. His parents took him to the Civic Center each year, and he got ultimately got a job selling cotton candy when the circus was in town. "I used to hook school," he said in the article. He said he would leave his house for school, then take a bus or hike to a spot near the airport to attend the Clyde Beatty Circus. He and other boys would "help pull ropes and set up chairs" in exchange for free passes.

The article also noted that his English teacher at Southern High School, from which he graduated in 1977, recalled that Mr. Horsman "was a self-starter." While in school, he took a train to Washington to audition with the Ringling Bros. He was chosen to attend its Clown College in Venice, Fla., and was one out of 21 — from a class of 60 — to be offered a Ringling Bros. job.

"He became part of the crew sent ahead of the circus to talk to reporters and generate publicity and was named one of two 'boss clowns,'" the article said.

In 1981, after marrying an acrobat clown, Mary Bernadette "Bernie" Spencer, he gave up the circus life.

He returned to Baltimore and bought a house on Byrd Street while still appearing at birthday parties and store openings. He also opened a magic shop, Ken-Zo's on Light Street.

He ultimately found a new clown role as Ronald McDonald. For nearly 20 years he represented the McDonald Corp. in its Washington, Virginia and West Virginia restaurants. He also appeared at Ronald McDonald houses and other McDonald's-sponsored events. He worked congressional parties and once took breakfast to Sen. Bob Dole and his wife, Elizabeth, who headed the Red Cross. He appeared on stage at an event with Nancy Reagan.

In 1986, he located a large storefront for sale on South Charles Street just north of the Cross Street Market. He opened Ken-Zo's Party Place, where he sold magic paraphernalia and party supplies. He also had a room for children's birthday parties.

"He appeared in a movie with Tom Selleck called 'Her Alibi.' He was cut from the film but made $30,000 in 10 days. He put the deposit on this building," his son said.

"When people come in, it's a happy feeling, a great feeling — like, what's behind that door?" he said of his business in a 2005 Baltimore Sun article. "This is a very giving business. The reward of it is to make other people laugh. How many people can say they do that?

"If you can't have fun in a store like this," he said, "then you're not going to find any fun anywhere."
In 2007, Mr. Horsman renovated the South Charles Street building and renamed it the Illusions Magic Bar and Theatre. He managed the place with his son, who performs his magic and entertains guests at the popular venue.

Mr. Horsman remained at Illusions until his death.

A service of remembrance will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday at Illusions Bar and Theatre, 1025 S. Charles St.

In addition to his son, survivors include his wife, Marissa A. Villalobos; two brothers, Earl Horsman of Baltimore and William Horsman Jr. of Sumter, S.C.; two sisters, Tina Stevens of Red Lion, Pa., and Mary Jane Mann of Oregon; and nieces and nephews. His first marriage ended in divorce.