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Wednesday, September 03, 2014

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Freakshows Today

In the early 1990s former phone salesman Jim Rose developed a modern sideshow called "the Jim Rose Circus", reinventing the sideshow with two types of acts that would attract modern audiences and stay within legal bounds. The show featured acts reviving traditional sideshow stunts and carrying some of them to extremes, and "fringe" artists (often exhibiting extreme body modification) performing bizarre or masochistic acts like eating insects, lifting weights by means of hooks inserted in their body piercings, or stapling currency to their forehead. The show drew audiences at venues unknown to old-time sideshows, like rock clubs and the 1992 Lollapalooza festival. The Jim Rose Circus held its last known performance in 2005 at the Fright Dome at Circus Circus in Las Vegas, but some of its performers still tour individually.

At the same time in Canada, Scott McClelland, grandson of itinerant showman N.P. Lewchuk, formed Carnival Diablo, a show that performs frequently to this day. The success of these shows sparked a growing number of performers to revive the traditional sideshow arts, taught by sideshow veterans, and many now perform in spot engagements from rock clubs and comedy clubs to corporate events.


"Sideshows by the Seashore", sponsored by Coney Island USA in Brooklyn, NY has performed since 1983, and tours under the name "Coney Island Circus Sideshow".

2000–2010

Ken Harck's Brothers Grim Sideshow debuted at the Great Circus Parade in Milwaukee, WI. The Milwaukee run included a fat lady and bearded lady Melinda Maxi, as well as self made freaks The Enigma and Katzen. In later years the show has included Half-boy Jesse Stitcher and Jesus "Chuy" Aceves the Mexican Werewolf Boy and Stalking Cat. Bros. Grim toured with the Ozz Fest music festival in 2006, 2007 and 2010.

Wayne Schoenfeld bring together several sideshow performers to "The L.A. Circus Congress of Freaks and Exotics," to photograph sideshows folks for "Cirque Du Soleil - Circus of the Past." In attendance were: Bill Quinn, the halfman; Percilla, the fat lady; Mighty Mike Murga the Mighty Dwarf; Dieguito El Negrito, a wildman; fireeaters; sword swallowers, and more. In Australia, the 2007 Sydney Royal Easter Show also introduced a sideshow program amongst its attractions. Circus Historian and collector Ken Harck runs the Brothers Grim Sideshow, which toured with the OzzFest music festival in the summer of 2006 and 2007.

Freak Shows

 

The Human Oddities Gallery