If someone ask you ‘what is the best way to becoming a professional clown’ you might have to think about it for awhile. THE CLOWN CONSERVATORY!
I first met Lyle in 1972 when I was in San Francisco doing an article for Crawdaddy Magazine. I was invited to his tattoo museum and shop and did some photographs. Then he invited me back to have dinner with him and some of his friends. It was great fun (I did get a tattoo) and he is a very funny dude. I went back in 2015 and visited him. (having not seen him since 1972!) and we met at his new shop at 841 Columbus Avenue. Went for a few drinks and had a blast.
I highly recommend that anyone interested in ‘Tattoo’ or sociology attend this special event.
Lyle Tuttle getting another part of his body tattooed.
Lyle has been a resident of San Francisco for over 70 years.
Lyle Tuttle featured on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine in 1970.
Lyle pictured in front of his first Tatto shop in San Francisco.
Me, Lyle and my wife Deborah at Lyle’s shop in San Francisco in 2015.
# # # # #
Reposted by Permission from Sara Moore at CircusCenter, San Francisco.
THE STATE OF THE CLOWN | BY SARA MOORE
I am a clown. I’ve shared the same trailer, the same dressing room, the same midway, with all manner of people who enhance the idiocy and paradox of their own bumbling humanity by turning themselves inside out and presenting themselves to an audience. I have performed with everyone from Carol Channing to “Freckles.” I have been on the bill with every type of performer from opera singers, stand-ups, storytellers, jazz singers, “bubbleologists”, psychics and eccentric dancers. I’ve also played Shakespeare’s clowns and stood in a circus ring and brought an audience of 10,000 to screams of laughter by doing nearly nothing. Hell, I’ve made people laugh on the damn A-Train on the way to a gig in full clown geish. You learn early on with a career in show business that there’s a whole lot of education and empathy that grow as much from a junkyard as from Lincoln Center. Be versatile. Be ready for any kind of job, anywhere, anytime, with all manner of misfit entertainers. All are welcome. Except for magicians: they take up too much space in the dressing room and smell like Aqua Velva. Joking. But serious.
Historically, most clowns have been men. As a woman I have had to work very, very hard to be seen as a funny being while also not being a particularly “pretty” woman, which seems to be the golden combination as defined by men: she’s funny AND a real looker! I never wanted to be pretty. Being genderqueer I’ve always been happy with my cute factor, riding the misfit streetcar of desire between the genders. Even though I’m confident that I’m funny, insightful, and dare I say innovative, when I approached The Big Apple Circus, I was told flat-out that they would never hire a woman clown. That I didn’t even make the first cut because, y’know, I simply wasn’t man enough. Truth is, they had hired women clowns in the past – just coupled with men who were their husbands and partners. But this is what I was emphatically told: no women clowns.
And now, ladies and gentlemen, children of all ages: the newest addition to the #MeToo bunker is, heartbreakingly, a beloved Big Apple Circus clown. It is devastating and utterly unsurprising. These guys are absolutely everywhere, beneath and on top of every rock in every culture: toxic masculinity. Only this time, Don Draper is wearing a freaking clown nose and a bad frock. Insert multiple expletives! And just when I was really amping up about clowns not being scary…
For a long time, I haven’t known quite what to say about the fear of, and continuing sarcastic commentary about, and horror-movie imagery of clowns. Perhaps, I thought, it’s the word itself that no one likes since it’s so fully associated with Ronald McDonald and all manner of overly painted, mask-ish creatures that made little Emily cry her eyes out at the county fair. Maybe it’s the bad singing – or dinosaurs themselves – but I remember flinching when I first saw Barney. I also flinched and was repelled by all manner of costumed characters as a child.
But now I’m wondering if perhaps, just maybe, the very male-ness of clowning has been one of the main reasons why images of scary clowns have had such power in our culture.
Today, finally, we are at the birth of a new era. There is a vital new American Clowning emerging from the demise of Ringling Bros. and this historically mega-male art form, and it is fiercely female and based on the concept of the poet-in-action: more Lucy than Bozo. More Annie Fratellini, Diane Wasnak, Mooky Cornish. Don’t recognize these names? Google them. Fine, funny women all, and all cousins to Mr. Bean, Lee Evans, George Carl. Keep Googling! In many ways, the Clown transcends gender and bounces right into the realm of wonder and magical realism personified, a powerhouse prankster embodying all the mischief, mayhem and freedom of a human cartoon.
