Wednesday, 19 December 2007

More L. Bertolotto News

News just in.... from Legislature of the Province of Ontario 1908 vol 5

"And here I would say that I am indebted for the most of the information that I can give, respecting Bertolotto and his Fleas, to D. Jewell, Esq., broker, who was intimately acquainted with Bertolotto, Lt. Col, Gray of H. M. Customs, who was a member of the Stadacona Club during the time of Bertolotto's stewardship, and the Rev. E. A. W. King, M.A., Rector of St Peter's who witnessed on of Bertolotto's exhibitions in Boston. Mass."

This is another tantalising snippet that I found from google books when searching for "exhibit of trained fleas", I'll try to track down if there is more of this article. Apparently my nearest copies are in the USA or Canada.

Monday, 17 December 2007

Professor Cockerill's Flea Circus

Professor Cockerill has put a taster video of his real flea circus on Youtube, with three acts, Tight rope, Club Juggling and Football Juggling.

Sunday, 9 December 2007

Little people in the street

Perhaps these people have seen fleas on their travels through the streets?

Saturday, 1 December 2007

Spanish Fleas

The weather in Spain is mostly warm and dry. So Javier aka Magic Puk is in the ideal location for his Circo Magico De Pulgas.

The newly upgraded circus has been created with the advice of world flea trainers. The act includes a new springboard, trampoline, the swimming pool, a tricycle and a central circus ring. The circus has been equipped also with an external monitor to provide a larger view of the circus.

Puk is also a charitable type and aims to help retired fleas and fleas rescued from "Freak Flea Circus" shows.

For more details see:

Friday, 30 November 2007

Paul O' Grady Fleas

I looked at my flea circus site google analytics stats this week and noticed that there was a bit of a change. Rather than my usual 20-30 hits per day, I recieved 301 on Wednesday.

My first speculation was that perhaps the showing of a flea circus on the Paul O' Grady show had sent a bunch of people in my direction, there were a lot of google hits but there were 241 from a site called For those of you who don't know stumbleupon is a way of sharing interesting sites with other people who have similar interests so it looks like I must have been mentioned there. Sorry Paul/Malcolm you can't claim credit for this one.

Anyway, hopefully my digibox recorded the Paul O Grady show as I did not have time to watch it as I was donating blood (for people not fleas) last night. I'll let you know more once I've seen the show.

Friday, 23 November 2007

Paul O'Grady 29th November 2007

The Paul O'Grady show on Thursday 29th November 2007 will have a guest Flea Circus performer and pupetteer, Professor Malcolm Jephcott from Devon. The show starts at 5pm on Channel 4.

It's been a life long ambition for to Paul to perform a flea circus so next week Malcom is training him on how to handle fleas and perform the acts.

Monday, 19 November 2007

Max von Sydow named after a Flea

In a recent interview the actor Max von Sydow comments that he was named after a flea. The swedish actor appeared in Conan the Barbarian, perfored for Bergman in The Seventh Seal, won an oscar for Pelle the Conqueror and more recently appeared in Minority Report and Rush Hour 3.
Max was origionally named Carl Adolf after his grandparents but in the 1940s the name became less popular. During swedish national service he performed for his comrades in an imaginary flea circus. And the star of that circus was a flea called Max. Following this the colonel of regiment started calling him Max and the name stuck.

Thursday, 8 November 2007

Flea Circus Pinup

Last week, Malcom Jephcott, one of the UK's premiere flea circus performers was interviewed for Chat Magazine. This unlikely pinup is fit as a flea and in the frame for a quick chat in this weekly "real-life read". Malcom shows his grand finale act, "The Flea Parade" to Chat and a hundred person strong audience before tells about his show and performing pedigree.

Thursday, 1 November 2007

The travels of L. Bertolotto

Thanks to two other researchers I have found out two more places where L. Bertolotto performed with his Industrious Fleas.

On his tour of the UK Bertolotto stopped in Cheltenham, the 'Cheltenham Journal' for 15 Sept 1834 advertised the performance at "No. 22 Pittville Street, where his wonderful little menagerie will go through all the feats which have, for the last three years, astonished and delighted the lovers of curiosity in the Metropolis."

