Sophomore at BGSU hopes to make the circus business solvent with a degree, and recruit
Logan Jacot ran away to join the circus at 15.
Heading on the road he said was "a relief."
"I knew where I wanted to go."
While his peers were focused on academic subjects, Jacot’s preoccupations were learning to be a
contortionist, eating fire and walking on glass. He even got a shot at being the headless woman. (Photo:
Logan Jacot, contortionist, circus performer, freak show act and fire eater as seen here. 11/11/09
(Photo: J.D. Pooley/Sentinel-Tribune))
Now a sophomore at Bowling Green State University, he’s brought the circus to campus and is inspiring
others to get involved in the act.
Jacot, who grew up in New Philadelphia, at first dreamed of being an aerialist. He took gymnastics
classes. He was great at doing the flips, but "terrible" at nailing the landings. "I
realized I could kill myself."
So with the help of a book badly translated from Swedish, Jacot shifted his attention to becoming a
contortionist. He practiced four hours a night in front of a mirror, stretching and twisting his body.
He started showing his skills around town and by the time he was 15, he headed off on the road. He did
return home to attend high school for the second half of his sophomore year but found it hard adjusting
to his peers. "I had already lived on my own."
So he ended up finishing his high school studies online through a program offered by his high school.
His real curriculum was learning to be a circus performer. Walking on glass and fire eating are just mind
over matter, he said.
Still the performer can get hurt. Jacot recalled working at a carnival. As part of his act he would place
one side of his face in glass and let people step on the other side. Trouble in this case was, the kid
had cleats on. So when Jacot came up he was bleeding, but not the side exposed to the glass.
He also started working with tigers. "The greatest thing I’ve ever done is just to be face to face
with one of the most dangerous animals on earth and have that mutual respect," Jacot said.
"It’s awe inspiring."
His parents, whom he described as "image conscious … country-club types" did come to accept
his working in the circus. Then he made the jump to working in a freak show.
Those shows are throwbacks to the earlier, less sensitive, times, when circuses had a sideshow full of
While these ended as people decried them as exploitation, Jacot and his friends Lobster Girl and Seal
Boy, saw the issue differently.
As a student of circus history, Jacot knows that often the people with power in the business were
themselves human oddities. They commanded the highest pay and often owned the shows.
Jacot draws a distinction between someone who is simply displayed for their deformity and those who
Lobster Girl, who had hands with all the digits connected giving them the shape of claws, could tie
complicated knots quickly. The Seal Boy, who had hands connected directly to his shoulders and feet
connected directly to his hips, used his feet to play the best bass guitar Jacot has ever heard.
"They feel empowered," Jacot said. When Lobster Girl "lived in town life, she didn’t feel
comfortable," he said. She tried to hide her hands. But in the show she and other human oddities do
things those in the audience could never do.
"In a twisted way," Jacot said, "freak shows are bridging the gap between the handicapped
and the mainstream society."
It’s a matter of respecting, he said, human genetic diversity. "Someone with no legs can be just as
beautiful as someone with legs."
All circus people feel a certain alienation from townspeople. So the glass-walking, fire-eating
contortionist who faced off with a tiger was "terrified" to go to college.
"I thought I couldn’t fit in," he said.
These were his thoughts after he’d attended orientation at BGSU in June 2008. He went, he said, "to
please my mother."
Jacot was impressed though when he talked with Gordon Ricketts about the arts village. Ricketts told him:
"You need to come here."
Instead he headed back to the circus. Later that summer in Morgantown, W.Va., he had an epiphany about
the business. "I looked at the tent and realized the American circus is in bad shape."
To fill the tents, the circus had to give half the tickets away and make up the difference by constantly
interrupting the show to sell merchandise.
Jacot decided that if he went to college he would gain the knowledge he’d need to keep the circus alive
and bring it to new audiences.
So he headed back to Bowling Green. He became a theater management major and settled into the art
village. "I felt I would fit in and with the resources could start the groundwork for my very own
He began recruiting right away. He recruited two stars in Michelle "Meesh" Morris and Tucker
Barton after seeing them play May flies the Theatre Department’s annual Newcomer’s Show. Circus Vera
made it debut in April with "Meesh and Tucker’s Big Adventure" about two clowns who want to
join the circus. It’s since been performed on campus and at the Black Swamp Arts Festival. On Dec. 4
Circus Vera will perform at the Arts Extravaganza at the School of Art.
He’s now casting a new show "The Time Machine," which will debut next spring in his hometown.
Jacot, Ricketts said, "brings that risk-taking entrepreneurial risk-taking spirit" to campus.
"He has a plan. He wants to start his own circus."
He’s attracted students, interested in clowning, fire eating, juggling and other circus arts. Through
these skills "they discover who they are," Ricketts said.
The kid who ran off to join the circus, Ricketts said, has brought "a special kind of energy"
to the university.