WILKES-BARRE PA – The Annual Sideshow Gathering — the world's only sideshow convention — returns to northeastern Pennsylvania with its unique blend of weirdness, nostalgia, and wonder. From November 5th through 7th, the strange and unusual take center stage when showmen and genuine sideshow freaks from across the country descend on Wilkes-Barre's The Woodlands Inn & Resort to celebrate and share the giddy thrills and forbidden mysteries of the carnival sideshow. Over the course of three days, these showfolk will walk on glass, swallow swords, eat light bulbs, attempt to break a world record for human blockhead, and otherwise risk bodily harm for the sake of twisted entertainment. The Annual Sideshow Gathering is the premier networking event for performers, fans, collectors, historians, and the curious.
This year marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of P. T. Barnum, the man who single-handedly created modern advertising and brought some of history's most celebrated human oddities to national prominence. Barnum knew how to indulge the public's curiosity and send them away satisfied and filled with wonder. It is in the spirit of Barnum that the Sideshow Gathering brings together many of today's best sideshow performers for a weekend of gasps, shrieks, and laughs.
Attractions at the 9th Annual Sideshow Gathering will include:
The weekend's emcees, Tyler Fyre and Thrill Kill Jill of The Lucky Daredevil Thrillshow — named “Best Sideshow Duo” by Washington City Paper; Chris McDaniel, the rope-spinning, whip-cracking, singing cowboy; Coney Island Chris, the hilarious one-man ten-in-one seen on America's Got Talent; Olde City Sideshow, featuring Danny Borneo, Martin Ling the Suicide King, and Reggie Bügmüncher; Harley Newman, professional lunatic; Cheeky Monkey Sideshow, featuring Swami Yomahmi, Mr. Eon, Mab Just Mab, and The Darwin Sisters; Magic Brian, outrageous comedy-magic and sideshow stunts; Doc Wilson, escape artist and medicine show huckster; bagpiper Patrick O'Brien; Mr. Crispy, who will be spending his honeymoon on stage; and many more! This year's event also welcomes special guest of honor A. W. Stencell, showman and author of Circus and Carnival Ballyhoo, who will receive the 2010 Ambassador of Wonder Award. Additionally, vendors such as James Taylor's Shocked and Amazed! will display freakshow memorabilia, rare books, and original show banners. Step right up to the Sideshow Gathering for a weekend of entertainment and diversion you won't soon forget!
Concurrent with the 17th Annual Inkin' The Valley tattoo convention at Wilkes-Barre's The Woodlands Inn & Resort, the Sideshow Gathering begins at 3:00 PM on Friday, November 5th, with live sideshow performances starting at 5:00 PM. The convention floor opens again at noon and performances will resume from 3:00 to 6:00 PM and 10:00 PM to midnight on Saturday, followed by a special auction of rare carnival and circus items. On Sunday, there will be encore performances from 2:00 to 5:00 PM. Admission for the entire weekend is only $15. Advance tickets may be purchased for $10 at Marc's Tattooing & Body Piercing locations in Wilkes-Barre, Dallas, and Hazleton PA.
The LUCKY DAREDEVIL THRILLSHOW is a fast-paced, funny, death-defying daredevil stunt spectacular with all the glitter, glamour, and gut-wrenching thrills of a Vegas show. Guaranteed to please, amuse, and amaze audiences of all ages! Hosted by silver-tongued devil TYLER FYRE, and the darling of danger, THRILL KILL JILL!
Lucky Daredevil Thrillshow takes the stage on Saturday, November 6th!
In addition to performing with her husband Tyler, Thrill Kill Jill will present the first officially-sanctioned burlesque performance at the Sideshow Gathering on Friday night after the kids have gone to bed. Catch another burlesque turn from Candy Mayhem — of Olde City Sideshow and Hellcat Girls Burlesque — on Saturday night.
Photograph of Chris McDaniel by Mark Murray
CHRIS McDANIEL is a one-man Wild West show! A world champion trick roper, Chris also holds the RHR World Record for the most targets whipped from the hand of an assistant (61 in 60 seconds!). Chris is also a star of stage and screen, having appeared as himself and Buffalo Bill on numerous television programs, theatrical productions, and rodeo shows.
“THIS is something!” — David Letterman, The Late Show
“You'll see a lotta acts in the variety biz. I know: I've seen a pile of 'em. And believe me, the ONLY act that ALWAYS gets a standing ovation &mdash because the act earns it — is Chris McDaniel's.” — James Taylor of Shocked and Amazed!
