Santo Gold & “Blood Circus”

One of the most ridiculous infomercials archived by the folks at Ridiculous Infomercial Review is this one for the mother of all mondo bizarro videos, Santo Gold!

Santo Gold Commercial
This infomercial tries to do two very different tasks at the same time: sell a gold jewelry business opportunity and promote a “science-fiction space movie” called Blood Circus about aliens from the planet Zoran who come to Earth to fight has-been professional wrestlers (some of whom were professionals from the World Wrestling Federation) from the United States and the Soviet Union and who devour their opponents upon defeating them in the “squared circle.” The movie was produced by Baltimore-native “Santo” Victor Rigatuso (aka Robert “Bob” Harris), who promoted it through infomercials for his mail-order “Santo Gold” jewelry business. According to Wikipedia, one of the key moments in Blood Circus was filmed at the Baltimore Civic Center (which is now called the 1st Mariner Arena), where Rigatuso, playing a character called “Santo Gold,” performs a song before the climactic wrestling match. The song had absolutely nothing to do with the movie – instead, it merely hawked Rigatuso’s “Santo Gold” jewelry. As WFMU’s Mark Allen concluded (“Santo Gold’s Blood Circus,” WFMU’s Beware of the Blog, 7-5-2006), “The goal? All the products tied together to help promote one another, of course. Rigatuso knew a lot about the concept of marketing ‘synergy’ long before Oprah and Martha Stewart.” Or as Rigatuso quipped to a reporter, “The film won’t make sense, it will just make dollars!”

bloodcircus-handbill

1985 Blood Circus ad via Parting With Old Stuff (rareads4u) on Ebay.

“Blood Circus”: The Movie
No copies of this film are known to exist, outside of clips aired in producer Santo Rigatuso’s “Santo Gold” infomercials. The original reel is presumed to be lost. Despite this, and the fact that the commercial exists only in YouTube’s archives, the existence of this curioddity in the history of film and enterprise necessitated Philadelphia-native indie pop musician Santogold (real name: Santi White) to change her stage name to Santigold – to avoid confusion with a film and ad that no longer exist! Well, and the fact that she was sued by Rigatuso in 2008 for “name infringement” for using a moniker that “crushed” his music and acting career! Not only that, but because Santogold’s back-up dancers wore sunglasses when they appeared with her on Late Night with Conan O’Brien, Santo Gold claimed “image appropriation” – because he wears sunglasses too! (See “Santogold sued by Santo Gold” @ stereogum.com)

Of course, Philly’s Santi White wasn’t the only musician to get sued by Rigatuso. He also sent a cease and desist letter to members of the Kansas post-punk band Santo Gold and subsequently had their MySpace fansite and music videos taken down. But these weren’t the only legal entaglements Santo Rigatuso was involved in – only the most recent. As WFMU’s Mark Allen reports, “After Rigatuso failed to become the next Orsen Wells, he participated in even more brazen business ventures; a credit card for people with bad credit for only $49.95 (which turned out to be a paper card that was only redeemable for Santo Gold merchandise), and a very real radio spot touting a very fake offer to sell off $2000 blocks of a millionaire’s estate at $52 a piece. The law eventually tracked Rigatuso down and he ended up spending ten months in jail for mail fraud (the court proceedings were reportedly memorable)…Sadly, all reports indicate that the film Blood Circus has been lost forever. Witnesses described it as “un-redeemably bad.” The only stored copies apparently got lost or trashed during the chaos of Rigatuso’s fleeing, capture, sentencing and prison time.”

Blood Circus Trivia:

    • The wrestling scenes were filmed at the Baltimore Civic Center. Producers billed the event as a wrestling match and concert, and charged $9 for admission.
    • “Scream Bags” were provided to moviegoers as a promotional tie-in. The bags had a long poem about Blood Circus on each side, as well as a coupon for a free diamond ring from Rigatuso’s “Santo Gold” infomercials.


  • Only three people showed up to the premiere: an extra and two movie critics.
  • Producers were forced to rent a theater in Baltimore to show the movie after they were unable to find a distributor.
  • The movie was heavily advertised in infomercials for producer Santo Rigatuso’s “Santo Gold” mail-order jewelry business. The movie’s price tag of $2 million was paid for by the proceeds from the business.

Sing along with the theme song, “Santo Gold:

I got chains. I got charms. I got bracelets for your arms. Money back guarantee. Five-year warranty… Santo Gold. Santo Gold. We know you’re going to like it. 24-karat Santo Gold.

Watch the “Santo Gold” infomercial.

I like billybien‘s review that I found on the Internet Movie Database (IMDB) listing for Blood Circus. Apparently, this guy was actually in the film.

I remember getting cheap “Santo Gold” medallions instead of pay for doing this movie. My friends and I were hammered that night, but as I remember, there were some great freeze frames of me and my buddies at the end of the movie. My dead friend Stoc Marcut is the last frame of the movie. The “Santo” guy had cheap infomercials at 3am on channel 45. We all made fun of this guy, so he was kind of a cult hero and was honored to be in this POS movie! When I was in boot camp in FT Benning, Georgia, I was pulling CQ duty and was watching local TV. I almost went AWOL when I saw the trailer. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw Stoc’s face in a freeze frames. Priceless!

