Saturday, April 05, 2008


Photo and comments courtesy of Robin Shaw-Bickford

Janice Gillespie 1973 Blue RBB&B

WAYNE SIDLEY: From Robin Shaw

Photo and comments courtesy of Robin Shaw-Bickford

Wayne Sidley behind the arena in Venice, FL.

1987: From Robin Shaw

Photo and comments courtesy of Robin Shaw-Bickford

Some of the 70's clowns come back to visit in 1987 (Back row) Frosty Little, ?, Kevin Bickford, Mark Anthony, Robin Shaw (Front row) Jimmy Briscoe, Barbara Nadel

Friday, April 04, 2008


JRNII's Kelly-Miller Circus, America's One Ring Wonder, survived the torrential rain as well as the tornadoes that ripped through Arkansas last night.

Mike Smith arrived just in time to see the show on the muddiest lot of the season. He watched the 4:30 show and then jumped in to work the 7:30 with me. We had a blast working together and were just minutes into the second half when the mayor and sheriff stepped into the tent and asked John Moss to end the show there and evacuate the tent.

We cleaned our makeup off, loaded my car (parked at the front of the lot so I wouldn't get stuck again) and headed to McDonald's for dinner, arriving in our rooms at the DeQueen Inn just before the storm really hit and the power went out.

If you've never sat smoking cigarettes outside a darkened, powerless Arkansas motel room during a hellacious electrical storm and pounding rain wondering if your about to be killed by tornadoes... well, your just not real circus then, are you ; )

GRANDMA: Star Morning Show with JR and Kate

The Star Morning Show with JR and Kate gets a visit from Grandma (most likely Mark Gindick), who, get this, creeps out Kate.

Isn't that a hoot? You see she doesn't like clowns!

Having gone to college for Communication and concentrated on Radio, do you know what creeps me out? Do you want to know what I don't like? Lame "happy chat" morning shows that play "good time oldies" that "get you going in the morning with a smile" and employ vacuous, under-talented, insincere phonies like "Kate" who engage in contrivied "bits" like this.

What exactly was the point of putting a silent circus clown on the radio in the first place? It's a truly stupid idea made all the more worthless by this frumpy, unpleasant human "Cathy" cartoon.

I'll bet she has a blog about her cat.

Circus and clowning are entering their fourth century of existence here in America. Radio, and the like these that have ruined it, will be long gone and replaced by the iPod by 2015.

The seventh caller gets to put on a pair of great big clown shoes and kick Kate really hard until she realizes she's wasting her life and our time and decides to get out of the business. The video of this will be up on their website.

"Up after the break, Gary Lewis and The s'This Diamond Ring on your home of Continuous Good Time Oldies, Power Y105.1!!!"


L.A. CIRCUS: From Robin Shaw-Bickford

Photos and comments courtesy of Robin Shaw-Bickford

Kevin "Roofus T. Goofus" Bickford and Dick Monday

This was from the LA Circus, on the Universal Studios' lot in 1997-1998...performing during the El Nino (winds of up to 85 mph and with drenching rains were commonplace and some days downright dangerous) But we got through it and lived to tell about it.

Robin Shaw, Kevin Bickford and "Brittany Star" a beautiful hoola hoop artista, real name Noella.

Other clowns who also appeared in the show were: Jeffrey Taub, Grainger Esch, Carlos Ragas, Sheri Sicard, and a couple of others, whose names escape me right now. It was a great gig, being that it was only 4 minutes from our house and fun to be on City Walk.

THE CHICKYS" Hugo Public Library

The Chickys in performance from the book Circus - Magie der Manege with photos by Rolf Lehman and text by Fredy Knie, Sr., Horst W. Cekan & Lutz R. Schoellkopf, found at the Hugo Public Library.

CLOWN ALLEY: Ringling, circa 1940

A very rare photo of Paul Jung, Lou Jacobs and Paul Jerome together in a group shot.

CIRQUE D'HIVER: Clowns, 1945



Alex and Zavatta

Thursday, April 03, 2008


Today is my last scheduled day as full-time clown on America's One Ring Wonder, the Kelly-Miller Circus, before Mike Smith takes over.

Or as Casey Cainin McCoy puts it, "When the funny clown gets here."

Two performances today at 4:30 and 7:30 PM

Tomorrow I drive back to Dallas and fly out first thing on Saturday morning which means that I'll miss Tom Parish who might be stopping by this weekend. Tom, if you are out there, COME TONIGHT!!!

