Start Your Own Flea Circus

Most people seem to think the flea circus has always been nothing more than chicanery; a fast-talking barker fooling his audience with mechanical props, and no fleas controlling the action. This was often true. But in the early 20th century, trained performing fleas were a reality in the circuses of England and America.

The last true flea circus statewide was Professor Heckler and his Trained Fleas, which operated from the basement of the infamous Hubert's Dime Museum in Times Square until 1968. These days, a few retro traveling circuses perform sporadically throughout the world. The Acme does shows on occasion (albeit mostly along the east coast) and if you're ever at Oktoberfest in Munich, you can attend their annual Floh Zirkus. Both are allegedly authentic. But we need more flea acts, so I'm providing you with some training tips for you to put on your own show, courtesy of wikipedia:

"Human fleas are used for performances as other fleas are too small. For the same reason, female fleas are preferred over males. The fleas live only for a short time and hence training of fleas is an ongoing requirement.
Fleas are trained not to jump by keeping them in a container with a lid. Once trained, they are harnessed by carefully wrapping a thin gold wire around the neck of the flea. Once in the harness the fleas usually stay in it for life. The harnesses are attached to the props and the strong legs of the flea allows them to move objects significantly larger than themselves.
Chemicals such as camphor that repel fleas are placed on lightweight balls and the fleas kick them away, this makes the fleas look like they are juggling or playing football.
There are historical reports of fleas glued to the base of the flea circus enclosure, instruments were then glued to the flea performers and the enclosure was heated. The fleas fought to escape giving the impression of fleas playing musical instruments."

1 comment:

FleaCircusDirector said...

You can find out more about flea circuses and how to make them at the Flea Circus Research Library