Further afield Bertolotto advertises his Industrious Fleas at "1 door north of the Marvin House, over the bookstore". This performance in Saratoga Springs, NY contained fleas mascarading as the Presidential candidates Buchanan, Fillmore and Fremont. This dates the performance to be around 1856.

Thursday, 25 October 2007

Halloween Fleas in New York City

Amongst other events in New York there is a flea circus in Brooklyn Botanic Gardens this weekend, Saturday 28th October.

Phydeaux's Flying Flea Circus of Fate will be performing two shows at 12:30 and 3pm. There will be plenty of other events for budding entomologists such as composting with worms and feeding carnivorous plants.

Wednesday, 17 October 2007

Escapologist starts Flea Circus

Magician and Escapologist Steve Legg has started a flea circus for the UK.

His colourful and mysterious looking circus created by Walt Noon, contains fleas Barry and Brenda who perform a chariot race, walk a high-wire; blindfolded. They brave the high-dive and conclude with a "death-defying" finale.

Lets hope his flea's don't learn how he does his escapology!

For more details see:

Sunday, 14 October 2007

Sven Svenson and the Cigarbox Flea Circus

Those of you who have been following my flea circus research for some time may be aware of Sven Svenson who I interviewed a couple of years back.

Sven has decided to share his experience with circus building with the rest of the world and is now selling a very portable flea circus in a cigar box. This cigar box flea circus requires no batteries or external power so can be operated where ever you like. The acts include: high dive, flea cannon, tight rope, moving car, football and there are some other "novel moving parts" that you have to ask Sven about.

You can purchase his circus from the Sven Svenson Flea Circus website.

Monday, 8 October 2007

October 19th Belfast Flea Pit

As part of the Belfast Festival, The Flea Pit, is being presented by Cahoots NI in the Little Pavilion, Botanic Gardens. Running from Friday 19 October audiences can witness this incredible show in a unique purpose built theatre which holds just 15 people!

"Come and watch our international fleas, Lady Isobella Jumpin Ella, Ivan the Bulgarian Beastie and Mad Rad Rodricco, amaze people with their incredible feats of mind reading, weightlifting and incredible trapeze stunts! Then marvel at a museum of curiosities where your host will introduce a series of ever-revolving attractions and indeed reveal some of the secrets behind the flea circus. All accompanied by live music!"

Friday, 28 September 2007

1998 Flea Circus Performance Art in Berlin

Performancemania: Hayley Newman

Back in 1998 artist Hayley Newman and filmmaker Nina Koennemann performed their Flea Circus in Podewill, Berlin. Working under the alias Malcolm & Lily. The 'circus' was two fleas made from sunflower seeds and garlic skins attached to wires.

With the the sterotypical prop of a magnifying glass Nina and Hayley stood on either side of an individual audience member and recited passages from Waiting for Godot. Hayley's memory is cloudy here but she belives it was the exchange between Estragon and Vladimir, where they contemplate suicide and talk about hanging themselves from a tree (in this case, a tomato stalk). The experience was unique for the audience member with each of the individual parts being spoken into a different ear.

Hayley describes this "as a philosophical take on the anthropomorphism of fleas".

There is a photo of Hayley preparing the circus as well as a description in her book Performancemania which is available in art bookstores or via Amazon. For details of more recent projects see

Friday, 21 September 2007

Sleeping with the enemy

The recent reports in the news of bedbugs in London made me think this was a sudden increase. However there are reports from 2006,2006,2004 and reports that "In parts of London bedbug infestations have risen tenfold since 1996" which actually confirm that this is nothing new at all.

Various things have been blamed for this increase, including foreign travel, the Tube trains in the Eastend and second hand furniture.

The advice to help with this problem is:

Don't put things on the bed whilst on holiday, such as your suitcase.
Vacuum your room and furniture (contrary to what the name might imply bedbugs live in cracks and crevices not necessarily in the bed).
Wash your bedclothes on a hot wash (and blame your increased carbon footprint on these critters)
Check your mattress, monthly.
and my favourite which comes from the 19th Century which is take a pig with you on travels and let that into your bed before you retire so that it may be bitten instead of you.

