Saturday, 28 January 2012

Carnytube - 9

Indian pole as opposed to Chinese pole.

The one and only incomparable Tom Noddy, the original Bubble Man. This is from the Paul Daniels show. My Dad recorded this off the TV and I watched it countless times.

Pachelbel's Cannon on Crystal glasses. Otherworldly and eerily beautiful.

Feline Pugilists anno 1894, filmed by Edison

Further feline Pugilism in 1937

Friday, 27 January 2012

Mark Ryden vs Catholic Church

Mark Ryden's Saint of Clowns

Jajo the Patron Saint of Clowns.
1994 - Oil on Panel. 15" x 20".

The Baptism of Jajo. 
2003. Oil on Panel. 3.75" x 3.75".

Baptism of Jajo. 2003 - Graphite on paper.

In the Baptism we see a Clown spirit present in the form of a child's toy. His presence symbolizing the significance of what transformation the Baptism will have. It is in the toy clown we see the auguries of what is to come for this very special child.


The Catholic Saint of Clowns

The Conversion of St Genesius. By Giovanni Battista Pozzo.

The Catholic Saint of Clowns.
"While St Genesius’ mock baptism on stage was not a valid baptism, the intention to baptize not being present, through his martyrdom he is considered to have been “baptized by blood”. Right from the beginning the Church was faced with the position of those catechumens who were put to death for the Christian faith before being baptized and in this sacrifice she recognized that they were baptized by the very sacrifice of their lives for Christ and his Church. "
(From the Fraternity of St Genesius.)


Mark Ryden's Baptism of Jajo seems to be done by the blood from a Stigmata, miraculously appearing wounds corresponding to those of Jesus on on the cross. It is also a "baptism by blood."
The painting is from his series of miniatures called Blood. A CD was released in conjunction with the exhibition and you can hear the Baptism of Jajo soundtrack here. If myspace isn't satisfying you can get it on itunes.

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

We do Real Magic

In perusing my Dad's dusty library of magic books and manuscripts I came across a very fine collection of essays on the Art of Magic by Richard Osterlind called Making Real Magic. It is part of a trilogy of books and is very worth getting your hands on. This man is a superb and interesting thinker as well as a fine performer of mentalism.

He ponders, in the title essay from the collection, how magic can be real and not just presentation of cleverly performed deception, a topic that has been delved into on this blog before. The way he answers this is as simple as it is ingenious.
"My answer is in the following definition. Magic is the art of creating mystery and wonder. The first key word is mystery. There is no mystery in true miracles!"
If our goal as Magicians or Illuminated Showmen is to create mystery and wonder then performing miracles and supernatural phenomena makes the heart of the mystery, the not knowing, evaporate. Even though a miracle or supernatural event is an obscure and tenuous explanation it is an explanation non-the-less. Mystery, as I've blogged about before, is only powerful and alive if there is no explanation.

If a person actually has psychokinetic abilities, i.e. the power to move objects without physically touching them, an exhibition of these powers would no longer be mysterious. Instead it would be a demonstration of a skill not unlike juggling or expert card mechanics.
If there is an explanation then the Mystery dies.
So if we are to be purveyors of genuine Mystery, it means doing impossible things with no explanation what so ever. Or at least not one that rules out all others with certainty.
"The appeal of the magician is that he or she is able to accomplish something that an ordinary mortal should not be able to do. Please ponder this thought in depth. The
reason mystery penetrates into our very souls is it gives hope that un-solvable problems in life are solvable. The wonder of magic is that it tangibly demonstrates that dreams can become reality. If a magician is mortal and can make magic, then the audience, who is also mortal, has hope!
We owe it to our audiences and ourselves to do real magic. We should not be trying to raise ourselves above the level of our audience. We need to show them that we are just like them and can still do these things. We want to be an example of how human endeavor and ingenuity can achieve great results."
The Shaman is human but one that has gone through ordeals, sickness and who have learnt lessons that gives him unusual but not supernatural powers. As with the Shaman it is with the Illuminated Showman. We study secret Arts, strange feats and clever turns in the pursuit of our Craft and through this we can, with the right frame of mind, feel the heart of Mystery beat inside us and thus be able to show it to others. We inhabit the same planet as the Crowd but we live in different worlds. In the Showman's world the impossible becomes possible, it just takes a little more time. The Bubble Man Tom Noddy says when his physicist friend tells him it is impossible to blow a square soap bubble, "Nothing is impossible." Then he proceeds to blow one. After which he comments: no one should proclaim anything impossible until you have spoken to the Vaudevillians.
In this way what Illuminated Showmen does is not supernatural, but impossible. What we have is not special powers but special abilities.
Osterlind further claims Magicians actually does the impossible, pointing out that they don't just create illusions of the impossible.
"Since the magician starts at point A and the impossible is at point B, if he gets there, then he has accomplished it! It is not an illusion. In a very real sense, he has done the impossible!"
"When you look at the stars at night, you are seeing the light that shone from them far in the distant past. Some of them may not even exist anymore.
The world as we see and experience it is not what we think. Our perception of sights, sounds, smells and other senses can be altered by many factors. Reality is only what we believe it to be at a given moment. To control another person's perception is to control another person's reality. If you can make another person's reality into something wonderful, you can do real magic."
 What else would be worth pursuing but real magic in our performances. Real magic moments that will be planted as seed in the minds of our Crowds. Seeds of Change. Seeds for Thought. Surely that can't be asking too much of us, can it?

