Ask David – November 2020

Welcome to my column for eJuggle, Ask David. In this column, you can ask me for my opinion, advice, or knowledge about anything juggling-related.

In case you don’t know me and you’re wondering why you might want to know my thoughts, here’s a bit about me. I’ve been a professional juggler for 36 years and have performed over 15,000 professional shows. I’ve also set over 20 world records and won 15 IJA gold medals. I’ve won two of the IJA’s honorary awards: the Bobby May Award, given to the top juggling mentor / coach, and the Excellence in Education Award. I’m also one of the world’s leading juggling historians. I’ve written 13 books about juggling history and well over 300 articles about juggling and juggling history. I also own the world’s only juggling museum, The Museum of Juggling History.

So, now that you know a bit about me, let’s get to our questions for today’s column.

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Stefan Schneider asks, “How do you juggle a 4-ball-factory? I’ve seen it once at a convention but I couldn’t find a tutorial on YouTube.”

My response: I was able to find 3 different videos of a 4 ball factory. One is a tutorial of a 4 ball multiplex factory created by Taylor Glenn.

The next is a low pattern done by Carey Pickford.

And finally is a high pattern (7333) done by David Sallee. You can see the factory at the 1:16 mark.

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Joe Mag Fhionnghaile asked the following. “It’s said that Memphis Minnie (the famous blues guitarist, singer, and songwriter) was a prostitute as well as a musical performer, and that this was common among female performers at the time. Do you know whether that practice was widespread in vaudeville, too? I guess that her career was mostly when vaudeville was on the way out. (Sidenote: I didn’t know before now that she toured with Ringling Brothers in 1916-20).”

My response: Memphis Minnie (1897-1973) did indeed supplement her income as a prostitute when facing financial hardships early in her life and it is true that some female vaudeville performers of the time (1920s) did the same. One contemporary study of women arrested for prostitution found that about 5% of them had worked in vaudeville at some point. However, I don’t believe that this was the norm, especially among variety acts. Apparently prostitution was fairly common among female theater performers during the Victorian Era, especially among those women working in burlesque. However, I’ve never heard of a female juggler of the vaudeville era engaging in sex work.

Memphis Minnie lived on her own from the age of 13 and was known for living on the edge. She was a hard drinking, tobacco chewing, aggressive woman who carried a knife and pistol and wasn’t afraid to fight. This tendency to live such a counter-cultural lifestyle may have contributed to her willingness to turn to prostitution when finances were tight. However, once she became more established as a musician, I’m not aware that she ever returned to sex work.

Memphis Minnie

Memphis Minnie

The only scandal I’m aware of regarding a female vaudeville-era juggler involved Lucy Gillet, whose father was arrested in 1909 for child cruelty because he was training his 14 year old daughter in juggling and acrobatics. You can learn more about Lucy Gillet by clicking here.

Lucy Gillet

Lucy Gillet

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You can email me at davidcainjuggler@hotmail.com or contact me on Facebook if you’d like ask my opinion, advice, or knowledge on anything juggling related for this column.

David Cain is a professional juggler, juggling historian, and the owner of the world's only juggling museum, the Museum of Juggling History. He is a Guinness world record holder and 15 time IJA gold medalist. In addition to his juggling pursuits, David is a successful composer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and singer as well as the author of twenty-four books. He and his children live in Middletown, OH (USA).

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