Saturday, October 25, 2008

SHANE CASHIN: 1st Whiteface Makeup, October 25, 2008

Shane made good use of his new wig today, heading to the Chiller Theater convention in Parsippany, NJ to meet some of his TV pals...

Shane wearing Daddy's old Ringling whiteface makeup but with a pained on nose,
making him look like a little Frosty Little.

With a clown nose and his new wig, a little siller and a little more like Daddy used to do it.

With Daddy's childhood hero, Frank Avruch. Mr. Avruch played Bozo the Clown on WHDH-TV in Boston and his show was syndicated nationally. He was the Bozo that I saw on WPIX-TV out of New York growing up and the reason for my childhood interest in clowns and circus.

Those same shows recently became available on DVD, giving Shane an opportunity to see Daddy's first clowning inspiration.

Mr. Avruch was delighted that Shane was as familiar with the show as he was. We asked him about how Bozo selected his "Butch For a Day". After a little coaxing from Daddy, Mr. Avruch closed his eyes real tight, went into his magic Bozo trance, spun around and pointed to Shane. On cue Daddy produced a bag with a red tail coat, a marching band hat and a Bozo doll... exactly what "Butch For a Day" got on the TV show!

Shane also got to meet Carroll Spinney, who played characters such as Mr. Lion, Kooky Kangaroo and Grandma Nellie on the WHDH Bozo show but he is much better known for the job he took after that. For the last 40 years he has played Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch on Sesame Street!

Mr. Spinney so enjoyed Shane's "Butch For a Day" bit that he took out a pad of paper and reprised one of Mr. Lion's old chalk-talk tricks from his Bozo days He wrote Shane's name on a piece of paper and turned it into a sketch of Shane's dog Honeybear!

Terri Runnels is a former WCW and WWE professional wrestling manager, and TV host. She was extremely sweet and left her own table to run over to get her picture taken with Shane while he was in line to meet Carroll Spinney.

Later she autographed a photo for him that will be added to his growing "Shane Wall of Fame".

And then we came home to tell Mommo all about and and make some pizzas!

Friday, October 24, 2008

SHANE CASHIN: His First Yak Wig!

Shane was surprised when he got off the bus today to find that there was a package in the mail for him from Trick and Tara Kelly. he opened it and his jaw hit the floor when he saw that it was a real, honest-to-goodness yak clown wig just for him!

I have to admit, my jaw hit the floor too! What a thoughtful and generous gift!

It came with the following note...

Hi Shane,

We saw the video of you and your Dad in the parade. You were awesome! We thought you would like to have a new yak wig to go along with your cool outfit and makeup. Best of luck with your clowning career!

Bump a nose,
Tara and Trick Kelly

Thank you guys! Tomorrow there will be pictures to show just how much this great gift is appreciated.

BILLY VAUGHN: Balloon Come-In, Garden Bros. Circus

A little bit Blinko and Maran, a little bit Dime and Connie Wilson... Billy Vaughn shows that he knows his history and learned from the best doing come-in on the Garden Bros. Circus.


Feld Entertainment has (in a very smart move) set up a website making it easier for folks to follow the trial, which begins on Monday.

Grab a seat and a bag of popcorn! This should be good.

SNL: Homerun

BARRY LUBIN: That's Life, 1998

Video courtesy of Tiffany Riley

Barry Lubin es muy "Rico Sauve" in this clip from the NY Goofs 1998 holiday production, The NY Goofs' Family Christmas Special. He is ably assisted here by Evelyn Tuths, Hilary Chaplain and Tiffany Riley.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

RON HOWARD: Funny or Die

"Why NOT?!? Jenny Piccolo's mother let's her watch Ron Howard's online political videos!"


Drew Richardson and I saw the final NY dress rehearsal of the Big Apple Circus' 31st production, Play On last night.


Carrie Harvey
Barry Lubin
Rodion Troupe
Luciano Anastasini and his Pound Puppies
Glen Heroy
Mark Gindick
Olivier Taquin
Valdis Yanovskis
Christine Zerbini
Sultan Kumisbayev
Nanjing Acrobats
The Flying Cortes
The LaSalle Brothers
Sarah Schwarz
GuiMing Meng
Regina Dobrovitskaya
Andrey Mantchev
Virgile Peyramaure
Christian Atayde Stoinev

Michael Valenti

Steve Smith 

The clowning was excellent as always. Glen Heroy hit one out of the park last night by picking an adorable 3 year old volunteer who was as happy to participate in the gag as he was just to run around the ring. Glen played each moment absolutely perfectly.

Stand outs in the show for me include Luciano Anastasini comedy dog act which I worked with on Hamid two seasons ago and GuiMing Meng who I worked with on McConnell's show. Both acts are outstanding. The LaSalle Brothers come into New York heavily hyped by the show and live up to every word that you've read; they are the most entertaining juggling act that I've seen since this group in 2005...