For more details see:

Thursday, 13 September 2007

Gawen Smith Flea Circus of 1586

The most intriguing item in Moffett's catalogue of mechanical minutiae is an automated flea circus, "made so by art, that art imparted life" by one Gawen Smith in 1586. Like the "exility" of Callicrates' ants or the twitching creatures inside the Schuttelkastenm, Smith's performing fleas act "life things that were alive": they "skippe" and appear to "let out bloud" from a "secret scheathe" Ref 125. Fashioning tiny chains and locks, the locksmith harnesses the fleas to a miniature coach which they pull like tiny horses.

From "Humanism, Machinery, and Renaissance Literature" by PhD Jessica Wolfe
The references have not been followed up so the accuracy of this article has not been confirmed.

Gawen Smith was obviously some kind of inventor as there are other references to him to be found on the web:

"In 1580, Queen Elizabeth I refused to grant Gawen Smith the right to build a lighthouse on the Goodwin Sands. The Queen rejected the petition because she considered the application was solely for financial gain and not for the well-being of the mariner. It would appear from contemporary House of Lords documents that the Master of Trinity House, Henry Church, objected to the Smith proposal because of the applicant's involvement with wrecking." from E Bertrand - Cambridge Journal of Economics, 2006

Thursday, 30 August 2007

More London Peculiars by Peter Ashley

I spotted More London Peculiars by Peter Ashley in bookshop on Charring Cross Road. It's the second book in a series about London, "London Peculiars: Curiosities in a Capital City" being the first of course. I have yet to check with the author if he's stumbled across any flea circus performers in his research.

Monday, 20 August 2007

UK Flea Circus Supplier

The Flea Circus Research Library has just learnt of a UK based Flea Circus Builder.

Theatrics Shop 4 Props have been making and supplying Flea Circuses to the UK and Ireland for over 5 years from their base in Carmarthenshire. Their self contained circus comes with 5 acts in a smart suitcase and a hand painted backdrop.

The fleas:
parade chariots around the ring,
fly on the trapeze,
balance on the high wire,
dive into a pool of water,
an for a finale, shoot from a cannon

Teaching tricks to spiders

Inspired by the work of Flea Circuses the chaps a BayBlab are planning on Teaching tricks to spiders

Monday, 13 August 2007

Fleas in the news

Water Flea Massacre
The vegan society has commented that they don't approve of Ecover's testing of detergents and cleaning supplies on Water Fleas. The result is that Ecover's products will no longer be able to put "vegan" on their marketing or products.

Collar Thieves
Thieves have stolen $3000 worth of flea collars from an animal hospital in Oregon.

Prairie Dog Plague!
A lab at Northern Arizona University has confirmed that two dead prairie dogs found near Flagstaff in Coconino County, Arizona were infected with bubonic plague. The disease is quite common in the area but no human cases have been seen since 1996.

Tuesday, 7 August 2007

Washington DC it's a Flea Circus

Many times people have commented that there's a flea circus in Washington referring to presumably the industriousness of the politicians. However, later this month there is a real flea circus arriving in Washington DC. The Acme Miniature Flea Circus will be at the Palace of Wonders on Sunday August 26, 2007 at 4pm and 8 pm.

Click to zoom


Saturday, 4 August 2007

Puces Industrieuses

Thanks to La Bibliothèque nationale de France I now have yet more translation work to complete. They have sent me a copy of L. Bertolotto's "Histoire De La Puce avec Notes et Observations" with an introduction by Mon. Barillon, a lawyer. There appears to be some interesting additional notes here that are not in the London version that I have from the British Library

Friday, 27 July 2007

More flea poop

Thanks to another visit to the Wellcome Library I've discovered that fleas do poop. A researcher called Nöller studied dog fleas and commented that "the insect defecated from seven to fifteen times during a feed", "the last material voided being red fluid blood". Nöller also found that human fleas pooped 10 to 20 times in half an hour. Nöller's experimental rig was described as a "circus method of controlling single fleas" and consisted of wrapping the flea with a loop of fine silver wire as shown in the diagrams below.

The text book also covers details of flea mating, experiments in India with regards to rat fleas and disease propagation and a detailed description of the parts of a flea.

Ref: A textbook of Medical Entomology by Walter Scott Patton and Francis William Cragg 1913.