Watch a mid-80s Santo Gold TV auction promoting Blood Circus.

Hmmmm…Is that Sydney Pollack arguing with Santo Rigatuso at the beginning?

Santo Gold/Blood Circus Picture Gallery
Following are some pictures taken by Baltimore musician Mark Linthicum (aka “Mark Harp” and “The King of Peru,” R.I.P.), who was at the Civic Center with his buddies the night of the filming.


This one my fave picture because it looks like future Maryland Guv’nor Bob Ehrlich (center) was in attendance as a paramedic!


“That’s a wrap people!” says producer-pitchman Santo Rigatuso

Late Breaking News!
Don’t know how dated this is but…from the typo-peppered Santo Gold web site (www.santogold.com): “THE ACTUAL Blood Circus Masters AND 35MM NEGATIVES, 1st., full length 35mm Wrestling film reported lost for 23 yrs., have now been found and Limited License Rights are now available for Executive Producers to come forward and contact us! THERE CAN ONLY BE ONLY 1 ELVIS PRESLEY, 1 WALT DISNEY, 1 EINSTIEN (sic), 1 HOUDINI, AND JUST 1 SANTO GOLD!”


BLOOD CIRCUS: Rated N&E for Nuts & Everybody!

There’s an online order form for “Part One” of “The Making of Blood Circus” but…proceed with caution. As Public Enemy once warned, “Can’t Truss It”!

Santo Gold/Blood Circus Links:
Santogold.com (“The Official Santo Gold Web Site”)
Santo Gold Song
Santo Gold (Ridiculous Infomercial Review)
Santo Gold’s Blood Circus (Wikipedia)
Santo Gold TV Auction featuring “Blood Circus” (YouTube)
Santo Gold’s “Blood Circus” (WFMU’s Beware of the Blog)
Lost Santo Gold Auction Clip (Ridiculous Infomercial Review)
The Santo Gold vs. Santogold Lawsuit (Ridiculous Infomercial Review)

This entry was posted in 1980s, Advertisements, Baltimorons, Crime, Punk / New Wave, Santo Gold, Sports, TV Commercials, Wrestling and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Santo Gold & “Blood Circus”

  1. Brian Carter says:

    I seen the infomercial on some shitty UHF channel while were on vacation at Deep Creek — not sure what channel.

    Seen the movie when I was 11 at the Patterson theater. I’m not sure how long it was there, but I later learned he rented those theaters out. I never got a “scream bag”, so that kinda pisses me off. I’ve been obsessively looking for information on it since the Internet took off, and those stills are the first original things I’ve seen in a long time.

    Nevertheless, I hold Mr. Gold singularly responsible for my hobby of seeking out and subjecting myself to bizarre movies – not the ironic, “avant-garde” artfag bullshit either, I think he was sincere in efforts while making this.

  2. @Brian – You know someday there will be a Blood Circus documentary and you’ll be in it! I never went but the Scream Bag drives me insane – somewhere I have a picture of one.

  3. Ian Mulligan says:

    Nice to see that it has been lost but not forgotten..

  4. Violet Glaze says:

    I remember very clearly waiting outside my sister's Saturday afternoon ballet class, reading the Baltimore Sun, and seeing an ad calling for extras for "Blood Circus" with the tagline "See real body parts thrown from the stage at the audience!" I blanched and asked my mother if police read the paper and if they'll stop this from happening. She got thoughtful and pointed out a technicality – did the ad specify whether the body parts would still all be attached to each other? I've been wondering about that strange blip of a childhood memory for years – thanks for filling in the blanks.

  5. Kevin says:

    I saw the infomercial. It was an amazing experience. Hopefully, one day, the entire infomercial will be posted on Youtube…and the world can rediscover the true genious of Santo Gold.

    Who remembers that enormous men’s-wrist-chain…”The Santonian”!

    Thanks for the stills of ‘Blood Circus’. They are a welcome addition to my Santo-Shrine.

  6. Pingback: Blood Circus Scream Bag | Baltimore Or Less

  7. Tim H. says:

    Her’s the complete infomercial- insane parts, boring parts and all- as it aired in the 80s. Now all we need is for some impresario to put up the cash for a Blood Circus theatrical re-release. Home video just won’t do it.

    Part 1
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7GM6jlqPt9k

    Part 2
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?NR=1&feature=endscreen&v=0mm7MmOo8LM

  8. Jack T. Carter says:

    Contrary to the article, I have a pristine print of Santo Gold’s Blood Circus.
    35mm, processed by Precision Labs in New York City.
    Precision made the Remo Williams prints.
    Very nice color, printed foot markers on each reel.
    Sound is stereo optical, but is not licensed by Dolby Labs.
    I have tried to contact SG, but have had no response.
    Precision made back door VHS tapes to try to recover their lab costs, on the streets of New York this became a $ 1.00 video tape. Simply the print bill was unpaid.
    Print is stored at 50F in 40% RH with molecular sieve adsorbents.

  9. dycaite says:

    I’d love to ask you a few questions about this; if you have time, please shoot me an email. Cheers.

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