The front of the "Los Tachuelas" circus.
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Home/Stories and articles/Recovery...
September 2002

Interview with one of Chile's most famous clown:
"We are the Chilean circus"

What started out as a small circus with a light baggage has become, thanks to the work of the Big Tachuela, a profitable and professional business firm.

By Rosario Mena.



Their photographs with some former Presidents hang on the walls of Gastón Maluenda´s mobile office. He is the oldest of the couple of brothers that form Los Tachuelas, Chile's best-known clowns. Behind the box office and in front of the tent raised on downtown Santiago one finds his place completely equipped and wrapped with pictures of the past, present and extremely unusual pre-History of "Chile's most famous circus". The family tradition's origins are documented in an old photo that shows a brave man whose name was Maluenda. At the end of the 19th Century, he held the deed of taming a bull on the floor.

Three generations had to pass before the founding of the circus "Los Tachuelas", a work of Gastón and his brother Agustín. They are one of Chilean TV's most emblematic clown couples. In 1985, they decided to put up their own tent, giving from the beginning a starring role to the animals. Elephants, tigers, lions, bears, monkeys and horses are part of the cast.

"Animals are an important part of the circus. Before, it was much easier to get them. Now, there's a lot of control and there are even some prejudices against circus being dealers of animals, keeping them in bad conditions. We work with animals in captivity and keep them with all the care and requirements needed".

What started out as a small circus with a light baggage has become, thanks to the work of the Big Tachuela, a profitable and professional business firm, with good production and infrastructure, buses and trucks to transport the whole family, including siblings, wives, children, grandchildren... they travel from one city to another and new children are born in different places.

"For us, family is fundamental. I am the boss not because I own the circus, but because I am the oldest brother. There is a rank, and all here respect me".

A six months-old baby is the youngest member of the cast, which includes a lot of kids that work as clowns and have a way of life very different from other children their age. "Circus children live and get their education from their family. They travel with the circus and briefly attend schools that change all the time. When they arrive to a new place they become the big thing and all of their classmates admire them. The law says that all public schools should receive new students, even if it is for fifteen days", explains Maluenda.

Who concentrates all of the family's expectations and is seen as the big promise is Pastelito, an 18 year-old young man, and son of Agustín. He has a charming smile and extraordinary musical talent (he sings, plays the sax, trumpet, keyboards and percussion). He may project to the future the circus tradition of the Maluendas, who keep loyal to their roots and are not impressed by foreign models.

"As good as it may be, we would not do what the Cirque Du Soleil does, because that's good for Europe. The idea is for the people to see us in a certain context that belongs to them. And that is Chilean Popular Culture".

To defend their profession as a job defined by their practices and by the family's tradition and trajectory seems to them a clue mission. There's now a Circus Act waiting for the Congress approval. "There are a lot of things that call themselves circus but are not. We are the true circus and it is important for our profession to be recognized and dignified", says Maluenda.


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