Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Sideshow Gathering 2011, Day 1

I was going to try to do this all as one post, but there's just too much to say! So I'll break it into posts for each day.

After founder Franco Kossa's death and some other major setbacks earlier this year there was a question as to whether this year's Sideshow Gathering would happen at all. But the decision was made that the show must go on - and it did!

That didn't mean it would go off without a hitch. The night before the show the emcees, Tyler Fyre and Thrill Kill Jill of The Lucky Daredevil Thrillshow, along with their four-month-old son Hank and several hundred pounds of props and gear, found themselves stranded 150 miles south of the venue by a broken-down vehicle. Fortunately rescue was just a few hours behind, and they were all able to make it to the show on time.

The weekend featured many familiar faces from years past, plus a few acts I had never seen before. First up was James "Gentleman Jim" Stilianos, who did an assortment of juggling routines, including one where he juggled machetes while standing on a board balanced on a short length of 10" diameter plastic pipe.

Up next were the Bruise Brothers, who bickered and fought like the brothers they are. Both standing over six feet tall, they were the biggest act of the weekend!

Tyler and Jill did a set as well, where Tyler probably set the record for "most swords swallowed with a baby strapped to your chest." (We believe Jill already has the record for "most swords swallowed with a baby in your belly.") Here Hank seems to be stunned by his father's determination to swallow two swords at once.

Here Hank makes his debut as the world's youngest sword swallower. It's not a sword per se, but rather a binky with a sword handle. And Hank spit it out and sent it rolling across the stage shortly after this picture was taken.

Later Hank did a straitjacket escape, from a hand-knitted baby-sized straitjacket, as used at all baby insane asylums.

Up next was Keith Nelson of the Bindlestiff Family Cirkus. I have read about the Bindlestiffs and was very happy to see that they would be represented at the Gathering. Keith gave an amazing performance, full of energy and enthusiasm, as he ran around at a madcap pace trying to get four bowls spinning on four posts while trying to flip two spoons into two cans and catch a ball in a cup mounted on a spike jammed into his nose; as James Taylor of Shocked & Amazed put it, "The only guy on Planet Earth who can tell you his act is likely to fail, then has it fail, and he gets virtually a standing ovation. Now THAT'S talent."

Next came The Reverend Tommy Gunn, currently the sole ambulatory member of FreakShow Deluxe, who did a series of increasingly dangerous routines to the shouts of "MORE DANGER!" until the confines of the small stage and low ceiling forced him to abandon his whip act after the third time the whip became entangled in his hair, clothing, and props, electing to try something less dangerous and eliciting cries of "LESS DANGER!" from the audience. Here he dangles from chains attached to his nipples what he insists is a solid gold chandelier, coated with bronze to protect the finish.

The penultimate act of the night was a new one for me, The Unholy Sideshow.  They did a mix of acts that I have seen done before as well as a few that were new to me. They brought a youthful energy to the show which made me think that they will be interesting to watch in the coming years. As they are relatively local, based in New Hope, PA, I may not have to travel far to see them.

They ended their show with the first burlesque act of the weekend, featuring a lovely young lady (UPDATED 6/14/2012: who I just found out goes by the name Catalina Askew) who, shall we say, bowled over the crowd.

Fancy Talker Professor Sprocket closed out the first night's festivities with a presentation of Olga Hess, the Headless Wonder. He presented her again on Day 2, so I will include her photos there.

Thus ended the first night of the 10th annual Sideshow Gathering. And there were still two more days to go!


Anonymous said...

"most swords swallowed with a baby in your belly”?! YIKES! ;-)

Love the guy with his nipple chains…..

Look forward to the rest of the series. Wish you would explain how exactly the crowd was bowled over!


D.B. Echo said...

The Reverend Tommy Gunn is a brash, arrogant guy. His offstage counterpart, Thomas Nealeigh, is a softspoken sweetheart of a guy with the most absolutely delightful kids. (Check out my posts from last year to see his daughter watching the show from directly in front of the stage!)

See, she's wearing a bowler hat over her ample bosoms, and she removed the hat a few seconds later...I actually lowered my camera and averted my gaze before a little voice inside my head said "WHAT THE HELL IS YOUR PROBLEM?!"

Anonymous said...

The sword-handled binky & baby straitjacket are adorable. Nice to see family values.