I He boldly goes where no sick humorist has ever gone before. He makes
% the guys from Archaos look like Andy Pandy. He is Jim Rose. And he’s bringing his circus to a town near you. Fiona Shepherd freaked out.
| ‘Gabba. gabba. We accept you. We accept you.
} circus sideshow members in '1in Browning ’s classic l930sﬁlm Freaks.
1 TV coverage.
PAPA’S GOT ABBA
One of us.’ — the cry of solidarity uttered by the
oodwork creaks and out come the freaks. For some. The Jim Rose Circus Sideshow is the vilest social aberration on ten legs. a touring band of masochistic miscreants come to deprave your kiddywinks with acts of monstrous deviancy and stomach-chuming vulgarity. Y’know. just not natural. like. These are the peOple who inadvertently accord the Circus Sideshow an abundance of press coverage.
For others. The Jim Rose Circus Sideshow is the ultimate in The Word-style sniggerfest spectacles. Sticking condoms up one nostril. then down the other? Man. that‘s for the birds. These are the people who deliberately accord the Circus Sideshow an abundance of press and
Finally. there’s a minority who appear to
about. That's the circus members themselves. These are the people for whom self-promotion equals daily bread. All in all. that’s a hefty wedge of publicity. Word gets out when you‘re unique.
Here's where I stand on the subject. As far away from Mat ‘The Tube' Crowley’s bile beer (see sidepanel) as possible.
Despite the weight of misunderstanding stacked against him. Jim Rose remains sanguine in the knowledge that what he and his corporal contortionists delivers is — uh-huh. you got it — art.
‘The altering of the body for exhibition.‘ he drawls. stretching his vowels as far as Mr Lifto stretches his . . . er. . . . ‘to be able to do amazing things falls I think reasonably under the definition of art. I‘ve seen people roll around on the floor screaming and yelling and scratching chalkboards and that was considered art — performance art. although I don‘t particularly like to be in the category of performance art. I prefer the niche of Circus Sideshow.
‘We like to combat danger with skill. This really is martial arts. Third World mental disciplines. science. y’know. It’s art meets sports basically.‘
Freakshow it is not. Strictly speaking. The Circus Sideshow’s raison d'étre is not. as many contend. rabid attention-seeking from a group of reprobates starved of care in their formative years. Jim Claims a higher cultural genesis than that.
‘My artistic vision comes from a time capsule of the l84()s through the 1930s in the United States. There were shows similar to these back then. These freakshows were doing so well that entrepreneurial sharks got into the waters. Well. there‘s only so many Enigmas. Torture Kings, Jim Roses in the world. so they didn‘t
For some they are vilest social aberration on ten legs, a touring band of masochistic miscreants come to deprave your kiddywinks with acts of monstrous deviancy and stomach-churning vulgarity.
understand what this ostentatious farrago is
15 The List l2—25 February 1993
really have anything to deliver once they started their sideshow so they went to deformities and started exhibiting somebody with flipper—like arms and calling them. say. Birdboy. That‘s not what I take from. We are made freaks. not born freaks.
‘The reason I‘m doing it comes from how I was raised as a child. I went to a bunch of Middle East countries and travelled with
icircuses. sideshows. state fairs and carnivals
with my parents. so that allowed me access to backstage and I got familiar with the remaining human marvels in the 60s. As I grew up I realised they had disappeared and I always wanted to bring this type of entertainment to a new generation. The goal was the greatest
collection of odd humans ever to perform on one stage and I think I’ve realised that.’
The Jim Rose Circus Sideshow ﬁnally fell into place about two years ago in Jim‘s native Seattle where they performed for seven months. before becoming a touring concern. Britain’s ﬁrst augury came when reports of outre’ physical feats filtered over the Atlantic from the second Lollapalooza music festival.
‘We are made freaks, not born freaks.’
where the Sideshow managed to upstage the main musical attractions. including Ministry‘s Al Jourgensen and His Amazing Bone Festooned Mike Stand. Quite simply. western so-called civilisation had seen nothing like it for years.
‘These things do happen in the Middle East.‘ Jim attests. ‘usually done by some religious person. I don’t do it from that point of view because through my research I realised that anybody can do these things if they dedicate five years of their life to it.
‘The one subject that everybody in the entire world has input on is the human body because we live in one. So it’s interesting to see that the body can do things you didn‘t imagine. It opens eyes to the limits of what it can accomplish and that it can be changed within
your lifetime — look at Arnold
This is Jim Rose‘s assessment of his circus‘s pulling power. This is where things get dodgy. Somehow it occurs that vicarious thrill-seeking rather than anatomical curiosity is the reason behind the ﬂocking masses. Repugnant fantasies made flesh. so to speak.
“The audience becomes kind of like medieval in their mentality.’ admits Jim. ‘They scream and yell and encourage us and challenge us and . . . rock’n’roll!’ he exults. ‘But I want to make it real clear that we do this as a comedy and people will laugh the entire time. I believe we have legitimate humour. along with a lot of nervous laughter.’
And whaddya know? — I titter nervously throughout Jim‘s graphic resume’ of the Sideshow‘s manifold delights. I‘m as guilty as the next sadist.
‘One of the reasons it’s doing so well is that people are tired of. for example. television and movies that are predictable. slick. contrived. choreographed. manipulated and clean. and people once in their life should come have fun and watch something live. real. athletic and dangerous. Time for some shock therapy. Scodandf
But remember kids. don’t try this at home. especially with an adult present.
The Jim Rose Circus Sideshow ‘play' Strathclyde University. Glasgow on Sun 2] and The Venue. Edinburgh on Mon 22.
l l l