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Bowlegged

Circus comprised of contortionist and clowns

Circus comprised of contortionist and clowns

April 15, 2006|By CANDICE BOSELY

WASHINGTON COUNTY

Life for a clown, apparently, isn't always fun and games.

After Coco the Clown wowed an audience of hundreds by riding a 6-inch bicycle and by coaxing three agreeable audience members into donning costumes for a "movie" shoot, the clown put on a pair of plastic gloves to help to clean up the detritus his adoring crowd had left behind.

With makeup residue still on his face as he picked up cups and other trash after the show, Coco Kramer said he is a fourth-generation circus performer. He can perform on a high wire and as part of a trapeze act, but said nothing beats donning the colorful costumes associated with being a clown.

"It's my heart," he said.

Kramer, 44, was one of a dozen or so performers with the Moscow State Circus, which put on two shows Friday at the National Guard Armory on Roxbury Road south of Hagerstown.

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Before the show began, children could have their photograph taken with a small monkey dressed in a colorful suit and sparkling red top hat.

While the expressions on the children's faces varied from smiles to screams, the monkey stood straight and tall and with its mouth wide open before each photo was taken.

He also perfunctorily adjusted his hat, adding to the whole charade a bizarre surrealism.

Performances during the 5 p.m. show included young women twirling while hanging from ropes, vanishing and reappearing acts involving people and boxes, a young man who could balance atop a variety of small rolling objects and a 14-year-old contortionist named Princess Elayne.

Jonathan Minnick, 9, of Sharpsburg, said after the show that Princess Elayne's act was his favorite.

"When she shot a bow and arrow with her feet," he said.

Indeed, Elayne Kramer ? the clown's daughter and fifth-generation circus performer ? was able to use her feet to operate a bow and arrow. She popped a balloon with the arrow. She also could hold her body up by her mouth, gripping with her teeth a metal bar.

Also performing was a man described as Russia's strongest.

Despite a caveat that nobody should try to replicate the performance at home, parents in the audience still had to cringe when sharp swords were dropped onto the man's stomach.

They bounced.

During the approximately 90-minute show, popcorn, cotton candy, nachos and other carnival food was sold, as were the inflatable cartoon characters and light-up items commonly sold at such events.

Proven several times during the show was that if one gives two boys plastic swords, they immediately will adopt fighting stances and strike them together.

Chris Runshaw, of Greencastle, Pa., brought his children, including 5-year-old triplets, to the circus.

Although Runshaw said he and his wife were not especially awed, it was another story when it came to the couple's children.

"It's neat to see (their eyes) light up," he said. "It's a day out as a family."

Asked for his favorite part of the act, 5-year-old Spencer was too shy to voice it to a stranger. Instead, he whispered it in his father's ear.

"He liked the clown," Runshaw relayed, then leaned down to listen again to Spencer, who wasn't finished.

"When he honked the horns," his father added.

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