Friday, May 15, 2009

Behind The Big Top

Jacob Freund is currently working on his second tour with Ringling Brothers’ Barnum and Bailey Circus. Jake works exclusively in the men's wardrobe, where at any given time there could be a dozen men from a dozen countries quick changing. My mind wanders to what tasty tidbits Jake might "accidently" see, before I am reminded there is professionalism, and naked doesn't necessarily equal sex. "Wardrobe Rules" in four different languages, are drilled into performers.

I got the inside scoop on Jake's life in the circus, the challenges of the road, and what he really thinks about animal right’s protesters.

If you could reroute the train to any destination where would you go?

I would love to take the train through my hometown. We travel through so many small towns, and the tracks run right through. I want to stand on the vestibule, smile and wave as I pass through Freeport, ME. I also love Canada.

How much ass have you gotten through your travels? Any of it because of your circus connections?

I don't kiss and tell but the circus connection and the rainbow connection go hand in hand.

What's the hardest part about living on the train?

The room is 5 feet wide and 7 feet long with an 8 foot ceiling. It's about 35 square feet. I'm 6 feet tall. If I forget to close a cabinet door and stand up too fast... The flipside is that I can reach almost everything I need from bed.

What's the most interesting circus trivia you've learned since joining the company?

Our train is over a mile long and houses elephants, horses, 200 of the cast and crew and all the wagons for the show. Our top speed is about 60 mph but it can take us a lot longer than you'd expect to get from A to B.

Which animals do you try to avoid at all costs?

I steer clear of all the animals, all the time. The handlers don't like people getting too close to the animals because it can spook them. The last thing you want is a pack of spooked zebras or elephants backstage.

What do you have to say to all those protesters?

I wish the protesters the best. They have a hard job. Standing out there, holding signs. But I think they should educate themselves, instead of listening to propaganda being fed to them.

Any circus scandals you're willing to share?

There are too many! I will say, it's never a dull day at the circus. There is always something going on.

If you could be part of any of the acts which one?

I want to be an elephant rider. It looks like so much fun up there.

If you were a clown what would your name be?

I would never be a clown. If through some freak accident, I wound up as a clown I think my name might be something like Slappy.

What's your favorite circus catchphrase?

"Not in the Wardrobe!"

-Corinne Kassor
Photos of Jake: Esteban Aladro
Wardrobe Shots: Anthony Viera


Hannah Miet said...

Fantastic interview. I like reading about jobs that are so removed from my own realm of experience...

Anonymous said...

ha! this is awesome. i knew someone who ran away to join the circus. i wonder how people get into that job. in recession times it might be a sweet option?