Sunday, 8 July 2007

Fleas on Dartmoor

Professor Malcolm Jephcott is letting his fleas get a bit of fresh air this months. He's performing his Victorian flea circus at Becky falls woodland park Dartmoor Devon. The shows will involve acts from Fleavel Knievel and Bruno the strong flea. Performances will be everyday at 1:45 and 4 o' clock from 21 July thru till 2nd September.

Sunday, 24 June 2007

Fleas with Shoes

Back in the nineteenth century the King of England wanted to demonstrate the skills of English craftsmen. He had them build a life size model of a flea and sent it to the Czar of Russia. The Czar asked his craftsman to do better and the man returned to the Kremlin with a seemingly identical Flea. "But it's the same flea" exclaimed the Czar. "No, No," protested the craftsman, it has boots on.

Nikita Krushchev Russia's prime minister told this story when he visited England to explain the saying "The Russian craftsman puts on the shoes of the English flea."

Since then, at least two Russian artists have recreated the flea. Nikolai Siadristy from Ukraine showed his at the Warsaw Museum of Technology in 2002 and later in the Museum of the Microminiature in the Lavra Monastery. Anatoly Konenko also created a shod flea and it took him 7 years to do it. Anatoly exhibited his work in Ulyanovsk in 2003.

Wednesday, 20 June 2007

National Flea Week

National Flea Week starts next week and runs from 25th June to 1st July. This the second National Flea Week and is taking place at nearly 900 vet surgeries across the UK offering expert advice about checking and treating pets for fleas. Flea Week is timed to coincide with the increase in warm weather that fleas love. The current conditionals are ideal for fleas to hatch out and one pair of fleas can multiply to 1000s in just 21 days.

“During National Flea Week we hope to raise the awareness of the fact that if a pet has fleas, so does the home. Adult fleas on a pet are just the tip of the iceberg; in fact they are only 5% of the whole infestation.” commented Rebecca Stevenson, FRONTLINE® Veterinary Technical Manager.

National Flea Week is supported by Merial Animal Health, manufacturers of FRONTLINE Combo® and FRONTLINE® Spot On to help prompt pet owners to treat regularly for fleas and avoid any unnecessary suffering fleas may cause.

National Flea Week 25th June – 1st July 2007.

Sunday, 3 June 2007


Many thanks to Bonkers Fest this weekend who hosted many splendid exhibitions and bands and raised money for a range of good causes.

Of course I was there for the Insect Circus Museum who had dropped me an invite via MySpace. The museum had a fantastic range of models, playbills, posters, costumes and props from Insect Circuses. The museum charts different acts through time with it's range of colourful and educational exhibits and their proprietor was entertaining and knowledgeable.

One lady who seemed a little scared by the size of the exhibits, paused to recount a story of how her grandmother had seen ballerina fleas in the North East many years ago. It's good to bump into other insect fans and I am looking forward to seeing their live act later in the year.

Tuesday, 29 May 2007

Insect Circus Museum

Yet again, I've missed the Insect Circus.

The Insect Circus Museum was at Victoria Park over the weekend and because there was a queue and I needed to be somewhere else quickly, I did not have a chance to see this excellent exhibit. May be next time?

So you don't make my mistake, you can check their schedule the Insect Circus Museum website or say hello to Insect Circus Musuum at Myspace.

Monday, 28 May 2007

Red Hook Waterfront Arts Festival

The Acme Flea Circus will be performing SATURDAY JUNE 2 at 12:30 pm as part of the Red Hook Waterfront Arts Festival Brooklyn, NY, USA

The fleas will be at the Waterfront Museum & ShowBoat Barge.

For more details contact:
Professor A.G.Gertsacov
Flea Trainer and Psycho-Entomologist
Proprietor, Acme Miniature Circus

Tuesday, 15 May 2007

Bat Fleas - Siphonaptera Ischnopsyllidae

The bat flea could make a good flea circus performer with a different act, it likes to climb as is used to crawling up cave walls to locate bats roosting on the cave ceiling.

It is yellowish-brown in color and the males grow to 2.4 mm, and females 2.5 mm. Which in flea terms is quite large. The head, thorax, abdomen, and legs are exceptionally long and slender.

However it could be difficult to capture and feed as unlike some other fleas, bat fleas do not feed on other hosts. Female bats normally have more fleas than the males due to the additional time they spend roosting in caves and building. The larvae, pupae and sometimes adults of these fleas live in the guano that accumulates below roosts of these bats.

