by Tony Karp
A night at the circus - 1966
 - The Great Alzana walks a tightrope angled 45 degrees to the ground. - Leo Stashin. Circus, Ringling Bros. Barnum and Bailey, Madison Square Garden, tightrope, trapeze. Alzana, black and white - - art  - photography - by Tony Karp
The Great Alzana walks a tightrope angled 45 degrees to the ground.
Back in the 1960s, I hung out with a photographer named Leo Stashin. One day, probably around 1966, Leo called me and asked if I'd like to go to the circus. He had a connection that would get us in for free. "Sure," I answered, always up for something new.

I met up with Leo that night, at Madison Square Garden, which was still in its old uptown location. What Leo hadn't mentioned was that we would be witnessing the show from inside the arena, mingling with the elephants and the clowns. Being up close and personal gave me a new angle on the circus. Instead of shooting downwards, my camera was pointed up and I was able to isolate the performers against a dark background.

So these are some of the sights I saw that night, about fifty years ago. I've long since lost the negatives during the many ups and downs of my life. What remains are the prints that I made at the time. I photographed them with a Sony R1 to get them into the computer. Then I could work my magic on them and create a newer, improved version of my night at the circus.

This post is dedicated to the memory of Leo Stashin, a friend and a truly interesting person.

 - Walking on the high wire. According to the clock below him, it's 9:45 pm. - Leo Stashin. Circus, Ringling Bros. Barnum and Bailey, Madison Square Garden, tightrope, trapeze. Alzana, black and white - - art  - photography - by Tony Karp
Walking on the high wire. According to the clock below him, it's 9:45 pm.
 - A perfect catch on the flying trapeze. - Leo Stashin. Circus, Ringling Bros. Barnum and Bailey, Madison Square Garden, tightrope, trapeze. Alzana, black and white - - art  - photography - by Tony Karp
A perfect catch on the flying trapeze.
 - Another perfect catch on the flying trapeze. - Leo Stashin. Circus, Ringling Bros. Barnum and Bailey, Madison Square Garden, tightrope, trapeze. Alzana, black and white - - art  - photography - by Tony Karp
Another perfect catch on the flying trapeze.
 - But sometimes you miss. - Leo Stashin. Circus, Ringling Bros. Barnum and Bailey, Madison Square Garden, tightrope, trapeze. Alzana, black and white - - art  - photography - by Tony Karp
But sometimes you miss.
 - Not to worry. I think they do this on purpose, to create a little drama and suspense. - Leo Stashin. Circus, Ringling Bros. Barnum and Bailey, Madison Square Garden, tightrope, trapeze. Alzana, black and white - - art  - photography - by Tony Karp
Not to worry. I think they do this on purpose, to create a little drama and suspense.
 - The riggers working in the background, making sure that all the ropes and wires are in the proper places. - Leo Stashin. Circus, Ringling Bros. Barnum and Bailey, Madison Square Garden, tightrope, trapeze. Alzana, black and white - - art  - photography - by Tony Karp
The riggers working in the background, making sure that all the ropes and wires are in the proper places.
 - And what's a circus without clowns? - Leo Stashin. Circus, Ringling Bros. Barnum and Bailey, Madison Square Garden, tightrope, trapeze. Alzana, black and white - - art  - photography - by Tony Karp
And what's a circus without clowns?
 - And for the finale, another shot of The Great Alzana on his trademark 45 degree wire. Don't try this at home. - Leo Stashin. Circus, Ringling Bros. Barnum and Bailey, Madison Square Garden, tightrope, trapeze. Alzana, black and white - - art  - photography - by Tony Karp
And for the finale, another shot of The Great Alzana on his trademark 45 degree wire. Don't try this at home.

Copyright 1958-2015 Tony & Marilyn Karp