I'm not sure of the name of the wire walker, but that was another act that I found outstanding in both it's conception and execution.

The set design was very innovative and brought the band much closer to the action and the show benefited greatly from the return of Steve Smith's direction, which always brings a warmth and flow to the production that seems to be missing when he's not at the helm.

For more, click here.


Slava's Snowshow returns to NY for a limited run from December 2nd through January 4th to compete with Big Apple in Lincoln Center and Cirque's Wintuk at the Garden.


VOLUME 2 of the CLOWNALLEY.NET video compilation series is again available on eBay...

VOLUME 2 features

The 112th edition Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus Blue Unit Clown Alley

Lou Jacobs and Pee-Wee

Charlie Cairoli


The Ghezzis

Andre & Frisco

Fredi Codrelli & Bernhard Paul

The Francescos

Rosalee Hoffman footage of the Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey Clown Alley of the 1960s

NTSC format only

Approx. running time: 1 hr

To order, please click here.


Focus' new SBU (Self Balancing Unicycle).

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

GEORGE CARL: Clown College Reunion 1987

Photo courtesy of Billy Vaughn


Try to imagine any international auto manufacturer even considering using clowns to sell their cars today.



MIKE SMITH: Got a Baby Daughter for His Bithday???

I just realized that Lara gave Mike a brand new baby for his 40th birthday! I can't wait to see what he gets her for her 40th...

(which is AT LEAST 15 years away!)

STEVE COPELAND: In Andrew Scharff's Makeup

Just in time for Halloween Steve sends another very creepy picture...this looks like the last thing the victim sees before the car trunk slams down on top of them!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


From the New York Times

Published: October 21, 2008

No longer shall he be lord of the ring.

Paul Binder, the 66-year-old founder, artistic director and ringmaster of the Big Apple Circus, will be stepping away from the tanbark next year after three decades as boss man of the little top.

Mr. Binder is master of ceremonies and principal public symbol of this one-ring show, which begins its 31st season on Thursday in Damrosch Park at Lincoln Center. The new production, “Play On!” — featuring 4 horses, 8 dogs and 28 humans from 12 countries in a heated 1,600-seat blue Italian tent — will continue its traditional holiday run through Jan. 18.

“Finally I can get off the road,” said Mr. Binder, who for decades has been ringmaster half of each year. “I didn’t want to do this until I was on my deathbed.”

The new show will be Mr. Binder’s last production, though he will remain behind the scenes with Big Apple, taking the titles of artistic adviser and founding artistic director. He is to focus on fund-raising and planning, and will travel the world searching for new circus acts. Next year his place in the spotlight will be taken by Carrie Harvey, billed as host of “Play On!”

He will be succeeded as artistic director — and circus boss — by Guillaume Dufresnoy, Big Apple’s 48-year-old general manager. A Bordeaux-born former aerialist with the national circuses of France and Switzerland, Mr. Dufresnoy has been a performer or manager at Big Apple for 21 years. For the last 11, he has been second in command to Mr. Binder.

Though creating the show has always been a collaborative process, “ultimately I would make the call,” Mr. Binder said. “Now Guillaume will have the final word.”

The street-smart Big Apple show that made New York a circus town has come a long way from the spunky little counterculture entertainment that Mr. Binder and his co-founder, Michael Christensen, first presented in 1977 in a green 1,000-seat tent set up on landfill destined to become Battery Park City.

After earning a bachelor’s degree from Dartmouth College and an M.B.A. from Columbia University, Mr. Binder became a television stage manager for Julia Child in Boston, and then a Manhattan talent booker for “The Merv Griffin Show.” After that he ran away with the San Francisco Mime Troupe in the early 1970s, performing political theater with Mr. Christensen, then a comedic actor.

In the mid-1970s the two left the troupe to work as street jugglers “living off our wits,” Mr. Binder recalled. They tossed quips, clubs and hats in London, Paris, Italy, Athens and Istanbul before returning to France to perform in the Nouveau Cirque de Paris, a legendary one-ring show.

Soon Mr. Binder had the idée fixe to create a one-ring circus in Manhattan, and did so in a show that presented its performers to audiences “sometimes awkwardly, sometimes a trifle self-consciously, but altogether winningly,” according to a review of the show’s second season by Richard Eder in The New York Times.

The circus has refined its family-pleasing aesthetic of intimacy, artistry, fun and sense of wonder, and now tours to 10 cities and has a $21 million budget for the show; the circus’s rehearsal complex in Walden, N.Y.; and its charitable divisions, which include school programs and a Clown Care Unit that employs 90 clowns to visit children in hospitals.

