El Circo Loco: Antonio Ruiz (UPDATED)

Following up on Hexodus’ earlier post, when I first heard Saturday evening of the alleged demise of the flamboyant Silver Lake local known as “El Circo Loco,” I didn’t want to believe it. Attempts to contact the originator of the news were unsuccessful so I resorted to the ever-helpful LAFD Spokesman Brian Humphrey (LAFD News & Information) who pointed me in the right direction, namely to the LA County Department of the Coroner. I wrote its public information office yesterday with the few bits of information I had. This morning I received the following reply from Chief Coroner Investigator Craig R. Harvey:

After some screening, I believe I found the case you are inquiring about. The decedent’s name is Antonio Ruiz, age 44. We list no permanent address for him. He did have family in the local area. He was found dead on the sidewalk of Golden Gate Avenue in Los Angeles on 04/22/2006 @ 0930 hours.

As to the cause of death, Harvey stated that he was examined on April 24 and a determination has been deferred pending the results of additional tests ordered by the deputy medical examiner. He also provided me with the East Los Angeles mortuary that his family has selected to handle his remains, In contacting the funeral home a few minutes ago I was told there was a question mark by Antonio’s name indicating his family had yet to decide whether to hold a memorial or not and that I should check back in a few hours. I’ll update this post with whatever information I’m provide then.

I personally hope Antonio’s family decides in favor of a service because I’d like the chance to tell them how much he enriched me and my neighborhood with the decidedly different drumbeat to which he danced and paraded. I’d want them to know how much I appreciated all the color and whimsy he brought to his stretch of Sunset Boulevard, and how heartbroken I am that it’s gone now. Most of all I’d just like to be there to remember Antonio and to wish him a peaceful journey onward.

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UPDATE (2:56 p.m.): A spokesperson at the mortuary told me that his next of kin have elected to forego a memorial service and instead are moving ahead with arrangements to transport his body out of the country for burial.

Photo by Susan Campbell, taken January 2006.

10 Replies to “El Circo Loco: Antonio Ruiz (UPDATED)”

  1. Damn! I wondered why I haven’t seen him lately! I always waved when I was biking past and he always waved back! That’s saying something you know?

  2. Nice story, Will. Reading about this guy makes me wonder about someone else I’ve seen on the streets and always wondered about: the very odd woman who I’ve seen walking about the Melrose-La Brea area. She moves in a odd halting gait, has her hair done up in cone-like fashion and wears outfits that make her look like a Star Trek extra. Someone once told me she lives in that all-black house off of La Brea. Anyone know who I’m talking about and anything about her? I haven’t seen her for awhile, now that I think of it.

  3. Tom, me old china, allow me to bring you up to speed. That is the “Lava Rock Lady” She indeed did live at the then all black house at Detroit & Clinton for many years. The house was sold a couple of years ago. The woman is gone. An end of an era indeedy.

    In fact the house was actually two structures that were connected and painted all black. A black stone fence surrounded the property and that has been removed since.

    As far as the woman herself. Her name was Rae Suzan Strauss. She appeared in movie called Citizens Of Perpetual Indulgence (2000). Good luck finding that one. Before I met her I heard all manner of stories…her name was Neptuna (believable), that she was channeling aliens (uh…believable).

    Saw her many many times. Fell into disbelief when I would actually catch her pushing a cart inside Ralphs or at the Fairfax swap meet. I had a conversation with a foxy neighbor chick once and she told me that she had been inside the house and that Rae had been a member of the Manson Family. She was older than the rest of the girls and either had Charlie’s baby, tried to or perhaps it was someone else’s baby. I believed the girl. But she said that Rae would be calm and conversational and then snap and start cursing and ranting.

    Go figure? Apparently there were photos that back up the Manson claim.

    I had a brief encounter with her once. I went to the voter polls at the Melrose school at Formosa and Melrose one year with my then roommate as he voted. I was standing at the front table trying to figure out if my dumbass was registered to vote or not when a door behind the table opened and she appeared right there looking straight at me. We talked briefly. I blew the big chance to just ask her WTF????

    I told her she was a local celebrity. She laughed and said that she supposed she was. I mentioned the movie, I think she said it was fun but hadn’t seen it.

    I have a March/April 2001 issue of Glue /magazine that has a photo of her…lucky me. That’s it. However, if you google her like I did you will find a painting of her on jaybrockman.com called the Queen of LA.

    That’s rather fitting I think.

  4. Thanks for the great info, Coffee Burt! Wow. I used to see her all the time (indeed, once at the Fairfax swap meet–which I had spoken to her) and was always fascinated. I looked up the movie in imdb and it turns out her first name is spelled “Ray” so I googled that and found this! (link below) Between your info and this, the mystery is solved. Yet another reason to love the ‘net.

    http://www.wellingtonthemagazine.com/newsarticle.cfm?c=r&mv=21&at=1&na=290

  5. Nice. Glad to see she is still alive. She’ll probably live to be 225 years old. Perhaps she already is?

    But Florida….Yuck!! Their gain I guess.

  6. The rumor is that Circo was very ill and that he died of a morphine overdose. I’d love to know the real deal. He was always spotless, ever notice his ironed jeans? I can no longer hear his whistle when I sit on the deck. I meant to bring him balloons for Christmas, but I didn’t. Sweet man. I will really miss this guy.

  7. Will, thanks for the information. El Circo Loco, Antonio, was a bright light in our community. His radiance on Sunset Blvd. brought a festive energy to the streets. He was a real Felini-esque character with a humanity beyond us all. I danced with him one night. He sang and smiled and got lost in his music. And then with a quick back step spin, he danced away to carry his good cheer to others. It was a wonderful few minutes. It made my night. I am saddened by our loss.

  8. Thank you so much for doing this. Tony was my uncle, I miss him so very much!! All of our family are so very greatful for all of you that knew him and had the memorial on Saturday for him. I knew that my uncle knew alot of people but I had no idea the impact he had on his community until this past saturday. Well, thank you all so very much! God bless

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