"The undisputed master of the flea circus"
Whenever the topic of flea circuses comes up, Walt Noon’s name is not far behind. He is the undisputed master of this lost art. He has built tonnes of them, and what he doesn’t know probably isn’t worth knowing.
When you see flea circuses for sale they are often described as “Walt Noon style” or “Built using a Walt Noon design”, but where do these designs come from and how can you build your own? Well just head over to Walt’s website and order yourself a copy of his complete flea circus package. The package comes in three parts: a DVD, a CD and a manual providing you with enough information to build your own “humbug” flea circus.
The Manual, called “The Mystery In Unveiled! – Walt Noon’s How To Make A Flea Circus”, begins with an introduction explaining what you can expect to find on the CD and DVD along with a bit of history about flea circuses and the levels of research Walt undertook to learn about this lost art. It’s actually a companion to the DVD providing drawings and additional notes on the construction of each of the main “events” of the circus as well as listing several U.S. suppliers that can help you acquire the parts required to build the gimmicks.
The CD is a pretty eclectic selection of flea related information. It includes music that you can use when performing your circus, along with images and high resolution scans of backgrounds all of which can be used in construction.
The DVD though is what we’re all waiting for. It begins with some real turn of the century footage of a real flea circus, followed by the step-by-step instructions covering how to build your own, ending with some footage of flea training and a television appearance. The step-by-step instructions are extremely detailed covering such topics as: choosing a suitable suitcase, construction of the flea parade, cannon, pool, high-dive, high wire, trapeze and a few additional ideas at the end. The methods at times are quite ingenious, with some great results (my favourite being the cannon), and although a few power tools are required I would say that the skills required are not particularly high. I believe anyone with enough time and patience could construct one. As Walt points out in the commentary the intention of the guide is not to follow it religiously but to be inspired and take ideas to make your own unique circus.
Walt is an engaging presenter and his style makes you feel like a friend watching him at work in his workshop and his enthusiasm for the topic leaps of the screen. I really enjoyed this rather unusual collection and suggest you get a copy if you are in anyway interested in this lost art.
Finally the best description of the Flea Circus package comes from Walt himself from an email he sent me:
“The Flea Circus package has been a huge, consuming labor of love for me. So, you’ll find hundreds of meg of material collected and generated over the last 10 years on the CD and DVD. It’s as much a collection of everything entertaining with fleas and projects as it is a step by step to help you build a circus. I hope you enjoy it very much! Thanks! (The fleas thank you as well.)”
Walt Noon can be contacted via his website www.noonco.com