…A Meeting By Chance or By Fate…
– How I met Circusman Alexis –
On Thursday, June 4th, 2015, I was traveling with my wife, Caroline, on our way to meet a good friend of ours for his birthday dinner in Venice Beach. We were stuck in typical “bumper to bumper” LA traffic and running a bit late. While stopped at a traffic light on the corner of Lincoln Blvd. and Venice Blvd., I noticed a man in a large wheel or hoop, spinning around in the middle of the intersection. I was mesmerized; I began to freak out a little. I had never seen anything quite like it. As the light turned green, I obnoxiously begged my wife to pull over to the side of the street so I could meet this “man in the mysterious wheel”. As if struck by lightening, some outside force of nature demanded that I meet this person immediately!
She finally pulled the car over, close to where the man was preparing for his next performance. I rolled down my window as he gracefully walked over to the car. I quickly introduced myself before rapidly firing off a series of questions, “how’d you do that? Where’ you get that? What is that?” He smiled and said, “it’s a Cyr Wheel”. With a French accent he introduced himself, “I’m Circusman Alexis, I was born in France, but I now live in Brussels, Belgium. I have been traveling around the world performing with my wheel. I’ve been in LA for about 2 weeks now, and I will be here for another month.”
After his introduction, I preceded to tell him how amazing he was. I suddenly found myself asking if he would be interested in making a music video. Keep in mind, I had no plans of making a music video when I woke up that morning but “Turn My Ship Around” immediately came to mind. I knew I had to create with this guy. Thankfully, he said YES.
A few days later, we were at the Mann’s Chinese Theater in Hollywood to see my good friend Bart Bishoff, who happened to be in town for only 2 days for the LA Premier of his documentary, “Theory of Obscurity: a film about The Residents”. Bart and I had previously worked together on my music videos: “Just for One Night”, “Soldier Song (One More Tomorrow)”, and “Take Me Away”. He had just agreed to spend his last day in town filming the video when my phone rang. It was Alexis… He had bad news: his wheel was broken and so was my heart! He wouldn’t know until tomorrow if it could be fixed. At that point, we weren’t sure if there was even going to be a music video.
The following day, Alexis called and said his wheel had been fixed. Game on! We met at the skate park in Venice Beach. My vision was clear: Alexis’s performance, my words, and the music. I knew his art would speak for itself. I had a very small crew: my wife was the producer, Bart was the cinematographer, Circusman Alexis was the talent, and I was the director and editor. Magically, we were all in the right place at the right time.
Three hours later we finished shooting. We celebrated our collaboration at a local restaurant with beer and food. During dinner, Alexis shared his story with us. This guy has lived a crazy and amazing life. From joining the Circus at the age of 8, to traveling around the world as a street performer, to being a world class juggler and unicyclist… He definitely wins Most Interesting Man in the World in my book.
Fifteen hours later, I completed the first edit. We invited Alexis over to our house to share in our excitement. He ended up staying with us for several days. We developed a strong bond and learned more about him and his travels. We were constantly bouncing creative concepts back and forth, dreaming of bigger and more elaborate ideas that we could bring to life. We felt like family. He told us that he had been sleeping outside on a hammock in Venice Beach; we knew he didn’t have any real support here in LA. All he wanted was to save up enough money to buy a car so he could further his craft and spread his gifts. My wife and I really wanted to help him in any way we could. I gave him my old mini van and added him to my insurance plan. He was now able to travel freely and pursue his dreams.
The time we spent with Circusman Alexis was truly special; we had made a new friend for life. Despite having only known him for a week, Alexis genuinely inspired us to be better people. My wife and I are forever grateful for that red light at Venice Blvd. and Lincoln Blvd.
As an artist, there is no better gift than to have an audience who appreciates your work. We are blessed that our collaboration resonates with people all over the world. Alexis is now back in Brussels but we keep in touch. We plan to do several more projects together in the future. So, stay tuned… and remember to keep your eyes, your mind, and your heart wide open. You never know who you will meet that may help you “Turn Your Ship Around”…
– By Jeremy Buck
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