Leo Makes His Mark

3 weeks into the new school here in TN, and Leo has managed to get on the wrong side of the staff several times already. The first one was innocent: he and his best mate Chris were the last two in his class to arrive for Phys Ed because the previous teacher was discussing an assignment with them, so they flung their clothes on to the bench and burst into the gym shirtless and barefoot, as they normally train… only to find a neat row of the rest of their class in uniform vests (which they had forgotten about wearing), socks, and trainers. Suffice to say here that the current coach isn’t as accommodating as Coach Andy used to be when we were there (see Vols 1 and 2 of ‘Living the Dream’!) – we joined only for the final year but had ’em shirtless and barefoot with us teaching them acrobatics. Oh well, Leo gets that at home anyway…

The coach did have the grace to comment on their deeply tanned and well-muscled eleven-year-old frames, and I think they may get permission to use the weight room with the older students – not that they don’t enough weights with us and with Man.Power!

Here’s a UK school in the 1950’s – how our dads used to do it – shirtless, and it looks here as though they had to wear what were then called ‘plimsolls’…


If you look closely there are 30 boys in that class with just one coach – not quite how we have to teach gymnastics these days!

Leo’s next mistake, having weathered that issue, was to show off his balances in the class during warm-up – and was told to stop ‘because it was dangerous’. Suitably miffed, he did so, but others in the class pressed him after in the lunch break so he went through some one-armer balances on top of Chris in ‘bridge’ (ie on his stomach) and then got Jaymee to do her one-arm stuff on his own hand and his head… until the staff intervened again and demanded they stop. Now the class is dividing into two factions: one lot who admire him/them, a second lot who are jealous because they can’t do that stuff and keep makign remarks… So far, Leo and Jaymee remain kewl with it all and I hope we shall not have to intervene.

Third and finally, Leo and Chris were reprimanded for leaving the school shirtless to walk home. The temperature here has been touching 33C (91F). What else can I say?

As this blog has told several times, Leo and Jaymee are actually professional acrobatic performers with the family, despite their tender years. I guess they just need to keep their heads down: Clare, Leo’s mum, has already received a request to talk with the school! She does body-burning, glass eating and bed of nails, so heaven knows what will happen if he starts showing those talents off as well…

Suffice to say from our point of view (Dave and I) – we’re not into fighting new battles with High School coaches. Leo, Jaymee, and their weight-freak  friends Chris and Billy have plenty opportunities outside school to do what they love to do, so if they have to ‘conform’ they’ll just have to put up with it and study! Just what Dave and I did NOT do thirteen years ago…

Here’s another vintage picture I found:


A Polish group from the fifties – in their socks and trainers (ugh!) – but doing freestyle acro for fun – great. That’s FIVE men high, guys! You don’t get that in the competitive sport but on stage or in the circus we can do what the heck we want.  That bottom guy is pretty strong – and the top handstand is a nice shape. Well done Warsaw!

Not sure why everyone suddenly wants to wear shoes for acrobatics or gymnastics – even this professional duo have succumbed to the trend…


And I’m going to say it – and hope I don’t get offended comments from the performers – those tattoos don’t help to make you look good. Another example:


Tuan JieShoes again! And, before anyone says it – yes, we have a tattoo on our lower backs. A very special one, celebrating the value of our fellowship, and (as it happens, a key to ensuring our safety – all explained in the books, especially the third one). But we would NEVER cover the rest of our bodies like that. We definitely prefer the smooth, tanned, muscular look – otherwise unblemished!

That sounds like a cue for a few more pictures which illustrate that nicely:




Some smug locker-room satisfaction there – and why not? It’s well deserved.


pose 7

And finally (for today): the end of a good workout:


Just how it should be!

If any of this strikes a chord and you’d like to read more about gay/acro life and times (and make me happy and a tiny bit richer), here you go…

Loving the Boy: ISBN 978-1-907732-30-0

The Power of Love: ISBN 978-1-907732-41-6

Against All Odds: ISBN 978-1-908645-35-7

About tonycavanagh

Born Northampton UK; school Oxford UK and Oak Ridge Tennessee, where I met my wonderful partner Dave, also from UK. Oak Ridge is our main training base for acrobatics and circus stuff, but we also established a base in Wales (UK) to serve us when we are working in Europe. Our 'story', of finding gay love, learning the acrobatics trade and then of how we got shot at during our show (and worse was to follow - just to prove that the risks of being an acrobat are not always the most obvious ones!) are now available in my three books 'Loving the Boy', 'The Power of Love' and 'Against All Odds'. Links available on most blog posts. Actually, waiting for the imminent arrival of the first printed copies was far scarier than anything we do in performance. A fourth book - not about us but exploring the sadness of a gay Native American boy denied his true identity - is currently with an agent for evaluation. watch for 'Let The Future Find Me' in due time. And now to book five... another boy, another quest... seems its always boys...
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1 Response to Leo Makes His Mark

  1. Pingback: The Sweat Room | Tony Cavanagh

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