I Fell in Love with a Circus Clown—and Yes, It Was Love at First Sight

For this show girl at the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, it was love at first sight—red nose and all.

On my 20th birthday, my family went to see the circus in Anaheim, California. The girls who wore those beautiful costumes and rode the elephants fascinated me. Since I had been a dancer for many years, I couldn’t help but wonder what it would be like to travel with “The Greatest Show on Earth.” (These vintage photos show what circuses looked like in the early 1900s.)

Reminisce Extra MagazineTwo days later I read in the paper that the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus was holding auditions in Los Angeles for showgirls. I went to the tryouts just for fun, but I did so well I ended up in Florida to start rehearsals. I learned the web, an aerial ballet performed 30 feet above the audience, and how to dance while wearing a fancy 2-foot-tall headpiece. I learned to perform tricks with my elephant, Sara (pronounced Zara in German), alongside the famous animal trainer Gunther Gebel-Williams. (This death-defying circus act will make your stomach churn.)

Reminisce Extra MagazineThen in 1981, I met Scott during a show at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Scott always loved clowning around, so after high school he applied to Ringling’s Clown College. There he developed his own clown character and skits while learning to juggle, ride a unicycle, walk on stilts, apply makeup and build props. After graduating, he joined the team in the spring of 1981 and got to perform with the famous clown Lou Jacobs.

For me, it was love at first sight—even though I didn’t know what Scott really looked like. Every time I saw him he had on his red wig, big nose and clown costume. I fell in love with his personality. (Don’t miss these 100-word stories on the true meaning of love.)

Reminisce Extra MagazineWe were married in 1985 and just celebrated our 31st wedding anniversary. I cherish the wonderful memories I have of my time spent with the circus, and I could not imagine what life would be like if I had not met Scott. I am so lucky to have met the greatest husband on earth while working in the circus.

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Originally Published in Reminisce Extra