Category Archives: Sideshow

Modern Sideshow: Bebe the Circus Queen

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From our friends at Wikipedia:
Bebe the Circus Queen (Beatrice Aschard) would perform a variety of stunts such as having a watermelon placed on her back and split with a sword, lying on a bed of nails while weights were placed on her chest… or the “Plastic Bag Of Death”, where she gets into a large plastic bag and one of the other performers sucks all of the air out with a vacuum cleaner. She would also employ an electric grinder in her act (for example, she would create a shower of sparks from a metal chastity belt covering her groin area).”

Taking classic acts from sideshow and vaudeville and translating them for modern audiences, the Jim Rose Circus Sideshow found themselves with ‘falling ovations’ daily, as people in the crowd would faint (no doubt aided by standing in the sun for hours, binge drinking and enjoyment of recreational party favors) as The Amazing Mr. Lifto performed his take on Rasmus Neilsen’s ‘pierced weight lifting’, upping the ante by including swinging heavy objects from his pierced penis. They’d cover their eyes as The Torture King skewered his cheeks and torso like B. A. Bryant had done decades before while touring with Barnum himself and laugh with relief when ThEnigma, tattooed from head to toe like a jigsaw puzzle did a tattooed clown act- that is until he started geeking live insects.

This was still when piercing culture trended older- 40s, 50s- and youth culture was just starting to discover expressing themselves with tattoos, body piercings, scarification and other avenues of modifying their bodies. Seeing stretched piercings swinging weights live on stage, with Eddie Vedder (or insert rockstar here) joining the cast to oooh and awww had a profound effect.

But the one member of the original troupe that didn’t get much attention was Rose’s partner, Bebe the Circus Queen. She didn’t have the dynamic motormouth of Jim, the pain proof skin of Tim “Torture King” Cridland, the stretched piercings of Joe Lifto… so she often got overlooked when it came to media write-ups of the show.

This may be an odd photo for a body modification history/culture blog in so much as it features no body modification, but without the Jim Rose show’s promotion of piercing/tattoo/modification culture during the transitional years of the early 1990s, things may have played out differently, and without Bebe, the Circus wouldn’t have been what it was.

That and I really liked the photo.

Late 1990s, 35mm print scan.

Monsters of Schlock- Philadelphia

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Signal boost for Philadelphia area readers-
Burnaby Orbax and Sweet Pepper Klopek- the Monsters of Schlock- will be performing at “Connie’s RicRac” on Sunday 21st June. They put on a hell of a show, so if you’re around- check it out!

https://www.facebook.com/events/1748689922083553/


Join us for a night of entertainment like no other!!

Monsters of Schlock are Canadian entertainers who have sold out shows internationally as ‘The World’s Most Extreme Two Man Circus Sideshow Comedy Magic Extravaganza’.
They have performed in theatres, carnivals, festivals, night clubs and colleges worldwide. In the past year their madcap stunts have been broadcast on Canadian television to over 2 million viewers, to a million in the United States, and to over 8 million viewers in Europe and the United Kingdom. Showcased in the Ripley’s: Believe It or Not compendium and with multiple Guinness World Records, the ‘Canadian Mad Bastards’ continue to entertain worldwide.
The duo is a touring juggernaut performing over two hundred live shows this year alone to crowds ranging from ages 8 to 80! Continue reading

Dallas Suscon 2009: The Lizardman

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Spring cleaning at my house always turns up treasures that have been sitting around uncategorized for far too long. Today’s finds included the DVD-R full of photos from the 2009 Dallas Suscon hosted by Allen Falkner. It was one of my first times using a long since stolen Leica D-lux 3 camera, with this photo of Erik ‘The Lizardman’ Sprague being my favorite shot of the bunch.

 

The Illustrated Man

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One of the most recognizable faces from the 1980s tattoo scene belonged to performer Michael Wilson who joined iconic personalities like Fakir Musafar, Hanky Panky, Anton LaVey and a host of others in RE/Search Publications seminal 1989 book Modern Primitives. He appeared in the Bruce Springsteen video for the song ‘Tunnel of Love’ and performed for the legendary Coney Island Sideshow.

Wilson, who got his first tattoo at the age of 13, passed away at the age of 44. This photograph dates back to the mid 1980s and comes from the collection of Jack Yount.

”He said in his dreams, he had no tattoos.”   1

OVxSD: Amsterdam 1995 w/ the Enigma

Crossposted from Occultvibrations.com, this video features sideshow performer The Enigma being tattooed, simultaneously, by 22 tattoo artists at the 1995 Amsterdam Tattoo Convention.

