Several years ago we saw a Mexican juggler in a circus side show "Hat Spinning", that is, keeping a hat revolving in the air by striking its brim with a stick. We liked the novelty of the routine and its effect on the audience but at the time were too absorbed in trying to get three balls to reverse shower to do anything about it. Last year we again saw the feat performed by Al Conner. Again we liked it but time slipped away and we still did nothing about trying it. A month ago we passed a local sporting goods shop and saw in the window a red cloth hat of suitable size and texture, we thought, for the trick. We bought one and played around with it and surprising enough most of the moves we could think of were rather easy to do. In a month's time we could (and you can too) do fairly well several rather interesting moves. Checking through all the literature we have on hand revealed only one brief article on Hat Spinning. This we found in William J. Hilliar's "Modern Magicians' Hand Book". Believing that many young aspiring jugglers would welcome Hat Spinning as an act which would get them entirely away from the standard "toss" routines with standard articles such as balls and clubs, we have compiled our findings in this article. We sincerely hope that you will try it out and not be content with just the moves we show. Perhaps, and we hope you do, you will put it in your show and at some future date we'll see you doing moves that we and hat spinners before us never dreamed possible.
The hat described in the Hilliar book and the one used by the Mexican juggler was made of felt, but the hat used by Conner and the one we found was of the soft cloth variety that has been popular for summer wear the past few years Some of these cloth hats are heavily starched so that they will hold their shape better. This is not the kind for hat spinning. Get the softest one you can find this fortunately is also usually the cheapest cloth hat on the market. After a little beating with the stick such a hat is just as limp as an old rag, and except when it is being spun it looks a good deal like a rag. Under the spinning action, however, it billows out and again resembles a hat. The hat we found was red (a rather bright red which we liked better than the more common brown and gray ones) measured about 12 inches across the brim and with a crown about 5 inches high when fully billowed out. We mention these dimensions, not because they are important for the successful carrying out of the spinning routine, but more as a guide to finding a suitable hat at your local store. The stick we use is a 3/8 inch diameter dowel rod cut to a length of 24 inches and with a pointed end. This pointed end does not influence the spinning part of the routine but is an aid in performing a couple of moves that will be explained later. Also the length of the rod will vary with the individual, some desiring a shorter stick- we doubt whether a longer one would have any advantage.
THE BASIC STICK SPIN: Hold the hat with the forefinger and thumb of the left hand by the brim, crown of hat toward the audience, brim of hat hanging from fingers vertically. The hat is held about waist high. The stick, held firmly in the right hand is placed just a trifle to the left of the center of the lower edge of brim. As the hat is released from left hand, the stick is raised sharply almost straight up, but with a slight semicircular motion. This will cause the hat to spin.
Try this a few times without trying to keep the hat spinning. You will find that if the stick is too close to the center of the hat brim, the hat will collapse and drape around the stick instead of spinning. If the stick is too far from the center the hat will spin but instead of also being kept up in the air it will fall to the floor before you would have time to strike it again with the stick. In other words, the stick must cause the hat to spin and also act with an upward force to keep the hat in the air. With a little practice you will be able to keep the hat spinning at about waist height or a little above at least f or short periods of time. With continued practice you will find it easy to control. You will find that by hitting it closer to center you will slow the spinning rate down as well as cause the hat to be thrown higher in the air. By hitting it further from the center you increase the rate of spin but you will have to hit it faster to keep it in the air. The rate of spin is appreciably increased by causing the stick to follow a semi-circular path about the rim of hat rather than just a sharp upward motion. FIG. 2. This, then is the basic move of hat spinning. Practice it until you have considerable control on the hat, for all other moves are simply variations or additions to the basic one.
When you master control of the spinning hat you will find it easy to change the tempo of the stick striking the hat brim. Thus you will hit the hat rapidly for awhile, then by striking closer to the center cause the hat to fly high above head still spinning, wait for it to descend and again increase speed of spinning by rapid striking further from the center. This change of tempo gives variation to just straight spinning, and we might add, looks much more difficult to the audience. We will assume that you have mastered the basics and are now ready to see what further moves and refinements we have found possible.
