Stephanie Monseu is a professional "variety artist," counting among her skills circus mainstays like juggling, prop manipulation, clowning, physical comedy, and sideshow stunts like sword swallowing, fire eating, bed of nails, block-heading, ladder of swords, and broken glass walking. She is a veteran ringmaster for events and circuses, and her specialties include stilt walking, acrobalance on rolla bolla and globe, and high-wire motorcycle stunts and aerial acts.
In 1994, she cofounded the Bindlestiff Family Cirkus with Keith Nelson. Their unique style combines elements of circus tradition, sideshow stunts, novelty amusements, and vaude-villainous variety into a spectacle for the 21st century. The Cirkus’ roots go deep into the New York City underground transgressive performance art scene, and its style is deeply influenced by Nelson’s studies in anarchist theory and Stephanie Monseu’s background in visual arts and physical performance.
Originally created for mature audiences only, the Cirkus now entertains folks of all ages, and has grown into a far-reaching nonprofit arts organization. Educational and mentoring programs for youth, touring, and theatrical productions are the mainstays of Bindlestiff’s activities today.