Meet Judy Finelli!

Judy Finelli

Judy Finelli, multiple sclerosis, and naked clowns? Oh my goodness! What a combination. I suppose if you are a juggling enthusiast, you've probably heard of Judy before. And this site is about multiple sclerosis, so no problem there.

But naked clowns? I would never have put those two together even without MS. But they are together, so let me explain why by sharing Judy's story.

Judy Finelli's beginnings

First of all, Judy was a member of the Pickle Family Circus. The circus was founded in 1974 by Peggy Snider and Larry Pisoni. Judy, along with Wendy Parkman started the San Francisco School of Circus Arts in 1984.

The Circus Center

The school is now called the Circus Center and teaches children aged 2 thru adults all the circus performing arts. In other words anything that has to do with the circus.

They have "....programs and classes at all levels in acrobatics, flying trapeze, hand-balancing, contortion, juggling, teeter-board, wire-walking, clowning, and anything in the air, upside down, backwards and seemingly impossible".

Judy was an accomplished juggler from the 60's to the 80's. She continued performing up until she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1989. She had a type of MS that progressed rapidly and she is now unable to use her arms or legs. In spite of this, she is still a faculty member of the Circus Center.

Committed to clowns

Talk about someone committed to keeping the circus and most of all clowns in the public eye, she is that person. Her list of accomplishments, including awards, circus, and TV credits is a long one.

What brings us here is the creation of the Naked Clown Calendar which was inspired by Judy Finelli. The website says this about Judy:

Judy Finelli had a dream; a vision that would redefine the American Circus. She saw a circus that celebrated the talent, skill, and dedication of individual performers rather than the three ring spectacle of the past. Moreover, she saw a school that would inspire and train those performers to excellence. As an accomplished juggler, able to pass ten clubs, Judy Finelli knew excellence.

The Naked Clown Calendar

And this is what they say about the calendar:

What is it? 

  • The Naked Clown Calendar is a 12-month 12"x12" calendar featuring a variety of "naked" clowns in various portraits and situations.
  • Each clown uses circus/clown props, equipment and positioning to strategically "dress" themselves while giving the overall impression of nudity. 
  • The images in the calendar are tasteful, artistic, and appropriate for all age levels. No profane, sexually explicit or vulgar images are portrayed. 
  • The clowns featured in the calendar come from all walks of life; some from the circus world, the theater, even the classroom. 
  • But all performers hold an approach to life that makes them genuinely a clown.

If you like this sort of thing and want to also support them in their effort to end multiple sclerosis, you can visit them here to find out more about the upcoming 2010 calendar. As I write this (10/30), they are taking pre-orders and have 374 left before printing.

If you'd like to see a clip of a film being made by Lisa Denker of Denker Film Works, click on the link below. The film is not yet completed and they are taking donations to finish it.

Here is a link to the website about The Judy Finelli Project

This deeply engaging story, shows how one remarkable woman recovers the will to live anew, through her reconnection to the circus arts community and her family. Judy’s adaptability in finding fresh meaning in her life, looking beyond her disability and seeing her potential, mirrors what circus is about - human potential.
 

Judy: “So now, it’s about who I am. It is no longer about what I do.”

Go back to Famous People with MS E – K or E-F.

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