Photo from Circus Scandinavia
This just in from British correspondent John Cooper...
On 13 June you posted a video clip of part of
the act of Italian clowns, the Rastellis. Except that
strictly speaking it isn't The Rastellis!
At that time, the 4 men were presenting two acts, the
clown act and a trampoline number. It was the
trampoline number that was called The Rastellis. The
clown act was known as Chocolate and Company,
Chocolate being the clown name of the black gentleman,
a Brazilian whose given name was Aristedes Feirria
(although I don't guarantee the spelling).
In the clip you will see twin augustes. The one who is
always in the ring is Oreste Rastelli. The other is
his son, Alfredo. The white face is Antonio Poletto,
usually known as Tony.
When Oreste Rastelli retired, his place in the act was
taken by Alfredo's son, also Oreste, using much the
Once Alfredo's other son, Vittorio, was ready to join
the act, he took Chocolate's place, adopting a make-up
which was a brown base with white around the eyes and
mouth. Comparable to that of his predecessor.
Chocolate retired, and it is believed that he died in
By the time the act appeared at Blackpool Tower Circus
(for the seasons in 1980, 1981 and 1982) it was known
as The Rastellis, and the personnel was Alfredo,
Oreste Jr., Vittorio and Tony. This was certainly not
their first appearance in Britain, as they had worked
many ice shows as well as in variety (including The
On Tony Poletto's retirement, the white face role fell
to Oreste's wife.
Alfredo Rastelli died in May 2005. The family now runs
an ice rink in Italy.
I refer you to the video clip I mentioned earlier.
Towards the end, Alfredo enters with a tuba. You will
have no trouble working out what the actual gag will
be. But notice Oreste's perfect positioning.