Man's shot at stardom: Circus' Human Cannonball says he has a great job

April 25, 2013|By CRYSTAL SCHELLE |

Kellan Bermudez has something in common with Superman: He also can fly.

As a member of the Cole Bros. Circus of the Stars, Bermudez is known as the Human Cannonball, whose death-defying feat is to be shot out of a cannon.

Cole Bros. Circus of the Stars will be at Review & Herald in Hagerstown Monday, April 29, and Tuesday, April 30.

Bermudez was in North Carolina getting ready for two shows when he took a moment to chat about making a career out of being a cannonball and life in the circus.

For Bermudez, 38, the circus is almost a part of his DNA.

"My grandfather, my dad and myself were in circus for many years," he said, his speech heavily peppered with his Eucadorian accent.

His father was a clown and acrobat for 45 years and would perform around South America and Mexico.

Bermudez followed in his family's footsteps and in 1997 he joined Cole Bros., where he's been ever since.

Like his father, Bermudez still does the clown act, but that's the first part of the show, he said. The second part is when he becomes the Human Cannonball.

He said he started doing the cannonball about seven years ago. The person before him had decided to retire and Bermudez said he was asked if he wanted to give it a try.

Once Bermudez was catapulted into the air, he knew it was the job for him.

"It was great," he said. "It's fun flying in the air."

He said he gets excited when he's in the barrel and can hear the countdown of  five, four, three, two, one.

Last year, Bermudez said he flew 74 feet through the air.

"Now I fly 91 feet from back, at 65 miles an hour," he said.

Although the name implies gunpowder is involved, Bermudez said it's actual mechanical hydraulics that push him through the barrel and into the sky.

"We always prepare," he said. "We look at everything to make sure it's perfect before I go inside (the barrel)."

But even with the best preparations, sometimes things can go wrong. In 2010, Bermudez had what he calls "a little accident."

He said he flew through the air and hit the net, but slipped. He hit the concrete floor.

"I was in hospital for two days," he said. "I got a concussion. Next week, though, I was back at it."

Bermudez, who is married and the father of four, is on the road 36 weeks from March to December away from his home in Texas.

"I like it. It's fine to be in the world for nine months. This is what I like," he said.

He said when he's on the road he does 185 shows in nine months.

"That's two shots a day. That's a lot," he said.

As for passing on the talents to his children, Bermudez said he's taught them acrobatics. But as for the rest, he has two sons in high school.

"I can teach them anytime," he said.

Bermudez said he loves what he does and says families will enjoy coming to the circus.

"We have everything you want to see under the big top," he said.

If you go ...

WHAT: Cole Bros. Circus of the Stars

WHEN: 4:30 and 7:30 p.m. Monday, April 29, and Tuesday, April 30.

WHERE: Review & Herald, 55 W. Oak Ridge Drive, Hagerstown

COST: Tickets cost $16 to $23.

CONTACT: Go to or call 800-796-5672.

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