following flea information could be a "spoiler" for those
who do not want ALL the mysteries revealed! Please read no
further if you do not wish to know "the secrets!"
the fleas real?
is always the first, and hardest question to answer about fleas
that I get. But I think the answer is most interesting!
more you read about the circus, the more amazing it simply becomes!
of all, if you've watched the sample video, you MUST know by now
that YES, the fleas are real and real fleas can and are trained
to do real stunts.
(Some people can not accept this even after
seeing it done! So strong is the humbug associated with fleas!)
difficulty of this artform can be truly immense. It took me
well over an hour to tie my first flea in a collar, and I was about
to call the whole thing a humbug (despite so many credible historical
accounts) when viola, I almost by accident collared my first flea!
got a rush at that moment like I could do anything! Take over
the world? Cure all disease? No problem for the man
(or woman) that can collar a flea performer! Anything suddenly
seems possible. I highly recommend this experience!
was the end of a long road of obtaining the right kind of flea,
devising a collar, supporting and keeping the flea alive (in a self
designed flea habitat), figuring out how to immobilize her without
injury and then TYING a collar in place "just so" so that
the flea could still feed.
It was hours before I came back down
to Earth. (Maybe this could be classified as an addictive
behavior? Shall we start a movement?)
nearly done with a video which will teach you how to collar and
train your own flea! What talent could possibly be more
important in life. Let me know if interested.)
this being said there's much more to understand about this seemingly
First, there is MORE THAN ONE KIND of circus!
flea circuses have almost always used real fleas. In some
cases the fleas were dead, and much like the art of taxidermy, they
were placed in a circus scene, dressed in little circus cloths (I'm
not kidding) often with details down to tiny flea sized shoes being
For $.25, the circus owner would "rent" you a
magnifying lenses, and let you examine his workmanship.
Only 25 cents, you ask? Back then $.25
was a lot more than it is now and actually did have the potential to
break someone's personal budget!
type of "microminiature" work, it was not uncommon to
spend A YEAR carving a tiny ornament for a flea.
not related to fleas, an example of this art, and probably the finest
microminiature sculptor was Hagop Sandaldjian
from Egypt. Shown on this page is a sculpture of "Goofy"
standing above the eye of a TINY needle. Even the PUPILS
inside the eyes have been painted.
Hapgop once sculpted Snow
White and all seven Dwarfs INSIDE the eye of a needle with the same
level of detail. Viewers needed a microscope to see his work!
(This work can still be seen on display at The
Museum of Jurrasic Technology
in Culver City California.)
In microminiature work, even one's
PULSE can ruin an entire years work, so painters learn to make
brush strokes between heart beats!
The next type of circus was
cruel, and, being a lover of these little creatures I do not
approve. However for a brief time fleas were GLUED into a scene
alive, then heated to make their legs flail to appear they
were playing tiny instruments and such.
Anyone who has got to
know a flea would be appalled I'm sure! I hope such doers
find themselves infested some day.
The last circus IS pure humbug,
though I have to say there is tremendous art and showmanship involved
in this circus as well! There is a BIZARRE psychological phenomenon
in that even in a humbug circus PEOPLE DO SEE THE FLEAS! I
can not emphasize this enough.
My very first circus was humbug,
yet even trained observers from the press SWORE in articles they
could see the fleas, and lamented having such difficulty photographing
currently for sale on my web page will teach you exactly how
to build a circus to be operated completely as a humbug, or
real fleas can also be incorporated! (You can Click
Here for more info.)
have to say that just as amazing as the FACT that MOST people WILL
see your fleas in a humbug circus, is the fact that many will never
believe; no matter what they see! (I think the fleas teach
us much about human nature here!)
The "mythology of the
humbug" is very strong as well. My own mother has seen
me train a real flea. She has seen a flea pull a cart. She
has seen a flea bite me! And she still whispers in my ear
"I know it's not real Professor!"
the flea circus will ALWAYS exist somewhere between reality
and imagination because everyone perceives it differently!
Tust me, no matter WHAT you do, what people see, and what happens
within, the timeless appeal, and the question: "Are
the fleas real?" is that it may never be truly answered!
be a more wonderful item than that?
can you train a flea to do?
I'm sure there are no limits! I know of more than 4 encyclopedic
volumes on the doings of fleas, but, for practical circus happenings
1). Be taught
not to jump.
2.) Be taught not to react to load noises.
Be taught to feed and do useful work while in a collar.
taught to juggle a ball.
5.) Be taught to dance.
As I said,
there is probably much more, but these are some of the things I've
played with. Part is training, and part is observing a lot
of fleas and seeing what traits certain fleas express!
high can a flea jump?
AMAZED how often I'm asked this question!
To my very unscientific
observations, I'd say few fleas can jump more than about 80 times
their height. My show's holding facility has walls of a height
based on this, and I have had FEW escapes.
Being the scientific
guy I am, and with how often I'm asked this, I was unsatisfied with
not knowing, so I asked David Watson who crunched the hard
You can learn HOW a flea jumps on his page at
for some thoughts on calculating how
high YOUR OWN fleas might jump.