Interviewer: It’s time now to introduce someone who may one day make the Olympics, who knows! He’s a juggler and circus performer, you may remember him from the 2009 semi-finals of Australia’s Got Talent, it’s James Bustar! Hello!
James: Hey! How are you doing?
Interviewer: Really well – I’ve got you on the show this morning because we often talk about bullying and how people can turn their life around. This is actually something that you’ve done.
James: Yeah, it definitely was. When I was 11 years old, I moved from England to Australia. As soon as I moved over, I automatically became a target for bullying because I was skinny, tall, and lanky. I had a lisp and a really strong Geordie accent, I was from Newcastle upon Tyne, so I was a target for everyone to start picking on me and bullying me. I found juggling a year or two later, when I was 12 or 13.
Interviewer: How did you find it? What inspired you?
James: When I was younger, I lived in the UK. I always went to a circus which was around the corner, it was a resident circus – a theme park called Chessington World of Adventures. I always pulled my parent’s arm to let them take me to the circus so that I could see the jugglers and the clowns, things like that. So I always had a passion and inspiration to the circus in general, but especially to be the clown.
Interviewer: So you were literally the person that ran away to join the circus!
James: Yeah, so when I was 14 years old, I got permission from my parents and ran away to join the circus.
Interviewer: Oh, you did? At the age of 14? What a remarkable thing to do! Your parents let you go at 14? I think I would have a great trouble with that. My daughter is about to turn 14, and I’m not letting her go anywhere!
James: It wasn’t a very easy decision for them, my Dad was an accountant at the time and Mum was a school teacher. So for them to have to go to corporate or business meetings and to try to have a normal conversation about what your kids doing, they would be like, “My first daughter’s an occupational therapist, my second daughter’s a marketing director, and my son’s a clown.
Interviewer: Haha! Remarkable, so you joined the circus at 14. Did you drop all schooling at that point?
James: No, I went to the Flying Fruit Fly Circus School in Albury Wodonga. It was school and circus combined into a special syllabus so that you still walk away with your qualifications.
Interviewer: How fantastic! So the bullying stopped when you were able to juggle? Did you sort of distract your bullies by juggling?
James: I didn’t really stop the bullying, to be honest. The bullying stopped completely when I got to Fruit Fly’s because in Fruit Fly Circus in general, you’re a family. Your lives are in each others hands. We’re all the same personality and things like that, so we’re all accepted straight away within that community. Whereas when I was at school, I thought that juggling might sop the bullying and in a way it did, because I was doing something that not many people can do. But at the same time, it did make it a little worse. For me, it was just the way that I could go home everyday and juggle, and I could be in an alternate universe. When you’re juggling you don’t think about anything else, so that was my happy time.
Interviewer: Yeah. You shouldn’t think about anything else when you’re juggling, especially when you’re juggling dangerous things. Tell me, what do you juggle? Give us a list.
James: I can juggle seven balls, five clubs, I’ve juggled throughout my journey. I’ve breathed fire, I juggle chainsaws, knives, axes… Squeeze through tennis rackets while juggling, the list goes on. Also, some contortionist things.
Interviewer: Yeah, this is what we saw on Australia’s Got Talent. You getting yourself through the tennis racket, we’ll never forget that. Fantastic.
James: Australia’s Got Talent was me with a pole and spinning through hoops, that’s what I did.
Interviewer: James, the game’s happening in London. This might sound like a silly question, but do you think juggling should be part of the Olympics?
James: I definitely think juggling should become in a way a demonstration sport, just to see if the community would get behind it – see what the community or the world thinks about it, because before anything becomes an Olympic sport, it needs to be a demonstration to offer. That would be the best way to find out whether it would be acceptable or not. You definitely need to have a very high skill level to be very good at it, and it wouldn’t even be for me to actually compete in, because there are many jugglers in the world who are much better than me. I mainly work on the performance side of it, but at the same time, I do believe juggling could be. Just like you have with running, you have a 100 meter races and then a marathon, things like that.
Interviewer: You could say, “Who can juggle the longest?” You might have the three hour juggle, or who could juggle 10 balls. Mix it up.
James: Yeah, exactly. That’s the thing with juggling. That’s why in a way there’s no ties of the worlds best juggler, because otherwise how would you define it?
Interviewer: That’s a fascinating thing to talk about. What a great, remarkable story! Thanks so much for joining me this morning. If people want to see you – I know you have some dates in December and I know you’ve done performances on cruise ships and you do corporate stuff, but if people want to see you, they can jump on your website and check out the dates you’ve got in December. JamesBustar.com. Thanks so much for joining me this morning, James!
James: You’re welcome, thank you!