I saw Jennifer Miller speak tonight at the Fleming Museum here in Burlington. She spoke about life in the sideshow at Coney Island, entertained us with her machete throwing, glass eating, and enchanted everyone. Most importantly she spoke about life as a woman with a beard and what that means – or doesn’t mean.
I was really surprised by how meaningful the evening was. I left feeling keenly aware of how unique she is – I mean aside from the obvious – but she’s willing to embrace everything that comes along with living as a woman with a beard and she does it with true grit, a really focused center of being, top notch self esteem, and a sense of fun about herself. She’s truly one of a kind.
Her newest project is developing Circus Amok:
“Circus Amok is a New York City based circus-theater company whose mission is to provide free public art addressing contemporary issues of social justice to the people of New York City. The group has been together since 1989 bringing its funny, queer, caustic and sexy, political one-ring spectacles to diverse neighborhoods from East New York to the East Village…Circus Amok performances prove that diverse audiences can join us in envisioning a more empowered life of community interaction while enjoying a queer celebratory spectacle. But most of all, Circus Amok brings a seventeen-act-in-59-minutes joyful extravaganza of acrobatic artistry, satiric skill, and good old-fashioned circus fun free to neighborhoods throughout New York City.”
I like the way she described in her talk tonight that Circus Amok is a way for so called “freaks” or the disabled can be a part of the community in a benign and thoughtful way. The more and more that those individuals are pushed into the shadows of society, the less we are able to see them and accept them into the fabric of society. I think that the less people are exposed to differences, the more fearful they are. And, well, I think it is well known what happens then. Circus Amok happens in parks and community gardens throughout New York City and provides a way for people to think about or talk about serious social issues in a environment that is safe for everyone – and well – provides hilarious entertainments. WHO doesn’t love the circus!
“Fellow travelers, zealots and pantywaists of all ages, races, mental conditions, and unmentionable proclivities, untether your grasp on the known, swing cockeyed into the two faced and the double handed. feel the rumble tumble erupting from the depths of your unconscious, make a ruckus, run amokus, Help help it’s CIRCUS AMOK!!!!“