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Roc Roc-It, the Clown Prince of Berlin

Roc Roc-It makes carny gold out of everyday objects. Grinning like a roly-poly overgrown tattooed child, he ambles onstage declaring, “This is the most dangerous stunt ever!” Then he reaches into a black drawstring bag and pulls out an ordinary disposable latex glove.

Making a big hoopla over stretching the glove out, he finally manages to distend the cuff over the top half of his face. Then he proceeds to huff and puff, inflating the glove on his head until it resembles a bloated coxcomb or a balloon mohawk. The audience laughs at the ridiculous sight of a potbellied man wearing a blown up glove on his head, but as the glove gets larger and larger, the laughter turns to cringes and cries of protest. Roc-It jacks up the mounting anticipation with goofy pratfalls and sideshow banter until the glove finally bursts all over his face.

With ingeniously simple acts like these, Roc-It has earned the monicker Clown Prince of Berlin. He has indeed lived in Berlin for about ten years – in a caravan outside a squat in an industrial part of Kreuzberg – but Roc-It was actually born in a small town near the Black Forest. “I’m a country boy,” he says with a wide smile that reveals several missing teeth. After several failed apprenticeships, he finally found his calling on a trip to Barcelona. “I saw all these street performers working on the Rambla,” he recalled, “and I was like, yeah, wow, that’s what I want to do.”

Sleeping on the beach and practicing everyday, he built up skills in Diabolo and fire. He learned to hammer a nail up his nose and juggle balls. Then after five years performing throughout Europe, he found himself in New Orleans breaking up with an ex-girlfriend. “I had two weeks left on my visa,” he said, “and I thought, fuck it, I’m going to go and visit some friends in New York.”

It was on his very last day in New York that he made a fateful visit to Coney Island with no other desire than to do a final show on the beach. “I knew nothing about what a sideshow is,” he said, “My friends were jugglers, guys riding a toy unicycle, doing all this classical stuff, and my show was always a bit weirder. And I was always a bit weirder character. So for me, it was basically, like, okay, there’s the main show and I’m the sideshow.”

With that in mind, he put his kit an old green suitcase and painted the words CIRCUS SIDESHOW on it. He was carrying the suitcase when he strolled past Coney Island Circus Sideshow and caught the attention of impresario Dick Zigun, who invited him to perform. Roc-It was a hit and stayed on for the next three years. “They fired the midget,” he laughs.

“While I was in New York, I did a thousand shows a year,” he estimates, but his visa had run out and living illegally finally wore him down. “I was working so much and so intensively, I got injured quite a lot,” he remembers, “I knocked my teeth out. I broke several ribs on stage. I burned my face off. And at one point, it just got to be like, it’s too much.”

Since returning to Europe six years ago, he continues to wow crowds in burlesque shows and street festivals. Twice a year, he performs with Kabaret Kalashnikov, a variety show with an Eastern European storyline. On summer nights, you can find him in the middle of a circle of people at Alexanderplatz during Berlin Lacht Fest. He also regularly performs with the Squidling Brothers Circus Sideshow when they are in Europe.


“Dazzle them with brilliance or baffle them with bullshit,” he declares, rolling up his sleeve to display a motto tattooed on his arm, “Either it has to be really poetic or just so ridiculous, that it’s just as good.”

Roc Roc-it at Baum Haus Comedy Open Air 
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Bindlestiff Open Stage Variety Show Clown Comedy Juggling Magic Photography

Bindlestiff Open Stage Variety Revue – Jan 7th, 2019

Bindlestiff Open Stage Variety Revue

This monthly showcase of variety performers has a lot to be proud of.

The New York based cirkus family Bindlestiff has some great shows lined up all year long and not just in Manhattan. The company also has performances in Hudson NY and other locations. But, the monthly BOSVR as I refer to it as has so many great acts every  month and an audience that sees it one month will see a ‘variety’ of other acts the following month. Keith Nelson hosts the monthly extravaganza and believe me it IS an Extravaganza!

The first performance of the evening is usually is reserved for Keith. Here is the ‘diablo’ or Chinese Yoyo act which he excels at.

Bethany Shao performed an amazing ‘hand balancing’ act.

Host Keith Nelson has a wonderful knack for presenting his skills in between the other acts. He claims it is the only time he gets to rehearse them. Here is his lovely spinning wooden top act.

Next was Tru-Dee (Deborah Lohse) performing her hysterical dancing/signing act.

The eccentric act of Cassandra Nemser was opera singing mixed with magic linking rings. Montana Miller told a true biographical story about her aerial work and meeting a sky-diving man that swept her away.The back stage hands that move the show along by placing and replacing props for the acts also happen to be talented performers themselves. Here is clown/physical comedian Adam Auslander adding to the hilarity of the evening.Brian Klimowski has a great talent for the Yoyo and sang/danced was well.

In every monthly show there is a ‘walk-up’ slot to be filled by anyone that wants to participate ‘last minute’ by walking up to Keith and telling him they want to ‘go on’. This month it was Ambrose Martos and he performed a clown verbal improv that involved audience participation and tickled the audience’s funny bone for sure.

Closing the show was Jared Shanks who performed the aerial ‘straps’ act. It was really wonderful to see his control and skill.

As Keith calls up all the performers for the curtain call he reminds the audience to ‘meet at the bar’ upstairs and buy your favorite act a drink!

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Every first MONDAY of the Month at Dixon Place. Come and enjoy the talent!