Fantastic Acrobat Marcus: not just another dreadlockPOSTED: 07/27/15 7:07 PM
St. Maarten – He was physically and verbally abused in London, stoned in Jamaica, he has children in Iceland, Finland and New York, speaks four languages and was severely injured during an opening act. His name is David Marcus and he goes by the name of the Fantastic Acrobat.
At first glance, Marcus looks just like another dreadlocks, or Rastafarian as some would say, but he has a lot to talk about and a wealth of experience as a traveling acrobat.
His ability to balance tables, chairs with children, bicycles and a variety of other heavy objects apart from his gymnastics skills have earned him a place in the spotlight wherever he traveled and he has no plans to stop any time soon.
Marcus, now 46, is originally from Guyana. His passion for attempting to emulate daredevil acts as seen on TV began at a very tender age by watching a group of Chinese acrobats performing at Queens College and by watching Chinese and Japanese movies.
“I was swept away by the stage acts and I was having dreams afterwards, I was further inspired by a group of local acrobats and that was how it all began,” Marcus said. Initially, it was just a hobby, and he did not realize it was the beginning of a transformation.
Performing in public places was a regular feature by the more experienced acrobats and it did not take Marcus very long to get actively involved. However he was not alone in the quest for stardom, he was joined by one of his brothers and two friends who went by the name of the Fantastic Brothers.
It was while he attended high school that he reached another level after hooking up with one of Guyana’s more experienced acrobats, Clarence Chester. “He taught me lots of things because he was far more advanced in gymnastics,” Marcus said.
The Fantastic Brothers soon became a household name in Guyana, but it was not until after they began touring that the group attained notoriety. “Our first trip outside of Guyana was to Trinidad & Tobago during the mid 80’s. The second opportunity presented itself when we went back to Guyana and were told about an event that was taking place in Venezuela. We were contracted to perform live on television as well as at hotels and the university. That was during the break dance days, but the Venezuelans were amazed at our ability to entertain. We had all the right moves and the response was good.”
In Venezuela the group linked up with a traveling circus from Mexico in a small town called Alto Vista. “The manager asked us if we wanted to work along with them and we gladly accepted, but because of our individual styles we had to work out a well coordinated routine because all circus acts have a time limit,” Marcus said.
Ironically, the Fantastic Brothers ended up spending the better part of eight years working in that circus. During that period they traveled to Brazil, Curacao, Italy and eventually most of Europe. “We had an opportunity to perform here in 1990 and that was where I first met Ingrid Bosnie and King Beau Beau,” Marcus said.
It was not unusual for entertainers to be approached with better offers, but when that finally occurred, it caused the group to fragment. “Three of us left the circus but one remained and that was when the decision was made to head back to Guyana.”
Little did the group realize that the journey back home was a blessing in disguise at least for Marcus who headed straight to London. “That was the beginning of my solo act. I did not have any competition because most of the solo performers were involved in break dancing, living statues, street guitarists and a few Kenyan acrobats that performed as a group. “
Through his agent, Marcus whose acrobatic ability propelled him into the lime light was privileged to perform for Sir Richard Branson. “He was doing some promotions with phones in Picadilly and they hired a couple of performers. While there, the manager of a store approached me and told me about a competition.”
Overwhelmed by the mere thought of competing and feeling a little nervous, Marcus said that all of the participants had about three minutes to show what they could do. “One guy was bending his fingers backwards, another was doing stuff with his eye and one was back flipping. When it was my turn, I just pulled out a man from the audience, instructed him to hold his hands together forming a small circle and simply dived through without touching. At the end they called up the second runner up, but the winner was me,” Marcus said.
That act saw Marcus earning 1,000 British pounds and that was a boost to his moral, growing popularity and self-esteem. However his travels were not without hiccups and hurdles which he managed to overcome because of his commitment to his Rastafarian culture.
“I was approached with offers but told that I was not allowed to perform with a beard, some even wanted me to part with the dreadlocks, but I bluntly refused, I would not allow myself to be fooled by money. I parted with my agent, because I was not doing what they wanted me to do. This world has lots of nice people and there are bad people but I don’t allow the negative vibes to upset me. I always try to generate the positive energy.”
Marcus was also a victim of blatant vandalization of musical instruments while in London along with a gang attack and verbal abuse and victim of a stoning in Jamaica. He for sure can relate to the song by Bob Marley when he said, ‘It’s not an easy road, but when you see the glamor and the glitter, you feel a bed of roses’.
Despite the elements and the cultural barrier in such a diverse city, Marcus won the performance of the year award in London in 2007 at the Punch and Judy anniversary which was held at Covent Garden. That accomplishment earned Marcus a contract to perform in Las Vegas.
However, between his time in Las Vegas and San Francisco, Marcus went through a new kind of experience as a solo entertainer trying to make a living doing what he does best while working with the Cirque De Soleil, but getting additional jobs met with snags.
“They wanted me to shave my beard and cut my hair especially before I was allowed to work at Disney World. One man driving an Ashton Martin asked me if I was a Bob Marley guy. He said you are new around here and followed by asking how much money I made for the day and if I wanted to raise my amps and that was when I realized what he was talking about.”
According to Marcus, the temptation is always there, but as someone that has always made the right choices and a person that has unlimited options he believes in doing the right things. Marcus describes himself as energetic, enthusiastic and fantastic and now goes by the name of the Fantastic Acrobat who has the ability to captivate an audience for 30 minutes max.
“I can go more if I have lots of props and stretch the show out a bit, I can be spontaneous at times but when I am a part of a line of entertainers, I have to stick to my script.”
Marcus also performed in the presence of LL Cool J, Celia Cruz, Sean Penn and with the Village People during their tour of the Turks & Caicos Islands.
During his career, Marcus sustained injuries on several occasions. “All acts are dangerous sometimes it’s just mind over matter but in anything you do you have to be careful. I had a major accident while performing at a commercial mall in London. I had the opening act and while I was doing a backward summersault I heard a sound. After landing I realized I had damaged one of my veins and I had to undergo surgery.”
Marcus speaks French, Spanish and Italian was able to lay more than a lasting impression during his travels as he explained. “I have a daughter and granddaughter in Iceland, a daughter in Helsinki Finland, a daughter in Florida and a son who has a British passport.
The Fantastic Acrobat plans to move back to San Francisco soon. “I have to speed things up now and that will mean lots of collaborations, I already spoke with I Octane and currently I am arranging to perform at the Rototom Sound Splash from August 12 to 22, the largest in Europe. I think that I will have to travel to Jamaica to further establish some links,” he said. Whenever the opportunity presents itself, Marcus also takes his acts to schools where he gives workshops.