‘Built to Amaze!’
Ringling Bros., Barnum & Bailey
Growing up in Mineral Wells, Texas, Taylor Albin shunned the Friday night lights of the high school football games and dreamt of having different lights shining down on him — those from the “greatest show on earth.”
“I went to the circus every single year with my family and fell in love with it. I knew from a very young age that I wanted to be a clown; it just looked like so much fun,” Albin says. “Whenever they came out, they made people laugh and that’s definitely something I wanted to do and saw myself doing.”
One of his favorite pastimes was watching the Ringling Bros. video “How to be a Clown”; he aspired to be one of the greats like Tom and Tammy Parish, Chris and Gina Allison, Michael Frum, Jeff Schott and Todd Zimmerman.
Of course, wanting to be a clown and actually doing it for a living are two different things. Like most people, Albin had absolutely no idea how to go about it. It was in 2009, while in college, that he read that Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey was holding open auditions in New York, so he flew to the Big Apple and auditioned.
“It was a year later when they called and told me I was just what they were looking for,” he says. “I was still in college, but a year later I was with them and doing what I consider to be the best job in the world. My dream had come true.”
Albin says that being gay has never been an issue with anyone at the circus and that the atmosphere among his fellow clowns and other performers has been very supportive.
“The circus is such an open community and an environment that accepts all people — I mean not only do we have people from different lifestyles but we also have people from all parts of the globe,” he says. “The circus is a place anyone can feel comfortable in and I feel fortunate to work in an environment that people accept you for who you are.”
In his clown persona, Albin is Taylor the Tailor and he dons a large black wig that sticks up, wears funny glasses and has loud and colorful striped pants.
“The best part is I designed my look and who I wanted to be,” he says. “One of the best things is that we get the freedom of creating who we are and what we want to look like.”
You can check Albin out locally now as Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey presents “Built To Amaze!” at the Patriot Center in Fairfax, Va. It opened last week and runs through Sunday. It’s a show that promises plenty of high energy, high jinx and hilarity.
“What I enjoy most about being a part of Ringling Bros. is that I have the honor and privilege to see kids so happy and vibrant, and for their parents to be right in the moment with them,” he says. “There’s something magical about seeing a family forgetting their worries and just having fun! Your heart is filled with so much happiness and joy.”
For those children (and adults!) who are afraid of clowns, Albin says that everyone is very sensitive to their feelings and they work hard to make sure everyone is comfortable and having a fun time.
“We have people who come to the shows from all sorts of life and when we see people startled, we don’t approach them and we let them approach us,” he says. “Parents have their kids come to see us and we’ll bend down and talk to them on their level so we are not an ominous figure. We always take caution when we talk to children.”
Albin has been with the circus for five years and currently serves as the Boss Clown, meaning he is the liaison between show management and all the clowns on tour.
“I make sure everyone stays on top of their tasks and are prompt and at the end of the day that we all have fun,” he says. “When you wake up excited to do what you do, nothing can stop you. If there is a challenge, I would say it’s not seeing my family as often, but I am going to Texas soon so will see them then. At the end of the day, I love what I do.”
In addition to the fun of the clowns, the circus will include nine-time international award-winning comedic animal presenting duo Alex and Irina Emelin of Russia; the Tower Tumblers, a troupe of competitive aerial athletes from the Ukraine who launch themselves from trampolines to scale, repel and pass through a three-story high translucent tower; and a spirited and fiery competition of basketball with the next generation of whirling unicyclists, the legendary King Charles Troupe hailing from New York City.