Prominent in drama and the circus, Benjamin de Oliveira was a multifaceted artist. The son of an enslaved woman, in his childhood he worked helping tropeiros (herdsmen) on trips through the hinterland of Minas Gerais. It was during these trips, and also working as a cake seller, that he encountered the circus. On one occasion, he fled from home to accompany the Sotero Circus, where he received his first circus lessons from Master Severino de Oliveira. He stood out as a clown and acted in theatrical shows, dramas, comedies and operettas. It is said that Benjamin used to paint his face white, in a make-up mocking racism. Outside the circus stage, he also had a career as an actor, musician and theater director.