The purpose of this blog is to share stories from the road of Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Clown Alley. With this resource we can relive those days and have a better understanding of the transitions within Clown Alley over the years. I feel historically it's important to share these stories for future generations. 

Sunday, January 31, 2010

What to wear?

When it came to wardrobe Bobby Kaye was the man! Not only was he a great clown, he could sew like some of the finest tailors in the world. In the info package before our arrival, we were told bring about 50 dollars for make up and costume expense. That's exactly how much I had.

 We had to make everything from scratch. Some of the wigs we had were pretty creative. They were made of everything from rope to sponges! Yes, sponges! Rick Davis bought some kitchen sponges, cut them up, painted each one, and then sewed them one at a time onto a skullcap. Another one made his out of macrame rope and dyed it. And of  course we had Jeff Miller, who came from the beaches of California. He didn't need a wig at all! He had an afro bigger than a beach ball. Fake fur was the material of choice. In the 70's you could get the real long stuff. I haven't seen that stuff in years. I took the fake fur route. 

When it came to shoes we had to be pretty innovative. Some bought big tennis shoes and painted them, others wore ballet shoes. I took some foam rubber carved out the shape of clown shoes, covered them with material and glued them to the front of  some canvas  tennis shoes. PF Flyers I think.

 Venice was a small town back then. They didn't even have a movie theater. On days off I would hitch hike to Sarasota, treat myself to Red Lobster, and catch a movie right next door. So when it came to material for costumes, Sarasota was the place.

 As we looked at the all of  the colors and different blends Bobby would explain why one material was better than another, and what print would "read" the best from the audience. I remember him saying some of the best prints are on bed sheets. Cheap too!  Guess what I used? 

We designed our costumes putting them together a little at a time. Each piece was added until finally  you had it! Some more complicated than others, but each one had its own personality. By this time we were getting closer and closer to developing that character that would become our clown. At least we knew what to wear. 

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