“Mr. McDaniel… is a man of immense charm… He's a rare artist.” — John Heilpern, theatre critic, NY Observer
“Whipped his audience into a frenzy and then roped them in. Just wonderful.” — Monmouth County Fair, New Jersey
Chris McDaniel will perform for one night only at the Sideshow Gathering: Friday, November 5th!
CONEY ISLAND CHRIS
Photograph of Coney Island Chris by Jim Moore
CONEY ISLAND CHRIS has made it his mission to keep the age old traditions of the sideshow alive! He will astound and entertain by demonstrating some of the most beloved and historical sideshow stunts ever presented including sword swallowing, placing his hand in various animal traps that will slam shut on his exposed fingers, lying on a bed of nails, driving a 10-inch spike up his nose, stomach stapling and many more… all with his special comedic twist!
Mixing equal parts funny and freaky, “Coney Island Chris” Allison draws on a rich history of traditional sideshow feats of human strength and endurance popularized on circus midways and along the boardwalk at Coney Island. Chris's performances are as shocking as they are sidesplitting and are not recommended for the faint of heart. His unique brand of comedy chaos has become a popular attraction at nightclubs across the country and he was featured on the hit television show America's Got Talent where he made it to the quarter-final round of the competition.
Coney Island Chris learned many of his amazing sideshow skills from some of the original performers who popularized the acts on midways across the country. Chris has taken all of those amazing skills and put his own demented spin on them and created a comedy performance around nearly a dozen classic sideshow stunts.
Entertainment blogger and recent audience member Andrea Reiher described Chris as a “terrifying Jerry Lewis”. Reviewer Walt Hudson said that “Chris's sideshow parody left the audience breathless and gasping with laughter”. Dramatic, daring, dangerous, droll and absolutely a 100% authentic and unique performance that you will not soon forget. Coney Island Chris comically crosses the line — wherever you draw it!
CHRIS ALLISON performed for 11 seasons with the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. Post Ringling Chris has toured the US and abroad with smaller circus shows, as well as fairs and festivals. His performances have taken him from Beijing to the Bronx, Scarsdale to Sweden, and from Hong Kong to Hoboken. His most recent travels have taken him to Liuzhou, China, for their International Clown Festival. TV credits include: MTV's Oddville, The Jenny Jones Show, and Late Night with David Letterman.
Coney Island Chris will perform twice at the Sideshow Gathering: Friday, November 5th and Saturday, November 6th!
OLDE CITY SIDESHOW
Dr. Zanzibar's OLDE CITY SIDESHOW is an ever changing repertoire of acts and
spectacles, including Fire Eating, Sword Swallowing, Glass Walking, The Human Blockhead, and more. These acts
combined with impromptu live theater, assure that returning patrons will always leave satisfied and amazed. The troupe consists of DANNY BORNEO, MARTIN LING the SUICIDE KING, and REGGIE BÜGMÜNCHER. The entire stage spectacle will be introduced by talker CANDY MAYHEM.
Based in Philadelphia, The Olde City Sideshow has performed all over the United States. Most recently, Olde City Sideshow represented Magic Hat Brewing Company, appeared on the cover of Carny Sideshows, and opened for Primus.
Olde City Sideshow will perform twice at the Sideshow Gathering: Friday, November 5th and Sunday, November 7th!
Additionally, catch a special burlesque act from OCS's talker Candy Mayhem on Saturday, November 6th!
Audiences around the world have been entertained with MAGIC BRIAN's outrageous and unique comedy-magic and sideshow act. In 1986 he
began performing with a partner as the comedy magic duo of Abra and Cadabra. Since then he branched out with his solo show and has performed in four tours of the U.S. and Canada with The Bindlestiff Family Cirkus, worked the sideshow stage of New York's famous Coney Island Sideshow and appeared on The Late Show with David Letterman. He has performed in 14 countries in every type of venue and has appeared at the Edinburgh Fringe, the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, the World Buskers Festival in New Zealand, the Street Performance World Championships in Dublin, The Dubai Festival Fringe as well as several festivals throughout Europe and Canada including The Windsor International Busker Festival where he won The People's Choice Award for Best Performer.
Performing street, stage and close-up magic, his eclectic repertoire ranges from an unbelievable escape from a straitjacket and chains to the miraculous production of an impossible amount of sponge bunnies out of thin air. You can also find him swallowing razor blades, eating light bulbs and hammering nails into his head…
now that's what he calls fun!
Magic Brian incorporates the old with the new — using inspiration from circus sideshow acts as well as classic magic effects, then adding his own unique and humorous twist to it all. His goal: to make people
laugh and smile, and maybe even soil themselves.