STICK PICK-UP: With the hat on the floor crown down, or toward the audience, the point of stick is poked inside the hat. The stick with the hat on it is brought sharply up and to the left with a sweeping motion. The movement is stopped abruptly with a circular move of the stick which causes the hat to spin. FIG. 3. Almost at the same instant the stick is removed from the inside of the hat and strikes the brim of the hat to keep it spinning and thus continue the basic spin. This little move is excellent for the recovery of a dropped hat. The point on the stick helps in this pick-up. If the hat falls with crown up it is only necessary to give it a sharp blow and turn it over in order to start the pick-up.
FOOT PICK-UP This is one of the most startling methods of starting the hat spin. The hat is thrown on toe of shoe (you have to balance on one foot while doing this) or if the hat is on the floor the toe of shoe can be inserted in the hat. The foot and leg raises just like in the move where you cause a top hat to turn over once in getting from foot to head but instead of giving enough upward impetus to the hat to reach the head, the hat is caused to turn over at about waist height at which point it is in the proper position to strike with the stick and cause to spin.
FIG 4. The main trouble to overcome in this move is to gain enough control so that the hat is not in the proper position too close to the body to get the stick into action.
OFF-THE-HEAD START: This is another very effective start for the basic spin. The hat is placed on head in wearing position, but loosely. Or when you practice a little you will find it quite easy to do a turn- over from toe to head. This move is a little more difficult than when done with a stiff hat such as a top hat but is nevertheless easily attainable with a little practice. The stick is now placed under the brim of the hat slightly to the left of the rear of the head, point of stick pointing slightly up and forward. Head is bowed slightly forward. A steady rapid upward. motion (not a sudden jerk) with the stick will cause the hat to roll forward off the head, turn over and be in proper position for the basic spin at about waist height. This one will require a few hours of diligent practice but the effect is well worth the effort.
You can now get a picture of the excellent routines possible. For example- throw the hat on the toe of right foot. Right foot tosses hat with one turn to be caught on left foot (this simply requires a quick change of balance from one foot to another). Left foot again tosses hat up with one turn to be caught again in its original position on right foot. From there it is tossed with one turn to head. Off the-head start is then accomplished and hat is spun with varying tempo and heights briefly. The spinning hat can then be allowed to drop still spinning toward the floor where the right foot with a quick forward jab again enters the hat. The Foot-Pick-Up is then executed, and the spin continues with stick going under leg to strike the hat, behind the back, etc. for variations of the basic spin.
The striking of the hat under the leg and behind the back the most difficult moves so far described. But besides practice about the only hints we can offer are to slow the spinning of the hat down, and just before moving the stick to the under leg position or around the back, give the hat an upward thrust in order to give you time to move the stick into position.
Some other spinning ideas: Place the point of the stick on the brim of hat toward the edge. Crown of hat up. Stick held vertically. Now impart a circular motion to the stick. The hat will assume and spin in a horizontal plane. By moving the stick upward slightly and then rapidly removing the stick the hat will sail down and can be caught on head. Another departure from the basic stick spin is to kick the spinning hat with foot in the same position that the stick would strike it. This slows down the hat spin and so immediately after the kick recover speed again with stick. Instead of a kick with foot, a sharp blow with arm or left hand are effective deviations from the basic stick spin.
GUS KIRALFO UNIQUE NOVELTY COMIQUE
GUS KIRALFO AT 80
(Newspaper Article Headlined) "Ollie" Young, 71, Showman, Is Dead
Oliver Russell "Ollie" Young, 71, internationally-known show man, a veteran Al G. Field Co. member and a former producer of Ziegfeld Foilies, died Thurs- day at his home, 56 Chittender Av. He had been retired for more than 16 years. Funeral services will be held at 2 p. in. Saturday in Schoedinger funeral home with burial in Greenlawn Cemetery.
Born in Columbus Mr. Young was the son of a pioneer family. In his youth he was an employee of the editorial department of The Dispatch, and recalled in later years how he carried messages from The Dispatch office to William G. McKinley, then governor of Ohio, and later President of the united States. He was a personal friend of Robert F, Wolfe, owner of ne Dispatch, until Mr. Wolfe's death.
