MIAMI — Hurry, hurry, step right up!
These words are coming soon to South Florida when Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus Presents ZING ZANG ZOOM arrives at the AmericanAirlines Arena.
On Jan. 8, the traveling circus will open its doors to a world of magic, mayhem, illusion and Sean “Surly The Heavy” Davis.
Davis, known for his clown character Surly, is one of only two African-American members of the Ringling Bros. traveling circus.
He is part of a triad known as The Heavies. Their act is based on The Three Stooges. Surly is “the big bully or the enforcer of the three,” according to Davis. “He’s the big brute.”
He says he’s “extremely accurate” with a six-foot-long bullwhip, and revels in his role as a Heavy.
Davis said The Heavies’ performance will take you on a rollercoaster ride that many have never experienced.
“Every city presents a different challenge and you never know how the show will turn out,” Davis said.
Even more amazing than Davis’ performance is his personal story. He is an ex-Marine who fought in the first Gulf War. He hails from Chicago, Illinois and has a nine-year old daughter named Alexis.
He said he knew early on that a formal college education was not for him, so he decided to join the Marines, but his passion was always in performance.
“I tried different things and found that my niche was ‘clowning,’” Davis said.
He enrolled in the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Clown College in 1995, going to class for 12 hours a day, six days a week.
“It’s a lot of fun,’’ he said, “but a lot of hard work.”
He began touring with the 125th Edition of Ringling Bros. in 1996. He briefly pursued a criminal justice degree in Chicago, but returned to Ringling Bros. as a member of the support crew in 2007.
In his free time, he is studying Russian and Portuguese. He also owns a pet snake named Delilah and is an avid fan of Chicago-area sports teams.
He said one of the drawbacks of his job is the traveling. The circus has 400 shows a year, which only gives Davis time to see his daughter one month each year.
“That’s the hardest part about my job,” he said. “I know you can say she’s only a phone call away, but it’s not the same as being there.”
Traveling also affords Davis and the rest of the crew many benefits.
“We get to see more parts of the U.S., the beautiful landscapes, the rivers and valleys, than most people will likely ever see,” he said. “Also I love to eat; we go to a new city almost every week where we can get some of the city’s best food.”
Davis is not afraid to boast about being Surly.
“One of my biggest accomplishments was when I performed a show for Stevie Wonder and his family in Anaheim, California,” he said. “He is one of my role models.”
Speaking of role models, Davis said he sees himself as one.
“I know a huge percentage of people don’t see this as a lifestyle or occupation,” he said. “But I’m proud to have an opportunity to show younger generations that music and sports aren’t the only way out.”
As far as what Davis and the Ringling Bros. crew have in store for South Florida, he said, “Get ready, because you’re going to be amazed! We’re making elephants disappear, cutting men in half, and have the most amazing acrobats! You will not be sorry!”
Photo: Sean Davis
IF YOU GO
WHAT: Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Presents ZING ZANG ZOOM
WHERE: AmericanAirlines Arena, 601 Biscayne Boulevard, Miami
WHEN: Jan. 8 to 18, 2010
Tickets are $95/$80 (Circus Celebrity) , $65 (Front Row) with a limited number of $50 VIP floor seats also available. Other tickets are $30, $22 and $15.
Seats are available at Ringling.com, www.ticketmaster.com, or through the AmericanAirlines Arena box office. For general ticket information, contact the AmericanAirlines Arena Ticket Office at 786-777-1250. For Ticketmaster national ticket sales, call 1-800-745-3000.
Friday, Jan. 8 – 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, Jan. 9 – 11:30 a.m., 3:30 p.m., 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, Jan. 10 – 1:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m.
Wednesday Jan. 13 – 7:30 p.m.
Thursday, Jan. 14 – 7:30 p.m.
Friday Jan. 15 – 7:30 p.m.
Saturday Jan. 16 – 11:30 a.m., 3:30 p.m., 7:30 p.m.
Sunday Jan. 17 – 1:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m.
Monday, Jan. 18 – 6 p.m.