Magic Brian will be bringing two unique performers along with him to the Sideshow Gathering: Dr. FRANGIBLE and NIGEL BLACKSTORM, The HEAVY METAL MAGICIAN!
The honorable Dr. Frangible has been dispensing his sort of medicine for over forty years from sea to shining sea. The benefits of his miracle elixir Dr. Frangible's Electric Lumberjack Juice has been touted as a “liquid of the Gods” by medicine men in small remote tribes of unknown parts of the world where they are still struggling with the concept of fire. Dr. Frangible has studied magic with the likes of Dai Vernon, Cardini, and Ching Ling Foo, although they all deny they have ever met him.
Nigel Blackstorm will melt your face off with the raw power of the most mind-bendingly metal magic you have ever seen.
Magic Brian will perform on all three days of the Sideshow Gathering, including a special performance with Tyler Fyre on Saturday afternooon when they will revive their famous double blockhead act!
CHEEKY MONKEY SIDESHOW
Ladies and Gentlemen, prepare to witness the most amazing show your eyes have ever beheld!
CHEEKY MONKEY SIDESHOW is a dazzling troupe of professional, experienced performers specializing in astounding feats and amazing oddities — sword swallowing, fire eating, extreme physical stunts (human blockhead, bed of nails, glass walking), contortion, magic, mentalism, escapes, human and animal anomalies, comedy, and more.
Members of Cheeky Monkey Sideshow have been featured on ABC News, National Geographic Channel, the film Step Right Up, The Gong Show, and in the new book Carny Sideshows by Tony Gangi.
Attending the Annual Sideshow Gathering this year are THE DARWIN SISTERS, MAB JUST MAB, MR. EON, SWAMI YoMAHMI, and possibly DAMIEN BLADE.
Cheeky Monkey Sideshow — You'll be Amazed. You'll be Amused. You'll be Just a Little Bit Grossed Out.
Cheeky Monkey Sideshow will perform during the afternoon of Saturday, November 6th!
LIL MISS FIREFLY and BRIANNA BELLADONNA
LIL MISS FIREFLY, The Midget of Mischief and Mayhem, returns to the Sideshow Gathering and brings along the multi-talented BRIANNA BELLADONNA!
Standing only 26 inches tall, Lil Miss Firefly has breathed fire and danced on glass all over the United States with Bros. Grim Sideshow, Hellzapoppin Sideshow Review, the Crispy Family Carnival, 999 Eyes, and Pretty Things Peepshow. Considerably taller, Brianna Belladonna has performed with the Jim Rose Circus Sideshow and the Venice Beach Freakshow.
Lil Miss Firefly and Brianna Belladonna will perform during the afternoon of Saturday, November 6th!
As a baseball team mascot, HARLEY NEWMAN lit firecrackers under unsuspecting umpires. In the circus, he was clown, sideshow talker, and special assistant to the manager.
Since the mid-1980s, Harley has focused on stunts and escapes, discarding traditional presentation styles while adding verbal, physical, and prop comedy. He's been widely emulated.
Harley pushes the boundaries of stunt performance. He was rejected by the Guinness Book of Records, as “too dangerous to publish”.
Harley has appeared on over 200 television shows worldwide, and viewed by approximately a billion people. His television credits include The Today Show, The Tonight Show, Ripley's Believe It Or Not, and Penn & Teller’s Sin City Spectacular. He's appeared on hundreds of college campuses, and has been a featured entertainer at theme parks. Harley's newest show, Dancing With Ghosts, was featured in the 2009 NY International Fringe Festival.
Harley Newman will perform during the afternoon of Sunday, November 7th!
Dr. WILSON'S MEMORY ELIXIR
Imagine a product so remarkable that people rush the stage to buy it! Imagine a memory elixir with virtues beyond your wildest dreams! Imagine a pitchman so dynamic that you'll be thrilled by every word! Imagine a show of laughter and wonder, high-speed oratory and astonishing feats! Journey beyond the everyday world with DR. WILSON'S MEMORY ELIXIR: an old-time medicine show for the crowning achievement of modern medical science!
You'll see amazing feats of memory including:
Instant memorization of detailed memories offered by members of the audience!
Speed memorization of a deck of cards!
Memorization of an entire dictionary!
The most incredible feat of number memorization ever performed in public — 5,200 digits of Pi!
On truly memorable occasions, Dr. Wilson performs sideshow feats like the incredible Path of Pain.