Mr. Young started as a juggler. He was with the Field Show for two seasons, spent a season with the Lew Dockstader Minstrels, and then for 38 years presented an act: "Ollie Young and April", with his wife, Mrs. Adah B. Young. He toured Europe twice with this act.
Mr. Young produced several of the late Florenz Ziegfeld's spectacles, both on the Winter Garden Roof and in the New Amsterdam Theater in New York City. He and his wife had leading roles in Victor Herbert's "Velvet Lady" for three years.
Mr. and Mrs. Young played both the Keith and Orpheum vaudeville circuits for many years, and at one time Mr. Young was financially interested in the old B. F. Keith Theater which was on E. Gay St. he was one of the founders of the National Vaudeville Artists and was a member of that organization's board of directors. In Columbus Mr. Young's work in organizing shows which played at county and city institutions for underprivileged people was well known.
Besides his wife, Mr. Young is survived by three sisters, Mrs. William Doolittle and Miss Elizabeth Young, both of Worthington, and Mrs. Bruce Bowen, 43 W. 8th Av.
(end newspaper article)
The field of juggling has lost two great showmen- GUS KIRALFO and OLLIE YOUNG. Kiralfo passed away at the age of 81 on July 31; Young, at the age of 71 on July 25, 1946. On July 21st Gus was struck by a "hit and run" driver in San Antonio, Texas, fracturing his thigh and badly bruising him. On July 24 he was operated on and given a transfusion by M. S. Mahendra, but pneumonia developed and he died July 31st. Burial was in San Antonio, August 5th.
Last summer Doug Couden was through San Antonio and met and interviewed Gus and sent an interesting life sketch for the Bulletin files. From it you will see that Gus Kiralfo had a varied and colorful juggling career.
Gus Kiralfo's home town, Evansville, Indiana also the starting place of such jugglers as Joe Cook, Billy and Joe Ritzel, and The Wilsons. Gus worked under different names; Rexford, Albo Latour, Kiefer, Kiralfo, etc. The following excerpts from his advertising and programs gives an idea of the type of phraseology as well as the wide variety of acts Gus and his brother performed: The Grotesque Terpischorean juggler; Grafula, in Thaumaturgical Excercises with Various Utensils; The Peerless Juggler Comique: The Classic Roman Juggler in Picturesque and Unique Excercises with Roman Implements of War; World's Greatest Battle Axe Men Comedians - Jugglers - Musicians - Dancers - Pantomimists - and Travesty Artists; Comedy Juggling - Rag Spinning - and Hat Dancing, Marvelous Cloth Twirler and Serio Comic juggler; Facial Artists - Gun Spinners and Hand Silhouettist; French Equilibristic Marvel; Sensational Drum Major; Refined and Novelty Comedy.
Another act not mentioned above is diabolo Spinning which Gus still did. Before the war he framed an act which he called "A Unique Circus Unit" - Gus Kiralfo and his Aztec Diabolians of San Antonio, Texas.
"After the war", Gus told Doug, "I'll get the troupe going again." Diabolo was one of the many double acts Gus and his brother performed. One of the tricks was to pass the diabolo between the legs, toss over the back and catch in front still spinning.
Gus still did part of the steps and routine of what they called terpischorean juggling or hat dancing. This was another act in itself, just with hats. They did eccentric steps, both working in unison doing hat spinning, twirling, juggling, first with one hat each, then working up to a routine with three. Gus still had a set of Uncle Sam hats and could handle them quite well.
Then there was the Thaimaturgica1 Sailors, juggling imitation marlin spikes. Another act, Textile Twirlers, or rag spinners. Gus still did the color change trick. This was done with two different colored bandana handkerchiefs sewed together. They are spun with a stick having a pin in the end, hank is then tossed in air and as it comes down the pin is jabbed into the reverse side thus bringing up a different color to audience.
An old trick that Gus did was worked as follows. Set a glass on table, a card on glass, then another glass and so on until four or five are set up. Then swing a ball on a string, knocking out top card, which causes top glass to drop into one below and so on down until all the glasses are nested.