OVAMS953
Original source: 8mm video tape.
Filming location: Amsterdam Holland.
Filming date: May 1995.
Featured: The Enigma, Alex Binnie, Bob Vessells, Horiyoshi 3, Timothy Hoyer, Permanent Mark and more.

I shot this footage in 1995; it’s shaky and has had the audio removed due to copyright concerns.

Community Garden

photo by Atom Moore for Scarwars

The Headmaster- Scarwars3 (2007)

Thanks to some generous donations over the last month we’ve been able to purchase a new-old media player that will help in capturing hundreds of hours of 8mm body modification films shot by Jack Yount from the late 1980s to the mid 1990s, as well as donated hard drive space to preserve the content at full resolution for future archival. It’s been a rough process; buying aging “vintage” tech always comes with problems and frustrations so it’s been a waiting game of returning a defective unit, shopping for a new one, waiting for it to arrive and all of that nonsense, but I’m beyond touched by the support we’ve received- I still want SD to be a Community Garden (where one day I’m not the only gardener) where we all help keep it afloat and the support we’ve had in the last few weeks has really lifted my spirits and made me super geeked to get back to the import/archival grind.

I’m on hiatus until the tech arrives and the eventual and often frustrating learning curve of any new system is worked out, so in the meantime…

In 2008 we hosted the third and final Scarwars event in Philadelphia; our event manager rented a 35mega-pixel medium format digital camera for staff photographer Atom Moore, who was responsible for the portrait photography at the event. He captured this very serious photograph of Wings of Desire/Pain Solution’s Håvve Fjell showing off fresh cuttings by Christiane Pinpoint of Norway. Håvve is in the fundraising phase of WoD’s newest book, TOO BLEED OR NOT TO BLEED, which covers Pain Solution performances from 2003-2015.

We’ve been blessed here at SD with support, but if you’ve got a few extra dollars to spare, head over to the TBONTB Indiegogo and grab yourself an amazing book that’s my by and for our community: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/to-bleed-or-not-to-bleed-by-ps-media#/story

El Hombre Lagarto

96ESBecause body modification and ritual are not only powerful tools for self discovery and definition but also stand as strong and potentially influential statements to others thereof, they represent a significant threat to those who reject their uniqueness and the systems and processes that rely upon viewing people as members of a category or their designated job title.- Erik Sprague 1

Later on this year (I want to say September or October) will mark the 20th anniversary of the the launch of the spcOnline site, which originated a lot of the content I post here on Sacred Debris. Twenty years and so many people have come and gone from my life- true eccentrics who live up to the promise that body modification shouldn’t be the most interesting thing about you regardless of how interesting your body modifications are.

One of the longest friendships I’ve maintained has been with a former PhD student turned sideshow performer named Erik Sprague. Despite SPC being primarily history oriented I occasionally ran new content, including the lip and tongue tattoos of a not quite Lizard. A few decades later I’m running the photo as history, so I suppose time has caught up with us both.

I always found Erik’s thoughts on body modification culture (and culture in general) to be worth listening to, so if you haven’t checked out his book “Once More Through the Modified Looking Glass” you should absolutely put it on your reading list: http://www.thelizardman.com/book.html

 

Blurry Blockhead

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Human Blockhead

The early days of the western body modification movement were documented by pioneers like Fakir Musafar (who taught himself photography and darkroom technique) and Charles Gatewood; decades later their iconic 35mm images remain bold clear snapshots of our community’s history.

Things got choppy in the 1990s when digital cameras started taking over, with low dpi images replacing the clarity of their SLR analog counterparts. A lot of the images that were submitted to the spcOnline site from 1995-2000 are grainy low resolution .jpg images that do a decent job of documenting the modification but won’t stand the test of time like the old hardcopy photographs.

Like this one, featuring a young Sideshow performer doing the human blockhead circa 1997. First person who correctly identifies him (with bonus points going to anyone who can name his stage name at the time) will receive a goodie from the SD/SPCO archives.

Hey Rube!

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“Hey, Rube!” is a slang phrase most commonly used in the United States by circus and traveling carnival workers (“carnies”), with origins in the middle 19th century. It is a rallying call, or a cry for help, used by carnies in a fight with outsiders. It is also sometimes used to refer to such a fight: “The clown got a black eye in a Hey, Rube.” -Wikipedia

My social networking streams are all polluted by discussion of the latest episode of Ink Master; instead of rotting my brain with “the worst thing to happen to tattooing since Hepatitis C” I’ve queued up this fun little short film starring Canada’s sweethearts Burnaby Q. Orbax and Sweet Pepper Klopek- the Monsters of Schlock.

The day they filmed my segment I was nursing a 103* fever, so I don’t remember a lot of it. I was also 70lbs heavier than I am these days so seeing chubby, medicated me ramble on is kind of weird, but ultimately better than Ink Master.