BIG TOP TO BIG SCREEN
Former wrestler, police officer featured in new documentary on clown show
by Adam Elrod
December 20, 2012
The Dallas Theater is rolling out the red carpet Friday for the world premier of a documentary about a Paulding resident and his unusual path to owning a circus.
The film “GreasePaint” focuses on Joey Thurmond, president of Dallas-based Nojoe’s Clown Circus, and his transition from pro wrestler and police officer to Nojoe the Clown.
“The stuff nobody sees is what this is about,” Thurmond said.
He said he wanted the film to show the audience what it is really like to be a clown.
Thurmond was 19 years old when he signed with World Championship Wrestling under the wrestling name “Joe Thurman,” he said. He was a rising star in the sport when his career was cut short by an accident during a match in the early 1990s that broke his back, Thurmond said.
“Life is curvy,” he said.
After being in a body cast for a year, with a chance of never walking again, Thurmond beat the odds and worked as a police officer in the Atlanta area for 15 years, he said.
While he was an officer Thurmond married current circus cast member Jamie Thurmond in 2003, and on his honeymoon went to the Ringling Brothers Circus museum in Florida. The trip inspired him to polish juggling skills he learned as a child, and he learned how to apply makeup and create costumes. It led to a volunteer weekend job for two years, he said.
“It got to where I was busy all the time,” Thurmond said.
At his first paying job he told the woman who booked him that he did not want to get paid, he said.
“I was so afraid that if it turned into a job it would not be fun any more,” he said.
When his family opened Nojoe’s Circus in 2008, Thurmond invested all his savings and retirement funds to make the show possible, he said. The five members of the show only had $100 between them, he said.
“It was an, ‘All in, this has got to work,’ situation,” Thurmond said.
However, the show survived and continues to tour the nation, including such recent local events as the Gwinnett County Fair.
In 2008 Thurmond hired the documentary’s director Daniel Espeut to do a promotional video for the circus. In 2010, Espeut called Thurmond and said he would like to make a documentary about Thurmond and the circus, he said.
Espeut said he wanted to help show the human side of clowns and not the cartoonish side traditionally shown in movies.
“My industry ran this art form in the ground,” Espeut said.
If you go:
What: premiere of the documentary ‘Greasepaint.’
Where: Dallas Theater, 208 Main St., Dallas.
When: Friday, 7 p.m. (doors open at 6 p.m.)
Information: (678) 363-0813 or visit www.dallastheater-civiccenter.com
For more information on NoJoe’s Clown Circus, call (404) 725-6082, email email@example.com
, or visit http://nojoesclowncircus.com