Gus could play a number of musical instruments. This came in handy when he had to double in orchestra or band. In 1890 Gus jumped from Evansville, Indiana to Whitewater, Minn. to join the Kickapoo Med. Show.
After the first night performance the manager asked Gus, "What do you do tomorrow night?" Gus told him he'd do the same juggling act. The manager shook his head and said. 'We're here four weeks and you are supposed to do a different act each night." This started Gus off on his various acts. Gus whittled himself out some juggling clubs, found an old abandoned sawmill and started practicing for the next night's show.
He noticed people looking at him but nobody came anywhere near. He soon learned the reason. The place was "haunted". Some boys playing in the old mill had discovered a woman's foot sticking up through the sawdust, which led to the arrest of the woman's husband. A native, relating the story to Gus said, "It took us only ten minutes to 'enamel' a jury." Another incident from way back was when a boy came running up to Gus and asked, "Are you the Doctor?" (this was when he was with C.W. Bunce's Herbs of Health Med. Show) Gus said, "No, what's the trouble ? " The boy then told Gus that his father was sick. Gus told the boy to bring his father to see the Doc for treatment. The boy said, "I can't, he's in bed. He's been an 'infidel' for 20 years."
Of Ollie Young, Harry Lind writes, "In the spring of 1898 I saw Ollie Young with Field's Minstrels and that summer at Celoron Park. After the park season closed Ollie came here and practiced at Allen's Opera House before going to New York City to open at Kaster & Biels Music Hall. I was a privileged character at the Opera House and so was permitted to watch Ollie practice. He was a great club juggler, doing four club tricks, foot balance, and the three clubs thrown right and left between legs. Though I have seen many do this latter trick since, no one in my opinion equalled the ease with which Ollie accomplished it. He first did four clubs at Hartman's Opera House, Columbus, Ohio in 1898, at the start of the season with Field's Minstrels. Ollie had a one sheet litho showing him using four clubs, a copy of which is in my collection, and to my knowledge this is the only "one sheet" to be used by a club juggler."
BERT HANSEN'S JUGGLING REVIEWS
Reviewed by Eric Johnson and forwarded to me by Doug Couden. Thanks Eric for adding this fine act to my collection.
1. Opened with silk hat, cane and one ball manipulation.
2. Tray with six glasses and six spoons-- spoons are flipped in air to land in glasses.
3. Balanced large hoop on pole on forehead, bail runs around inside of hoop. Baton is spun in each hand while doing this trick.
4. Three silk hat routine.
5. Finish with ball and hoops attached to various parts of body: Hoop on head, back, and right leg, and hoop with handle in each hand. Hops off stage with all balls spinning around hoops.
JUG JUGGLESON'S LETTER
Dear Roger, Good news. Did I tell you Plug Kelly slips me an extra sawbuck each week now so that makes the pay-off a half a yard per week. Not bad, not bad. That's for helping. I don't read no books from no library. If I did I wouldn't be getting that extra folding money. All that stuff Doug writes is a lot of baloney anyway but he means well, I guess. So everything looks rosy in Minnepls for yours truly and I like the joint. There's something about the sawdust on the floor in Kelly's Cellar that reminds me of old circus days. You know I mentioned the ticket sellers. Well they make good dough but are always broke what with playing the ponies and hitting the bottle but I learned my lesson. I'm off ponies for life. There's always some inside dope floating around but all in all you just get bum steers. This is my 10th week here and the act is still going over strong. It's the way I sell my stuff. Something the amateurs would like to know. They are always snooping around to lift a guy's gags and tricks. if I told them all my tricks of the trade you'd see a dozen Ccnvict Acts spring up all over the country and then where would I be. Back in the pickle works. That's one dump I hate. Worked for Heinz 7 years and I hate sight of a pickle let alone the smell. But back to the Joint. You've heard jugglers brag how they knocked them off their seats in Scranton but I can go them one better. When I do my ball and chain trick, that is swinging the ball and chain around in a circle with leather mouthpiece like the iron jaw fems use. First I set a lit candle on a chair then swing my whole body around with the ball coming closer and closer to the flame until I put it out. One night I lost my grip and the ball whammed against the bar and three drunks sitting on it went right over backwards and out of sight. Everyone thought it was in the act. A riot. So long pal, Jug.