Mr. Binder “took the European one-ring style and put his own signature on it,” said a competitor, Kenneth Feld, chief executive of the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus. In 2000 Mr. Feld took on Big Apple in Bryant Park with Barnum’s Kaleidoscape, a high-end, one-ring holiday-season show that folded its tent forever on New Year’s Day 2001.

“Paul has done a great job with the show for three decades,” Mr. Feld said, “but just staying alive isn’t enough. He’s done much more than that, and my hat goes off to him.”

Peg Breen, president of the New York Landmarks Conservancy, called Mr. Binder “a cultural landmark to generations of kids and their parents.” The conservancy designated Mr. Binder and Mr. Christensen as “living landmarks” in 2000. “How many people say, ‘Let’s start a circus, and make it nonprofit,’ and have the imagination and courage and whimsy to keep it going for three decades?” she asked.

Still, in Mr. Binder’s final season at center ring, Big Apple, like many cultural institutions, is facing uncertainty brought on by the Wall Street crisis, which could suppress ticket sales and fund-raising. But given the circus’s loyal patrons, including grandchildren of the first generation of fans, Chris Wearing, chairman of the circus’s 35-person board, said he hoped that “parents may want to be with their families at our show more than ever.”

Another challenge is increasing competition. For nearly three decades Mr. Binder’s show largely owned Manhattan’s holiday-circus season, but last year Big Apple — which spent $2.5 million on its production — was challenged during the holidays not only by “Wintuk,” a $20 million Cirque du Soleil show in the WaMu Theater at Madison Square Garden, but also by five other circuses, including the Apollo Circus of Soul in Harlem.

Despite that, Big Apple’s $15.5 million in ticket sales and attendance of 475,000 set a record. This season, though, the Apollo show won’t be back, and Soleil — as circus people call it — is revamping “Wintuk” with new acts after mixed reviews last year. It is to open in previews on Oct. 30, with an official opening on Nov. 14.

Mr. Wearing said that despite the economic downturn, the circus hoped to create a summer season and was exploring the possibility of international tours “since we’ve been invited to perform in Asia.”

Mr. Binder will be expected to unleash his charisma at occasional future ceremonial events, including fund-raisers, Mr. Wearing added. This “is not one of those ‘move him out and say he’ll be doing special projects’ things,” Mr. Wearing said. “There is so much we want to do. We want to extend the show and the season, and develop an endowment. We need Paul to protect the franchise, and his legacy, in the future.”

Mr. Binder said he had been working out the details of his transition with the circus board for several years. “We wanted to create a cultural institution that would last after me, and now it will,” said Mr. Binder, who grew up in Brooklyn.

As Mr. Christensen put it, “Nothing stays the same, and something that is alive — like this show — has to grow.” (Mr. Christensen, 61, is formally the co-founder, while Mr. Binder is the founder because he came up with the circus idea in 1976.)

As Mr. Binder separates from Big Apple, he hopes to teach theater performance and management and to work on his autobiography. “Ultimately,” he said, “I suppose I’ll become an éminence grise. I’m already grise.”

RULO: Atayde Hermanos 2008




(October 20, 2008 - Vienna, VA) - The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Center for Clown Conservation (CCC) proudly announced today the birth of a healthy female circus clown - marking the twenty third birth in what is already one of the most successful clown breeding programs in the world. The baby, born on October 20, 2008, 1:08 p.m. at 6 pounds, is a rare second-generation offspring of Lara and Mike, who are the breeding stock at the Ringling Bros.® conservation program in Kooskia, Idaho.

"The endangered American circus clown has been a revered member of the Ringling Bros. family for 138 years, so our commitment to their salvation around the world is of paramount importance," said Kenneth Feld, Chairman and Producer of Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey®. "Every baby clown born into our care represents another important step toward sustaining this remarkable species for generations to come."

A team of expert doctors and clown husbandry specialists will watch over and care for the new "clownling" as she grows and develops. The baby's name will be selected through a national naming vote Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey is conducting with Weekly Reader's Kids News program. The public can vote on the name at from Friday, October 31st through Friday, November 7.

The goal of the Ringling Bros. CCC is to focus on the research, reproduction and retirement of circus clowns. Since its inception, it has seen unprecedented breeding success, due to a dedicated and expert staff of Clown College alumni. Ringling Bros. has the largest sustainable population of American circus clowns in the Western hemisphere.

"With fewer than 1,200 Clown College graduates left in the wild, this birth represents an unwavering commitment by Ringling Bros. to safeguard the future of this endangered species, literally one baby step at a time," said Bruce Read, Ringling Bros. Vice President of Comedy Stewardship. "The Ringling Bros. CCC is the central point for our global collaboration in scientific research and we are proud of the important work being done here and the contributions our team is making to ensure the preservation of this magnificent creature."

