After bidding farewell to sunny Fresno, CA MobileBooth West traversed the Sierra Nevada and Donner Pass to land safely in Reno, Nevada. “The Biggest Little City in the World,” Reno is famous for its bedazzling casinos and breathtaking landscape. In the midst of this city’s bright lights and April snowstorms, people came downtown to record conversations.
For one of the first conversations of the week, Reno local and Moscow native Sacha Gousev came with friend Kim Palchikoff to talk about his life-long circus career as a master juggler with the Moscow Circus.
Sacha fell in love with the circus at the age of five when his parents took him to see his first show. “Moscow Circus is a little different than American circus,” Sacha explains. “It’s kind of like . . . du Soleil, you know? It’s a big, big production. It’s not like here, with clowns walking around and selling ice cream and stuff. I was pretty amazed. I remember jugglers. Especially jugglers.”
Beginning that day, Sacha practiced relentlessly for his first tryout. His hard work paid off when he was accepted at the age of ten to Moscow’s Circus College. He spent years studying acrobatics, theater, music, comedy, dancing, and trapeze, slowly distinguishing himself as the best juggler in the school.
“In Moscow,” Kim explains, “the circus is pretty prestigious.” “Yeah,” Sacha agrees. “I guess it’d be like . . . a rock star here.” He recounts stories of touring the Soviet Union’s fifteen republics as a master juggler. “Elephants,” Sacha warns, “are dangerous. Bearsâthey might seem cute, but they’re also dangerous.” Always looking to expand his theatrical and performance skills, Sacha later joined an avant-garde harlequin theater group, their political satire drawing attention of fans as well as the KGB.
Sacha came to Reno about 20 years ago, overcoming Cold War barriers and checkpoints. He worked for a while as a clown at Reno’s Circus Circus Casino. “But American humor is different than Russian humor,” Sacha explains. Decades of show business wearing on him, Sacha stopped performing after a few years. He has recently embarked on a new career. Together with his mother, Sacha started Reno’s first Russian Orthodox Church, where he now serves as church deacon.
Mobile West is thrilled to be working with KUNR in Reno, where people are coming from all over and around the city to share the stories of their lives.