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Review Archive/December 2011

Updated January 18, 2019

UniverSoul Circus; Greensboro, NC
Non-Stop Entertainment!

Click to Enlarge Me Pic!By Jay Whipple/Trend Magazine Online™

My love of the circus began as a child growing up in Miami and attending high school on Miami Beach. It was there that I got a chance to work as a food vendor at the “Greatest Show on Earth” a.k.a. the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus at the world famous Miami Beach Convention Center – home of the unforgettable Cassius Clay (Muhammad Ali) vs. Sonny Liston fight (1964) and both the Democratic and Republican National Conventions in 1972. The featured act back
Click to Enlarge Michu and Juliana Pic!then was the wedding of the smallest man (Michu) and woman (Juliana) in the world. That promotional poster today is worth $600.00. I think I threw a few of those away. Yikes! The couple was so intriguing because they both were completely proportioned at only 33” and 38” tall respectively. Another one of my favorite parts of that show was the pretty ladies wearing those peacock features -- especially the ladies of color. I also got a chance to check out the Clyde Beatty Cole Circus at the Flagler Dog Track when I was in elementary school. Their show was entertaining, however, a lot smaller and less spectacular.  I was so intrigued by the circus that I seriously contemplated joining up and running away.

Click to Visit Ringling Brothers Site!As an adult, and as faith would have it, the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus landed two blocks away from my apartment in Charlotte, NC, back in the late 1980’s. In fact, they kept the lions, tigers, and bears in the parking lot adjacent to my crib. I remember waking up in the middle of the night to the loud noises made by those ferocious beasts. Scared the heck out of me the first time! I first learned of the UniverSoul Circus in the 1990’s shortly after it was founded (1994) when they performed in Charlotte, NC, in the parking lot of the old coliseum near the airport. I took a date but felt awkward that the majority of the folks attending were accompanied by young people. The show was spectacular! It was like one big party disguised as a circus! The Ringmaster Casual Cal and his side kick Zee kept the audience pumped and hyped during the entire show. The acts were not as polished as the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus but no one really cared because the show itself was the show – if you know what I mean. I was also surprised to see that their show had some big time corporate sponsors like Cheerios in the house giving away samples.

Fast forward to the 21st Century (2000) and I found myself Click to Enlarge P.T. Barnum Pic!taking an actual college course in the history of the circus at my alma mater the University of North Carolina/Charlotte. It was there that I learned that the circus dates back to Roman times in the 14th Century, and was modernized in England in 1768, and brought to the U.S. in 1793 (Shortly after the founding of the U.S. in 1776). I also learned that the model for the one-time famous Uncle Sam pic was actually a
......P.T. Barnum
clown by the name of Dan Rice (1823 – 1901) -- Go figure! I also learned that the Ringling Brothers were actually five brothers from Baraboo, WI, P.T. (Phineas Taylor) Barnum did not coin the phrase “There is sucker born every minute,” but was first to use three rings in a circus, hence the phrase “Three ring circus.” In addition, it was Mr.  James A. Bailey, a former partner, who kept the circus going after Barnum’s death in 1891. In short, that circus was created via several mergers and acquisitions. I also learned a brief history of the UniverSoul Circus as well as the now world-famous Cirque du Soleil (Circus of the Sun) which does not employ any animals in its acts.

Click to Enlarge Uncle Sam Pic!Fast forward to now (2011) and I find myself heading to Greensboro, NC, to catch up with what has been going on with the UniverSoul Circus. I first visited their web site to check it out and to get in touch with their media department. I sent my media request to three different addresses and to my surprise each one was returned labeled as SPAM. I resent the emails using another address and they were returned as SPAM as well. Hmmmmmmmmm, I thought, let me call these folks and see what’s up with this bizarre treatment of the media. The lady that answered the phone in their Atlanta office was clueless as to what I was talking about so she transferred me to a Mr.  Hank Ernest who is one of the folks I sent my media request. He too was clueless as to what the problem was so he gave me his personal email address. I then sent my request a third time and this time did not get a SPAM response. In fact, I did not get any response at all so I followed up with another call to Mr. Ernest and left a voicemail message concerning my request. I have yet to hear from him or anyone else at that “circus.” Any other time I would just chalk it up as just plain unprofessional and rude conduct and be done with it, however, I am aware of the personal sacrifices (Time and money) that the founder/CEO Mr. Cedric Walker has and still faces so I decided to give him the benefit of the doubt. Mr. Walker should, however, be aware of what’s going on in his house particularly when it involves FREE media exposure. With that said; take a peep of my review…

I purchased my seat online via Ticketmaster and was quite pleased with the fact that I could choose my seat, pay for it, and print my ticket just under two hours from show time. I reserved for the 7:30 PM show on Thursday November 10, 2011, at the Greensboro, NC, Coliseum. Parking was no problem as I did not have to wait very long to find a good spot near the entrance to the main tent located in the parking lot. I was escorted to my seat by the usher; it was located near the entertainers’ entrance. I immediately notice that the show was a lot smaller than before, i.e., this time there was only one ring as opposed to three the last time I attended back in the 1990’s. My seat was priced very reasonable ($15.00) and was only about six rows from the circus floor giving me a bird’s eye view of the main/only ring. It was nearly a full house comprised mostly (About 99%) of African-American women and young girls with plats and beads in their hair.

While waiting for the show to begin we were treated to a funny skit that involved four men/volunteers from the audience balancing themselves in the form of a coffee table. They were also enticed to perform silly gyrations and provocative maneuvers mimicking the Ringmaster Shucky Ducky. The official show intro began at around 7:50 PM and featured these 30 foot tall giant men walking on stilts and actually dancing much better than most of us on two legs. The music was as before; upbeat and funky and much different than any main stream circus. The first act featured toy poodles (Mostly white) running, jumping, and sliding around a make-shift playground. They were indeed cute but not as nearly as cute as the Black female assistant. Fellas you gotta see it to believe it! Next up was the Ringmaster Shucky “Quack Quack” Ducky (From BET’s Comic View) and his sidekick Zee who was both dressed as before in white tuxes with tails and top hats.

Cont'd. on Page 2>>>

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