By Mike Atkinson | Drive producer and digital content creator
Remember the family circus entertainers that took Australia’s Got Talent by storm in 2009?
Cameo Rascale warmed hearts of the nation with their dazzling combination of acrobatic dance, juggling, stilt walking, unicycling and fire juggling — a guaranteed ‘wow’ factor for TV audiences throughout Australia.
The latest reincarnation of Cameo Rascale includes James Capener, one of the original family members who made it into the grand final of AGT, and Bec Borromei who has been performing with James for the last three years.
The duo spend the vast majority of the year performing on cruise ships across the world as well as a few ‘on land’ shows. Jeziel was lucky enough to catch with the pair while they had their feet on solid land to discover what it takes to be at the top of the circus performing game and how to perform when your audience are reaching for the sick bags during a bumpy patch on the water.
Jeziel Andersen (JA): What does a typical day look like for you guys?
James Capener (JC): I think we do a lot of rehearsing, a lot of training so it’s just developing new skills that we can put into the show to try and make it grow.
Bec Borromei (BB): A lot of eating, a lot of sleeping! Being on a cruise ship so you’ve got it all at your hands so that’s one of the perks. You can just eat every hour (laughs).
JA: I guess most of your performances are at night. Do you get to sleep in?
JC: In a cabin if you don’t have a porthole, if you don’t have a window you don’t know what time it is. You don’t see any daylight. Sometimes I’ll wake up, and because of the time changes — we cross over the international date line — sometimes I’ll wake up and I’ll be 4pm!
BB: I’m a bit of an early bird so I will get out and maybe go get James breakfast as he’ll miss the breakfast queue, so that’s one of my routines. Maybe like a gym (session) in the morning, just chilling out and relaxing a little bit. If it’s a port day obviously we can go out and explore at the port we’re at because we’re just passengers if we’re not performing. Or if it’s a sea day it’s more hanging around the ship.
JA:What style of performing do you do?
JC: So we have a acrobatic juggling comedy style show. It’s like a cabaret. It goes for 45 minutes so we have all those elements such as unicycling, diablo, lots of different circus skills.
JA: What’s your most memorable moment?
JC: I think for me being on Australia’s Got Talent with the family in 2009. So that was a great experience. We had live television in the grand final so that was a little bit of pressure, a bit anxious about that but it was good and I was young and it worked out really well.
BB: For me, probably like our first season in England. We go there for 3 months every year so finishing that season instead of on the cruise ships, we’re just performing once in a week or something, we’re performing every night. For our first time as a duo together it was pretty memorable and felt really accomplished as it was a good achievement getting through that season and working really hard on the show.
JA: How do you go with performing when it’s a bit bumpy. It must be tricky?!
JC: Because the theatre’s right at the front of the ship you get a lot of movement so if I’m lifting Bec and some point I’ll chuck her in the air and she’ll feel so light and she’ll stay up in the air for a while and then I know it’s coming down, the ship will land and she’ll feel twice her weight.
Sometimes you have passengers in there that are actually sea sick during the show. So having to be performing and knowing things like that are happening around you kind of sways you.
Podcast: Cameo Rascale with Jeziel on Drive
I had an accident on one of the cruise ships. They had a flight of stairs down the middle and I was getting on the giant unicycle which is just a little taller than me and as I got on it the bike started to tilt and I fell down these flight of stairs, and they were concrete as well.
They were kind of a bit in shock. I do a little bit of a skit beforehand so I was messing around and some of them thought ‘well, maybe this is a part of it’. I don’t know who could of thought that! But it was all good, you just get back up and get on with it.
JA: What are the perks of job?
BB: For me it’s definitely the travel. We get to see a lot of amazing places, islands and locations which are absolutely amazing.
JC: Just being a passenger on the cruise ship. We do one show a week and then we’re just passengers for the rest of the week so we just get to eat lots and sit on the deck chairs and swim!
JA: What are the negatives?
BB: The travel again, in a different way. It’s a lot of long flights, especially if the destination is a bit further away. For example, we’ve just come back from a long flight from Hawaii so with the whole international date line, If it’s just for 2 or 3 weeks and having to make that adaptation back to the time zone that can be tough.
JA: Do you get sick of each other?
JC: The thing is we’re in the same cabin as well! The important thing with entertaining and performing in a group is that you have to get along with the person you’re travelling with. That is the job, you get paid to do that basically, you get paid to travel. But it’s really good and we get on really well (laughs).
JA: What’s the biggest kept secret in the industry?
JC: Probably the cabins. Lots of people think ‘you’re on a cruise ship, you get luxury cabin like a passenger’. The guest entertainers — that’s our title — we have crew cabins so there not like passenger cabins, there not as luxurious. We have a bunk bed and a bathroom you can barely turn around in.
It’s only for a week and some of the crew members are on there for nine months so I feel for some of those guys.
JA: What’s one thing you wish you could tell everyone to give them a perspective about performers?
JC: We have a lot of dangerous objects that I juggle. Axes, knifes, juggling on the unicycle, and we have a carrot we chop up with the knifes. Some of it it’s an illusion. With regards to juggling, If you can juggle clubs you can pretty much juggle anything with a handle so the knifes and the axes, but it’s the illusion of ‘woah, you’re juggling axes’ but for me it’s the same as juggling clubs so it’s not a massive leap.
On the cruise ships, when we get on some will say “you’re not bringing fire on board”. So you just can’t do the fire (juggling). It’s such a big liability for them. We save it for the land gigs.
JA: I’m sure many young kids would love to be like you guys. How do you get into this field?
BB: It is a lot of hard work. You just have to be really passionate, motivated and driven to get to that level.
JC: If you put enough time into something you can do it. A lot of people think they can’t juggle but they can. I’ve taught lots of different people.
If you have the passion in your heart you can just go for anything pretty much, and that’s what we did. You pick something that you’re passionate about — you don’t just do it for the money and God has been a part of that for us and it’s really helped us push through.”
Tune into I’m A Professional each Tuesday at 4:10pm with Jeziel on Drive.