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
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
"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.