Great Lion Tamers of the Past

September 6, 2010
[Oh, look! It’s some history! With pictures! Originally published May 24, 2009.]

In an effort to prove that not all Lion Tamers are insubordinate wastrels, here’s a brief history of just a few of the many great Lion Tamers of the past.

capitalistWilliam Danforth Lion Tamer
A noted robber baron and all-around good guy, William’s distinctive look came about after a long night of booze and opium. After chasing women and “the dragon” for several hours, he made an ill-fated visit to an underqualified plastic surgeon and tattooist, in that order.

W.D.’s penchant for mind-altering substances often caused him to appear in public with lewd phrases written on them. His long dormant patent for “Printing of Lewd Messages On or About the Buttocks of Garments” was snatched up by several clothing manufacturers around the turn of the century (21st, that is), including Aeropostale, whose slogan is “Drawing Attention to Your Daughter’s Ass Since 2005”.


Ishmael Rimbaud Lion Tamer
Noted Detroit slum lord and general villain. Pictured here counting the monthly take with the highly-touted “scenic view” of “Eminent Domain Terrace” in the background.

Although he was one of the first landlords to provide tap water to his tenants (“Cold” and “Colder”), he was also known to mislead potential customers with promises of “breathable air” and “minimal silverfish infestations.” His last brochure promised “easy access to hundreds of limb-threatening jobs” and highlighted their proximity to “several leading schools, from which to draw your workforce.”


Henry Monteblanc Pickwick Lion Tamer
H.M. Lion Tamer was a well-known raconteur and ladies’ man, due to his unnaturally large trust fund. He is shown here perusing an early issue of the self-published Daily Word Preƒƒ, featuring such diversions as:

Other popular features included 19-year-old Donald Mill’s fiery articles condemning the actions of his peers and Craigƒliƒt’s Miƒƒed Connectionƒ, which featured invitations to all sorts of debauchery and fisticuffs.


Maude Beachcomber Lion Tamer
Maude, the protagonist of David Bowie’s Suffragette City, was a BDSM enthusiast who often showed “special treatment” to those in power. This portrait depicts her displeasure with “Silent” Cal Coolidge’s refusal to provide a safety word.

A 45-minute session ran around $12 and culminated in some affectionate bussing and a shocking glimpse of ankle.


Reginald Nordstrom Lion Tamer
Noted early plastics innovator. His untimely death came about during a heated argument about the “future” between two of his employees, Benjamin Braddock and Lloyd Dobler. As he tried to break up the squabble, he was knocked into the pressure molder. Several hours later, R.N. has become the world’s first bobblehead doll, doomed to be given away at St. Paul Saints games for years to come.

He was eulogized with: “He threw his life into his work, inadvertently. Go Saints!”


Jackson “Jack” Charles Lion Tamer
One of the few British Lion Tamers, J.C. travelled the world over, faithful umbrella at his side. A man of few words and fewer thoughts, J.C. never left the British Isles without his bandoleer, sword, chip on his shoulder and Union Jack shoved jauntily into his skull.


Artemis Xerxes Lion Tamer
Cursed with gigantism, due to a thyroid condition and a vengeful God, A.X. enjoyed the rare privilege of being able to ride a roller coaster at the age of 18 months. Guiness declared him the “World’s Tallest Man,” a title he would hold from 1850-1899.

He, and other helpful but smaller giants, were a boon to the bustling railroad industry. His success was short-lived, however. Union Pacific heads soon discovered that he was not a “Chinaman,” and therefore, would be requiring real wages and full meal rations.

After this layoff, he travelled from town to town, terrorizing buffet owners and schoolchildren alike, offering “Sideburn Rides” for a nickel.


Pierre Zimmerman Hilton Lion Tamer
Founder of the United States Magazine (or US Magazine), which lit the fire for such powderkegs as “Brad Cheats on Angie,” “Lindsay Lohan in Lesbian Love Triangle,” and “Kevin Federline Masturbates Furiously.”

Pictured here sitting literally on a powderkeg.


Michael (Michelle) Nesbitt Lion Tamer
The first transgendered Lion Tamer, Michael left the country in 1901, fed up with the pressure of semi-regular voting and providing for a family due to his “breadwinner” status.

He returned from Sweden in 1902 as a woman, and immediately jumped into the Women’s Suffrage movement, leading protests for the right to vote and higher wages for women.



