Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Valentine's Under the Big Top: Cirque L'Amour
In early 2007, I met pack of musical wanderers and punks who took me for an adventure on the North Portland waterfront.
One of them called himself Nick the Creature. He wound up crashing in my living room that night and said he'd be in touch about the circus he was planning to start once he moved up here.
Of course, I didn't believe him. I hear stuff like that all the time. People love to talk about things and never do them. But not Nick the Creature.
Over the last couple of years I've seen more and more hype and excitement around Batty's Hippodrome, the circus Nick had promised, which came to exist with the help of former Someday Lounge and Rotture booker Noah Mickens.
But just in the last few months, with a new residency at the Bossanova, have Nick and Noah really come into their own. I had the pleasure of meeting with them for a story about their upcoming Cirque L'Amour which appeared in last week's A&E (a week early since dinner reservations require notice).
All the background and proper nouns ate up my word count fast so here are a couple of choice bits I had to cut.
Mickens has been performing since he was six. "If I go to a show," he says, "a lot of what my mind is occupied with is thinking about these people and their lives and rehearsing together and knowing each other." But he explains that with the proliferation of behind the scenes specials on DVDs and TV, "I think that more people in general have clearer ideas about show business."
I can totally identify with that because it's how I watch live music, especially punk shows. But my favorite anecdote that had to go was how Nick and Noah first met. Nick showed up to a variety show Noah was putting on at the someday lounge and asked if he could help. "Everyone wants to help," Noah says, "If it means being the star of your show." So he asked Nick if he could set up some folding chairs. "I did it," says Nick, "and he was kind of amazed." Both agree that in the circus business, it's harder to find someone to do an inglorious task than it is to find someone to walk on stilts and breathe fire. I think this willingness to tackle the nitty gritty is what will make this weekend's show great and why Nick and Noah will go far.
Photo of Kazum at Nick and Noah's first show at the Bossanova last December by Micah Goldstein. For a full list of performers and more info, go to the Bossanova's website.
Note: The Bossanova is not actually a big top and I am told there are no clowns in the show but there is, in fact, a cupid.