Money Makes The Monkey Dance
by Veteran Showman Lee Kolozsy
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highlight the factual experiences expressed herein before reading
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Every word of this story is true
and historically accurate. I can provide documentation for most of
it. There are many who are aware of bits and pieces of it, but it
has never before been told in its entirety. It is my sincere hope
that the telling of this story will inspire other obscure,
aspiring, and struggling Showmen to work hard at perfecting their
craft. To hold their heads up high with pride in what they do. And
above all… never give up!
I was recently asked what my first job
in show biz was. I had to think for a while, I mean half a century
is a good long time, and I’ve done a lot of things in this racket
over the years. Where did my career actually begin? My Mother
tells me that I was flying in a cradle-casting
act before I was born. Scary…
Officially, my first job was as a
hostage. No shit! Really and truly. A great and powerful
organization now known as the former Soviet Union held this
little two year old circus kid hostage in order to make sure that
his Mom and Dad wouldn’t defect to the land of milk and honey.
It took me a quite a while, but I
finally brought the bastards down. I did it the way my Dad showed
me. I worked real hard at my craft. And I did it here. Not there.
I applied my talent industriously to make this a better place; I
didn’t help them a bit.
Had they treated my family better,
they wouldn’t have lost a good man. I would have contributed to
society there, and the outcome might have been different.
Now I am not so vain and egotistical
as to believe that I alone would have made a difference. However,
the cumulative effect of strong-arm thugs wiping their worthless
asses with good and talented people resulted in a massive drain of
talent defecting to the West. This strengthened the U.S. and
simultaneously weakened the Soviets. It left them only the timid.
A weakened gene pool. It all collapsed due to mass stupidity. The
rest is history.
My Father was a Hungarian Patriot. He
was a Freedom Fighter. As a teenager, he fought the Nazis when
they occupied Hungary during the Second World War. They
exterminated most of his loved ones. Later as a young man, he
fought the invading communists with Molotov cocktails. They seized
control anyway. His family lost their ancestral home, their lands,
their factories, and peerage now meant nothing. Everyone was now
equal, only some were more equal than others. All private wealth
now belonged to the new government, and was at the disposal of the
most equal. A bunch of sneaky thugs.
My Dad didn’t care; he was the younger
son, and not in line for the title of Baron. He never really cared
about money. He lived for only one thing. He loved the circus.
It was a different world. Hollywood
was a long way off. American films were foreign. No one there
really got them. The epitome of glamour and fame was to be a
feature in the Great National Circus. Budapest was the seat of art
and culture. The Paris of the East. The Capitol City Great Circus
was a permanent structure that operated year round. Season tickets
were by subscription. The performance was changed every month.
Like the opera or the ballet. Only higher class.
My Mom and Dad were STARS!
They were young, they were famous, and they were the best in the
world at what they did. They were reckless and daring. They
invented the flying free exchanges in cradle casting. These stunts
are now textbook work in Eastern Europe and are routinely taught
at the circus schools.
They are now performed only with lunge mechanics
due to the great danger. My Mom was damn near crippled in a fall
in Poland. They flew free. Screw the risk. In you’re twenties, you
When the Hungarian Revolution failed
and the Russian tanks rolled into Budapest, the Soviet puppet
government of Hungary was in desperate need of foreign currency,
as the new money they printed wasn’t fit for asswipe and was
essentially a waste of ink and paper. My Mom worked in the foreign
trade office as a translator in several languages. She managed to
arrange numerous lucrative bookings for their act, which was then
a hot property, with foreign circuses.
The new government was reluctant to
issue exit visas, since most sensible people, once out of the
trap, were unwilling to return. However, there was the foreign
money. The Communist Government wanted it. Badly. It was a bunch.
What a dilemma. The poor commie bastards. Couldn’t figure out
whether to shit or wind their watch.
Enter Yours Truly. The Party thugs
simply took me hostage. The communists trapped my Mom and Dad, by
refusing an exit visa for their infant son, and commandeered their
pay, put them to work like a pimp sends out whores. They were
earning like millionaire movie stars. They were living like
peasant serfs. In the circus ring, they were gods. In the circus
wagon, they ate black bread and lard. Their earnings went directly
to the state.
For every slice of heaven, you pay
with a dose of hell.
They didn’t count on my Dad. He was a
born fighter. He was descended from fighters. He fought the Nazis,
He fought the Communists, later here in America, he fought the
circus producers and the carnival owners. These characters had no
idea who they were screwing with.
At some point in history, during the
Turkish invasion of Hungary in the middle ages, one of my
ancestors and his villagers successfully defended a pass in the
Carpasian Mountains near Montenegro and what is now known as
Transylvania. They turned back the Turks and changed the course of
For this heroic act my ancestor was
summoned to the Royal Court of the Magyar Kingdom and made a peer
of the realm and given the title of Baron and granted lands and
status for all his descendants by the first Christian King of
He returned to his mountain village to continue herding goats and
These babies prospered and by the
twentieth century a dynasty had been established. One of my
ancestors studied under Edison and Tesla. This led to the
industrialization of our family’s county.
