Join Circus Smirkus for
★ Let’s Talk Circus! ★
March 4, 2024 at 6:00 PM ET
Join Circus Smirkus for a free online series where we meet circus guests from around the world as we talk about circus adventures with new and familiar faces far and wide! Let’s Talk Circus is a Smirkus initiative to promote conversation and awareness among circus folks, and to engage multiple viewpoints on the circus arts and how circus has helped us grow as individuals and artists.
In our second episode of the 2024 series, hosted by alum Tristan Avelina Cunningham, we’ll be talking to Johnathan Lee Iverson, Ringmaster at Circus Vargas and Chairman of the Board at Omnium Circus.
Johnathan Lee Iverson is an accomplished and history making showman who’s been privileged to grace the most coveted stages and arenas, the world over. As a member of The Boys Choir Of Harlem, he shared the spotlight with the likes of Peabo Bryson, Lena Horne, Ray Charles, Betty Buckley, Stevie Wonder, Luciano Pavarotti, Roberta Flack, Placido Domingo, Tony Bennett and scores of other luminaries in the world of entertainment. He’s kept company with statesmen such as the late South African President Nelson Mandela, Secretary of State, General Colin Powell and four US Presidents, including Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and William Jefferson Clinton.
The youngest and first Black Ringmaster of the iconic Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey, which he served until its closing in 2017 making him the last ringmaster in the 146 year history of The Greatest Show On Earth, is renowned for his “powerful voice” and “superstar” presence, as well as, one of Barbara Walters 10 Most Fascinating People, but he is most proud of being a question on JEOPARDY® twice.
To watch the episode, join us on our YouTube page at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rV2hmvdujRc
Stayed tuned for our future episodes:
★ March 11 at 6:00 PM ET with guests Amara Berry from New England Black Circus and a member of the King Charles Unicycle Troupe
Watch our previous episodes:
★ Episode 1 with guests Abigail Munn, Toni Cannon & Ori Quesada from Circus Bella. In this episode, hosted by alum Tristan Avelina Cunningham, we talk to performers from the San Francisco Bay Area’s Circus Bella, a modern twist on one-ring circus… overflowing with heart and soul. Scroll below to read the performer bios.
Performer Bios from Past Episodes:
★ Abigail Munn
Abigail is the Artistic and Executive Director of Circus Bella, which she co-founded in 2008. Along with the more conventional duties, she has also served as the company’s truck driver, catering service and laundress. She holds a BFA in Modern Dance from UC Santa Barbara. As a child, who was born and raised in San Francisco, she appeared with the Pickle Family Circus, and later with Zoppe Italian Family Circus, Lone Star Circus, the Moisture Festival, the New Pickle Circus, Cabaret Verdelet, Circus Cabaret, Tease-O-Rama, Va Voom Room, and The Velvet Hammer Burlesque. Munn co-directed the nouveau-vaudeville troupe Kitty Bang, an internationally recognized three-time “Best of the Bay” winner that is influential in the modern Burlesque resurgence.
Over the past few years Abigail has become increasingly involved in advocacy work for the circus arts. When transitioning Circus Bella performers to employees, she became aware that the current worker’s compensation rates and policy descriptions in California were way out of step with the current reality of the circus industry. Munn embarked on a one-woman quest to help change this, and after initiating a study from the Workers Comp Insurance Rating Bureau (WCIRB), rates were significantly lowered (by 80%) for ALL circus companies in California. In addition, she is a founding member and on the board of the American Circus Alliance.
★ Toni Cannon
Toni is consistently working on finding new ways to express himself through acrobatics. He finds the challenge thrilling, and very relatable to life’s challenges.
Toni started his circus career later in life however, that didn’t stop him from diving deep into his new found love and passion. He has been lucky enough to train under some great coaches like Master Lu Yi, and Dominik Wyss learning disciplines like Chinese pole, partner acrobatics, and hand to hand.
Toni has been a part of some amazing companies and productions like Topsy Turvy Circus, Circus Bella, This is Acrosanct, When the Rainbow is Enuf, and his one man show Reflection.
★ Ori Quesada
Ori Quesada is a proud San Francisco Bay Area born and raised acrobat who began training and performing at age 7 under Master Lu Yi and teacher Xia Ke Min in traditional Chinese Acrobatics in San Francisco. He grew up training and performing a multitude of different acrobatic acts and at 16 he began specializing in a Rola Bola Kick Bowls solo act, which he still performs today.
Spanning over 25 years, Ori has had the privilege to perform with Troupe Vertigo, Sweet Can, Circus Bella, Circus Nonsense, the Santa Rosa Symphony, in the first Chicago Contemporary Circus Festival, and with the LA Opera. Most recently he performed as a cast member of The Rainbow is Enuf.