Who loves the homey Florida State Fair? Me, says celeb daredevil Bello Nock

Known for America’s Got Talent, Ringling, world records and traveling the globe, Nock says he looks forward to February in Tampa.
Daredevil Bello Nock at the Florida State Fair 2023. [Courtesy of the Florida State Fair]
Daredevil Bello Nock at the Florida State Fair 2023. [Courtesy of the Florida State Fair] [ TK_PHOTOGRAPHY | Courtesy of the Florida State Fair ]
Published Feb. 8

Bello Nock is all over the place.

A daredevil and circus performer who’s made Time magazine’s list of America’s Best Artists and Entertainers — and an “America’s Got Talent” celebrity — he’s off to Amsterdam, Monte Carlo, Australia, creating shows as part of his family entertainment business.

This is a man who’s walked a high-wire over Lincoln Center in New York, done the tightrope between two ships at sea and performed on a trapeze under a helicopter over the Statue of Liberty, all with trademark hair — a vertical, gravity-defying plank — at attention.

But Nock, 55, will tell you he has a soft spot for his yearly gig at the Florida State Fair in Tampa, going on now in his home state.

This year it’s Bello Nock Aqua Rock, a show on the fairgrounds lake featuring “the first guy to ever do a back flip on a Jet Ski,” Nock said, plus world champion flyboard artists — “basically you’re flying with water-powered jets at your feet above the water,” he said.

You never know what stunts Bello Nock will be performing at the Florida State Fair. But you'll recognize him when you see him, for sure. [Courtesy of the Florida State Fair]
You never know what stunts Bello Nock will be performing at the Florida State Fair. But you'll recognize him when you see him, for sure. [Courtesy of the Florida State Fair] [ Courtesy of the Florida State Fair ]

The following is a chat with Nock about his showman’s roots going back seven generations and why people like the thrill of stunts. This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

So is Bello Nock your real name?

Demetrius Alexandro Claudio Amadeus Bello Nock. I had an Italian mother and Swiss father and they wanted to make happy every aunt and uncle they could think of.

You travel the world, but where’s home and family?

Sarasota. My wife runs our business. We met in third grade. She used to perform with me.

She said having (our) three kids and you is like having four kids. Someone’s got to manage this.

We create different shows around the world, so she runs that business and tries to keep me contained.

Your kids are grown?

Yep. One of them (Annaliese Nock) performs with me all over the world, and will be performing at the state fair also. She is a daredevil.

What did they say about Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers? Ginger had to do the same as Fred except backwards in high heels. She does everything her dad does but with grace and beauty.

You’ve been called America’s Best Clown but also a daredevil.

I sort of created my own genre I call comic daredevil. Most daredevils you didn’t laugh at, most clowns you don’t take seriously.

It’s not like I thought about it one day — it’s just who I am. Sixteen Guinness Book of World Records and I still don’t mind people laughing at me.

No question this would be your life?

My parents never forced me to carry on the (show) tradition. They just said I had to try it for 30 or 40 years.

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In entertainment it’s not rare for your offspring to follow in your footsteps. What is rare is (for) the next generation to be better.

I will say my daughter is probably better than me. Somersaults on a Wheel of Death — she did I think four in a minute.

Wheel of Death?

You know the giant hamster wheel that you see spin around at Cirque du Soleil?

What are you doing at the State Fair this year?

The people who run (the fair), they were like, we’re running out of spaces to do performances. I said what about the middle of the lake there?

I’m a musician and acrobat and daredevil, so I have trampolines on top of floating barges. I’ll be riding a Jet Ski. I’ll be on a flyboard. I will be playing guitar.

I’ve hung from my toes from a helicopter at the Florida State Fair. I have a record for that.

Bello Nock at the Florida State Fair in 2023. [Courtesy of the Florida State Fair]
Bello Nock at the Florida State Fair in 2023. [Courtesy of the Florida State Fair]

What comes after the fair? Are you on the road?

Constantly. I live in Sarasota but I’m lucky if I get to be there for three months out of the year.

I have a palace in Sarasota called Bello Park. We used to call it the funny farm. We have a 6-acre lake. We can create and practice things on water, on land or in the air. Basically I can train people there.

I have a thing called Cannon University where I train people to get shot out of a cannon.

Are you in Sarasota because of its circus roots?

I am one of the very rare: I was born in Sarasota

Hopefully for the rest of my life I will be creating shows for the Florida State Fair in February. The rest of the time I’m in Amsterdam, Australia, Monte Carlo. I travel a lot. But the month of February ... it’s just a blast for me.

Do you get out on the midway?

You better believe it. It’s like a family reunion.

A cow is being born every day there at the state fair.

Which of your stunts do you like best?

When someone asks a band what’s your favorite song, they say the next one. You’re always inspired to say what’s next.

I’m just as excited to see what’s going to happen as the audience.

Why do you think people like daredevil stunts?

It’s the same thing that brings people to NASCAR ... You either can see yourself doing it and think you could do it better (or) I don’t have the guts to do it but I want to see them do it.

To me it’s never about if you’re going to survive. It’s about how great you’re going to land it.

How did that hair come to be?

I was a water skier, young. Everyone got a crew cut because it looks good in and out of the water. I sunburned the top of my head. A couple weeks later my hair starts growing straight up. And I just started getting noticed. When you’re in entertainment, that’s not a bad thing.

I’m one of the few people in the world known by their silhouette.

So what’s the secret to keeping it vertical?

When you live the life I live, your hair would stand up on end, too.