‘If you work at it, you can accomplish pretty much anything.’
Port Jefferson Station
“I went to the circus and said, ‘Can I be a clown?’ They said, ‘You can be an usher.’ And that’s how I started, at the very bottom. But I had an agenda and a plan. I had things I wanted to accomplish. Within a year I got to be a clown. I was a stunt clown, then I was an audience participation clown. All the while I was working on the Renaldo Joins The Circus storybook and having dreams of creating my own theater so I could take what I learned and put it into a place that was mine.
“All my children have some of my skill, be it artwork or circus skill. My youngest son Renaldo has all my skill. And he’s named after my clown. When I retire, he’ll take the mantle and be the new Renaldo. Everything I’ve learned and done and all that it represents will be passed to him, like an inheritance. I met the wife I have now in England. I was headlining in a show called Zippo’s Circus in England and that’s where we met. She’s really good at what she does. I’ve seen her balance a chair, a wheelbarrow, a 10-foot ladder. If she can pick it up over her head, she can balance it.
I love doing the haunted houses, it helps me do what I love to do which is show people what they can do.
“I helped to create Open Stage Works, it’s a little theater on Long Island. I lend my expertise and experience of 30 years to help with the theatrics and aesthetic, kind of like an artistic director. I love doing the haunted houses, it helps me do what I love to do which is show people what they can do. There’s a fine line between scaring people and making them laugh. And I love jumping over that line, depending on where I’m at. If I’m in the haunted house I can scare you with the best of them. If I’m in a circus show I can make you laugh with the best of them.
“You have to work for it. And I hope to show that through what I’m doing with my kids and the theater and all the stuff I’m working on. To help people understand they can do so much, if they work at it. If you work at it, you can accomplish pretty much anything.”
Interviewed by Betsy Abraham