Monday, March 28, 2005

It's a Free Show...It's a Flea Show!

The Flea Circus Goes To The Academy

Low culture meets highbrow academics as the flea circus comes to Brown University on Saturday, April 2.

This is no April Fool’s joke: next weekend, Brown University will be hosting a most unusual professor, and his even more unusual performers: Professor A.G. Gertsacov and his authentic Victorian flea circus will be gracing the stage as part of the eleventh annual Performance Studies International Conference.

The show, the Acme Miniature Flea Circus, is an authentic Victorian flea circus that features trained fleas Midge and Madge (stars of the show) who perform spectacular circus stunts as seen before (and on top of) the crowned heads of Europe.

Details Magazine called the show "One of the top alternative circuses in the country." The New York Times said "The appeal is irresistible... Gertsacov is every bit the fantastical impresario, in his purple top hat and cash-register voice, introducing us to the wondrous insects itching (sorry) to perform" And the Los Angeles Times says that "Professor Gertsacov holds the audience (and the stars of the show) in the palm of his hand."

According to Gertsacov, ringmaster and proprietor of the Acme Miniature Circus, flea circuses were popular entertainments during Victorian times, but had nearly disappeared since the advent of television. The last popular American flea circus was Professor Heckler's of Time Square, which left New York in 1957. The rumor is that Heckler thought that the nude shows were giving his fleas a bad name.

There are now only a handful of flea circuses still performing throughout the world. Gertsacov's is arguably the most famous. The Rhode Island native and his amazing insect stars have performed throughout the country, and in Canada, Chile, and Brazil. He recently spent three months performing in Times Square, less than two blocks from where Professor Heckler once had his fleas. Gertsacov has also been filmed for documentaries on the History Channel, the Travel Channel, and numerous news programs. He's even been a question on Jeopardy.

Gertsacov's educated insect stars pull chariots, dance on a tightwire, and perform other circus-like stunts. While he does not reveal his method of training (a proprietary secret, he explains) , he assures the curious and the civic minded that he uses only methods of positive reinforcement to teach the insects their routines. "I treat them as if they are my own flesh and blood," Gertsacov says. "And in some ways, they are."

Says Gertsacov of his participation in the Performance Studies Conference, “I feel very fortunate and honored to be included in this conference. It’s an amazing and rare moment when the top scholars and the top performers are both assembled together at the same time. I’m really looking forward to learning a lot.” Other performers at the conference will include Fred Curchack, Double Edge Theatre, Split Britches, Pig Iron Theatre, and many other very well known national and international performers.

In addition to his performance at the conference, Gertsacov, who is also the director of Bright Night Providence, Rhode Island’s largest New Year’s Eve Celebration, will chair a panel titled “Popular Entertainment and the Carnavelesque.” This panel will take place on Saturday morning on the Brown University campus.

The flea circus will be performed at the Trinity Rep Theatre, 201 Washington Street, on Saturday, April 2, 2005 at 9:30 pm. Admission is free (donations accepted)

For more information about the conference, visit the PSI website: call them at 401-863-1510

For more information about the flea circus, visit or call 401-351-2596.

(High resolution photographs are available on the website at )


WHAT: Acme Miniature Flea Circus
WHEN:Saturday April 2, 2005 9:30 pm
COST: Admission is free (donations accepted0
WHERE: Trinity Rep Theatre, 201 Washington Street, Providence
MORE INFO: or call 401-863-1510


Friday, March 18, 2005

Rhode Island Athlete To Play For U.S.


Dan Gertsacov of Narragansett, RI has been named to the United States Maccabiah Rugby Team that will compete at the 17th World Maccabiah Games taking place this July, in Israel. The Rugby team will be one of the 27 United States sports teams competing at these Games; among the world’s largest international, Olympic-style events, according to Jordan Weinstein, General Chairman of the US Maccabiah Committee.

