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Circus Showman

24-year-old Richmond native leads the Greatest Show on Earth


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Alex Ramon was 21 years old when he saw the Ringling Bros. Circus for the first time—but he still ran off and joined. Now 24, the Richmond native is the ringmaster of the Greatest Show on Earth. He will get to perform to a hometown crowd later this month, when Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey’s Zing Zang Zoom comes to Oakland’s Oracle Arena.

How does someone become ringmaster of the circus?

I had been doing a traveling magic show with Disney called Mickey’s Magic Show and was approached by Ringling Bros. to develop a new show based on magic. I’m the first illusionist to be ringmaster of a Ringling Bros. Circus.

That sounds like a pretty big challenge—creating a magic show for venues the size of the Oracle Arena.

It was. Ringling Bros. Circus is always performed in arenas, but magic is never performed in a 360-degree environment. So all the magic had to be created for that environment. Lots of the illusions have never been done before, and some of the classics had to be adjusted. One of the illusions we do is to call some kids down and teach them a magic trick. I thought it would be fun to teach kids how to levitate their parents.

Every single time I come out on the arena floor, I get to say that timeless line, “Ladies and gentlemen, children of all ages, welcome to the Greatest Show on Earth.” Sometimes I think to myself, “How did I get here?”

I have always been terrified of clowns. How do you deal with them?

People say that to me all the time, that they have a phobia of clowns. I recommend they check out our all-access clown college preshow. It’s free with admission. One hour before each performance begins, people can come into the arena, right down on the floor, and meet the clowns without their makeup on. Then you see them put on their makeup—it’s very interactive and really cool. We’ve performed for millions of people this year, and I have not seen one kid be hesitant around our clowns.

How do you travel from city to city?

We go everywhere by private train—it’s more than one-mile long, when fully connected. I have my own apartment, with the Internet and Wii and Guitar Hero. I live with 11 elephants, plus Bengal tigers, Chinese acrobats, and human cannonballs. It’s such an adventure!

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus’ Zing Zang Zoom visits Oakland’s Oracle Arena August 12–16. For tickets, go to coliseum.com.

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