A JUGGLER IN THE STIX -Doug Couden
McMirmville, Tenn.: Roger's ref to Carrer's act being different brings up the question as to whether there is too much ball and club juggling being done today. If these props are considered the "tools of the trade" by jugs, agents and specs alike it's high time we adopted less hackneyed paraphernalia. When too many do the same thing it kills the goose that lays the golden egg. A beginner pro's row would be easier to hoe were he to show different stuff in both his photos and act. This would mean less competish with established acts and open up more work for more jugs, just simple arithmetic. Truzzi's odd props and wardrobe (see pic.) had a lot to do with his being signed again on the Ringling show as there are other highly skilled lads around. We suggest leaving club juggling, for the most part, to acts other than singles and using balls with combination and mixed juggling or only showing top tricks of straight ball routine. When Kara was viewed by the writer he showered 5 balls and let it go at that. He did do a novel ball trick with apparatus but that's an R.W. There is no dearth of juggable objects to replace the above over worked gadgets. As a pleasing variation we suggest short batons in place of clubs. Athletic type juggling sells as there are always fans and players out front. Tennis rackets go good but the biggest attendance of any sport in this country is basketball. Tricks with one white ball would click, with spinning on finger tip, dribbling (bouncing with palm of hand) under legs, punching bag movement direct to floor, neck catches, head balancing and rolling and bounding off different parts of body.
Sid Lorraine reviews issues of the Bulletin in Tops Magic Mag., Colon, Michigan. This is a good buy for jugs at a buck a year because of adv. column by Tommy Windsor. From this we glean that Dell O'Dell, wife of aforementioned sub Chas. Carrer, is in the upper income bracket because of her nationwide campaign with 25,000 Magic Fan Club members. This suggests a publicity stunt for a progressive jug; mailing out adv. jug novelties, using J.B. lists for a starter.
REMEMBER WHEN DEPT. Remember when Joe Cook juggled 5 clubs in his single act, A One Man Vaude.ville Show? He burlesqued an orchestra leader, magician, ventriloquist, musical act, etc. Following Joe a wop musician entered in a green spot and when at "front & center" off would come his hat and it was JOE.
When the Alexander Bros. & John Smith were billed, Joe was the John Smith, bounding 5 bails right along with them. And Joe's much ballyhooed 4 Hawaiians (or was it 5) never did show.
Paul Wingrave (Rupert Ingalese) sends M.O. from England for sub and types, "I note the J.B. is a couple of years old--I wish I'd heard of it before. For many years I've felt that some such. pub. ought to be in existence. I know U.S. well as I've played most parts of it. As to my little book, i it was published in 1921 and two editions were sold out quite quickly. If you'd like any assistance I can assure you it will be a Pleasure to me." Thanx, Paul and as for assistance, hows about a monthly contrib.? We'll gladly reserve space each month for the author of that most inspiring juggling book.
JUGGLERS' JOTTINGS: Art Jennings sends info on Johnny Ray. (see next issue) The Billboard's Final Curtain lists Edward Scanlon, vaude juggler, who passed away in Little Falls, N.Y. at the age of 64. The record of the 2 Indians juggling 32 balls is done busted. ONE juggler is actually pictured on p. 104 of the 7/20 Sat. Eve. Post juggling 50 balls. Hugh Shepley broke his novice in Boston at the Rex Cafe where several jugs visited him. He reports plenty of activity in the old bean town with 9 tossers playing around there. Hugh scribes, "Eddie Tierney is the most remarkable club juggler I've ever seen. In his act he throws 4 clubs under both legs and I've seen him pass 5 under legs in the gym. He does a straight juggle of 5 to close his act. I finally met up with that colored sub., Joe Taylor. He's 18, in H.S. and does nice work with balls."
F L A S H - just as we go to press we learn of the death of Leo Rullman in Milwaukee, August 21.