Please note that it is illegal to handle bats in the UK without a license.

Journal of Parasitology: Ectoparasitic Insects of Bats in British Columbia, Canada
Notes on the Bat Flea, Z Rodríguez, EC Moreira, PM Linardi, HA Santos

Monday, 14 May 2007

Bugs invade the Natural History Museum?

One of the places that's been really helpful with my Flea Circus research is London's Natural History museum's Entomology department both in their detailed information on their website and also in email responses to my enquiries. The Natural History Museum is a great place to visit for both kids and adults alike and ideal for the wet weekends that we are getting at the moment.

Tomorrow they are opening up their Entomology Laboratory to talk about their detective work and scientific investigations into the samples they have collected. For those unable to make it there will be a webcast of the event.

If you are not based in London or unable to make the event then there are loads of fabulous items on sale at the Natural History Museum online shop in this month's Creepy Crawlies category. A wide range of gadgets for examining insects are available along with fridge magnets, books and videos. "Mega Bugs" by John Lyndon aka Johnny Rotten and the recent series "Life in the Undergrowth" by Sir David Attenborough" are also available.

You can also find a range of more Scientific Entomological Books and Journals at the Natural History museum's Entomology website

Wednesday, 9 May 2007

Ancient Fleas

The Whiting Lab at the Brigham Young University have some pictures of mummified fleas as part of the Fleas of the World project.

Tuesday, 8 May 2007

Flea Films on Youtube

There's been some recent changes to Youtube, the Acme Miniature Flea circus has uploaded their flea circus film clip from Don Polec's World and has been added to my list of other flea circus films there.

Also The Flea Film site has been updated to show the work in progress videos from Youtube.

Monday, 7 May 2007

Flea Circus Posters

The artist David Manuel involved in the HP Wobulation advert has placed some of his posters on his blog.

Wednesday, 2 May 2007

Sala, Monck, Bertolotto and loss of the Industrious Fleas

In my previous blog entry I mentioned that I had found a reference to the Industrious Fleas in a book by George Augustus Sala and wonder if it was connected to my research into L.Bertolotto. A trip to the Westminster Archives proved fruitful and after a little light reading I found the relevant section of the second volume and was both glad to see this strong connection between the world of the Flea Circus and the genealogical research linking Bertolotto in London and Canada. Sala mentions that Governor Monck's butler was the owner of the Industrious Fleas. However there is also a sad story to tell as Sala describes the destruction of the fleas in a fire.

Life and Adventures of George Augustus Sala written by himself
In Two Volumes
Vol II
Third Edition
Cassell and Company, Ltd 1895
Page 45

Across the Atlantic
"It was not until the summer of 1864 that I visited Quebec. Travelling, in the first instance, by steamer on the beautiful St. Laurence, and by the Thousand Islands, the romantic, old-fashioned aspect of the ancient capital of Lower Canada pleased me hugely. Quebec was then the residence of a Governor-General of Canada, Viscount Monck, and we were hospitably entertained at his Excellency's summer quarters near Quebec. I specially remember these viceregal dinners, for two very different reasons. Lord Monck's butler had been the proprietor of the original Industrious Fleas; and his talented troupe, includig the flea that drew the cannon, the flea that rode in the sedan-chair, and the flea that impersonated Napoleon Bonaparte's charger Marengo, had all been burnt - poor little insects! - in a terrible fire at the Governor's country seat."

The Governor and his family

Related links:

Flea Researcher releases Quirky book

Richard Wiseman who wrote the history of the flea circus article available on Walt Noon's site has brought out a book called Quickology.

"‘Quirkology’ is a term coined by Prof Richard Wiseman to refer to psychological research that is quirky. Much of this work uses mainstream methods to investigate unusual topics, or unusual methods to investigate mainstream topics."

In the flea circus article Richard Wiseman also mentions "Nightmare Alley" a novel by William Lindsay Gresham. If you have a copy of this book and know of the flea connection there then please let me know.