So, maybe now that our industry, like so many others, is facing its demons and becoming more inclusive and equitable, the image of clowns in the broader culture will change, too. I for one am working to help everyone see and absorb this new vision of what clowning is and can be: humanity exposed for all of our collective foolishness. It’s the fearless exposure and performance of being really human, in all its paradoxes. We are all beautiful, we are all ugly. We are all clumsy, we are all graceful. In many types of tribes throughout history, clowns are part of the healing community. When despair is crushing, kindness and humor become as vital as air. We bring medicine through laughter, joviality, silliness, and pure play. Yes, I’m just highfalutin enough to believe that clowns are part of the world’s solution, not its problem.
In this mixed-up culture, where every other person is considered a “reality star,” where gun orthodoxy outshines arts advocacy, and where even our most beloved cultural icons fall hard from grace, it is a miracle to find refuge in any kind of innocence. But a great clown can get us there, with the highest language of humor and pathos. Who better than the clown to bring us all together with what we already have, who can render the “everything all at once” of being human in high relief?
Send in the clowns? Don’t bother. They are in us all.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Check out the upcoming ‘Clown’ class starting in September at Circus Conservatory in San Francisco – HERE!
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
“Because I was lucky to have the greatest time slot that any tattoo artist ever had in tattooing, it wound up that I had tattooed on six continents. So I had an opportunity to tattoo on seven continents.” -Lyle Tuttle
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
I hadn’t seen Lyle Tuttle since 1972 which was when I was last in San Francisco. I did an article on him for the rock & roll magazine CRAWDADDY with photographs and an interview. The story never got published by the photograph is posted on this blog.
Last month I had a chance to revisit San Francisco and wanted to see if I could contact Lyle and meet up. He was very receptive and we met and had drinks, dinner and talked throughout the night. Here are a few photographs.
Variety with an edge!
A month ago I visited San Francisco and had lunch with a good friend of mine, Judy Finelli. We knew one another from when she use to perform in Central Park as a juggler.
She is now focusing on a project called “Notoriety Variety” and it is quite ambitious!
Here is her ‘Mission Statement’.
She has quite a resume to back up her dream and I expect her to achieve her goal.
Here are some photographs and videos.
Comment by Judy Finelli
“this was way before everybody had cell phones. There is a very brief eight clubs, but the one where where we catch them with Hovey, catching five is actually 10 clubs – we were in the first Americans to do this.”
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
To help this wonderful, vital project you can make donations here. Make sure you ‘earmark’ the donation to NOTORIETY VARIETY in the drop down “Special Purposes” section.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Dec 10th thru 27th – 3 Weeks Only!
Joey Arias joins up with San Francisco’s Artfull Circle Theatre to make NYC’s Yuletide ever so gay in this all-singing, all-dancing, holiday extravaganza. Based on the infamous Christmas Eve radio broadcast from the Crawford family’s Brentwood mansion, Christmas With the Crawfords features Joan, the children, and a stellar line up of Hollywood icons in a hilarious parody of — and homage to — the “Golden Age” of Hollywood. Featuring Chris March and Sherry Vine.
Created by Richard Winchester
Written by Wayne Buidens and Mark Sargent
Directed by Donna Drake
Chris March – Christina Crawford / Connie Champagne – Christopher Crawford / Sherry Vine (Keith Levy) – Hedda Hopper & Baby Jane Hudson / Flotilla De Barge ( Kevin Joseph) Hattie McDaniels / Vodka Stinger (Garth Schilling) Edith Head, Laverne Andrews & Ethel Merman / Jason B. Schmidt – Patty Andrews & Gloria Swanson / Brett-Marco Glauser – Maxine Andrews & Carmen Miranda / Garritt Guadan – Liberace
Here are a few photographs from the show!
For more information and ticket sales go here.
Marcel Marceau – Master of Mime
Get it here for 1 cent plus postage!
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Working the Halls
Buy it here!
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
The Pickle Family Circus
The San Francisco based PICKLE FAMILY CIRCUS book published in 1986.
You can get the book here.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Jasper Patterson and Sarah Al-Kassab have created a new show titled
A Dada-Cabaret, Pop-Up book live graphic novel.
Originating in San Francisco, their unique style stitches together surrealist puppetry, high fashion design and the history of vaudeville trickery.
They create a seamless, magical world that brings the comic strip into the third dimension.
~ ~ ~
June 24th at 11pm, June 25th at 7pm.
Comic Book Theatre Festival
575 Metropolitan Avenue
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
For More information on THE NEW ECCENTRICS go here!
In 1972 I went to San Francisco to do a photo assignment for Crawdaddy Magazine. The picture was to be of famed Celeb tattoo artist Lyle Tuttle.
I just came across one of the shots from that day.
He is tattooed from head to toe, front and back except below his ankles and wrist and not above his neck line. He could wear a long sleeve shirt, pants and look perfectly NORMAL!