Just Who the Hell Do You Think You ARE?!?!

What criteria does someone base their judgement on to call themselves “the World’s largest and greatest touring circus sideshow?” Another group refers to themselves as “one of America’s last travelling sideshows?” (the misspelling is theirs). A venue advertises an upcoming show with “magicians, circus performers and freaks.” Another venue promises itself as “a signature entertainment staple of the twenty-first century” by featuring such performers and acts.

One should expect a certain amount of bravado and posturing from ANY performer – from (just about everyone) saying they are “bigger than the Beatles,” to claiming to top box office records with every single release. It is TO BE EXPECTED —


There is this point of ridiculousness. Where you are totally just talking out of your ass. Which no one should really care EXCEPT when it starts affecting people’s bottom line. But even then – even in our own punkrock/DIY way – we know that that is PART of it, you know? Part of “getting in people’s faces” and “raising a rucus” or whatever – say what you want when you want, yada yada yada.

Bravado and posturing is part of the history of sideshow, freak show and circus — most famously shown by P.T. Barnum. A fair amount of hokum was always par for the course. But, the thing is, HISTORICALLY that is part of it. But that’s history. The past.

Audiences are far more sophisticated now. No kidding.

In recent conversations with freak & sideshow greats Harley Newman (famous for lying on a single nail bed) and James Taylor (Shocked & Amazed: On & Off the Midway), we all agreed it’s tougher to pull that kind of B.S. on an audience who can use their smartphone while in the audience DURING the show to see if one’s claims are true! When the audience can get on YouTube (possibly during one’s show), and see OTHER – possibly better – performers doing the same stunt…

Acts have to be put in context. Being entertaining is the key…


In many conversations that we have had with other companies, troupes and individuals who do what FreakShow Deluxe does, we come across a similar point:  When a venue, whatever it may be, brings in a (say) crappy rockabilly band and it bombs, they do not stop bringing in rockabilly bands. They write off the crappy group and try someone else. But if said venue brings in a crappy side/burlesque/variety-type show and it bombs, they say, “We tried this show, it failed. No more.” And they don’t allow such a show there again.

Is that fair? No. Does it make sense? Not really. But it does happen…

FreakShow Deluxe is artistic, sure, but it is also a blue-collar, hard-working group of folks. We have worked very hard over the past 10 years to build a good product and reputation of being both professional AND entertaining. It’s been hard – but we think it is working … FSD has been growing at a steady pace each year.

But it sure feels like a set back when we approach a venue and are told, “We had so & so group in here, and it was a disaster. Those shows don’t work here.” Or when a venue or event producer/promoter saw so & so and an event and hated it so much that they won’t bring OUR show into THEIR venue.

When “the World’s largest and greatest touring circus sideshow” actually doesn’t even HAVE a group or show to be promoting, but does it anyway. When “one of America’s last travelling sideshows?” is nothing of the kind – there are a fair amount of traveling sideshows out there – do your research!!

That venue advertising “magicians, circus performers and freaks” never bothered to hire any such performers – putting on their ads that if any such performers showed up ready to perform they would get “free admission to the event” (our understanding: none came). Another venue promising such performers and acts couldn’t deliver, either.

This isn’t just bravado — it is blatant false advertising.


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