Impossible? No, you'll see these very feats with your own eyes! Be prepared to cast aside your beliefs about the limits of the human mind! In addition, you'll hear a pitch so smooth, so loaded with verbal pyrotechnics, that fans say it would be a great show without any astounding feats at all!
Dr. Wilson will perform twice at the Sideshow Gathering: Friday, November 5th and Sunday, November 7th!
The MAGIC of STEVE HYDE and MELANIE
STEVE HYDE AND MELANIE have been performing a wide variety of illusions and escapes together for the last six years. They have played at fairs, carnivals, Knoebels Amusement Resort, Bull Ride Mania at the Harrisburg Farm Show Arena, and for The Circus Fans of America. Melanie is one of the few female performers to present the straight jacket escape.
The Magic of Steve Hyde and Melanie will perform on Sunday, November 7th!
Hollywood's own and ONLY carnival-style sideshow presents it's founder (and the man called “the best Talker on the West Coast”), the Reverend Tommy Gunn, with his lovely paramour, Miss Malice
Aforethought, in their first-ever appearance at the Sideshow Gathering! Currently in the midst of their 8-month-long “I Invented Sideshow Tour” — sponsored by Lucky 13 Apparel, and winner of the 2010 Hollywood Fringe Festival's award for Best Cabaret/Circus, FREAKSHOW DELUXE has appeared all over the United States — from Coney Island U.S.A. in New York, to Hollywood's exclusive private club for illusionists, the Magic Castle, and every place in between.
With numerous appearances on television, and live shows ranging from biker rallies to tattoo festivals, from amusement parks to fairs, theaters to nightclubs, and college campuses to corporate events — wherever there is an audience, FREAKSHOW DELUXE is there with its dark vaudevillian extravaganza that keeps spectators coming back for more.
Freakshow Deluxe will perform on Friday, November 5th!
PROFESSOR FOUNTAIN presents a cabinet of wonder that combines stunts,
escapes, and variety arts with tales about artifacts gathered from ancient Egypt up to tomorrow's science fiction. Recently, Professor Fountain has been working to
entertain and inspire by reviving old vaudeville acts such as chapeaugraphy and paper tearing.
Professor Fountain will perform on Sunday, November 7th!
MR. CRISPY, founder of the CRISPY FAMILY CARNIVAL, will be getting married this month. But rather than take his bride to Niagra Falls, Mr. Crispy is doing something far more sensible: he's spending his honeymoon in Wilkes-Barre at the Sideshow Gathering on his BALL & CHAIN SIDESHOW TOUR.
Mr. Crispy will present the welcoming act to open the Sideshow Gathering at 5:00 PM on Friday, November 5th!
DELLA DEADGIRL, founder of the DEAD GIRL CIRCUS, is based in Texas but has performed across the United States for fetish shows, horror conventions, and even Bats Day at Disneyland. When she not eating fire or inviting people to staple money to her forehead, Della is a special effects make-up artist.
And — as luck would have it — Della will be honeymooning with her new husband at the Sideshow Gathering, just like Mr. Crispy!
Della Deadgirl will perform on Friday, November 5th!
James Taylor's SHOCKED AND AMAZED! ON & OFF THE MIDWAY
JAMES TAYLOR is the premier writer on the cutting edge of sideshow, the new vaudeville, the “other entertainment”! James Taylor is the man behind James Taylor's SHOCKED AND AMAZED! ON & OFF THE MIDWAY — the world's only journal devoted solely to the entertainment explosion in the weird, bizarre and unusual!
James Taylor is the planet's foremost authority on sideshow. You saw James Taylor and Shocked and Amazed! on The Learning Channel's Sideshow: Alive on the Inside, The Jerry Springer Show, Public Eye with Bryant Gumbel, and Fox Television's Fox Files.
You read about James Taylor on the front page of The Wall Street Journal, in Publisher's Weekly, New York Press, and Johns Hopkins Magazine.
James Taylor knows sideshow and its stunning new wave of entertainers. Sword swallowers, fire eaters, regurgitators, human pin cushions, torture kings, contortionists and motordrome riders look to James Taylor's Shocked and Amazed! as the definitive source for all things strange and bizarre: All things sideshow.
James Taylor's Shocked and Amazed! views the sideshow tradition through a modern lens. Shocked and Amazed! features tell-all interviews with performers and showmen who have never been interviewed on the record. Shocked and Amazed! reports on weirdness as entertainment, features exclusive reprints on sideshow history, and reveals behind-the-scenes photos of sideshow attractions.
