living in the ‘Land of Smiles’

Chiang Mai, Thailand

Roll Up Roll Up for the Greatest Show on Earth . . .

Via: Chiang Mai City Life

Chiang Mai’s expat community is one that never fails to surprise in its depth and diversity.

JIM ROSE is one of the latest editions to this vibrant pocket of global nomads. When we were first told that Jim Rose lived here, a quick Google search offered up dozens of links to pages with Jim Rose hanging out, doing gigs, walking the carpet and being profiled with rock stars, talk show hosts and Hollywood actors.

In the early 1990s Rose became famous for his circus-come-freak-show-come-comedy-show; The Jim Rose Circus. What Rolling Stone magazine called ‘the absolute must-see act’ was a modern-day version of the traditional circus sideshow. Jim Rose toured the world and garnered a cult following and fan base which included huge entertainment industry names. For years, his was the top ticket of the Melbourne, New Zealand and Edinburgh Fringe and Comedy Festivals.
Rose is the father of the now common-place brand of extremist exhibitionism which has become popular in reality TV shows, such as the American prankster series Jackass – whose members acknowledge Rose as the source of their inspiration – or the likes of a multitude of programmes where contestants are pushed to perform mind-boggling, gore rising and hair graying feats.


We met with Rose in his apartment complex here in Chiang Mai, where he and his wife have been resident for a month. They plan on retiring here. He tells of his adventures with a wry wit and while peppering his stories with names one generally associates with the cover of the Rolling Stones, he comes across as humble and, similar to so many expatriates, looking for a simpler and quieter life in the tropics.


“One day, I met a girl who thought everything I did was funny,” he reminisces. “She was the only person in the audience who was laughing…when I say audience there were probably five people there. Bebe was French and was my first and only love,” says Rose. The couple married and have stayed together for over 25 years.

Bebe comes from a circus family, and suggested Rose do some stunts in between jokes. The pair travelled to France and Rose began performing with her family, who had been touring Europe for generations. Bebe’s family had invented the widespread ‘getting hit over the head with a frying pan’ trick. “I learned a lot of crazy stuff, like the human dart board,” said Rose.

The couple returned to the US to live in Seattle. Rose performed his first show at Ali Baba’s, a Middle Eastern restaurant. “I put 50 posters up all around the city…I performed the tricks I had learnt in France and added my jokes in between the belly dancers…I put my face in glass and let people step on my head. But they were tricks. I am not a super human guy.” The show sold out. And the restaurant booked Rose for weeks ahead.


After living the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle for a number of years, his hard living with drugs and alcohol took its toll and Rose took time out to live on a salmon river, getting away from the world.

Today he doesn’t touch alcohol or drugs and is focused on his career and finding a way to give back. After volunteering to teach circus tricks and magic to underprivileged children in South Africa, he hopes to continue his charitable work in Thailand.

He has high hopes for Chiang Mai becoming the circus epicentre of Thailand, and plans on volunteering as a performance teacher, contributing to other people’s future with his body of knowledge and experience. Rose was attracted to Chiang Mai after visiting Thailand since the late 1980s.

I was tired of the US, it just seems to get worse and more republican. I’ve always been in tune with Buddhist culture. I’ve got friends here and I love it. It’s a nicer, friendlier country.”


Read the article, HERE:


personal thought:

It seems to me this great city, just got a whole lot greater. Good for us!



June 7, 2012 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , ,

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