Rodeo clown says performances won't change

‘Living the dream’

Rodeo clown Tuffy Gessling looks to the announcer’s table while hamming it up for the crowd during Friday’s Amped Up Productions pro bull riding event at the fairgrounds.

Rodeo clown Tuffy Gessling looks to the announcer’s table while hamming it up for the crowd during Friday’s Amped Up Productions pro bull riding event at the fairgrounds.

Tuffy Gessling performed last night for the first time since his controversial performance at the Missouri State Fair on Aug. 10.

Although the rodeo clown has received death threats, media attention and other backlash from a skit in which President Obama was teased to be “run down by a bull,” Gessling said the way he performs won’t change a bit.

“We aren’t changing anything,” the man said Friday prior to his appearance at the Jefferson City Jaycees Fairgrounds. “We’re still in the business of PBS — that’s putting butts in the seats.”

Gessling said everything has been very overwhelming since the controversial performance. When asked if he thought the attention would slow down after this weekend’s event, he replied, “I’m just a rodeo clown, I don’t know, I’m not a fortune teller.”

Having been a part of the rodeo scene since he was 11 years old, Gessling said he was surprised people took offense to the politically-themed skit.

“It was just supposed to be a funny, haha,” Gessling noted.

He said this was not the first time that skit had been performed, and that several past presidents’ faces were placed in similar scenarios.

In light of all the attention over the past month, Gessling has purposefully kept secret the name of the other man involved in the skit, the man who was actually wearing the Obama mask. During the performance Gessling made the remarks, and said there is “no sense” in dragging the other man into the negative spotlight with him.

Gessling performs around 25-35 weekends a year, and said he is living his dream.

“There isn’t a little boy who doesn’t dream of being a cowboy. I get to be a part of that dream,” he explained. “These people are my family.”

In light of the August incident, the president of the Missouri Rodeo Cowboy Association, Marc Fricken, resigned. Fricken’s lawyer previously told the Associated Press that his resignation from the group was a protest that the association has not banned Gessling from its membership.

“I have nothing against the man,” Gessling said when asked about Fricken and the resignation. “I wish he hadn’t done that.”

Gessling will perform in Jefferson City again tonight as part of the Pro Bull Riding show at the Jefferson City Jaycees Fairgrounds. Although Gessling did have some shows scheduled between his State Fair and Jefferson City appearances, they were canceled.

“People need to laugh. Turn the TV off, and tell each other a joke,” he said.

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