Saturday, January 12, 2008

BOZO THE CLOWN: Frank Avruch Out of Makeup

Frank Avruch, star of Boston's WHDH-TV long-running Bozo's Big Top which from 1965 to 1967 was taped for national syndication to U.S. TV markets that were not producing their own local Bozo shows.

The second boxed set of 30 episodes of those programs is now available on DVD.

To find out more about the Bozo character and it's various international incarnations, please click the title of this post.


American circus clowns may not always receive the utmost respect from our European counterparts but European producers certainly have a long history of using our pictures on their posters.

Add to the long list of European circus posters featuring the likenesses of Lou Jacobs, Ernie Burch and/or Harry Dann this Circo Kron poster featuring some rather interesting adaptions of the Ringling program headshots of (top to bottom) Gene Lewis, Albert White and Paul Jung.

I myself just found out that my headshot was recently broadcast during the commercial bumpers of a Chinese television variety show over the holidays. I'm extremely honored and dutifully proud to now be part of this long tradition of overseas producers using our likenesses with neither consent nor compensation.

Because, after all, we are just clowns.


Photos and comments courtesy of Raffaele de Ritis

Some unusual pictures from Gianluigi Di Napoli, "Vanity Fair" photographer, who is working on a picture book about David Larible.

David in a fourth or fifth call after the finale.

Friday, January 11, 2008


Photo courtesy of Greg DeSanto

A promotional flyer for Rex "Boxcar" Young, a fixture on the Shrine circuit for many years.

I've obliterated the phone number because I think that it's still Rex's number, although there is no machine and I've never been able to get anyone to pick up.

Anyone know if Rex is still around and, if so, how he's doing?

CLOWN ALLEY: The Big Apple Circus 1996/97

Photo courtesy of Greg DeSanto

Barry "Grandma" Lubin and Greg DeSanto on the Big Apple Circus during the second act soap gag (the first in Big Apple's history) during their 1997 production, The Medicine Show.

Besides attending a taping of the WGN Bozo Super Sunday show and meeting Robin Eurich, Jim La and Cynthia Tegemeyer, watching this show is what inspired me to attend the 1997 Ringling Clown College audition.

So blame them ;)



A photograph of a clown that is purported to be Pat Valdo on Ringling in the 1920s.

I'm not so sure.

In the other photos I've seen of Valdo he's had a much thinner face and much better makeup.

MONTE CARLO 2008: The Martini Family

Photos courtesy of Raffaele de Ritis

Ask and you shall receive...

From Raffaele de Ritis

The Martini are a relatively recent classic musical entree from the French family Massot. I think it exists after no more than 7 years or so. David, the auguste at the left of the picture, is also a nice reprise clown.

Not to be confused with the Martini-Llata, a Spanish musical entree from the late 70s.

Thursday, January 10, 2008


The 32nd annual Festival International du Cirque de Monte-Carlo will take place January 17th - 27th, 2008 and Raffaele de Ritis was kind enough to send me information on the comedy acts in this year's competition.

There is one more act listed, the Martini Family of musical clowns, about which I have not been able to find any information.

MONTE CARLO 2008: Barry "Grandma" Lubin

To watch video of Mr. Lubin receiving the 2007 Lou Jacobs Lifetime Achievement Award please click the title of this post.

MONTE CARLO 2008: Donimo

Learn more about Donimo by clicking the title of this post.

MONTE CARLO 2008: Scott and Muriel

Learn more about Scott and Muriel by clicking the title of this post.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

CHARLIE RIVEL: Maria Callas Entree; Eurovision Song Contest, 1973

Charlie Rivel as "Carlotta Rivelo" assisted by his son Juanito (of the Charlivels) during an interval at the 1973 Eurovision Song Contest.

From Raffaele de Ritis...

It's great to share such a gem. The straight man is Juanito and yes, he was one of the Chalrivels. They were one of the greatest act ever.

This "diva" act was the entree Charlie performed the most when he started to work as a soloist, after WWII.


