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“Defy gravity”

When I went to State University of New York at Purchase, I was going to keep my job in New York City at Warner Brothers Record Co., working in the publicity department on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Through an odd series of events, I lost that job, which freed up my Tuesdays and Thursdays, which was when circus class was. So I just decided to take circus. Had I had my plan of working gone through, I would have never had circus classes, and you and I would not be having this conversation.

I started taking circus classes. You’re talking about a girl who grew up in New York and didn’t even climb a tree until I was 10. I started taking circus classes, and it was “Oh my gosh! I can juggle! I can do trapeze!” And this had never even occurred to me as an option of something I could ever do. I started reading everything I could about circus, and I fell in love with circus.

My first year, I wrote to 50 circuses looking for a summer job saying “I’ll do anything. I’ll water the elephants. I’ll clean up after them. Anything at all.” None of them wrote me back except one, which happened to be a Methodist youth circus (named Circus Kingdom). I am Jewish, and I didn’t answer them. The guy called me up and said, “Why didn’t you answer me?” I told him I am Jewish and you’re a Methodist youth circus. And he said, “I know, you’re Jewish, that’s great! This circus is about people from all backgrounds.” So I ended up going on that circus for the next two summers.

Jessica Hentoff: Circus lady, circus teacher

Circus Harmony

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