Sir Cupcake’s Queer Circus flies through the air on KQED

Jack StockLynn and his circus describe what it would be like if Portland could dance

Gentrification is pushing performers to the outer limits of the cities they call home, and local performers are no exception. A new web-based video series called If Cities Could Dance, produced by Bay Area PBS affiliate KQED, zooms in on eight urban areas—San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose, Detroit, Los Angeles, Baltimore, New Orleans and Portland—where performers are fighting to maintain their spaces, their voices and their cultural identities.

Sir Cupcake is the subject of an episode of KQED’s “If Cities Could Dance” series./M.Fayre Photography

On May 8, the series will profile Sir Cupcake’s Queer Circus, a Portland-based troupe of clowns, aerialists, dancers, jugglers and contortionists, led by the self-described “bumbling trickster” character Sir Cupcake, aka Jack StockLynn.

“Our shows are glittery, campy and full of love and positivity,” StockLynn says of the company, which is composed of queer and transgender performers and their allies. “We are seeking to uplift our community and ourselves by working together to tell queer stories in a fantastical way.” In this dance-centered series, the circus occupies a special niche: although its eight core members aren’t dancers per se, some have trained in contemporary and underground dance styles, as well as the specialized performance movements circus arts require.

StockLynn, a Portland kid, ran off to Seattle in the early 2000s to study with a clown master at Cornish College of the Arts. He moved back in 2006 to train as an aerialist and acrobat before joining physical theater company Do Jump! in 2010. It was about that time he noticed something was missing in the circus world. Although Portland has a large circus community—“four big studios that teach, and a number of smaller ones,” StockLynn says—“there are a lot of queer circus artists, but not a lot of queer circus content.”