Big Apple Circus
Call or check Web site for times. Feb. 12-15, 18-21, 24-28. $15-$42. Stone Mountain Park, 6867 James B. Rivers Drive, Stone Mountain. 800-922-3772, www.bigapplecircus.org.
By Jon Waterhouse
February is circus month in Atlanta as UniverSoul Circus, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, and Big Apple Circus each set up shop.
Fans of former Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus star Bello Nock may be surprised by his absence from this year’s tour.
But as the Greatest Show on Earth presents its new, magic-laden production, “Zing, Zang, Zoom,” at Philips Arena, Nock, who refers to himself as a “free agent,” will be clowning around at Big Apple Circus at Stone Mountain Park.
Q: First off, how do you keep your hair standing up like that?
A: Can you keep a secret? Very simply, I put Viagra in my shampoo. … When I was 11 years old, I was in a water ski show at Cypress Gardens in Florida. Along with 30 other men, who were ages 18 to 40, everyone got crew cuts. I was the only redhead and tried to be like the other men in the show and got a crew cut. And I sunburned my head and didn’t get a haircut for a while after that. From a flat top and a sunburned head, it’s grown into a 1-foot-tall high top. Now it’s like a chimney stack or a wheat field, basically. It’s almost as if my hair has a life of its own. It shakes when I’m scared and moves along.
Q: Growing up in a circus family had to feel normal to you. But looking back, what were some of the more interesting things about growing up in the circus?
A: I rode a unicycle before I rode a bicycle, because I had one. It was nothing for me to come home from school for dinner and Evel Knievel would be sitting at dinner with Karl Wallenda and my dad. All three of them would always argue who was going to be more famous. And I remember at my family’s dinner table, Evel Knievel said, “I’ll be more famous than either one of you guys, even if I have to break every bone in my body doing it.” And Evel Knievel did. Karl Wallenda would say stuff like, “I’ll die on the high wire being more famous than you guys.” And he actually did. My father [Eugene Nock] was referred to as one of the most well respected men in show business, because he died without a single broken bone in his body. He invented three different acts in the circus. So I think that’s sort of where the magic is with my family, bringing everlasting memories to children of all ages. And we mean it.
Q: When you announced your return to Big Apple Circus, I understand you walked across a high wire over Lincoln Center in New York City.
A: I did. I’m basically a comic daredevil. So whoever your favorite comedian is, whether it’s Jim Carrey, Kramer from “Seinfeld,” Harpo Marx or Charlie Chaplin, I’m that with a mix of Evel Knievel. I do the kind of things David Blaine wishes he could do. … I walked a high wire over the brand new fountains at Lincoln Center in New York City. I was hoping to and I’m still hoping to walk the entire length of the cable at Stone Mountain basically all the way from the bottom to the top. And they won’t let me. I am a daredevil and a thrill seeker. … I do everything you wish you could do, but you’re afraid to try. I do that, but the most I want from you is a laugh. And that’s an everlasting memory of a laugh you’ll take with you the rest of your life.