Highly-qualified clown's main job is entertaining professional rodeo crowds
By Frank J. Buchman
He's a typical rancher. But, there's more to the story.
He's a former football standout, seven-event rodeo contestant, champion bronc rider, martial arts specialist, full-contact-fight winner, "Poweriser-Stilt-jumper," school teacher, bus driver, guitarist, dance student, businessman, TV star, animal trainer, funnyman, bull fighter and barrel man. He's even "Elvis," believe it or not.
But, Cody Sosebee is best known as "The Rodeo Clown."
However, just an hour before the first performance of the 65th annual rodeo climaxing the 143rd annual Linn County Fair Rodeo at Mound City, Sosebee seemingly was nowhere to be found.
All of the fancy rigs behind the arena weren't identified as his, and nobody had seen "The Rodeo Clown."
Are you Cody?
"Yep," grinned the big-ole-country-bumpkin tinkering with a little-voice-box, while leaning on the tailgate of his small black pickup with stock racks, a stuffed-clown-dummy propped on the fender, a white-clown-barrel nearby and an Arkansas-goat tied alongside.
It certainly wasn't what one might have imagined based on the pedigree of the 40-year-old cowboy whose true-gentleman-ways became obvious.
"I've been a cowboy ever since I could walk," insisted Cody Sosebee with his constant-broad-smirk.
"I've worked every event, had some success, but got too old, too fat and too tired of falling off," simplified Sosebee.
"One day at a rodeo, the contracted-clown didn't show up, and the producer asked me to fill in. He thought I was a clown anyway, so why not do it for pay? I had a fun time, the crowd enjoyed it, and I got a check," Sosebee reflected.
That's been a decade-and-a-half ago, and Sosebee has been carded by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association 10 years, and also works Championship Bull Ridings and Professional Bull Ridings.
"This rodeo is close to home. I like it when I can drive in and relax," noted Sosebee, who lives on the family ranch near Charleston, Ark., but often flys to rodeos.
"I'm pretty much on the road every weekend 11 months in about 30 states a year," calculated Sosebee, who's entertained at Cheyenne Frontier Days, Calgary Stampede, Omaha Stampede and Las Vegas' CBR Finals.
While acquaintances describe Sosebee "as either slightly crazy or somewhat insane," he ready agreed "Hey, my problem has kept me busy in the rodeo arena for the past 15 years."
Twice, Sosebee has been nominated PRCA Clown of the Year.
An Arkansas High School champion bareback rider three years, Sosebee excelled in football, earning a college scholarship, and could have been a professional in martial arts.
Instead, Sosebee competed in rodeos, was the 1991 International Professional Rodeo Association Rookie of the Year and the 1993 IPRA champion bareback rider. He is an Arkansas State University agriculture business graduate.
"No longer is the rodeo clown a walking-joke-machine, but a well-rounded-entertainer who appeals to people of all social and geographic backgrounds," Sosebee contended. "It's interacting with the crowd and keeping them involved the entire performance."
With grease-painted inflated-clown-grin, big-black-hat, suspendered-oversized Wrangler jeans, Sosebee bantered with rodeo announcer Troy Goodridge in an exaggerated Southern accent, a "familiar-persona that conveys a razor-tongued, but slightly-ignorant hillbilly."
"Rufus the high jumping goat" performed with Sosebee Saturday night, and at other rodeos his mini-donkey, Squeak, aka "Honkey the donkey" performs. No fireworks are included in Sosebee's shows, "due to strict stipulations since 9-11."
During the winter, Sosebee attends dance class to learn "cool" moves. Highlight of Friday's performance was his Elvis impersonation when Sosebee entered from the bleachers with a sleek-Elvis-style pompadour wig and black glasses while wearing a tight-white-jumpsuit wide-open in the front with his potbelly hanging out.
The bleacher-filled-crowd roared as "Elvis" in karaoke-style performed "Blue Suede Shoes," swinging his pelvis and all-other-body parts to the beat semblance of "The King." However, a crotchety-bounce on the arena-fence-cable changed Sosebee's voice-tone as "Elvis is out of the arena now."
Last year, Sosebee starred in "Bullproof," a 3-D documentary-reality television series, giving an inside-look at rodeo bullfighters.
Serving as barrel man at Mound City, Sosebee clarified: "I let the bullfighters take care of business in front of the chutes, while I entertain spectators between riders, and if the bull gets around the barrel."
Sosebee has a business: "Cowboy's Toy and Party Rentals," which he calls "making funny money."
"There are better cowboys today; they're top athletes. Stock has improved. Payback is better. Rodeo used to be about Western heritage and the cowboy-way-of-life, but now it's more loud rock music, pyrotechnics and entertainment.
"Rodeo's changed, and it will continue to change to keep up with other professional sports." Sosebee evaluated.
"I love rodeo, but the travel wears me down. I like to get back and help Dad on the ranch," he verified.
While Sosebee intends to continue to "live life large," his goal is: "To make the most out of life, never settle for less than what I work hard for."