Straight talk from Airiana Circus: When you're shot from a crossbow, you have some points to make.

March 11, 1997|By Lisa Pollak

We first saw her picture in the newspaper a few weeks ago. How powerful Airiana the Human Arrow seemed then, how toned and mysterious, how determined and poised. Defying gravity and fashion alike in her one-strapped maillot, white gloves and blue sparkly cap, Airiana was more than a performer for the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, opening here tomorrow. Airiana -- soaring through life, hurtling toward her goals, fearlessly flying above the morass of clowns and lions -- was the woman we wanted to be.

That was then.

We're not quite sure when we realized that Airiana was not the role model we were looking for. Maybe it was when the publicists at the circus refused to let us see or photograph her. Or when we found out we could e-mail or fax our questions but not call her. Or when we heard the rumor that Airiana was really a man.

Anyway, by the time the fax machine spit out the answers to our questions, we had stopped fantasizing about taking flight, about thrusting our arms above our heads and rocketing past our troubles. Of course, we probably shouldn't have expected profundity from someone who makes a living being shot out of a crossbow. We probably should have known that most of Airiana's responses would be bad puns about flying.

And we probably shouldn't be looking for our role models in the circus.

How did you become a Human Arrow?

Destiny and lots of training.

Is that famous arrow scene in "Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves," a realistic portrayal of what life is like from an arrow's point of view?

It focused almost entirely on the fast-approaching bulls-eye. When I fly, I don't concentrate on the end of my flight. I enjoy the experience itself.

Who did you vote for in the last election?

I usually take the middle course in elections. It's not good for a Human Arrow to veer to the right or left.

What's your favorite baseball team?

I'm partial to the Cleveland Indians, because the Indians were some of the first humans to discover the usefulness of the arrow. For that, I will always be grateful.

If you could invite any five people, living or dead, to your house for dinner, who would you choose?

First of all, I don't think having five dead people in my house for dinner would be very much fun. I'd love to have Amelia Earhart to dinner -- she was another woman who appreciated flight. Abraham Lincoln -- he believed in freedom and so do I. Tom Petty -- he wrote "Freefalling." Steve Miller -- he wrote "Fly Like An Eagle." Evil Knievel -- he was a mortal who attempted flight and I commend him for that.

Do you aspire to be a human cannonball?

No, the beauty of my flight is that I am free. I am not limited or shut in. Although I respect cannonballs as artists.

In your opinion, what's the biggest problem facing this country today?

People are too busy and stressed out to enjoy the fantasy of life.

Facing arrows?

Not enough flight time.

Do the clowns ever get on your nerves?

No. We all need as much laughter as we can get.

Pub Date: 3/11/97

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