Friday, April 17, 2009

Curious, and so compelling

By Meredith Deliso

(Published in the 4.16.09 issue of 24/Seven)

Sexy sword swallowers. Rubber-like contortionists. Scaly green lizardmen.

They’re all curious sights, and this month you can behold them all when Coney Island USA hosts its 3rd annual Congress of Curious Peoples, featuring such talent as The Lizardman, the Painproof Rubber Girls, and The Torture King (names should be self-explanatory), at the Sideshows By The Seashore.

The celebration of all things freaky kicks off April 17 with an opening night party where you get to vote in the newest inductees into the Freak Hall of Fame. Hosted by ringleader Dick Zigun, the founder of the Coney Island Circus Sideshow, with special guests Reverend Billy and the Savitri D, five inductees will be picked for the categories of Showmen, Working Acts, Self Inflicted, Attractions, and Born Different.

But that’s just a warm-up for the freaky fun to come.

Alumni weekend, from April 18 to 19, will feature Tyler Fyre and Thrill Kill Jill of the Lucky Daredevil Thrillshow, The Great Fredini, and other special surprise guests, for a weekend of unbelievable fire-blowing and sword swallowing (we’ll warn you now – don’t try this stuff at home).

Monday, April 20, head on down to Coney Island for the battle of the strongmen, as rivals John Strong the Third and Boston Billy of California’s John Strong Sideshow duke it out.

The Lizardman then entertains on April 21. Covered with more than 700 hours of tattooing to effect reptilian scales over his entire body, with subdermal implants creating horned ridges over his eyes, teeth filed to points, and a surgically forked tongue, The Lizardman blends stand up comedy, spoken word, and sideshow stunts both old and new for a one-of-a-kind experience, for sure.

Flip out over the Painproof Rubber Girls on Wednesday, April 22, as they twist and turn their bodies into seemingly impossible positions, mixing in knives and fire for good measure, in a reunion show that includes The Great Throwdini and Ekaterina, with MC Lady Rizo.

April 23 sees Albert Cadabra’s Skullduggery & Skin Show, a part-magic, part-burlesque routine that brings in performers from around the world for this sexy sideshow.

Those with weak stomachs might want to avoid Tim Cridland, aka Zamora The Torture King’s show on April 24. Through his knowledge of martial arts techniques, hypnosis, Middle-Eastern techniques, science and anatomy, he is able to overcome dangerous situations – fire-eating, sword-swallowing, body-skewering, electrocution and more -- to emerge, thankfully, unscathed and unharmed (again, don’t try this at home).

From April 25 to 26, London-based performance artist Mat Fraser, Koko the Killer Clown, Ravi the Indian Rubber Boy, and other “curiosities” will be coming to Coney to end the freaky festivities with a blowout. With dozens of acts over the course of these 10 days, there’s definitely something for every taste.

Showtimes and costs vary. For more information, go to or call 718-372-5159. All shows will be held at Sideshows By The Seashore, 3006 West 12th St. Tickets are available the day of the show.


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