A boy runs away, learns circus tricks on Melbourne streets

Roy Maloy lies on a bed of nails. A forklift lowers a 500 kilogram block of ice onto his chest and seven muscular men break the ice with axes.

“Hurry,” Roy shouts on the Youtube video as they tire. And he remains until the ice has completely shattered away.

He tells me yesterday he broke two ribs from the weight of the ice.

I met Roy Maloy at the Mt Isa Show yesterday. He broke a record struggling out of a six metre chain tied by a random from the crowd. He did it in 21.5 seconds. When a boy heckles him, Roy throws the boy’s hat into the crowd. And when he breaks the record, he gets a woman to kiss him on the cheek and he moves at the last second so their mouths touch.

We meet through a comedy friend of ours. I take him out for lunch. He puts his folded bed of nails into the back of my car and leaves it there when we arrive at the Buffs. He wears a red circus ringleader vest, which has no sleeves.

The guy at the door won’t let us in unless Roy puts on one of their shirts they have provided. Roy grabs it, hides behind the nearest door, and swaps over the vest with the shirt.

When we sit down for beers and food, we learn we both worked at 69 Bourke Street in 2009. He was introduced to Order members but we cannot remember each other. At all. It’s possible I might at the end of the year, maybe, but it is a reminder that there was so much information and peoples faces to take in that year but I probably didn’t notice most things. Including people.

Roy ran away from home when he was 16. He lived in the same alleyways and hung out in the same fast food places I knew of when I worked as an Order member. This is how he became a circus performer.

He learnt each of the different tricks from the other streeties.

“Hey man, can I borrow your stilts?” he asked of a street performer one day.

The streetie said “yes, I’m not using them at the moment.”

So that’s how Roy learnt to use stilts, something he became a record holder in. Years later Roy walked on the world’s heaviest and the world’s tallest stilts. And the same applied for sword swallowing and fire breathing.

Eight years later, Roy searched the phone book for agricultural shows in Victoria. From there he phoned each of the different show organisers so he could perform at these places. This is how he began, this is what led to more than 52 shows a year, this is what led to becoming room manager of his own Melbourne based shows. This is how Roy began to break world records.

We finish lunch. I take him back to his hotel. We have a conversation which eventually leads to a miraculous story.

Once Roy performed in an isolated community and noticed a kid being bullied by a group of other boys. Roy stood up for the kid and mentioned the issue with the local priest, who was aware of it. A few years later the boy contacted Roy by email or social media to write him a suicide letter. When Roy persuaded the boy to give more details, he contacted the priest immediately, who was able to get to the boy in time.

Again, years later, Roy returns to the community. And a strapping, handsome man walks to him and booms, “hello Roy, you don’t remember me, do you?”

Sure enough, it was the boy grown up, about to be employed in the army because it turned out he was a mathematical genius.

“There’s no doubt I was going to commit suicide that night,” the mathematical genius said. “I had the cliff and time picked out and everything.”

An example that overcoming tragedies sets a chain reaction among other people.










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