Jessie Grant, performer, Infamous

I was three years old when I was first in a circus ring performing an act ...

Jessie Grant has sure crammed a lot into his 26 years. He was born into the life of a circus performer and has been touring shows non-stop around Australia with his family for as long as he can remember. He was just a toddler when he first set foot in a circus ring, and is now one of the stars of cabaret-style circus show Infamous, which has been selling out across the country. Infamous is currently wowing audiences in Brisbane (until November 18), so we took five to chat to Jessie about his fictional drinking habits, human pyramids and what it’s like to be a 7th-generation circus performer.

For those of us that are yet to see the Infamous show, tell us – what can we expect?
We try and give people the best circus experience, but with a cabaret-style setting. Think circus acts like the wheel of death and flying trapeze mixed in with a whole lot of different performances, plenty of dancing, a lot of humour, oh and we’ve thrown a bar into the mix to get really everybody into the mood.

A circus performer certainly isn’t an everyday profession. How did you get into this line of work?
I was born into it. I’m a 7th generation circus performer. My family were the first circus here in Australia, and they’ve been doing it for about 170 years. I’ve literally been doing this my whole life, I have been touring around Australia for as long as I can remember bringing entertainment to people.

What’s your earliest memory of performing?
I was three years old when I was first in a circus ring performing an act – I was in there with about 20 of my family members doing a big human pyramid. Growing up as a kid, I was in clown acts with my grandparents and being a little sidekick. I started really getting into it professionally when I was about 15 – I’m 26 now, so yeah, I’ve been doing this for some time. You don’t have one thing that you do as a circus kid – you do everything, and then you find out what you’re interested in and focus on that.

So, heights were obviously never an issue for you …
It’s funny, I’m actually only okay with them in the circus tent or around the circus area. If I am up the top of the Q1 and look around, I will, um, crap my pants.

Tell us about your role in the Infamous show?
Well, I’m just supposed to go around cleaning up after everybody. It’s a bit messy in there sometimes during the shows. I get a little bit bored with it though, so I have a few drinks and get a bit rambunctious and eventually I find my way into the show somehow …

What’s the most challenging part of the show for you?
Getting up the next morning. A whole show really takes it out of me. I put 100 per cent of my heart and soul into what I do, so I get really fatigued the next day and generally am in bed until the afternoon!

Touring a circus show is a full-on life –  what’s a day off look like for you?
Just have a sleep. Nah nah, during our days off we don’t just go away and leave – we have to get back in there to train, we leave the flying trapeze net out and practice most days, and we’re all there doing rehearsals throughout the week, it’s just a continuous thing. I tour 24/7, 12 months of the year with the circus.

Infamous is on right now! Catch the show under the Spiegel Big Top at Victoria Park until Sunday November 18. Head to our Event Guide for more info.

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