  1. May I ask why you didn’t include Emmett Kelly the Clown Lion Tamer (immortalized in the Wire song “Ex-Lion Tamer”)

    These are the liner notes from his blockbuster LP. “Emmett Kelly – The Clown of Lion Tamers”

    “When Buffoon Records approached me to record this album, I said, “No, please not another record, for God’s sake leave me with a shred of dignity.”

    They responded by showing me my contract stating that I had sold them my soul “In Perpetuity” and that as such I was obliged to keep churning out the clown albums. What could I do but reluctantly agree?

    Making this album was just as horrible an experience as all the others. In order to get an “authentic circus feel and sound” to the album, I was, among other things, chased about the studio by live lions and forced to tame them. I had little success and no longer have genitals. They also jammed me in a recording booth that was smaller than that damn little clown car we’re forced to drive around in. When I complained that I was uncomfortable, tired and hungry the producer threw empty liquor bottles at me. The harder I cried the harder they laughed.

    Such is the life of a lion tamer clown.”

    Emmett Kelly, 1959.

    • Alan, you’ve totally embraced the CLT lifestyle. Impressive essay on Emmett Kelly…he’s a fuggin’ clown you know.

    • I think you may have forgotten the quality character actor work he did under the name “M. Emmett ‘Walsh’ Kelly Lion Tamer.” He was particularly menacing in the Coen Brothers “Blood Simple.”

      Thanks for the awesome comment and for living the truly alternate lifestyle, which will allow you to be excluded from the military service and country club of your choosing.

  2. Incredible lineage! Now I know why you are so good. I totally remember the Artemis Xerxes. There was six robots right? And when they transformed and connected together they became Artemis Xerxes. I loved that as a kid. Thank you for the mention of my grand papa.

    • RR-

      I curse my spam filter and have sent it to sleep outside until it learns.

      Belated welcome to you. And yes, six incredibly expensive robots that were entertaining for up to and including 12 minutes. “Fun in a bun” says the New York Times Review of Toys.

  3. What a lineage to be proud of CLT. Certainly not all wastrels…

    • It has made me the towering half-assed blogger that I am today. And more, my heritage has taught me that black and white line drawings do indeed add 15 lbs. At least.

      Pleasure to see you, CC.

    • Pleasure to be here CLT.

      I have an eraser you can borrow.

    • Wow. The pounds just fly off! As do most of my outstretched arms…

    • Like everything else, you have to erase in moderation CLT.

  4. Wasn’t all this covered in a post on Boss Tweed and Tammany Hall? I think I’ll join an Irish gang and get drunk and kick my cousin’s ass…funny shit, CLT.

    • You ever read Dreamland by Kevin Baker?

      Great book, I thought. Lots of Tammany Hall antics going on in it.

    • Are you insinuating that I plagarized someone? Possibly even myself? Who put you up to this? That hack, Updike?

      I write my own material, including my own Wikipedia entry, thank you very much.

      Great to see you, FJ. Kick Updike in the junk for me.

  5. I learn something new everyday…actually many new things, now that I’m a blogger. It’s amazing how much more knowledge I am gaining from this new past-time! 😉

    • Yorksnbeans –

      Welcome to the fountain of knowledge. Much like New Jersey tapwater, we run under the principle that it is very easy to have too much of a good thing.

      Especially when the “good thing” contains significant amounts of “bad things.”

  6. How do I remain so cynical when brilliant bloggers such as you provide the world with lion tamer lineage? I’m speechless… kudos!

    • I’m guessing years and years of practice. Thanks for the compliments, Dr. C, and for the visit.

  7. My favorite lion tamer is Capitalist.

    P.S. I am enjoying these earlier posts.

  8. Oh for fuck’s sake I miss you. You are the funniest (and possibly most execrable) Lion Tamer of them all.

    Please, please, come home soon.

    • Scott, I miss you, too. And bschooled. And Don. And TL (even though he left first). And Ruby and FJ and everyone who stops in at both my blogs.

      It goes without saying, though, that I miss Scarecrow most of all.

      I’ll be back before the year is out. Hopefully well before the year is out. I’ve got plans for an extended year-end wrapup here. (It’ll be sort of fancy.)

    • I ‘like’ this.

      A LOT!

  9. CLT (BLT, hold the mayo),

    I am LOL’ing (still) about your line referring to 19-year old Donald Mills’ fiery articles LMAO!

    Hee hee!

    Yeah, I miss you, too … and Clifton *sniff.*

    Okay, take care.

    • My ancestors and Donald go way back. It’s a rich tapestry woven from expensive rye, cheap beltless slacks and loads of bullshit.

      I’ll bring us both back as soon as I can, Stuff. Thanks for the comment.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: