Once again the Annual Sideshow Gathering took place over Labor Day weekend in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. I say it every year — but this time I mean it, so I'll say it again:
"If you were not at the Sideshow Gathering,
you should be kicking yourself." Why? It's a whole holiday weekend of sideshow mayhem! It's the only convention of its kind and
features the top performers from the sideshow world.
Dick Zigun, founder of Coney Island's Sideshow by the Seashore received the 2006 Ambassador of Wonder award.
The strange, the unusual and the freakish took center stage at the 5th Annual Sideshow Gathering.
Showmen from across the country congregated in Wilkes-Barre to celebrate the giddy thrills and forbidden mysteries of
the circus and carnival sideshow. Over the holiday weekend, carnies swapped lies (or “cut up
jackpots”, as they say), performed outrageous feats of physical daring – and allowed the public
Firefly and Insectavora catching up
Playing to a packed house all weekend, performers at the 5th Annual Sideshow Gathering included: New York’s Bindlestiff Family
Cirkus; Sideshow Bennie, the One-man Ten-in-one;
The Pickled Brothers; Natasha Veruschka, Queen of Swords (rebounding from a catastrophic accident last autumn that left her in traction);
Matt the Knife; Todd “Carnival Knowledge” Robbins; Ses Carny;
John Shaw, and a surprise appearance by Doc Wilson. Additionally, for the Thursday night 'insider's party', the entire cast of Coney Island's Sideshow by the Seashore graced the stage.
In addition to the performers, vendors such as Shocked and Amazed!, Big Head Studio, and Toni-Lee Sangastiano were on hand to display hand-painted banners, two-headed animals, pickled kittens and freakshow memorabilia.
Sideshow by the Seashore
The kids from Coney Island kicked off the weekend's festivities
Heather Holiday, world's youngest female (and Mormon) sword swallower
Down the hatch
Scott Baker mental flosses with a reservoir-tip “Coney Island whitefish”
Insectavora climbs the ladder of swords
Serpentina and her dance partner
Roc Roc It gives Howie Mandell a run for his money
Todd Robbins selects a hapless lightbulb...
... devours it ...
... and washes it down with a healthy swig of Windex®. M-mmmm!
Staple gun + legal tender = a hard way to make an easy living
Ses earns his money the old-fashioned way: with a staple gun
The Pickled Brothers Sideshow
A bit of audience participation
The Pickled Brothers offered up sword swallowing, dangerous juggling, a whip act, and a bed of nails routine that is a real crowd pleaser.
Snapping a flower from the mouth of the lovely Susan with a bullwhip
Eric juggles machetes from a precarious perch on top the bed of nails — and under a low ceiling
Ouch... but wait! There's more!
800 pounds of humanity pins Travis to his bed of nails
Human pincushion weight lifting
John Shaw skewers himself with pins (drawing a large quantity of blood in the process) and then lifts a heavy object.
Pele, James Taylor and Firefly enjoy the spectacle on stage
The Great Red Stuart Sword Raffle
Red talks, Natasha drops
This year, Red Stuart announced that from this point forward he would annually draw a name from a hat and bestow one of his swords on a
working sword swallower. It just so happened that this year's recipient was Natasha Veruschka — so the affair was one Guinness World Record®
holder to another.
...and again, so Red can actually see it happening
Tassle-twirler in training
Sideshow Bennie raises the sexual tension a notch with the display of his new pasties (courtesy of Pele).
Mr. Chuckles laughs in the face of danger
The many facets of Sideshow Bennie:
He can't swallow a sword, but a glow stick goes down nice and easy. Oh, the colors, children!
Getting more iron in his system, via tongue...
... and nipples.
Matt the Knife
Handcuffed and vacuum-sealed for freshness
Friday night's performance was interrupted by a bomb threat (no, really). But if Matt doesn't perform, the terrorists win; so he returned to the stage on Saturday night.
Bound with hand- and thumbcuffs and wrapped in a plastic bag attached to a vacuum cleaner, Matt the Knife
escapes from the airless deathtrap.
The Bindlestiff Family Cirkus
Straight from the Catskills
Stephanie Monseu's alter-ego Lil graces the stage
Top notch act
Keith Nelson (a.k.a. Mr. Pennygaff) under the big top
Mr. Pennygaff simultaneously swallows a sword and juggles machetes
Col. Hunsley's two-headed turtle Mojo happily floats in its
Stephanie Monseu and Firefly and Matt the Knife and Kate Mundie chatting during Saturday night's after-hours auction.
If you like what you see here, you'd better make sure you get to the 6th Annual Sideshow Gathering in 2007.