I saw this posted the other day on The Clown College onelist and thought that it was important to share with everyone.

From Cowboy Mike Keever...

Calling all clowns who care...that we are very lucky to have one of our best American Circus Clowns still with us.

Chuck Sidlow and his lovely wife Noriko were driving home from work late on New Year's Eve when their car was struck head on by a drunk driver.

We all love Chuck. He has touched so many lives. I have never known anyone who ever met Chuck to ever say (even many years later)..."Chuck, Chucko, Chuck I don't remember him." Chuck is truly one of a kind. "Unbrerievable!" Thank God they are home, but they are banged up and bruised and of course pretty shook up. I spoke with him tonight.

I would like to ask as many of you as I am sending this out please send Chuck (& Noriko) a card, a whoopie cushion, a coloring book & crayons, a goofy toy, a gag gift, some candy, a copy of an old photo would be great!!!!!! Send him some money if you want.... this is going to be a costly recovery I am sure!

Mostly though....let's all give him a big hug, as our friend Mr. Steve Smith would so lovingly say!!!!! Let's let this X-tra Special friend of ours know that we love him and are glad that he's still here!!!!!!!
I don't know if he wants me to give out his address so let's do it this way....please send your cards and gifts ASAP to...

Chuck Sidlow
c/o Circus Sarasota
8251 15th St. E Suite B
Sarasota, FL 34243

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

COCO & CO. : Bertram Mills Circus at Olympia, Circa 1940s

Nicolai "Coco" Poliakoff and friends (including Percy Huxter, The Francescos and Alby Austin) at the Bertram Mills Circus at Olympia, circa 1940s.

COCO'S CRAZY COLORISTS: Coco & Co. Ringling 1961

Michael "Coco" Polakovs performing COCO'S CRAZY COLORISTS on the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus 1961.

COCO'S CRAZY COLORISTS: Coco & Co. Sarasota Showfolks Circus 1983

Michael "Coco" Polakovs and Co. performing COCO'S CRAZY COLORISTS at Robarts Arena (3000 Ringling Blvd.) as part of the 1983 edition of the Showfolks Circus in Sarasota, FL.


Coco Jr. (Graham Coco? Graham's son?) on what looks like Allan C. Hill's Great American Circus in the 1980s.

Making this possibly the last great clown gag to appear in a three ring tented American circus.

Monday, January 07, 2008

GREG DESANTO: More on Recreating Coco's Crazy Colorists on Ringling, 1988/89

Photos courtesy of Greg DeSanto

Kevin "Nasty" Thompson giving Greg DeSanto a face full of soap.

Future Blue Unit Boss Clown Jeff Schott, future Amazing Race contestant Al Rios and Greg DeSanto.

NY GOOFS Winter Workshop and Intensive

The NY Goofs


Winter Workshop Southwest: Dallas, TX February 1-3, 2008
Winter Intensive NYC: New York, NY February 15-17, 2008

Details for New York:
February 15-17, 2008
Dick Monday & Tiffany Riley
joined by Jeff Gordon (le Clown Gordoon)
Seth Bloom & Christina Gelsone (Full Bloom Theatre)

Jeff Gordon has been performing as a clown for nearly 30 years. He has performed all over the world, including serious stints under the tent of the Big Apple Circus; on Broadway with Bill Irwin; as a member of the Big Apple Clown Care unit in hospitals all over New York City, on cruise ships, and in movies, theatres, and other venues. Utilizing circus skills, audience participation, improvisation and puppetry, Gordoon brings joy and laughter to all of his audience members. His one man show is called Fools Foolin', and finishes with his signature act, where the clown blows billowing rolls of toilet paper high up into the air with the use of a powerful leafblower. This act has since been appropriated by many clowns all over the world.