It does mean that I might catch the Shrine show in Dallas Friday night and try to meet up with the Mondays and Kelly by taking in Slappy's Puppet Playhouse in the afternoon.

And dinner (and a margarita) at El Fenix.


Photo and comments courtesy of Joel Heidtman

Joel Heidtman, Clown College grad, Red Unit road clown, CC instructor and juggler extraordinaire recently did a gig for Toni Braxton.

From Joel...



I performed for Toni Braxton at her sons 5th birthday party this
afternoon. Toni was recently on Larry King speaking about her son and
his autism.

Let me just tell you all that Toni Braxton is absolutely one of the
nicest and kindest people that I have ever met.

I really had no idea who she was, just that she was a successful
recording artist that has been performing at the Flamingo Hilton in
Las Vegas for the past few years.

I went to the gig, and moments after meeting her I told her that my
daughter had recently turned 5 and what a great age it is. Her face
lit up and she said "Did you bring her?". I answered "Well, heavens
no!" and she immediately said "Please call your wife and daughter and
have them come over. I would love to have them here for the party".

I was stunned! (Of course I didn't have them over... but the offer
was extremely nice and very, very sincere).

Toni Braxton has sold over 40 million albums, and her number-one
hit "Un-Break My Heart" is the second biggest single by a female
artist ever.

Just wanted to share about meeting a truly kind and down to earth

Joel Heidtman
Toni Braxton Fan


The Clown Band on the Hunt Bros. Circus in an undated photo.

KEITH CRARY: The Great Circus Parade, 1980s

Photos courtesy of Robin Shaw-Bickford

Keith Crary, Ben Barkin and Ernest Borgnine


Really, how many American circus clowns can you name whose "spec" wardrobe actually gets BETTER after they've left Ringling?

MYSTERY CLOWN: James Bros. Circus 1968

These photos are from the James Bros. Circus and are dated 1968, which may be meaningless as James Bros. also dated a Beatty-Cole Alley shot of Eddie Dullam, Harry Dann, Marvin Gauger and Jimmy Armstrong from 1967 as being from the James Bros. show in '68.

The truck does say James Bros., but these could have been taken anywhere from the mid-50s on based on the look of the photos.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008


Video link and comments courtesy of Steve Langley

Once again, I apologize for the initial name mix up.

Here is a brief description of Steve's funeral. It was a very appropriate clown send off. It was a 6 nose salute as I supplied all of the pall bearers with noses to wear. It killed. Wasn't even fair... You woulda loved it...

Here Ya go...
Well folks we buried our friend today...
We sent Steve off in grand style this afternoon. Hardin Minor and I supplied red noses for the pall bearers. We gave him a 6 clown nose salute as we carried the coffin from the church to the hearse and from the hearse to the grave. The gesture was well received by friends and family alike. Steve would have loved it as well. It was good to hear chuckles from the crowd and people commenting "perfect" when, as the coffin approached us to take it to the car, I quietly gave the command to the other pall bearers... "time to "nose up" boys"... the noses all went and you could hear and feel the collective appreciation for the gesture. Lots of smiles and laughs... It was perfect for a fool like Steve to be carried to his final resting place by a bunch of red nosed wearing fools. The ceremony at the church and graveside was beautifully executed. We ended it all with a group release of individual colorful balloons... as Steve's ex wife Sarah exclaimed to everyone "I hope you enjoyed the show". A perfect send off for a showman like Steve. It was good to be surrounded by people who were all aware of what a special person he was. We've lost another one of the good ones.

Thanks again for all you've done for my friend.
Hope you made it home safe and sound...

Steve Langley
The Fettucini Brothers
PO Box 2266
Huntersville, NC 28070


America's One Ring Wonder (John RINGLING North II, Proprietor), the Kelly-Miller Circus is in Ashdown,AR tonight for two shows ON ASPHALT (NO MUD).

Showtimes (all together now) at 4:30 and 7:30 PM.

Add Texarkana, TX to the list (headed by Reno, NV) of towns I'll never go back to for any reason.

MIKE POTEETE: Hamid Shrine Circus

It looks like Mike may be headed to the showers after a "SM Johnson" moment.

CLOWN ALLEY: Tork & Kevin 1972

Photo and comments courtesy of Robin Shaw-Bickford

This is Rick Parrot on RBB&B in the blue and yellow suit in the background (and Mark Anthony passing behind him), with Tim Torkildson holding the banana to his ear while checking out Kevin Bickford with his large pretzel which he purchased one day at Madison Square Garden 1972. He bought it from a concession stand and a vendor, who had it hanging on the wall. He paid $5. for an instant walkaround.