Tuesday, 1 May 2007

Arthur, Odo and tutors visit the Industrious Fleas

From: Lord William Russell and his wife, 1815-1846
by Georgiana Blakiston
Publisher: London, J. Murray, 1972.
ISBN: 0719522420 9780719522420

Oakley, Dec 3rd, 1839

"During their first weeks in London Arthur and Odo with the two tutors pursued a course of sightseeing that took them from the Tower of London to the British Museum and the Polytechnic Institute, and included a visit to the Industrious Fleas, while their evenings were often spent at the play when the ducal boxes at Drury Lane and Covent Garden were available."

Arthur and Odo were Natural History enthusiasts and the diary goes on to tell how they had a large amount of pets, visited the snake shops in Cannon Street and a taxidermists in Bank.

These two went on to become an MP, Lord Arthur John Edward Russell and the first British ambassador to the German Empire, Odo William Leopold Russell, 1st Baron Ampthill.

There is also tenuous Bertolotto connection because Lord Russell died on 16 July 1846 at age 56 in Genoa, Italy which was where Bertolotto was born.

Monday, 30 April 2007

Chasing the Industrious Fleas

Whilst researching the history of the Flea Circus, I perioducally do a search for "Flea Circus", "L Bertolotto" or "Industrious Fleas" in both the google search and the google books search. The book search returns an increasing number each time I run it. Many of these are simply references to politics or cheap jokes about badly run guest houses.

However, today I found a couple of new links including

The diary of Lord William Russell and his wife, 1815-1846
The life and adventures of George Augustus Sala

Which are present in local libraries to me. So there could be some intersting progressions soon....

Thursday, 26 April 2007

New and Old Circuses

This has been a good week for Flea Circus research, as well as the 1751 report from the surgeon John Knyveton there has been a range of other updates to the Flea Circus History page.

There are also some new flea circus performers including Faust the Magician who reports to represent the classier side of the flea circus world. When not performing his classical illusions, writing books and collecting magic memorabilia, Faust puts on his white tie, red tail coat and Habig top hat to become a true circus showman. His Louis Vuitton suitcase hides some traditional flea circus acts and some specialities of his own.

Faust's Fantastic Flea Circus
is available for Magic Clubs, Magic Conventions, or any organisation that wants to book it.

Wednesday, 25 April 2007

April 27th, Flea Circus in New York

As part of the Ensemble Studio Theater / Sloan Center’s First Light Festival’s closing night celebration, Adam Gertsacov is performing an excerpt of the flea circus at the Cabaret Scientifique. This is a power-packed evening of song, dance and comedy--"specially comissioned by the EST-Sloan Project to celebrate the mergin of art, science and technology. Quirky, hilarious and endearing, these top acts are sure to close the First Light Festival with a night to remember"

The Flea Circus will be about 7-10 minutes from a 40 minute show.

Admission is free, but the theatre is small.

YOU MUST RESERVE YOUR FREE SEATS BY CALLING. Call 212 247 4982 to make a reservation and don't forget to mention you are there to see the flea circus.

Ensemble Studio Theater, 549 West 52nd St. NYC (Between 10nth & 11nth)

Saturday 13th Feb 1751

Front Cover of Diary"... turning did find that my other friends were already gone ahead, being Attracted by the gathering of a crowd; and to join them, to find a Watchmaker who had setup a Booth near Durham Yard in the Strand. There on trestles he had set out a tiny Chaise with four wheels, this being mighty small; and then he coaxes a Flea out of a box and sets him to draw it; other fleas being taken out which did turn water mills and march in troupes like soldiers; at which I was amazed, having never attributed aught of Intelligence to Fleas but a Malignant Instinct. This London be a marvellous place, where one may see more Wonders in ten yards than one would see in ten Miles at home; the which is no doubt wht the inhabitants are more hare-brained, constant Surprises shaking the Wits and enervating the Reason."

This extract comes from the "The diary of a surgeon in the year 1751-1752" by John Knyveton, a who was surgeon in London and later on HMS Lancaster, kindly provided by the Wellcome Trust Library. This is quite a significant find as it's 10 years before the previous earliest record of a flea circus and provides significantly more detail of the acts performed. If the proceedings of the old bailey are anything to go by there were several watch makers in the area of Durham Yard and it was a favourite for theives who were running away from crimes.

