Bicycle swansong

Last Saturday we went to see the Peking Acrobats. Joe was astounded that I’d never seen them before. Me, La Culture Maven.

I’ve had this set of postcards of the Peking Acrobats since 1975, and I always looked at them wondering what it would be like to see them in real life. There’s one of the man balancing a lop-sided goldfish planter on his head; one of maidens playing with diabolos; springboard acrobatics, a man balanced on one hand on few chairs and bottles, etc. And of course the one of a dozen people on a bicycle, which always impressed me the most.

For the most part, the show featured stunts that I saw on the postcards, but the costumes had been upgraded to ‘internationally modern’ from the Cultural Revolution worker/peasant-style garb on the postcards. In another coffee table book I have on Chinese advertising from early to mid 20th century (think calendar girls with epicanthic in cheongsams), there’s a 1959’s ad for the “Acrobats Coliseum Show,” showing them doing the same stunts.

Also there was an ongoing clown skit (which Joe said he’d never seen when he was kid.)

The highlight for me was the bicycle stunt, done on a specially built bike (I honestly thought they were going to do it on a Flying Pigeon.) In fact it’s called “Peacock on a Bicycle”, as the performers are spread out like a peacock tail. It’s a fitting cap to the close of the chapter of my stint as a bike planner.

Now, if there’s anyone out there with a little unused vacation home that’s located somewhere sunny and warm that they’d let me use as I work on some writing, that would be frosting on the cake.


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