When Massimiliano, tall, ebulliently Latin, and terribly energetic makes his entrance into the center ring of the arena of Madison Square Garden, currently harboring the Ringling Bros.-Barnum and Bailey extravaganza, there is positively no denying him. He is a demon possessed with the idea of tossing plates, electric globe lamps, pearl-handled butcher knives, and flaming torches with the utmost abandon and gusto in the air and let them fall where they may, he's right back there for more, even if you aren't. Which we don't mean at all as a reflection on the fellow, because he does have so much to give and the crowds love him.
Corralled in his dressing room which is more like a stall rather than a chambre desacturs (it's the circus influence), we immediately asked him how old he was. He spoke in a characteristic manner of excited enthusiasm, with traces of several tongues in his halting English, which we are incompetent to reproduce here.
"I am thirty-seven years on the stage," (that's what he called it) "but I am only thirty-six years old." He looked at us with expectant triumph out of big, black eyes under long sweepingly arched eyebrows. We asked how come?
"My mother is (he meant "was") a trapeze artist and she was carrying me while she worked at her profession," he answered with a hearty laugh at the joke.
He said that he was born in Russia, sired by the P. T. Barnum of Russia, his father who owned the Circus Truzzi with 40 units spread over that land. Massimiliano has performed a great many years in Russia, and has a charming, blonde Russian for a wife.
"My father was a juggler on horseback, and he wanted me to become a musician. But one day I saw a juggler in his circus and I could not rest until I became one myself."
His father was furious at the boy's ambitions, and put his foot down with a great stamp when the boy broke nearly everything breakable in the dining room, and forbade him to lay a hand on an Indian club again. But Mass practiced secretly and became quite adept keeping at it twenty hours a day.
"Then came the Revolution in Russia, and my father and the family had to flee. We embarked on an Italian submarine at Sevastapol. My father took along a valiseful of rubles, worth a quarter of a million dollars in your money. Among the other passengers was Nicolai Nicolaivich," he said. "My father had to abandon all his circuses."
When they arrived in Constantinople, he continued, they found themselves practically destitute for the Czar's currency was worthless.
"It was then that my father relented and gave me his blessing and sanction to go forth and become a professional juggler."
Massimiliano is proud of the fact that he gave his first performance in Colorno, where Giuseppe Verdi studied, although it was before the inmates of an insane asylum that he made his debut.
The warm-mannered artist says he likes America very much although he has only been here seven days. But he would not want to stay in one place very long.
"We have only one life to live, and I want to see everything before I lay aside my props forever," he said softly.