Stop Press

There is evidence to indicate that these diaries perhaps works of fiction rather than fact, for example errors in dates of key events. However there are other references to this event in the London, Daily Advertiser and other newspapers that report this booth was in existence between 1742 and 1763.

Monday, 23 April 2007

Flea Films

As well as my own flea film and the numerous movies and adverts mentioned on the Flea Circus Research Library there's a few other interesting examples I've recently found.

British Pathe have a collection of films on their site that look at old Flea Circuses in the UK and France.

Animal Makers Inc built and operated a puppet flea for a Flea Circus trailer for PBS's Evolution series.

Thursday, 19 April 2007

Flea Circus In Ireland

Cahoots from the Children's Theatre Company in Northern Ireland will be performing their musical flea circus at the Sticky Fingers Festival. In a child-sized theatre the team will be performing their flea act with live music to children aged 5 to 9.

Sticky Fingers Festival
A celebration of arts for early years
Narrow Water Castle and the Sean Hollywood Arts Centre, Newry
MAY 17 – 24 2007

Dawkins Flea Circus

Perhaps to counter all of the Christian claims over the symbology of the flea circus has posted their own flea circus. And it's quite a fine circus too.

Saturday, 14 April 2007

Flea Plushies

If you want a flea to cuddle or to throw across the room then you can purchase a flea online from one of these suppliers. Alternatively you might fancy Streptococcus Pneumoniae or Treponema Pallidum!?



Friday, 13 April 2007

Sony, the Church and Flea Circuses

As part of their advertising for the Playstation 2, Sony produced an advert about training fleas called Escape the Circus. It explained the idea of training fleas by putting them in a container with a lid until they learn not to jump. Since then a whole range of Christian blogs have commented that they believe the church is the same as a jam jar and hence they are the same as fleas. At first I thought this was novel and creative but then it appeared again and again on different sites. And interestingly enough there is never a credit back to the first person who came up with the idea which pretty much makes them all plagiarists.
Are Christians being cunningly manipulated to perform for entertainment by an outside force? Are they all wildly jumping around looking for blood and it's only the church that is stopping them escaping and spreading diseases? Or are they simply too focused on conforming each other and scared of coming up with new ideas just in case they upset someone?
And finally on a separate topic, I discovered today the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to insects. SPCI is calling for the flea circus to be banned. I have contacted them to address their fears.

Tuesday, 10 April 2007

Texas - Flea Circus

On Saturday 14th April, George Esparza will be performing with Phydeauxs Flying Flea Circus at the 21st Folkfest, and Kindermasken in downtown New Braunfels, Texas, USA.

Thursday, 29 March 2007


Reproduced with kind permission from Fritz Cartoons

Wednesday, 28 March 2007

Egon Erwin Kisch: Die Dramaturgie des Flohtheaters

Egon Erwin Kisch was a writer and journalist who developed a style of writing called reportage in the early 1900s. This combination of prose and literature is not journalism or fiction but is based on fact. Reportage books have more detail than a newspaper report but a style more similar to a novel than a reference guide. Egon was inspired by social authors such as Charles Dickens, Emile Zola and Maxim Gorki.

Whats all this got to do with flea circuses you ask?

In 1920 Kisch published a book called "Die Abenteuer in Prag" - "The adventures in Prague" which contains a chapter The dramaturgy of the Flea Theatres. It is possible that he read the reference to flea circuses in Dicken's "Boz".

I have recently aquired a copy of this book and will keep you updated as I translate the relavent pages.

Monday, 26 March 2007

Do fleas poop?

Do fleas poop asks the poop report. Watch this space, I'm sure I can find out from one of my fellow experts.

Tuesday, 20 March 2007

Les Puces Savantes

Today I recieved a Fantastic Fleamail from a Fine French Flea Fanatic.

Alfredo Panzani has been performing with fleas for over 10 years and tours France, England, Italy, Japan, Spain, Belgium, Germany, Israel and Canada. The fleas perform in a large colourful circus ring as shown below.

Photo by: Pierre Ruaud

The next performance will be at International Annual festival Of Success For Children HAIFA in Israel and then there will be performances across Spain in May.

The french for flea, "Puce" is also used for the colour puce which is a dark blood red colour.

For other performers near you see:

Thursday, 15 March 2007

Making little things

There are a few suppliers in the Flea Circus research library who can manufacture small parts for your circuses but you might be interested in making your own components.

