July 2004

  He was a wee young lad when I first knew him, a high school student,  who was involved in some recycling, gardening and media projects I directed at the Congregational Church in Wilton Connecticut.  Toby Fleming quickly became a vital sparkplug in the engine of our homegrown, free-roaming multimedia group, known as M.E.A.L. (Media Explorations at Large).  We occasionally took our “mixed media” light shows to other churches and to some colleges, setting up innumerable projectors, audio components, etc., and turning loose our free form wonder storm, called (after e.e. cummings) DAMN EVERYTHING BUT THE CIRCUS.  We created a lot of our own material, attending, when it still was around, The Danbury Fair, taking 35mm slides and Super 8 movies while on the rides, recording canned carnival come-ons (“Ladies & Gentlemen, you must see these little people…”), as well as interviews with ourselves.  I still have a tape of Toby faking it as a news reporter interviewing another member of our entourage, Jodi Sisk, who excitedly says, “Yeah, I’m from Brooklyn. We come here every year!” And Toby says, “Hey, you’ll be on the eleven o’clock news!” When I last saw him, Toby was in Tampa as production manager for Joe Cocker’s concert tour.  (He’s worked with groups like Marc Anthony, Dave Matthews and The Stones.)  It was the first time we had seen each other since those early media shows we used to put on in the very early seventies, although we’ve always stayed in touch.  Keb Mo opened for Joe Cocker that night and when his blues set ended, I doubted the possibility of actually finding Toby, given all the frenetic activity down front between acts.  Strong friends urged me on, however, and when I asked one of the crew working on stage about seeing Toby Fleming and mentioned my name, he went backstage, and in a few minutes, there was, Toby, my dear young friend, a fully realized Rock & Roll Circus Man! – Bill Joyner
Some day is now. – Corita Kent    

ROCK ‘N ROLL CIRCUS

In 1973 I was a tour guide/ringmaster/puppeteer at The Circus Hall of Fame in Sarasota.  There were four live shows a day during “the season” – roughly from November through May –sandwiched between tours of the museum and puppet shows at the end.  It was something of a tourist trap, to tell you the truth, and yet it had its moments, like the day my relatives Bill and Dot, were there and a young elephant broke loose and ran straight toward them, luckily with no injuries.  The performers worked on a free-lance basis, often filling time between other circus gigs. As ringmaster, I often announced Heidi, then 13, as she ascended the ropes to perform her “ballerina of the air” routine.  She was with her family, the Herriotts, renowned for their performances with trained animals, and every member of the family was in some part of the show.  Out of our conversations and from notes taken during a visit with the family when they appeared under the big top at the Hoxie Brothers Circus in Orlando, I developed an article about Heidi’s life on the road, and it was published in a national youth magazine. Later on, she was a star in New York City’s Big Apple Circus – BJ

 

 

 

To me every hour of the light and dark is a miracle.  Every cubic inch of space is a miracle.  —Walt Whitman

 

   

“C” even the simplest clown manages by gesture and incident to explore the mythology of the self… –s.h.miller

Wanting what you haven’t got is never going to be where it’s at.  When you get over that, just want what you’ve got and you’ll be all set. – suggested by a friend, Karen Klosky

Renascent children of all ages have a perennial desire to climb aboard convoys of colored wagons and roll away toward a world of fun.  As a child, my big circus was Ocean View, a giant amusement park right on the beach in Norfolk, Virginia, dominating the area with rollicking excitement: rocket rides turning in the air, carnival come-ons, tunnels of horror and of love, soft ice cream, and the automatic laughing lady. – BJ

 

  Look! It’s the circus church! –Jennifer Matheson

P. O. Box 3411 / Sarasota, Florida 34230

joynerbill28@gmail.com

 

 

Enlarge the place of thy tent, and let them stretch forth the curtains of thine habitations, spare not, lengthen thy cords, and strengthen they stakes.  – Isaiah 54:2 

 

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                   2004   JULY   JUILLET   JULIO   2004