No longer merely an agrarian community of farms and vineyards
providing for the tables of the Nobility in Vienna and Budapest,
The family now controlled the nation’s telephone system, and the
factories that were at the leading edge of technology. My
grandfather was a millionaire playboy whose decadent and
degenerate revelry was legendary in Budapest.
my Dad was pissed. The bastards had his firstborn son. I was
unaware of all this at the time as I was living with my maternal
grandmother in the ancient city of Buda. I was busy learning not
to piss my pants on market day. We would walk across the old chain
bridge, over the beautiful blue Danube, to the modern city of Pest
to haggle over the price of cheese and wine. Evidently, the pay
scale for hostage caregiver was barely adequate to keep Gramma in
My Dad was also a magician. A damn
good one. An illusionist. Deception was a practiced art with him.
He was a tailor made operative for the CIA. Then known by some
other initials I suppose. He cut a deal. They provided a forger
and some expertise. He risked his life. All in a days work for a
circus flyer. He also performed a service for them that he would
never talk about. A secret he took to the grave with him. He was
ever a man of his word.
With the help of God and the
Americans, he flew back in behind the iron curtain and rescued me.
They were machine gunning people in the streets for lesser things
they labeled treason. Armed with forged documents, nerves of
steel, and big brass balls, He risked it all with a leap into the
unknown. We escaped to the West and never looked back.
Hulligan Kid's names are as follows, in order of age. Nikolas
Laszlo, currently age twenty, Katerina Cassandra, age sixteen,
Anastasia Victoria, age eleven, Roman Alec Sandor, age seven, and
Violetta Selena, age three.
is circus lingo for foreign kinker).
Your grandkids are now the stars and
the proprietors of their own American Circus.
Your eldest grandson
a gold medal at the age of twelve in the International Circus
Festival Competitions for his high-speed juggling routine, which
had legendary world-class jugglers on the edge of their seats and
received a standing ovation at the finish. He creamed the East’s
State schooled entries. He was voted best young performer of 1997.
He and his four younger sibs have performed in front of hundreds
of thousands in countless performances at prestigious special
events across the U.S. His two younger sisters perform as
balancing artists and hula hoop experts. Their younger brother is
the world’s youngest escape artist. The very youngest of these
kids, the third sister, was in costume and in the ring, stealing
the show, at two years of age. They are all, without exception,
fine acrobats and trampoline experts. They have appeared on
national network television from coast to coast. The W.B. used
them in a commercial to promote the new network. The National
Geographic did a picture page about their travels and adventures
with the circus. The Scripps-Howard news service sent a Pulitzer
Prize winning photographer and one of their best writers to do a
feature article about them that appeared in hundreds of newspapers
around the world.
These youngsters were responsible for
the creative design, participated in the construction, and are
to the movement and operation of one of the finest circuses to
ever appear before the American public. They are the entire cast
and crew of Circus Fun. They also put on the entire show. To
enthusiastic rave reviews from public and press alike. These kids
are professionals. Kind of a modern day Ringling brothers and
sisters. They are entertainers, musicians, athletes, technicians,
promoters, businessmen, and above all, young Showmen.
Without the heroic actions of their
grandfather, and his determined refusal to be pushed around, none
of this could have been possible.
These exceptional children were born
and raised on the show lots of the last and only American railroad
by parents who earned their livelihood by operating sideshows.
Dirt lot Carnies…Go figure...
Cradle casting” A type of flying act. An extremely difficult
and dangerous discipline seldom seen nowadays. The rigging
consists of two aerial cradles high above and on either end of
the circus ring with a high casting gymnastic trampoline
centered in the ring below. No nets or safety devices were
employed. The flyers relied entirely on their own skills and
the teamwork of the catchers suspended from the cradles above.
Routines consisted of free flying hand to foot exchanges
performed simultaneously on the two cradles followed by
casting to the trampoline and a rebound to the opposite
catcher with the flyers passing one another in midair.
His mother was a circus gypsy girl who left a life of ease and
wealth with the Baron to return to the circus.
My Dad trained, and later taught, at the Royal Hungarian
Academy of the Arts and Sciences of the Circus.
“Lunge mechanic” a complicated system of pulleys and ropes
attached to a belt worn by the flyer. Similar to the rigs worn
by rock climbers. These devices made the training practice of
complex twisting somersaults very difficult. The rigging
required an expert flyer to act as spotter and operate the
safety device. This spotter actually had to anticipate and
duplicate the flyer’s timing in order to make it work. As a
teeterboard flyer I can testify to the fact that removing the
lunge ropes certainly added to the danger, but the feeling of
flying free was comparable to the way a bird must feel when
set free. I can also state that crashing to the ground usually
resulted in the following series of emotions. First came shock
and surprise, followed by disbelief, then in rapid
succession…pain, chagrin, and always regret and remorse.
Mako, (the principality of), Koloszvar being the capital city.
At the National Circus in Tivoli Gardens
The James E. Strates Shows
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