Keith Nelson: Born in Massachussetts and raised in North Carolina, he played Tuba in marching band, achieved Eagle in Boy Scouts, taught archery, and toured with the Grateful Dead. In 1988 Nelson enrolled at Hampshire College, Amherst, MA, where he studied social undecurrents and alternative politics, and luckily learned to eat fire and juggle. In 1992 he graduated and moved to New York City to work with Autonomedia, a Brooklyn-based small press. In 1994 he became the in-house fire eater at the Blue Angeel Cabaret, and so began a career as a performer. That year he met Stephanie Monseu, taught her to eat fire and juggle, and thus began the Bindlestiff Family Cirkus. Nelson has swallowed swords at Avery Fischer Hall, spun guns at the Walter Reade, made balloon sculptures at the Apollo, and toured with the World of Wonders, one of the last sideshows on the carnival circuit.
Stephanie Monseu is co-founder of the Bindlestiff Family Cirkus. She is a mulit-talented New York native. When two unrelated accidents left her with two broken arms in 1994, she put her jewelry business on hold and began performing with Keith Nelson as a fire eater— beginning a lifelong partnership and a commitment to circus and variety arts that has blossomed into a full time career as performer, booking agent, manager, production designer, director, and creative partner with Nelson. One of the greatest rewards has been working with the amazing and talented artists in the variety community.
“Keith Nelson and Stephanie Monseu—the founders of the Bindlesiff Family Cirkus, a troupe of clowns, magicians, acrobats, burlesque danders and sideshow acts—brought vaudeville back to Times Square…the first continuous vaudeville venue in the area in 70 years.” — Time Out: New York
“The Other Greatest Show on Earth!” — Troy Register
“It’s fantastic. There are certain things that make New York City so incredibly special. And this is one of them.” — New York Times