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Daredevils and clowns

Nothing beats a circus for good ol' entertainment

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- HELLO NIGHTMARES :  Clowns always remind me of Stephen King’s It. I hope this kid never saw that movie. -  - PHOTO BY NICK POWELL
  • PHOTO BY NICK POWELL
  • HELLO NIGHTMARES : Clowns always remind me of Stephen King’s It. I hope this kid never saw that movie.
- BALANCING ACT :  From shopping carts to 10-foot ladders, there’s almost nothing Jon Weiss’ chin can’t handle. -  - PHOTO BY NICK POWELL
  • PHOTO BY NICK POWELL
  • BALANCING ACT : From shopping carts to 10-foot ladders, there’s almost nothing Jon Weiss’ chin can’t handle.

"Hello. This is New Times."

“Yeah, hey. This is Nick Powell.”

“Oh, the talented writer with the dashing good looks?”

“The very same. Look, I know I owe you folks another Art Bash, but considering the Fourth of July holiday and the utterly crap-tacular week I’ve had, I was kind of hoping to just phone it in this time around. Would that be OK?”

“Shoot, we had the same idea. We pretty much let a gaggle of amateurs write our whole cover story so we could have the weekend wide open.”

“I knew you’d understand.”

“But we will need an article on some kind of event from you.”

“No worries. I just wanted to let you know that I might not interview people or take very good pictures. Someone told me once that as long as you’re honest, the fact that you’re half-assing it won’t really matter.”

“That person was an idiot (click).”

- GET LOW :  This fire-defying limbo master made Barbados Slim look like some kind of boring bureaucrat. -  - PHOTO BY NICK POWELL
  • PHOTO BY NICK POWELL
  • GET LOW : This fire-defying limbo master made Barbados Slim look like some kind of boring bureaucrat.
- MISS HAILEY :  There’s no way this kind of thing can be done, but there she is, doing it. -  - PHOTO BY NICK POWELL
  • PHOTO BY NICK POWELL
  • MISS HAILEY : There’s no way this kind of thing can be done, but there she is, doing it.

Some weeks just suck. Work piles up out of control; it seems like you’re late to everything; your boss is pissed; you keep losing your keys; and oh my God, the bills!

There’s only one cure for such a week: a big, tent-shaped pill called the circus. It fixed me right up for sure.

Whether you went or not, you probably noticed Circus Vargas’ giant blue tent pitched near the Madonna Inn. The group was in town for four days of entertaining antics, and I caught a three-hour show Sunday evening that changed my life forever.

OK, it wasn’t that great—didn’t even have elephants—but it did bring me out of the deep funk I had going. There’s something about a circus that lets you tap into that forgotten reservoir of childlike awe and wonder. Maybe it’s the cheesy costumes, or maybe the motorcycles. I don’t know. I’m not a psychologist.

The pre-show warm-up got the audience involved and gave everyone a chance to feel like a part of the circus. All the kids were called into the ring for some demos and practice with hula hoops, scarf juggling, and feather balancing. It was heartwarming stuff, especially with the catchy Justin Bieber jams in the background.

Then the real show started. This sad clown had a rose; there was some crazy dancing and somersaulting; and this one lady had four hula hoops going at once as she flew through the air.

The ringmaster seemed kind of pointless, just prancing about in a big hat, singing and then retreating to the corner to play drums every once in awhile, but the performers were impressive. The best thing about it was that there was no elaborate plot or fake special effects. It was just a bunch of surprisingly athletic people who could do some really neat tricks.

- WHEEL OF DESTINY :  This contraption was probably 30 feet tall, but badass Leo Garcia climbed right up it while it spun in circles. -  - PHOTO BY NICK POWELL
  • PHOTO BY NICK POWELL
  • WHEEL OF DESTINY : This contraption was probably 30 feet tall, but badass Leo Garcia climbed right up it while it spun in circles.
- HIGH-FLYING DANGER :  It’s physically impossible to keep yourself from smiling in awe while watching people rock the trapeze. Can’t be done. -  - PHOTO BY NICK POWELL
  • PHOTO BY NICK POWELL
  • HIGH-FLYING DANGER : It’s physically impossible to keep yourself from smiling in awe while watching people rock the trapeze. Can’t be done.

A ripped gymnast lady balanced upside down on one hand while doing the splits, and there was a drum line starring a mustached man in parachute pants who basically spun poi, only instead of fire balls, there were rocks on the end of chains that he smacked into the ground all rhythmically and cool-like. After that, a construction crew assembled this big spinning thing that looked like an oil rig collided with a hamster wheel in a sea of back flips as daredevil Leo Garcia climbed and jumped around inside it.

There was a brief intermission while the crew set up a safety net for the flying trapeze (which was awesome). The ringmaster brought out a giant boa constrictor and let people hold it and have their picture taken. I was tempted, but I wasn’t about to pay $10 to touch a strange man’s snake—not after what happened last time.

When the show resumed, people flew through the air with the greatest of ease and defied physics with impossibly low limboing (under fire, no less). The grand finale came in the form of family bonding that took place inside a motorcycle globe of death. A husband and wife team rode inside the small space at the same time, and their 9-year-old son rode the thing solo.

Apparently San Luis Obispo kicks ass at going to the circus, because the announcer guy said we bought more tickets than any other city on his tour. That means they’re sure to be back next year, in case you missed it.

Contributing writer Nick Powell has run away to join the circus, but you can find him at npowell@newtimesslo.com.

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