Show Ho

A circus clown who studied with Camille Paglia. Is it any wonder Sara Moore's fucked up?

Sara Moore is not just a former Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus clown; she's also a one-time student of Camille Paglia, at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. You'd expect someone with that sort of background to be really fucked up -- and sure enough, Moore's Show Ho is a beautifully bizarre solo performance. A nervous, New York-voiced entertainer named Rhonda Hammerstein (of "the great Hammersteins of Manhattan") joins a second-rate circus managed by a "failed Southern belle" named Corinna Van Cleef. Corinna has the voice and delicacy of a brontosaurus. Her circus rumbles across the country in a caravan of dirty trucks, trailing showgirls, illusionists, teeterboard acrobats, a bunch of sexually confused clowns, and an elephant. The best part of Show Ho is that Moore has to evoke all the characters herself: I've never seen one person portray a whole circus before. Rhonda falls in love with Truly, another clown (with a "goofy-gorgeous" personal style), and they have regular sex with a levelheaded showgirl named Caroline. "Meeting Truly," she says, "was like looking in a fun-house mirror. ... I threw up on him, and he didn't mind." The circus mania gradually resolves into an AIDS elegy. Moore (who's not related to this writer) can sometimes be overly sentimental, and her script feels a little disorganized, but her routines are hilarious -- especially the disastrous stage auditions that have Rhonda lip-syncing the "Queen of Night" aria from The Magic Flute or trying to impress the organizers of a comedy show by wearing combat boots, boxing mitts, and a tutu.

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