Eddie Johnson adds a 10th ball to the comedy 9-ball juggle, dropping same to make 'er look like the real McCoy. Eric Johnson thinks the B. gets more interesting every issue. Spud Roberts out with new jug letterhead and here's his new twist to the comedy cannon balls, worked with assistant. Wooden ball is balanced on staff which has cords attached near top and bottom. Staff is yanked away by pard, ball hitting floor. Rubber one is then balanced, staff yanked, this time ball is bounced off head as wooden ones are klunked ogether. Bert Hansen reports S.F. subs Valentine & Evelyn on L.A. convensh program.
About time we "sprang" with Pic of Bert, so here he is with his Oscar as he entertains in vet hospital wards. He also does comedy sword swallowing (p.56) and ball juggling with medal gag. You know that-un? Write us now at 304 Livermore Ave., Staten Island-2, N. Y.
Jap Jug, Hithro Bombangi, late of Hiroshima said, "Now can juggi with anslesters." Adios.
SHOOTIN' THE BREEZE ROGER
Joe Marsh of Manchester, England comes through with what goes on across the brine as well as sending in a couple of swell gags. Here he is: "A goodly number of jugglers are working the Music Halls here at the moment--mostly comedy acts, including the great French juggler GASTON PALMER, who still features his "all the spoons in the glasses" gag. This show-stopping gag consists of juggler show- ing a tray with 6 drinking glasses fixed to it, and 6 spoons resting in front of the glasses on the tray. The trick is to throw up the spoons off the tray and catch one in each glass. Gaston Palmer gets great fun out of this with his wonderfully timed 'misses'- but gets 'em all in the glasses at the end of his act. He is an expert at the "didn't quite do it" business, but all his excellent tricks come off alright in the end. RUPERT INGALESE is still going strong here and now works under the name of PAUL WINGRAVE. A good juggle for the comedy worker--juggle three balls, usual routine, then switch two balls for large metal comb and hairbrush (taken from pocket) and brush and comb hair while juggling with the three articles. Good laughs can be had with this gag-- The "switching from the pockets" idea can be used to gradually change the juggling balls down in size to small marbles or peas. This is a big laugh getter. More next time. Joe.
Jugglitems: Libbey Glass Co., Toledo, Ohio puts out a set of drinking glasses called "Carnival". Eight glasses to the set for $3.00. One has a juggler (though you have to look twice at the Pic. to be sure). Others include seal balancing ball on nose, strong man, elephant, tiger etc. We expect to find a set in Larry Weeks' Juggle Iim. Did you know that International Theatrical & Television Corp. (who now have a branch in St.Louis, Mo.) lists two Universal Short Subjects in 16 mm. sound film which have juggling in them. They are titled "Bagdad Daddy" in which appear the Johnson Bros., and "The Naughty Nineties" in which Baron Emerson appears. These are each 2 reel shorts and are for rent. Our contemporaries are chock full of Jugglitems. Pathfinder news magazine for July 3 contains pics taken at magic convention in Washington D.C. and include one showing some hoop passing between Bob Blau and ? we believe. Saturday Review of Literature for May 11th has the best jug cartoon we've seen recently. The jugs head is going around with the balls while one of the balls replaces the head. July 8th "Life" has Pic and story of Elizabeth Hanneford, head of the Famous Hanneford Family. Page 36 if you missed it. September Genii magic mag. has Pic of Valentine and Evelyn hooping it up with six. Recent issues of Liberty and July Pic have cartoons about juggling. Pic issue also has an unusual balance of three men if you lean toward the acro field.
With all this in our contemps., we feel saddened and neglected-- we'd like to scoop the field once in awhile anyway. Which brings us right down to the point. If you get a Pic taken or have a write-up, send them on in to the Bulletin. We keep a file of such things and use them as occasion demands. For example in the case of :Gus Kiralfo, we wanted to make up a little biography that appears elsewhere in this issue. We looked under the proper heading in the files and pulled out the pics and Doug's interview, all of which has been filed for over a year. Yet if it had never been sent in we'd have been at a loss to make an intelligent article. So if we haven't a Pic or some news item about YOU send some in. The publicity won't hurt you. How about it?
Welcome New Subscribers:
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