In 1997, TONI-LEE SANGASTIANO of SIDESHOWBANNERS.COM , painted her first set of sideshow banners for Coney Island's Sideshows By The Seashore and the Coney Island Museum. Over a decade later, Toni-Lee Sangastiano has painted countless banners and other sideshow-themed paintings for top performers and collectors of sideshow and circus memorabilia. Major commissions include the Shelburne Museum, in which Toni-Lee created a forty-by-fifteen foot bannerline for their Circus Day In America exhibition.
“When I have an image in my mind's eye that needs translating from concept to tangible artwork, Toni-Lee is undoubtedly who I turn to. She's able, like no one before her, to seemingly capture my thoughts and dramatically put them to canvas. Perhaps equally stunning is the relative speed that she's able to do this in, all-the-while thriving on the commissioner's feedback to produce meticulous pieces of both promotion and art. I'm proud to say that her work graces both my home and my office. And, as icing on the cake, she's an absolute pleasure to deal with... one of those rare people that you just LOVE to have around!” — Matt The Knife
“I have the pleasure of owning several of Toni-Lee Sangastiano's Banners. It has been one of the Greatest experiences I have had collaborating with her on each project. Each banner is a Work of Art and represents each piece in my Sideshow collection Wonderfully. What more can I say except, WOW!” — J.R. Robinson
“Hey, the banner looks more like me than I do. Impressive!” — George the Giant, sword swallower
COL. DARREL HUNSLEY has traveled the world collecting the most outrageous and unusual anomalies and oddities. You'll see things that shouldn't be.
Step right up for a close look at Nature's Mistakes!
RIPLEY RADIO ODDCAST
The Sideshow Gathering proudly welcomes TIM O'BRIEN of RIPLEY RADIO, who will be recording all weekend for the next Ripley Radio Oddcast and taking photographs for Ripley's Believe It or Not!
Ripley Radio — An On-Demand Oddcast picks up where Robert Ripley left off 62 years ago. For the first time since Robert Ripley signed off his CBS Radio Show in 1947, Ripley's Believe It or Not! is back on the airwaves with a new weekly, hour-long program. Ripley's new radio hour is a journey through the weird, wacky, whimsical, wild, and totally unbelievable world of the odd, strange and unusual. Each show provides listeners with amazing and absolutely true tales of today as well as unbelievable facts culled from the extensive archives of the company that has been freaking out families for more than 90 years!
SIDESHOW GATHERING QUOTES
The Sideshow Gathering is a one-of-a-kind cavalcade of astonishing talent, history, and artistry. It's the only place in the country where you can witness such a range of practitioners, both old and new, of a form of entertainment that is the very definition of extraordinary. You are guaranteed to see things that you never imagined, and will never forget. — Stephon Walker (a.k.a., Swami YoMahmi)
The shows are mostly gone from carnivals as are all the old showmen's clubs, and it's the era of the new vaudeville, the new burlesque, the new sideshow, the new variety entertainment. And before just a few years ago, those showfolk had no such clubs, no such associations, no such home. The annual Sideshow Gathering in Wilkes-Barre is the showmen's club for all of variety's future. — James Taylor of Shocked and Amazed!
We live in a day and age of multimillion dollar special effect entertainment be it Pirates of the Caribbean or Vegas. However, there is nothing like being in the small audience of a real sideshow and feeling the heat from the torch of the fire-eater, watching a glass eater's act knowing there is no trick photography, knowing that the performers have real tattoos that don't wash off. No other entertainment can match the sideshow for that. — Dick Zigun, founder of the Coney Island Circus Sideshow, and recipient of the Sideshow Gathering's 2006 Ambassador of Wonder Award
The Sideshow Gathering is the Switzerland of this illegitimate entertainment. It provides a neutral ground for some of the most entertaining egos to gather. It is the only place on Earth where you will get tired of watching someone nail a spike directly into their head. — Keith Nelson of The Bindlestiff Family Cirkus
I'm still humbled by the other performers and the different ways that they present their acts to the public. For my opinion, we as performers are a family. — Sword swallower Red Stuart
The Side Show Gathering is a must for all aficionados of human oddities and performers of the strange and weird! Today's performers of the unusual entertain and amaze. Yesterday's ‘greats’ share past history and experiences with newcomers. It's a three-day adventure like no other I know. — Walt Hudson in Circus Report
It is Christmas, your birthday and your first kiss all rolled up into one great weekend! The Sideshow Gathering is the greatest gathering of freaks (and the folks who love them) in the history of entertainment. If you're a fan of the odd, bizarre and unusual — or if you just plain love a good time — the Sideshow Gathering is the place to be! — Kathleen Kotcher, editor of Shocked and Amazed!