“When you take any activity, any art, any discipline, any skill, take it and push it as fas as it has ever been pushed before, push it into the wildest edge of edges, then you force it into the realm of real magic.”
- Tom Robbins

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Carnytube - 8

Harry Houdini`s rope escape

A potential Circus Dog

Apparantly this is the worlds best tricks. Either way it is a sweet compilation.

And here is some insane Parkour by David Belle.

Here we go skipping.

And a purveyor of the almost forgotten art of hoop rolling. I read about this is Charlie Holland's book Strange Feats and Clever Turns but haven't seen a full act until now.

a CAnibal Clown short film by the ever great Carnival Cinema 
Featuring Derek Ives, Claire Bartholomew, and Nikki Wilkes.

Cardoso Flea Circus Live in Paris from Maria Fernanda Cardoso on Vimeo.

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Charles Bukowski - Genius of the Crowd

"Some people never go crazy. What truly horrible lives they must lead."

Bukowski was a writer. He wrote it all. Poems, short stories, novels, screenplays. He wrote it all just as he saw it. Once a long time ago at about five to eight in the morning on my way to do street shows in Coven Garden, London, I was asked why I liked Bukowski. I said - because he writes it like it is. Then we got to the pitch and all the street performers began pulling numbers out of a hat to decide who plays first. It was a summer day in july. I spotted a fellow performer which I knew also read Bukowski and asked him why he read the words of the dirty old man. He writes it like it is he said. I smiled.

Here are some thoughts on the dark side of the Crowd - of the Average people. For the Illuminated Showman must remember that the Crowd is a Beast. Given the oppertunity it will eat you. It can be tamed but is will always be wild. Like the snake in the Little Prince, it could bite at any time. Such is its nature.

There is a part of the poem missing out of this video excerpt from Born Into This. So here the poem is in full. A warning to budding Showmen, and a reminder to those who have experienced

The Genius of the Crowd

there is enough treachery, hatred violence absurdity in the average
human being to supply any given army on any given day

and the best at murder are those who preach against it
and the best at hate are those who preach love
and the best at war finally are those who preach peace

those who preach god, need god
those who preach peace do not have peace
those who preach love do not have love

beware the preachers
beware the knowers
beware those who are always reading books
beware those who either detest poverty
or are proud of it
beware those quick to praise
for they need praise in return
beware those who are quick to censor
they are afraid of what they do not know
beware those who seek constant crowds for
they are nothing alone
beware the average man the average woman
beware their love, their love is average
seeks average

but there is genius in their hatred
there is enough genius in their hatred to kill you
to kill anybody
not wanting solitude
not understanding solitude
they will attempt to destroy anything
that differs from their own
not being able to create art
they will not understand art
they will consider their failure as creators
only as a failure of the world
not being able to love fully
they will believe your love incomplete
and then they will hate you
and their hatred will be perfect

like a shining diamond
like a knife
like a mountain
like a tiger
like hemlock

their finest art


(Hemlock was the poison used to execute Socrates for inciting youth and not following the state's gods. The Genius of the Crowd chose to kill him rather than answering his questions.)

I mentioned the poem was an excerpt so here is the documentary Born Into This in full too. (For some reason it blogger wont link to it on my page...)

Finally here is my favorite poem. The more you have read, the more you have seen, the more you know the dirty old man the weightier this poem gets.

Magritte's Therapist. The birds inside.

there's a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I'm too tough for him,
I say, stay in there, I'm not going
to let anybody see

there's a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I pur whiskey on him and inhale
cigarette smoke
and the whores and the bartenders
and the grocery clerks
never know that
in there.

there's a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I'm too tough for him,
I say,
stay down, do you want to mess
me up?
you want to screw up the
you want to blow my book sales in

there's a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I'm too clever, I only let him out
at night sometimes
when everybody's asleep.
I say, I know that you're there,
so don't be
then I put him back,
but he's singing a little
in there, I haven't quite let him
and we sleep together like
with our
secret pact
and it's nice enough to
make a man
weep, but I don't
weep, do

Friday, 13 January 2012

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Lessons from the Way of the Showman - 62

Performing is sharing.
It is the core of our Craft, for it is in the moment where the Showman divulges his material to the crowd our Art appears.

The Showman practices, prepares, seeks knowledge, wisdom, jokes, gags, pratfalls, tricks, methods, stories, moves, dances and so forth. Finding joy in seeking and refining all this is the Love of the Craft, but performing this before a Crowd is when we Create Art.

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Carnytube 7

Amazing 1950`s fliping and dancing - Lou Wills!

Great Chinese State Circus - Swan Lake

She without arm, he without leg - ballet

Poppin  contortion by Robert Muraine

Slow, elaborate and curious balances...

 Chaplin`s the Kid! Unparalleled beauty. It encapsulates everything that is great about Chaplin and it introduces the sweet mixture of sad, stupid and sweet, the essence of clown, to the cinema world.

Friday, 6 January 2012

Lessons from the Way of the Showman - 61

Love your Audience. You can't truly succeed as a Showman unless you realize the importance of this. Without them you are nothing, at least not a Showman. Since a Showman is someone who Shows significant material to other people, we need the Crowd like fish needs water.
They can read you like an open book as soon as you walk on stage. They are all Mind Readers, if you will. So have your love and respect in your mind and body for them to read. Show it in your face. Open up, smile, radiate. They are the ones who makes our Craft Meaningful, show them your gratitude for this.
If you instill this mental attitude you will crave their excitement, their wonder, and their happiness even more than your own. This is a beautiful mind for them to read.