Story by Craig Davis, craigslegztravels.com
Videos and photos by Fran Davis
It was apparent this circus meant serious business when they came right out with the Wheel of Death.
The huge, revolving apparatus, with performers doing a variety of tricks both inside and on top of circular treadmills at each end, had us immediately breathless on the edge of our seats.
Death-defying warm-up concluded, it soon became clear that “Infamous — a Cabaret Cirque Sensation” is primarily in the serious business of fun. Rollicking adult-only fun, that is: admission limited to ages 18 and over.
The Australian company, which describes its presentation as “a burlesque show full of spicy circus acts, risqué dancing and audacious comedy,” debuted in the United States in early 2023.
First stop was just west of Fort Lauderdale in Plantation, Florida, with the Spiegel big-top tent set up in an unlikely location behind the Broward Mall. As I write this, the show was entering the final week of its engagement, concluding April 15. That was followed by a month of performances in Savannah, Georgia, which ended May 28.
Those are the only scheduled U.S. stops of the Infamous Cabaret Circus for now. Will update when future dates are scheduled in the states.
Bawdy circus for adults only
If you’re up for something out of the ordinary — a sexy, irreverent, action-packed couple of hours — check out the modern version of how they do a grown-up circus Down Under.
“This is big circus, done Australian style. And not only did we get rid of the animals, we got rid of the kids,” Simon, one of the performers, said after the show.
“So it’s an adult night out, a lot of fun. It’s not really vulgar or pornographic. It’s just fun. Any sexy stuff is all parody, full of laughs. Big, sexy circus — dancing, beautiful people doing amazing stuff.”
We are trying to fit in another visit in the final week in Florida because it is that compelling.
It spanned the heart-stopping sight of performers doing flips and skipping rope atop the Wheel of Death to the absurdity of a cheeky clown inflating a balloon and disappearing completely inside of it for a pulsating bounce around the stage.
There are a variety of aerial acts (culminating with high-flying trapeze), hand-balancing, slack wire, juggling, contortion and what is described as “raunchy cabaret.”
Ashton circus family spans seven generations
The show has plenty of scantily clad bodies, attractive men and women, on display and interacting, including a couple applying glow-in-the-dark paint to each other while dancing to “Season of the Witch.”
You can’t bring the kiddies to the show, but adult beverages are served.
“Infamous” was conceived by Joseph Ashton, whose family spans seven generations in the circus business in Australia dating to the mid-1800s. His wife, Michelle Jarman, is a featured performer of several aerial acts, including trapeze. Their two sons, Jordan and Merrick, are featured on the Wheel of Death, and Joseph takes a turn as well, blindfolded.
“I’ve been doing it since the age of 17, and I got into it for love. I met Joseph and I went with him and I’ve been on the road ever since,” Michelle said.
This is a very experienced and talented band of circus performers. Jessie Grant, the bawdy clown, not only wins over the crowd with his comedic antics but shows his trapeze chops in the final act.
Grant, in a 2018 Australian newspaper interview, said, “I was three years old when I was first in a circus ring performing an act — I was in there with about 20 of my family members doing a big human pyramid. Growing up as a kid, I was in clown acts with my grandparents and being a little sidekick. I started really getting into it professionally when I was about 15 . … You don’t have one thing that you do as a circus kid — you do everything, and then you find out what you’re interested in and focus on that.”
Simon, who we spoke to after the show, said, “I actually trained as a classical ballet dancer when I was very young. Then I fell into shows doing acrobatics and actually fell in love with circus arts. So I took my ballet training, started doing gymnastics, tumbling, acrobatics and I’m here many, many years later with “Infamous” in the U.S. Very proud.”
Infamous tour goes from South Florida to Savannah, Ga.
“Infamous” was introduced in Perth, Western Australia in 2017 and the reception there prompted a national tour of Australia.
“We decided to let the Americans experience our show. We’re not really sure how it will come across as its really quite different … but it’s a lot of fun,” Michelle Jarman said.
“It has a bit of everything. It has a bit of adult humor. It’s got the daredevil acts. It’s got a little bit of sexiness with the dancing and of course it’s got the amazing singers. So it’s got a bit of everything and it’s something for every like. It’s a fun show to do too.”
Here is the website for schedule and ticket information: infamoususa.com.