Bello Nock, Sarasota’s hometown clown is busy these days! He is currently doing a summer show at the beautiful historic Asolo Theatre through July 29th! He has auditioned for “America’s Got Talent” and was put through to the next round. Having been in the Guinness Book of World Records for his feats, he is not just your average clown. He was named by Time Magazine as the “World’s Best Clown” but he is more than a clown, he has performed death defying stunts as well as card tricks! We were able to do an interview with Bello while he is in Sarasota doing his “Incredibello” show!
Why did you decide to not wear traditional clown makeup?
I grew up watching traditional clowns. I love and respect their work. But I never felt that a clown should have to be confined to preconceived notions. Charlie Chaplin, Lucille Ball, Buster Keaton were all clowns. I guess I just didn’t want the stereotypes that can come with traditional makeup. I wanted to make my own definition of what a clown/comedian is. “Bello” is really an extension of me, not just a character.
When did you start playing guitar?
I have always loved music. All kinds of music! I play many instruments. I started playing when I was 16. I’m selfishly fluent… I can play MY favorites, not yours!
What made you decide to audition for America’s Got Talent?
They’ve reached out to me every year since the inception of the show, but I didn’t like the idea of an “audition”. I’m at a stage in my career where I don’t need to audition. But as the years have passed and more and more high-level professionals have appeared on the show, I realized that the show has become a part of popular culture with an audience of multiplied millions worldwide, so why not take advantage of the platform and exposure?
You and Nik Wallenda have performed together, is there any competitiveness between the two of you?
I’ve sown a lot of opportunities into Nik’s life. I like to inspire people. I’ve known Nik since he was a little kid and would spike his hair up to look like mine. A teacher doesn’t compete with a student, they are proud of their successes. My life’s philosophy is that we should leave everything we touch better than we found it… People, our professions, this world, everything!
When will you be on “AGT” again?
Soon. I’m not sure of the date.
How did you meet Cheap Trick?
I met them when we were both performing at the same small theme park in Pennsylvania. We just clicked and have been friends ever since. I’ve produced on several projects with them. I love them and their music!
Your daughter does a high wire act in the show. How do you, as a parent, train your kids for this dangerous lifestyle? Do you worry about her falling?
First, they have to want it, which she did. Annaliese put in the work for years, training in handstands and contortion with her Russian coach on Ringling. As she got older she started practicing all the “bigger” acts with me… Sway pole, wheel, wire. She’s tough, versatile and very well trained and I’m a person of faith, so I don’t worry. She’s a chip off the ‘ol nock! === ; – )
You have been in the Guinness Book of World Records for walking a wire over a cruise ship. How long does it typically take to plan one of these events?
A lifetime. It is a matter of training and opportunity colliding. I did that walk for a chartered Christian cruise. There is a great deal of engineering, insurance/liability negotiation and logistics that go into any large-scale event. That particular event had been in my mind for years. So, when the opportunity presented itself, I jumped on it. It took almost a year to get all the necessary approvals.
What was your experience with Ringling Brothers Circus and how do you feel about it closing?I loved my time on Ringling Bros. I appreciate all that show has meant to my life. My parents were both brought to America by John Ringling North to perform on Ringling Bros. I performed “Bellobration” 50 years later. “Bellobration” set attendance records at Madison Square Garden for a family show, records that to this day have not been broken. So, my life and career has literally been shaped by that show. I’m sad to see that part of Americana end, but thankful I was a part of it. The circus will go on and evolve. Circus is no different than the music or television or movie industry. We all have to figure out what our industry will look like moving forward. I’m energized to be a part of that process! My family has been in this business for 200 years so we aren’t shortsighted.
With all your traveling, do you still consider Sarasota home and what does Sarasota mean to you?
I love Sarasota! I was born here, I grew up here! Of course, Sarasota is my home! My home is here. I suggest everyone visit the Ringling Museum and watch the movie about John and Mabel Ringling and they will leave with a new respect for the part circus played in building this area. I think all the performers who live here lovingly feel like it’s our town!
I travel around the world and everywhere I go, I am introduced as “international circus superstar from Sarasota, Florida”.
I am proud to represent my home, Sarasota, FL!
And BTW, while you’re checking out the Ringling Museum, check out my show Incredibello! Running through July 29!
photos by Vicky Sullivan / Rock The Lens Photography