Gertsacov is no stranger to top-level rugby competition. Dan currently plays for New York Old Blue in Manhattan, one of the premier rugby clubs in the United States. Formerly, he played with one of Rhode Island’s top clubs, Newport Rugby Football Club, as well as internationally for first division teams in Brazil and Chile. Gertsacov recently graduated with an MBA from Harvard Business School, where he captained the rugby club, and has a BA from the University of Richmond, where he first started playing rugby and went on to become the team’s two-time Captain. Gertsacov is employed as a Vice President at Univision Networks and resides in New York City.

Over 7,000 athletes representing more than 60 countries will take part in the 17th edition of the Maccabiah, a quadrennial athletic competition for Jewish athletes. The United States is expecting to send a contingent of “more than 600 athletes and coaches,” reported Weinstein.

"The leadership of participating countries has pledged to make the 17th Maccabiah the biggest and best ever. Maccabi USA is planning to assemble the largest US Maccabiah team in history. We believe that NOW, MORE THAN EVER, Israel needs our support!" Weinstein said.

Previously, the U.S. Maccabiah Team has included such sports greats as swimmers Mark Spitz and Lenny Krayzelburg, gymnasts Mitch Gaylord and Kerri Strug, National Basketball Association stars Ernie Grunfeld, Dolph Schayes and Danny Schayes, golfer Bruce Fleisher, tennis pros Brad Gilbert and Dick Savitt and World Cup soccer player Jeff Agoos.

Team USA will consist of teams competing in Badminton, Baseball (Boys), Basketball, Beach Volleyball, Fencing, Field Hockey (Women), Golf, Gymnastics, Half Marathon, Judo, Karate, Lawn Bowls, Rowing, Rugby (Men), Soccer, Softball, Swimming, Squash, Table Tennis, Taekwondo, Tennis, Ten Pin Bowling, Track & Field, Triathlon, Volleyball, Water Polo (Men) and Wrestling (Men)

Opening ceremonies are scheduled to take place at Ramat Gan Stadium in Tel Aviv, and closing ceremonies will take place at the Sultan’s Pool in Jerusalem.

“Our formula remains consistent,” Jordan Weinstein said. “Sports is the attraction. The Land of Israel is the vehicle. Jewish continuity is our primary goal.”

“It is a great honor for me to represent my country, as well as the state of Rhode Island, on the rugby field in Israel,” Gertsacov said. “It will be a tough two weeks of competition, against top squads from South Africa, Australia, England and other top rugby nations, but with the support of my team and my family who will be over there to cheer us on, I’ll do everything I can to help our team bring home that Gold Medal.”

The U.S. Maccabiah Team is sponsored by Maccabi USA/Sports for Israel. Maccabi USA/Sports for Israel is a national, not-for-profit, volunteer organization that seeks to enrich the lives of Jewish youth in the U.S., Israel and throughout the Diaspora through cultural, athletic and educational programs.

For more information about the Maccabiah Games, visit the Maccabi USA/Sports for Israel website at or call the Maccabiah Games hotline at 215/561-6181, fax to 215/561-5470, send e-mail to

To arrange for photographs or interviews, contact Becca or Ami at the Maccabi USA/Sports for Israel office at 215/561-6900 or by e-mail to or

Thursday, March 03, 2005

The 20th Annual Girls' Night Out

WHAT: The 20th Annual Girls' Night Out:Women Celebrating Women in Story and Song

WHEN: Sunday, March 13, 2005 --- 7:00 pm

WHERE: RISD Auditorium, 17 Canal Street, Providence

  • Jeanne Jordan Bent
  • Sparky Davis
  • Carolyn Martino
  • Marilyn Murphy Meardon
  • Diane Postoian
  • Valerie Tutson
  • WomanSpiritRising: A Feminist Chorus

    COST: $10; $6 - Students and Seniors
    FREE to RISD Students, Museum Members and Staff

    INFO: Carolyn Martino, 401-351-8090
  • Wednesday, March 02, 2005

    The Clown Blog

    I've started a new blog. It's to chronicle and keep all of my clown book reviews and other information. In this blog (as in my life), the word clown is given a large and liberal meaning, and includeds related arts such as puppetry, juggling, circus, mask work, commedia dell'arte, and other related stuff.

    Stop on by and check it out if you like.