“Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”
–Percy Bysshe Shelley
“Photograph my Cirque, ye miser, and get kicked out.”
–Cirque du Soleil CEO Guy Laliberté
Cirque du Soleil shows are a photographic Medusa: If you gaze upon them too hard with a camera, you will die.
In my round top roundup, I’ll need to be creative with images. The reason is three-fold:
1. Inside the Cirque makeshift big-top (plumbing — as previously noted — conspicuously not included), a stolid recording repeatedly reminded us that there were to be absolutely no photos snapped of the performers, the staging, nor even ourselves. “Due to copyright issues … ” the Cirque Siri voice warned. Please to be Siri-ous. The policing was so vehement that at one point, a draconian usher emerged from behind an embankment like a damn cat burglar, swatting at my iPhone furiously. She’d come to burgle my joy at taking a selfie.
2. Everyday Cirque’s hustlin’. Perhaps you agreed with me that those Totem umbrellas in the earlier photo looked nice. Well, you’re in luck! Even though Los Angeles is in the middle of a disastrous sere spell, hey, why not buy a Cirque branded umbrella for FOR $40? (Side note: These fools need to go to Daiso. $1.50 umbrellas!) At every turn, some enterprising soul was selling a $10 bucket of popcorn (not to be a stereotypical L.A. fat-shamer, but who’s in the mood for a gargantuan maize tub after watching people with single-digit body fat percentages flip and writhe?); PHOTOS (taken by some peon wandering the aisles with a DSLR who had been given special dispensation on the “taking photos = grand IP larceny” charge, apparently); or, most egregiously, PHOTOSHOPPED PHOTOS.
Granted, the latter is a cute idea — you could get a picture of your head edited onto the taut bodies (no popcorn tubs there, baby) of one of the high-flying trapeze artists. But do you know how much they wanted for this?
TWENTY DAMN DOLLARS! 20 quid? I quit. 20 clams? I clam up. Amazingly, there was a line to get this done! People were actually buying. I began to suspect that time travel was an unannounced spectacle at this show, because — are these people living in 2014 with me? You know you can ‘shop a damn GIF (better than the silly photo anyway) in like 2 minutes on your smartphone using free or very cheap apps?
No wonder Cirque’s flamboyant founder is on the damn Forbes billionaires roster.
3. Finally, seeing the show was part of an event with Deepak’s associates. They’re not all as outgoing as my friends and me. In the group image 2 photos down, the person on the far left kept saying in a “Kidding — but not kidding” voice, as I snapped away, that he wasn’t signing the release for this. So I’ve seamlessly provided him with the anonymity of the Totem … er, totem.