As many are now aware (word travels fast in the circus business), I passed a huge milestone in my circus and tiger training career. Yesterday, August 19 in Houghton Lake, Michigan, Casey gave me the privilege of presenting his tiger act for my first two shows under the traditional circus big top, the Kelly Miller Circus. I had no idea that yesterday would be the day, not realizing what would be in store for me less than an hour after Casey had me practice and told me to style as well after the first trick. After deciding which tricks I would put the cats through, we quickly put together a wardrobe.
Fortunately for both the audience and I, it appears this costume will not be making another appearance. Today Casey and Natalie purchased a shirt for under the vest that Natalie has been decorating for me. I again presented the act today in Indian River with the extra covering. Nikki is preparing a second costume for me, with a jacket gifted to me from Mike and Carolyn Rice.
As I waited in the bandwagon, it was a completely different feeling to hear the show from the other side of the curtain, waiting for the moment when I would make my appearance. Many of the other performers, some of my closest friends here on the show, were both giving me a hard time and giving me advice as well. Ryan walked past, did a double take, and came in making an organ grinder monkey joke. Casey gave me last minute advice on working the cats. Natalie continuously tried to relax me, and John Moss (Ringmaster) came to me with a blue Sharpie and reported, "I don't have a black marker, but we could use this one to draw you a few chest hairs."
Casey told me I did well for the first show. Everyone had a lot of advice for me after I left the steel cage. Captain Lucky Eddie told me it didn't matter what happened, to follow Natalie and Casey's style and "Damn it, smile!" He said I did finally do so when I was moonwalking Sumsara; it seemed I had relaxed a bit and was a bit in the moment, realizing where I was and what I was doing. The final announcement also seemed a bit ridiculous, but just as excitable, "Titan of the Tigers, Radar McCoy!"
There seem to be a hundred more stories, but none I can recall at this point. At the very least, it will be a tale for another blog in the coming days, along with possibly a video clip if it does not get lost in the same place as the Karaoke video.
Photos courtesy of Valerie Berta Torales at The Mudshow Diaries