Seth Bloom is the co-creator of The Acrobuffos, founder of Full Bloom Theatre, co-founder of Split Knuckle Theatre, and the International Artistic Director for the Mobile Mini Circus for Children, headquartered in Kabul, Afghanistan. Seth brings to his expertise his education at the London International School of Performing Arts (MFA), the Dell' Arte School of Physical Theatre, Wesleyan University, and the Ringling Brothers Clown College (BFA--bachelor of fun arts). He has worked--performing, directing, and/or teaching-- in Afghanistan, Argentina, Japan, Canada, China, England, Romania, Scotland, and the USA.

Christina Gelsone is the co-creator of The Acrobuffos, co-founder of Fool's Academy, and a member of Bond Street Theater. As a non-verbal clown and street performer, Christina has performed in festivals in Singapore, Albania, Scotland, Japan, Holland, France, Venezuela, Portugal, and Greece. She has performed and taught extensively in areas of post-conflict, including Kosovo, Serbia, Macedonia, and Afghanistan. She is a graduate of Princeton University and the Dell' Arte School of Physical Theatre and is a former faculty member of Adelphi University.

Details for Dallas TX:
February 1-3, 2008
Dick Monday & Tiffany Riley
joined by Jeff Smithson direct from the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp in Connecticut!

His bio:
Jeff Smithson plays for life. He has brought Improv to business professionals through corporate coaching with Performance of a Lifetime, and performed with both the Big Apple Circus Clown Care Program and the NY Goofs in over a dozen hospitals and on a multitude of stages over the past 10 years. With a B.A. in Religion and certificates from Ringling Clown College and Dell’Arte International School of Physical Theater, Jeff integrates compassion and creativity into each moment. He has run various workshops for Health Care Professionals including the first New England Child Life Professionals Conference and various Hospice and Caregivers Retreats. Jeff supervises the Central New England portion of The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp’s Hospital Outreach Program. He currently resides with his wife and 16-pound cat in Connecticut.

Both workshops will be Friday evening and all day Saturday and Sunday.
Feel free to reply to this email with any questions you may have! Or check our website for details:
phone: 212.591.0028

Thanks for supporting The NY Goofs and Slappy & Monday's Foundation for Laughter! And please feel free to pass this info along to anyone you think might benefit!

To visit the NY goofs website, please click the title of this post.

Sunday, January 06, 2008



Nicolai "Coco" Poliakoff, star of the Betram Mills Circus and father of Michael and Sascha. Michael left for the United States, first with the Mills Bros. Circus and then with Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey before setting out on his own.

Sacha stayed in the UK and adopted his father's makeup and costume appearing as "Coco II" or "Sacha Coco".

Michael "Coco" Polikov, star of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus and designer of the makeup and costume of the internationallly known fast food mascot Ronald McDonald. Michael came to America and began a clowning dynasty of his own as his son Graham and several other family members have appeared in the States as "Coco".

GREG DESANTO: Recreating Coco's Crazy Colorists on Ringling, 1988/89

Photo courtesy of Greg DeSanto

That's Greg De Santo on the ladder getting a face full of high pressure water. Nasty Thompson is seen working the water in the base of the statue during the 1988/89 Ringling Blue Show recreation of Mike "Coco" Polikov's painter's gag.

From Greg...

We did the painters gag (in the days before video reference, the only clips we had were about 30 seconds of poor 8 mm footage of Coco & Co.) in 1988-89, the year they saluted 20 years of Clown College. In addition we did the Firehouse, Dentist Chase, Clown Car, and Cable Car (borrowed by Keith Anderson from a South African Ice show bit). The clowns had four Ring Gags in 1 show!

Trolle Rodin(sp?) walked us though the bits of the paint gag. Trolle booked the show all through the 60's and 70's, so he knew Coco and the Britzios versions very well.

The version they had put together at Clown College wasn't working out, and Kenneth was very unhappy with it. Of course all they had to do was call the home office and have them send down the video of the 1969 TV special with the Britizo's doing it and we would have had no problems.

I do remember looking at the music charts that Bill Pruyne handed out to the band for the gag and you could see it read Coco's Paint Gag-1963 on the original papers.

The second year of that tour in Kentucky, Coco came out with his wife and I brought him back to the alley and he was very complementary of our salute to his signature routine.