What a deal!


I can make out the bleach blonde hair and the "Gunther bra" but I can't make out the signature. It looks like it says "Wayne Burp".

Tuesday, April 01, 2008


Ladies and Gentlemen, the winners of the 2008 Felix Adler Awards for American Circus Clowning are:

1) OTTO GRIEBLING AWARD: James Thierree (Au Revoir Parapluie)
Honorable Mention: Mitch Freddes (Ringling), Patellito (Circo Hermanos Vazquez US Unit)

2) JOE AND CHESTER SHERMAN AWARD: Jay Stewart and Mike Smith (AEMI)
Honorable Mention: Fumagalli & Daris (Big Apple Circus), Barry Lubin, Matthew Pauli, Francesco, Francesco Jr. and Joel Jeske (Big Apple Circus)

3) HARRY DANN AWARD: Lara Heidtman-Smith (AEMI)
Honorable Mention: Toto Johnson (AEMI), Tammy Parish (AEMI)

Announcement of the LOU JACOBS AWARD FOR LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT is still pending upon approval of the Jacobs family.

Congratulations to each one of our winners as well as our many nominees and thank you to all who voted!

Monday, March 31, 2008


A final reminder that votes for this year's Felix Adler Awards must be received in my mailbox at before midnight tonight!

Votes can be cast in the following three categories:

OTTO GRIEBLING AWARD: For Best Solo Clowning of 2008

CHESTER AND JOE SHERMAN AWARD: For Best Duo, Trio or Ensemble Clowning of 2008

HARRY DANN AWARD: For Best Picture Clown of 2008

Once again, you do not have to be a professional circus clown, American or otherwise, to vote. Anyone can cast their vote.

So make sure that your votes are sent to by midnight tonight!


America's One Ring Wonder, the Kelly-Miller Circus rolls into Gilmer, TX today for two performances, possibly indoors for the first time this season.

I can't wait to show Casey Cainin McCoy MY "indoors-on-a-rainy-day" happy dance!

Showtimes at 4:30 and 7:30 PM.

I had a bit more excitement than I wanted Saturday afternoon in Grand Saline.

I thought that it was Friday.

It felt like Friday to me.

I got a late check out from the motel, stopped for breakfast and contemplated doing laundry or hitting the Wal-Mart with all my free time when I passed the lot, saw all the cars and realized that it was Saturday and showtime was in 12 minutes.

I raced onto the lot and put my makeup on faster than I ever have before, jumped into my costume and started come-in just three minutes late.

"Can I get you something... like a watch?", I heard from Casey after opening.

"No, but I could use a calendar", I replied.

Some photos of the 2008 Kelly-Miller show were posted this morning on Buckles' blog.


A few months ago I posted Paul Lopez's version, here it is as performed by Giovanni.

SCOTT PARKER: From Robin Shaw-Bickford

Photo courtesy of Robin Shaw-Bickford

Former RBB&B Blue Unit clown and Circus Vargas Boss Clown, Scott Parker

CHRISTOPHER BRICKER: From Robin Shaw-Bickford

Photos courtesy of Robin Shaw-Bickford

I have been searching for a name to go with this face (in the top pictures) since I was a kid!!!

Anyone out there know how to contact Mr. Bricker?

Sunday, March 30, 2008

KELLY-MILLER: East Towakoni, TX

The Kelly-Miller cast and crew showed just what their made of today as thunderstorms struck last night and most all of the show vehicles had to be towed off of the lot in Grand Saline. After arriving this morning on the lot in East Towakoni most of the show's vehicles had to be towed onto the lot.

Mud; lots and lots of mud. The kind that make it next to impossible to set up in much less perform.

So the 2:00 PM show started at a quarter to three but the 4:30 started just a few minutes late. I can't believe the crew got the trucks in place and the tent up. I can't believe that none of the performers took a tumble performing on a ring mat stretched over lump after giant lump of slippery, wet mud.

But the show went on and the people of East Towakoni certainly go their money's worth.

Rumor has it that tomorrow's shows in Gilmer, TX will take place indoors as Gilmer received 6 inches of rain this morning and the lot will be in even worse shape than today's.

MARK ANTHONY: From Robin Shaw-Bickford

Photos courtesy of Robin Shaw-Bickford

Mark and Robin Shaw-Bickford.