Wednesday, August 06, 2008

It's International Clown Week. Who knew? Above are a few old clown prints from my One That Got Away file. All over the world, folks are donning red noses. According to clownlink, Richard Nixon was the person who signed the bill into effect, creating National Clown Week in 1971 and then the thing just took off from there. Again: who knew? (For some reason, just the name Richard Nixon always gets a laugh out of me. Maybe a conspiracy theorist could take this and run with it.)

I love the circus. Give me the sawdust, the big top, the sequins and the death-defying feats anytime. The Bindlestiff Family Cirkus, Circus Amok, Circus Contraption, the Happy Hour Clowns. Oh, yes. I'm an enthusiastic Clown Festival theater-goer. I love French clowns, Russian clowns, and American buffoons. I'm even a fan of Canadian clowns.

No, I don't like circuses with animals. No Big Apple or Ringling Brothers for me. I think those belong to another era and are no longer appropriate. (Full disclosure: I come from a vaudeville family; a great uncle was a trick rider and snake charmer.) In general, animals don't like to perform*. And worse, no one knows how to direct them. I hate seeing animals overact, as they usually do in movies, but it is always the fault of the director who's coaching them to be cutesy. Animals are method actors, they want to live it.

I even love Marcel Marceau. That's right. I even go for mimes. I mean, has anything been more discredited? Is there anything more embarassing to admit? I don't care. I love mimes. I watched Mel Brooks' Silent Movie, just for Marcel Marceau's cameo. (He is the only person to speak in the film--hilarious!) And I love that mime bit at the end of Antonioni's 1966 film, Blow Up. You know, where there are a bunch mimes in full makeup playing mime tennis. And at the end the camera lingers on the invisible ball invisibly rolling through the grass. I mean, he's saying there's no there there. And yet it's still there, got it?

Okay, I know you'd probably rather eat your eyes than be subjected to mimes, goslings, and it's very true that there is so much bad miming these days, painfully bad, but still there's good stuff out there. I promise. Dark mime. Butohesque mime. Really.

But even I, shameless clown(and mime!)lover though I am, would find it a challenge to wear the more lurid clown prints pictured here. I mean, I'm already something of a flippertygibbet, why connect the dots for people? And the middle print in particular was a very creepy little blouse. Something macabre about that one. But perhaps it is for me to be bold and wear these anyway. What do you think? Would you wear a clown print?

Now young Akhenaten plays the accordion, which is one of my (many) fetishes, but if someone came along juggling flaming batons, riding a unicycle and wearing a red nose...well, I'd probably run off with a clown. Akhenaten knows this. He understands.

* Except otters, they love it. But they never know when to quit. Otter acts always go on way too long.

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