Paul Binder

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Paul Binder
Born Paul Lewis Binder
(1942-10-19) October 19, 1942 (age 74)
Brooklyn, New York
Known for Big Apple Circus
Spouse(s) Vivian Bachrach

Paul Binder (born October 19, 1942, Paul Lewis Binder) is the founder and artistic director of the Big Apple Circus.

Personal life[edit]

Born to a Jewish family in Brooklyn,[1] Binder has earned many doctorates, including an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts from Dartmouth College, his alma mater.[2] He also was honored by Long Island University, Pratt Institute and Rhode Island College. At Dartmouth, he would have his first show business experience, as an improv comedian with the Dartmouth Players. He would also reinforce his beliefs in community-oriented thinking, a philosophy of Dartmouth's. He also graduated with an MBA from Columbia University.

After college, Binder moved to Boston, where he was hired by WGBH-TV as a floor manager for Julia Child's The French Chef, and he later worked in New York City and Los Angeles as talent coordinator with Merv Griffin. That same year, Paul married Vivian Bachrach. Later on, Binder went to San Francisco, where he joined the San Francisco Mime Troupe, meeting his partner for many years to come, Michael Christensen, while performing with that company.


Binder became known across the city of New York as well for his juggling abilities, but he wanted to reach more people. With this in mind, he set to tour around Europe, bringing in his performing instruments with him.

Binder was a street artist when he and Christensen decided to make circus performing their profession. At the time, they were in Kent, England. They made their living as street performers, traveling from London to Istanbul. Soon after, they finalized an accord to participate in circus in France.

Along with Christensen, Binder participated in the famed Casino de Paris, as well as on French television shows. Then, they joined the prestigious Nouveau Cirque de Paris.

Binder founded the Big Apple Circus, with Christensen later being named co-founder, after they returned from Europe in 1977.

Binder's dedication to circus life and the success of the Big Apple Circus have helped him collect many honorary awards and honors, many of which he shares with Christensen.

In 2001, Binder was declared a "New York City Living Landmark" by the New York Landmarks Conservancy society.

In October 2008, The New York Times reported that Binder will be retiring from his role as ringmaster and artistic director for the Big Apple Circus in 2009, although he will continue to work behind the scenes, he is now Founder and Founding Artistic Director.[3]

Binder published his memoir Never Quote the Weather to a Sea Lion and Other Uncommon Tales from the Founder of the Big Apple Circus in April 2013. It has a foreword by Glenn Close.


  1. ^ Collins, Glenn (November 11, 1993). "AT WORK WITH: Paul Binder; A Big Top With a Vision to Match". New York Times. 
  2. ^ New York Magazine, Jan 2, 1989, Page 81
  3. ^ Collins, Glenn (October 21, 2008). "Goodbye Greasepaint: Veteran Showman Exits the Tent". New York Times. Retrieved March 18, 2010.