How to Cast Small Metal and Rubber Parts by William A. Cannon covers all of the aspects of casting in Metal and Rubber that you could need from setting up a workshop to repairing casts to costing.

Thursday, 8 March 2007

What do trained fleas do when they are not performing?

Perhaps they would play in a tiny band using a tiny drum kit like this one from Biz (not Bez) on MySpace?

Biz advises me that you can pick these miniature drum kits up over the internet.

I found some at:

Tuesday, 6 March 2007

You can teach an old flea new tricks...

I had an email from a new flea trainer asking about what tricks Michael Bentine performed in his circus. Unfortunately the very short reference video I have of his performance only has a joke about a spec of dirty and the miss identification of a flea's gender. However we can guess from the layout of the ring that there was a ball rolling up a slope and a diving board.

Most days, I have my favourite search engines trained on the Internet looking for flea related topics. People have an amazing tendency to compare everything from Religion to Politics as being like a Flea Circus. However, I occasionally come across an interesting link or idea. Today the search engines highlighted an idea that I'd not heard before. A blogger suggested that a small model of Stone Henge could be used by fleas. I think this is a brilliant idea. The fleas could lift up the stones with little A frames and strings or slide them along on rollers. This should work with both real and magical circuses.

Tuesday, 27 February 2007

Flea Circus at Kids Arts Day in Kent, Washington

An upcoming Flea Circus reported by OregonLive.Com

On Saturday 3rd March in Kent, Washington, US the kids at the kids arts festivals will be entertained by the Flea Circus from Steve "The Pretty Good".

There will also be a series of hands on arts projects for the kids and performance on the stage.

Thursday, 22 February 2007

Ezekiel "Zeke" Sapperticker

In my quest for knowledge of flea circuses I come across some colourful characters with bizarre claims. In particular some of the claims of the Hecklers mentioned in "Wild Tigers, Tame Fleas" are rather embellished (or just made up?). There's also the story about the Flea Circus trainer who was attacked by his own fleas from Weekly World News.

However, I quizzed a chap on Myspace to find out about his Grandfather Zeke Sapperticker's Flea Circus and recieved the following reply.

Thee Money Butlers - a closer look at the sapperticker family tree

I'll let you make your own mind up about the accuracy of the claims but I have a feeling it might be difficult to find other sources to corroborate them.

Saturday, 17 February 2007

Flea Postcards

There are a wide range of postcards of fleas available on Ebay from the funny to saucy to sureal. Here's a montage of some of those that I've seen over the last couple of years.

Thursday, 15 February 2007


Did Victorian Flea Circus performers keep their fleas in matchboxes?

It's a nice idea but perhaps a little unlikely. The match was invented in 1827 which is just before the Flea Circus rose to popularity and as you can see from the picture, the large size of the matches meant for large boxes. There is also the issue of the fleas being able to escape.

It is more likely that the Flea Trainers used a pill box because the size and seal was more appropriate for keeping fleas.

However in the Flea Film I intend to use a match box because they look better and because my Ring Master has too large hands to manipulate a pill box. So I don't expect all you Pullicologists and Phillumenists to be writing in with complaints because I told you in advance....


Wednesday, 14 February 2007

Chuck Caputo Flea Circus for Sale

Flea Circus By Chuck Caputo

The latest flea circus creation out of the workstop of Chuck Caputo is in a mysterious looking nautical chest. The interior is a bright flea circus ring with a range of tricks including:

Moving balls, a trapeze, high dive, moving rope, flag pole, sword fighting and a cannon.

The chest also contains a hidden tape recorder so you can have music at your circus.

Saturday, 10 February 2007

Killer Fleas

Fleas are not always the nice friendly creatures that we know and love, sometimes they can be dangerous. As well as being blamed for the black death and for your pet's hair dropping out they can also be more serious problems.

Killer fleas from the Onion

Disasters from the Flea Circus Research Library

Tuesday, 6 February 2007

Flea Surgery

Scientists have taken the gene that produces resilin and used it to create a
super-strong rubbery polymer with potential use in surgery. Resilin has a resilience efficiency much higher than rubber and means it can be used for spinal implants and in the repair of blood vessels.