Saturday, May 31, 2008

Antropomorphic Amenities

Naumann’s incredible tiger

The circus ring is always been the temple for every possible anthropomorphic feat for every kind of animal creature.

Sharpshooter parrots, boxing kangaroos, athletic porcupines, hockey player bears, military monkeys, panthers riding yaks, horse riding bears, pyramids of panthers, soothsayer poneys, poker player poodles, clarvoyant pigs, tigers dancing with elephants, crocodiles wrestling with men, scorpions insidiating women, lions balancing on trapeze, hippopotamus ordering meals, rats driving a train, a rabbit fire brigade estinguishing the flames at a cat’s house, giraffes running along with rhinoceros, guitarrist gorillas, polar bears firing with rifles, elephants descending toboggans, girls fighting piranhas.

You, as faithful followers of this blog, are likely subject to be exposed to few of those feats and more in the future.

Today, we wish to remember one of the most impressive and spectacular feats ever obtained by the man with the animal.

It is the case of the german trainer Heinz Naumann, that in the 60s presented around Europe and in the Usa his high-diving jump along with his tiger Rajah. Naumann was a former U-boot German marine. After being war prisoner, by 1945 he turned himself tiger trainer in South America. With a patient approach in growing tiger cubs, he was able to obtain exceptional results. We unhearthed an existing clip of his diving stunt, performed in Berlin Deutschlandhalle: it is very brief, just 19 seconds. As short and intense as a human cannonball performance, but worth to witness.

In the picture: Naumann with Rajah

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Borra, the king of thieves

Today, back on the subject of pickpocket, with new exciting discoveries.

Few acts in the last century had the success and reputation of Borra, the king of the pickpocket.
Austrian-born Borilslav Miljolkovich, perfectly speaking 12 languages, with his exceptional personality amused and surprised the world, headlining the créme of circuses and varieties in both the emispheres, often with special poster art.

We have been lucky enough to know him and to witness his miracles around the world.

We recently unearthed a peculiar proof of Borra's perplexing pickpocket powers: a private press performance for Scotland Yard, while appearing at Bertram Mills circus in London.
We punctually posted it on Youtube for your pleasure.

We love when entertainers deals with the most primal and dramatic elements of human's poor existence: fear, death, blood, sex, deformity, sadism, mysticism, crime, money, trickery. All is about survive, and we witness performers to be reassured. Or troubled. We love when a great performance is able do do that, and their talents representing a potential real risk for the umanity. And we love when they are able to do this with laughs.
Borra was of this class.
And this is just the beginning. More about him in future.
For now, Borra's film at Scotland Yard.

N.B.: it is a silent footage. But not for this deprived of charme.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

New Blacaman Gallery

A further and exhaustive (but not definitive) chapter on the infinite subject of crocodile hypnotism (with a turn on lions).

Reiterating and interlacing topics is one of our preferred entertainment in assuring our discoveries to the world. This not to deny that new and surprising subject will be assured.
We knows: crocodiles and fakirs are one of our preeminent obsessions. Promising you to soon divert from this area, please let us submit you this innocent gallery pertaining Blacaman second area of activity: the hypnotism over lions and crocodiles.
At the end of his act, he had a square cage built on stage, and with his obscure hypnotic powers, in a complicate italian jargon, he reduced the turbolent kings of the forest to his will, without whips, hoops or others circensis paraphernalia.
And this was anticipated by this same power over crocodiles: after all, he was the teacher of Koringa, who acted as a "nurse" in the master's act, before to take her way.

Please admire in today's gallery the poster art for those Blacaman's animal submission feats.

Now compare the European graphics with the American posters below.
In fact, in 1939, Blacaman was contracted in the U.S.A. at the Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus (a secondary but prestigious operation owned by Ringling Bros. Barnum and Bailey).

During this period, the master fakir appeared on the Universal movie "You Can't Cheat an Honest Man", directed by George Marshall and filmed in that circus. This vehicle for W.C.Fields and Ed Bergen dedicated few minutes to Blacaman helping Al McCarthy to get out of a crocodile mouth, and a splendid excerpt of his lion act. If some good soul can post the segments on Youtube, we will highly appreciate.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Water Spouter Extraordinaire

The legendary Hadji Ali act

As promised, we are back on the theme of "human hydrants" and regurgitators, and his most prestigious exponent: Hadji Ali.
In the 20s, when vaudeville was in the endless search of the unique to amaze audience in both emisphere, he was in the perfect context sharing the bill with talking heads, mice eaters, human gazometers, syrian soothsayers, living calculators and autobolide jumpers.
His act is one of the phisically most extremes that ever left recorded from this era. We have found it, promptly posted and we offer it to you today. It was filmed as part of "Politiquerias", a Spanish-language extended version of the Laurel and Hardy movie "Chicken comes Home".
Following the announcement of the very special emcee, spanish-speaking Oliver Hardy, you will a seven standard minute classic act. And you will not admire just the stunts and feats of the performer. You will admire them polished and routined in what was truly inteded an act: with all the grace, style, subtle humour, little tips, personality, elegance and the experienced rythm that music-hall showmanship used to be.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

The Pleasure of Piercing Performances

The great Kirokaya and few forgotten fakirs

While today body piercing is an accepted social and artistic practice (as it used to be in earlier civilizations), fifty years ago it was still a novelty for circus goers.
In the late 60s, circuses started to book fakirs who, beside cataleptic creativity and fire funambolisms, pierced their bodies with a plethora of penetrating pins.
It happened in France, Italy, Germany, Great Britain, Spain, under small and large big tops or on the theatre stages of big and rural towns. Producers used to set vaudeville touring units called "festival of mistery" or such; and circuses called the audience replacing on posters clowns and elephants with fakirs.

Among those was Johnson, "the gentleman fakir", emphasizing his stage dandyesque elegance with his repulsive feats.

But the most impressive was Kirokaya: billed from Nepal but probably european. After some feats of piercing, he invited spectator in the ring to have fun throwing darts into his back. At the end of his act, having inserted hooks in his chest, he pulled a small cart with four men on the top, with the only driving force of his skin.

Kirokaya became a star in Italy in the late 60s and early 70s, during his succesful tours with the famous Darix Togni circus. We have lost his traces today.

Below, there is a newsreel clip of one of the many "occult festivals" organized in France in the 60s. It was a surreal conclave of performers happily inflicting themselves all kind of tortures.
We discovered that one of them, the fakir wearing glasses, is Kirokaya in person.

Today the world is more used to the sport of piercing and to the aficionado gatherings. Tatoo shops are at every corner.
Let's remember for few instants to a time, just few decades ago, when all that still stimulated the wonderful conflict between pleasure and repulsion.

Locations of visitors to this page