In the last year Ringling Bros. has committed more than $300,000 to fund the Smithsonian Institution's Circus Comedy research projects on cranial colonosis, the single greatest health threat to the American circus clown, and a reproductive study aimed at increasing the captive population of the clowns. In 2007, Ringling Bros. formed a partnership with Circus Roncalli in Germany, allowing Roncalli the opportunity to acquire, through a companion clown program, a male circus clown named "Burl" from the Ringling Bros. Center for Clown Conservation in an effort to increase respect, pay rate and skill level of "bubble clowns" internationally.

About the Ringling Bros. CCC: The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Center for Clown Conservation was founded by Feld Entertainment, Inc., the parent company of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey, to ensure that future generations have the opportunity to experience the endangered American circus clown. Built in 1995, this 200-acre, state-of-the-art facility was designed for the reproduction, research and retirement of the circus clowns, enabling Ringling Bros. to share its knowledge of circus comedy with the circus and conservation communities worldwide.

For more information about the Ringling Bros. Center for Elephant Conservation visit

Monday, October 20, 2008


I had the chance to take the family (and Drew Richardson) to the new Prudential Center in Newark to see the Ringling 137th edition Red Unit's Bellobration Tour. We enjoyed the show, LOVED the arena and had a great time talking with Ruth Chaddock before meeting up with the Alley.

Old friends Lance Brown (fellow class of '97 alum and one of the last CC grads left going into next season), Leo Acton (headed here to the NY/NJ metro area after this season) and Larry Clark all seem to be doing just fine and dandy. New friends Dustin Portillo (soon to be Boss Clown) and Brandon Foster looked to be juiced headed into Winter Quarters.

Speaking of next season, take a look at this flyer for next year's show...

"Arrive an hour early for Clown College at the All Access Pre-Show" 

What's that all about??? The All Access Pre-Show (formerly the 3 Ring Adventure) is great and all but it's no Clown College. It isn't even as much fun as seeing all those beautiful George Shellenberger props being wheeled out there on the track, rigged to explode and best viewed from the safety of your seat.

The whole affair just makes me nostalgic for the early to mid 70s when my Dad used to grumble about having to get us to the Garden early so that I could be there when the doors opened and watch the clowns' pre-show. 

Back then there were 25-30 clowns per unit, Lou Jacobs, Mark Anthony, Duane Thorpe, Prince Paul, Bobby Kaye were still with the show. I'm now so old that Otto Griebling and Frankie Saluto were still there the first few times I went! 

Graduates of the then-new Clown College included Frosty Little and future deans Steve Smith, Ron Severini and Dick Monday were out there on the floor along with the likes of Barry Lubin, Peter Pitofsky, Billy Vaughn, Ruth Chaddock, Peggy Williams, Ron Jarvis, Billy Baker, Sparky Washburn, Swede Johnson, Keith Crary, Mitch Freddes, Zappata, Danny Chapman, Levoie Hipps, Kevin Bickford, Robin Shaw, Earl Chaney, Mike Padilla, Johnny Peers, Maude Flippen, Jim Howle, Richard Mann, Eric Braun, Rick Cobbin, Janice Gillespie, Leon McBryde (doing advance), Ray "Anchor Face" Lesperance, Don Debelli, Bob Zraick, Chris Bricker, Tim Torkildson, Antonio Hoyos, Lazlo Donnert, Dougie Ashton and the many others who made the Greatest Show on Earth such a magical experience when I was young.

Way back then kiddies, the programs were pretty expensive, $2.00 or $3.00, and EVERY kid in the Garden had one of these to swing around when the lights went down...


Just the plastic smell of one of these takes me back...

CHRIS SHELTON: Breakaway Bicycle

Sunday, October 19, 2008


My sister-in-law Patti sends this photo of her Cashin-centric Halloween pumpkin. 

Here is a "Shane-O-Lantern". Groovy mohawk!

SHANE CASHIN: America's Luckiest Little Boy!

Shane, yesterday afternoon, dressed in his "Dark Knight"-style Halloween costume posing with Batman and Robin in front of one of the original George Barris designed Batmobiles.

The car belongs to the Chinery family. The costumes are mine.

Then he met the Amazing Spider-Man

And then a few hours later attended Drew "The Dramatic Fool" Richardson's show Help! Help! I Know This Title is Long, But Somebody's Trying to Kill Me! directed by Avner "The Eccentric" Eisenberg at the Middletown Arts Center in Middletown, NJ.

While he loved the show, I think that he was more excited that we were going out to eat with Drew afterwards and that he was going to be riding in our car!

TWEEDY: His New Job

Scenes from Alan "Tweedy" Digweed's stage show.