Ringmasters are the leaders of Circuses. Due to the Circus of Fear archetype, expect fictional works to give you the odd antagonist (or more) that have the authority and/or appearance of a Ringmaster, though they often employ tactics no sane Ringmaster would even dream of doing in reality.
The Ringmaster, also called a Ringleader is the most visible member of modern circuses and among the most important since he manages the performances, introduces the various acts and guides the audience through the entertainment experiences. In smaller circuses the Ringmaster was often the owner and artistic director. Many modern-day Ringmasters became an integral part of the performances, singing and dancing along with other entertainers. One of the traditional opening lines of many circuses is the phrase "Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, children of all ages...," drawn out in a dramatic fashion.
In the days before modern lighting equipment it was the Ringmaster's job to literally "direct" the attention of the audience to the appropriate sections of the performance area even as the previous act was being torn down or the next act was being set up somewhere else. Most performances were mute by nature, only accompanied by resounding brass music or the like. Therefore, the ringmaster's big booming voice was important as it cut through the clutter and excitement to announce the acts.
It was normally the Ringmaster's job to create a sense of hyperbole whenever possible while introducing the acts. Declarations of "the biggest", "the most dangerous", "the amazing", "the spectacular" and similar expressions were common regardless of the actual calibers of performances.
The Ringmaster was responsible for maintaining a "smooth operation" of the show or at least an appearance of it. He could be called upon to kill time by talking or joking with a clown or somebody if an act was not ready for its entrance yet.
A Ringmaster is traditionally attired in a bright, gaudy topcoat with coattails (usually blood-red with golden trimmings) and a tall top hat on their head. The outfit was designed to look like an 18th-century gentleman's riding habit and often included a whip, a relic of when the Ringmaster directed the performance, not as an announcer and host but as a director of the animal acts and specialist stage manager.
In addition to all of the above, similarly to casino, club, bar, restaurant and hotel businessmen they can be associated with organized crime, often using circuses as a way of money laundering or other illegal activities. They can also do the same with zoos.
They should not necessarily be confused with Arena Masters, though the two can overlap at times since both types of villain mainly utilize displays of over-the-top theatrics during their careers.
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