Cue the clowns - Page 8

San Francisco's burgeoning indie circus scene revives and updates an old-time antidote for trying times
Photo by Tracy Bugni

And at the suggestion of Gooferman frontman Boenobo the Klown, I decided to start from the inside and let him turn me into a clown.

As makeup artist Sharon Rose transformed me into a happy clown backstage at DNA Lounge, I asked Boenobo what I should do (besides interview people). We just needed to clown around, keep the drunks from crowding the performers, help clear the stage between acts — whatever needed doing. "We're the scrubs," he told me, clown-to-clown.

As we spoke, the acrobats stretched, a corpse bride goofed off as she prepared for her aria, members of the Extra Action Marching Band started to slink in, clowns applied their makeup, and female performers occasionally came back from the stage and whipped off their tops.

When Gooferman went on, I still didn't know what I was supposed to be doing, so I stood next to the stage, watched, and awkwardly tried to be a little goofy in my dancing. A tall, beautiful blond woman stood next to me, catching my eye. She was apparently alone, so after a couple songs, during a lull, I asked her, "So, do you like clowns?"

"I am a clown," she said with a grin.

"Really?" I said. "You don't look like a clown."

"But I am," she said. "I even do clown porn."

She turned out to be 27-year-old porn star Hollie Stevens, who told me she "grew up as a clown" in the Midwest before moving to California and getting into porn seven years ago. She even starred in the film Clown Porn and still sometimes dons the red nose and face paint for her public appearances, usually just for her own amusement. Stevens once appeared on the Jerry Springer Show as a clown, even getting into the requisite fight on stage with a friend.

"Clowns, you either love them or you hate them," she said, and she loves them.

I asked why she was there and she said that she'd come to see Boenobo. They had talked but never met, and shared a sort of mutual admiration. It was a clown thing. Clowns ... they get all the hot chicks.

While we talked, an acrobat worked the pole on the stage, followed by an aerialist performing above the dance floor, one scene woven seamlessly into the other. The clowns of Gooferman puttered around the stage, removing equipment to get ready for the next act, flirting with the girls, trying to scam more drink tickets, or simply entertaining others and themselves.

The life of a clown is rarely dull.



DEC. 5–6

Acrosports Winter Cabaret

639 Frederick, SF

8 p.m., $5–$15

DEC. 12

Auditions for Acrosports' City Circus

Call (415) 665-2276, ext. 103 for appointment

DEC. 12-14

Frolic: CircusDragBurlesque Festival

Featuring Fou Fou Ha, Anna Conda, and more


1310 Mission, SF

8 p.m., $100


DEC. 20

Open House and Holiday Carnival

San Francisco Circus Center

755 Frederick, SF

10 a.m.–4 p.m., free

Pratfalls and Rising Stars

7 p.m., $12 adults, $8 children

San Francisco Circus Center

Tickets and info at