The Story of Clements the Contorsionist

Clements the Contorsionist. (neé Clements de Marlo 1902-1993, Bremen)

From the 1910s through the 1930s this celebrated contorsionist performed his magic at circus and vaudeville circuits around the world. He is credited by circus historians as creating several new contortion (or bending) acts. The most populair being “Frog’s Paradise”(1) which Clements created in 1911.

Was he a man without any bones? No, he inherited his talent. Mr de Marlo’s vertebrae didn’t scrape together, so the muscles and ligaments in his spine allowed the vertebrae to stretch lots and lots of inches apart. On top of that Clements started training his unusual body at the correct age of four years old. Mr de Marlo’s was also a stuntman in silent films for the actor John Barrymore, doubling for acrobatic shots and fencing.(2)

(1)Circus and the City: New York, 1793-2010 (2)New York Times, June 4, 1993

©Mimi Berlin, Contorsionist, 2013, Mixed media (1990s/1980s ceramic, bakelite) 7 x 8.5 cm.