Pimpin’ and Smackin’ Ho’s at the Circus

What do drugs, whores, pimps and violence have to do with the circus? Generally nothing, unless it’s the UniverSoul Circus. No really…the grand finale – the climax of the show – circles around the tale of a redeemed hooker. What ever happened to plain old dancing ponies and tigers that leap through circles of fire?

I was channel surfing on the radio with the girls in the car yesterday, only half way listening because I was on the phone, and I heard Ryan Cameron say the words “circus”, “cocaine”, “stripper” all in one sentence. Herh? I turned up the radio. UniverSoul Circus? Isn’t that where Nadjah and her GIRL SCOUT troop were going this weekend? What in the world?

If you live in Atlanta, perhaps you saw the story on the news this week. An offended mother walked out with her 8 and 5 year old kids following the show’s finale. What could affront a mother’s sensibilities so badly that she would gather up her brood and walk out of the circus, I wondered? A heart wrenching, soul searching look at life from a whore’s eye view, as it turns out. I shouldn’t say “whore”…the subject of the last act of the show is actually a stripper, but that may very well be splitting hairs over terminology. (The full story is here in this link http://www.wsbtv.com/news/26949071/detail.html?cxntlid=cmg_cntnt_rss)

“There are ladies pretending to strip, men throwing money at her, then a pimp comes on the stage and the woman’s boyfriend sells her to him and the pimp slaps her when she refuses to cooperate,” Brown (the offended mother) said. “They’re pretending to smoke marijuana and sniff cocaine.”

A circus spokesman defended the act, saying it has a message. “Our show is about positive messages and sometimes to get to those high you have to go to those lows,” said circus spokesman Hank Ernest.

Ernest told Philips (the spokesperson) the gospel-themed finale ends with the main female character giving her life to Christ and starting over.

After reading this account, I had mixed feelings about sending my kid to the show (that we’d already paid for. I hate to waste money.). Should I do the morally upright thing and pull her from the activity? Should I allow her to go and expose her to this very real life lesson, and HOPE that she learns something other than how to let a man abuse her? What were the other moms going to do? I was sure that my husband, who is far more prudish and has a lower tolerance level for ignorance than I do, would balk at this circus scenario, and would insist that I pull Nadjah from the activity. I pulled up the news story for him to read.

“What’s wrong with that?” he asked when he had concluded reading.

“Huh? What do you mean ‘what’s wrong with it’?”

“They’re proselytizing,” he said. “It’s a redemptive story about Christ. That’s great!”

“Babe,” I said, my forehead beginning to pound, ”it’s the circus. It’s an audience full of 4, 5 and 6 year olds. If they want to talk about Christ, they need to have a blind man that gets his vision back or a lame person who becomes a trapeze artist because Jesus healed them…not a story about a murderous, cocaine sniffing stripper who accepts salvation!”

“Yeah, but it’s real life,” he interjected.

“But it’s not the kind of real life story you want to flash at a group of 4, 5 and 6 year olds!”

Gosh. Maybe I was being overly sensitive. Maybe it WAS alright.

Nah. It couldn’t be.

I immediately sent a text to my friend Algi, who is one of the Scout moms, and an authority on what is acceptable and what is just a load of hot crap.

“We’ve been discussing what to do amongst ourselves,” she informed me. “I go to the circus to escape reality…”

“Not to be confronted with more of it!” I finished for her.

We were on the same page.

The game plan is to have all the girls leave after the Russian acrobatic troop does their stint. Apparently, the whore –err, stripper – gets slapped, does her coke, shoots her pimp and gets saved after that.

Good old Girl Scouts. Because the last set of questions I feel like answering this weekend are those centered around the use of crack and/or any of its slang references SUCH AS: “Mommy? What’s booty dust and nose candy? If daddy pimp slaps you, will he make up for it by buying a white pony at the store?”

And my kid will be the one to ask.

  • David S.

    I don’t have an issue with the morality of the performance my issue is here. It’s the freakin’ circus. Circuses are supposed to be about clowns and performing animals, and people swinging from wires. Not some cerebral exploration of the highs and lows of real life. I don’t disagree that messages like that need to be heard, but I don’t think the circus is the forum.

  • Exactly! I agree with you. The circus is about clowns and balloons!

    I mean, even if you make the case that it’s the Black circus (a la “Soul”) and that these are Black issues and that Christ/Church is one of those “Black” traditions that is part of our social fabric (a la every Tyler Perry film ever done), choose another topic with which to present Him to your audience – which consists mainly of children who aren’t even in the 5th grade yet. Jeez.

    From what I hear, they’re scrapping the act altogether. It’s engendering negative attention to the over all show.

  • NM

    O, that explains the radio station. 🙂

    I think these are the signs of the times we live in; where the line between childhood and adulthood is blurred(a funky mess I call it). It would be interesting to know if any of the organizers objected or at least had some concern/s about that portion of the performance.

  • Mom Five Times

    Well Malaka, the Universoul circus is not on our troop’s itinerary as you probably can imagine.

    • That’s because your troop is BOOJEE (that’s country bourgoise to you). My troop keeps it real!

  • A-dub

    If God isn’t allowed in the classroom then He shouldn’t be allowed in the Circus!!!

    • Dang. That’s a shame. God has some AWESOME magic tricks that I think we could all benefit from. Remember how we used to pray to pass an exam and He would help us to?

      Now poor God Almighty can’t even get a seat under the big top…

      • A-dub

        Dear God,
        There is no place for you in our lives…. please leave! *Door Slams shut*…

        Seriously, I think that there is a time and a place for everything. Just like not all black folks are democrats, not all blacks are Christian either. If they are going to have a Jesus-focussed circus, they need to 1) inform the audience BEFORE they pay for it, and 2) make it age-appropriate. Where is the elephant that tramples everyone and bows down apologetically and gets a treat for repenting his sins…. Or the clown who tries to do something devious and gets caught then repents so he doesn’t have to jump through the fiery flame…
        Anyway, there were so many other areas they could have ventured into instead of introducing them to sex and drugs – they are taking away their innocence.

  • Sex and drugs are the only things Black people grapple with. Please take this opportunity to study your demographic’s history.

  • The Universoul Circus comes to Indy every year as part of Black Expo. I’ve never been and have no intentions on going. I’ve never heard any complaints here, but I just knew it would be more “colorful” than your garden variety circus. Plus I can instill my own morals and values in my children–I don’t need their Ringmaster to do it.

  • Dr. Melei

    This is performed in youth ministries all over the U.S.

    Look familiar?

  • Thank you Dr. Melei for proving my point:
    “This is performed in youth ministries all over the US” – PRECISELY the point. In youth MINISTRIES…not the circus. Youth ministries generally comprise of teens and young adults. Not kindergartners at the circus. It’s the CIRCUS.