Here I am with a couple of real clowns! (I wish the light were better, but hey.) Yes! Every year the Kelly-Miller Circus comes to Olney (only seven miles from us) and every year we try to go. And one reason we go to this lovely small show is to see the clowns, of course. Steve and Ryan are two of the best in the business. I met Steve briefly at the Clown College Reunion,... Read more →

The One about the Donniker

Okay! The donniker story! As I mentioned, circus folks have a language all their own. One of my favorites is donniker, which means toilet. Merriam Webster Online says it probably has its roots in the word dunnekin, from an old English dialect. Well, be that as it may, of the four circuses I worked for, only one had its own donniker. The others either brought in Porta-Potties (which we still called donnikers) or played venues... Read more →

I Just Wanted To Get Away

Reading this article on brought back a circus memory I had buried. All these years later, it always skeeves the hell out of me. I was working as advance clown for a tiny little circus based in Saginaw, Michigan. This show did a fall and winter circuit of schools, armories, and town rec centers. I went ahead of the rest of the show and did promotional shows at elementary schools to advertise the circus.... Read more →

It's Late

Letterman's just begun and I am awake; have been all evening. Nope, not even a sleepy-eyed nod off on the sofa. I used to stay up way late at night during my circus days, especially the first year when I helped tear down the big top. I'd finish the second show, change my clothes and take off my makeup, and head into the tent to haul quarter poles. After that I'd hang out until time... Read more →

The Aztec God of Flight

Meet Billy Barton, aka Mr. Sensation. I met Billy in 1976, my first year running around with circuses. He was an amazing person and I adored him. Billy was in his late forties in 1976 and still doing his signature cloud swing act, as Prince Najvez, the Aztec God of Flight. It was a wonderful, scary, exhilarating act. A cloud swing is kind of like a trapeze, only it does not have a fixed bar... Read more →

In A Blizzard, Uphill, Both Ways!

It's damn cold outside. RIght now it's in the mid-twenties with mind-numbing wind chill. Reminds me of the winter I spent with Voorheis Brothers Circus in Michigan, living in my van. (Cue twinkly flashback music...) Yes, it was the dead of winter in Michigan. I was doing advance work for the show, then meeting up with them to clown. I knew it was going to be ass cold while I up there, so I prepared... Read more →

Shower Power

It's hot. It's humid. It's summer in Washington. It reminds me of my circus days, when I traveled around the country in the heat and humidity and the only air conditioning I had was... none. Circus tents get beastly hot in the summer, even when the sidewall is pulled up to let in whatever scanty breeze might be floating around. I think I was sticky the whole summer for three years running. On the first... Read more →

Welcome To Summer

The sky is dark with clouds and rain is pelting down, soaking the unwary who thought that bright sunlight would be here all day. A streak of lightning zigzags down in an instant followed by the thunder, Hello! There's electricity in the air; power all around. Welcome to summer. I know; technically it's still spring. The turn of the season doesn't happen until our anniversary, two weeks and a couple days away. The wind's picking... Read more →

Ten Things About Memorial Day Weekend

We had a very full, very fun weekend! Here are ten things about it: 1. It was hot -- high 80s all three days; today may have nudged 90. 2. We saw two movies: The Man Who Would Be King and Date Night. Both were good. TMWBK is a classic, of course, and Tina Fey and Steve Carell were wonderful in Date Night. 3. I had lunch at a fancy joint with my older sister,... Read more →

Home On The Road

When I was on the road with the circus, I lived in a van. No, not under a bridge out by the airport. My van was a 1973 Ford Super Van, which I named The Fool Bus. I really wanted to paint it school-bus yellow, but Earl Scheib charged more than I had for that little indulgence. Instead, I spelled out "Fool Bus" on the side in shiny stick-on letters from the hardware store. It... Read more →