WARNING: ABSOLUTELY do not try to attempt and/or re-creat any of the mentioned sideshow feats/acts featured within this review! All were executed by professional artistic performers, blogspot readers.
Also portions of this review may offend and/or upset the mind as well as stomach - so read at your own risk ...you have been thoroughly warned ~ SouthSide
"...come to the circus ...the greatest show on earth..."
Cecil B. DeMille's The Greatest Show on Earth (1952)
Psst ...hey, kid, wanna see something so freakishly amazing ...something so grossly fascinating that it will make your hair stand up from excitemet or fright? Something that will astound the mind and senses ...perhaps make you lose your cotton candy too? Wanna meet an array of colorful sideshow characters like a human lunchbox who eats anything ...a sword swallowing beauty (no touching either, sonny) ...a strong man built like a Titan and more? You do? Cool! Then, come this way, kid, inside the Reggie's Rock Club big top where the Victorian Age of vaudeville/carnival sideshow acts are re-created once again during this performance of Gearbox Fantastique II. Presented by Steampunk Chicago and The Squidling Brothers Circus Sideshow and hosted by Jellyboy T. Clown, join a crowd of fashionably stylished and costumed people wearing the best attire to impress from steampunk to Victorian and swing era to be dazzled as well as shocked by feats of unbelievably incredible acts from sideshow performers of Squidling Brothers Circus Sideshow and Deadmans Carnival. Not to be outdone by the sideshow acts, the music entertainment for your listening pleasure consists of intense industrial/electro-steampunk by a local villainous gang known as V Is For Villains and a lively but sad funeral march band from North Carolina, Hellblinki. And making a rare appearance after sailing the seven seas, matey, meet the one and only pancake obsessive pirate, Thee Bluebeard who will entertain the lovely wenches and lads with some charismatic charm during his comedy talk show (which featured an in depth interview with Chicago's very own Washer Woman and Luna). Between these amazing acts, there will be music by DJs like Shawn Gaston and Inspector General as well as others from Lords and Ladies DJs to keep your feet dancing to their steampunk/industrial/swing/remixes. Plus ...visit the many vendors participating or get your fortunes told upstairs in the balcony. Hurry ...hurry ...step inside and your imagination run wild ...if you dare, kid. The human oddities and bands of Gearbox Fantastique II are waiting for you...
That's right ...enter this way, kid ...don't be afraid of that chill crawling down your back. That's just Deadmans Carnival taking center ring as this traveling troupe from Milwaukee, WI, officially welcomes you to Gearbox Fantastique II. According to Professor Pinkerton Xyloma (no relation to that other Pinkerton fella and his detectives, kid), his vaudevillian gang started from scratch as street performers since "...no one [was] doing vaudeville or burlesque up there ...finding what's entertaining and what's not..." Deadmans Carnival during Gearbox amazed the crowd with two separate acts of daring feats of acrobatic skill by Travis Green and human strength (and more) by Titano. First, give this man some room folks as Travis will astound you by descending down the steps from Reggie's balcony towards the stage. Easy, you say, kid? How about doing this while in an upside down, hand stand position ...not so easy now, huh? Oh yeah, forgot to mention one thing about this amazing person you're watching as he slowly descends towards the stage - our performer has spina bifida. Yet that doesn't stop him from lifting his young daughter (Zoe) on his back, kid. Besides amazing you with his walking across a ladder suspended high between two barstools, Travis will do a patriotic salute to the American flag by becoming a human flag! Moving onward, kid, meet Deadmans Carnival's strongman Titano who will astound you with his feats of incredible human strength. For example, take this ordinary license plate and watch the amazing Titano rip it apart as if he's ripping a flimsy sheet of paper! WOW ...he'll even turn your 10inch frying pan into a burrito of steel, ma'am! Now watch him stake that nail into a piece of board with his bare hand ...but you probably think that's too easy, huh, sir? Well, try staking that same board with frying pan of rubbing alcohol lit on fire ...and yes, it will be accomplished WITHOUT any injury and/or scarring to the hand. How amazing is that, folks? Lastly he will stun you how strong his body strength can be by lifting a chained ball (about the size and weight of 5lb to 10lb bowling ball) with his nose ...and then lift Travis Green off the floor with his teeth! Want to see more of Deadmans Carnival, folks? Go to Mirmar Theather (located in Milwaukee, WI) where there will be magic, burlesque, fire and more every first Friday of the month starting May 4 until Nov 2. For more information, visit http://www.deadmanscarnival.com.
"...Fallon Flynn is rubbish..." ~ Fallon Flynn of V Is For Villains
Now move this way, folks, to meet the REAL "super" heroes of tonight's circus sideshow extravaganza as they villainize you with their fusion of steampunk/electro-industrial sound. This show can get very intense yet that's what you can expect from this local band - V Is For Villains. Resistance if futile as the villainous gang of masked musicians will assault the ears with a loud electrifying crescendo build-up (featuring electric cello rhythms) led by Mr. Agitator, the band's ringmaster. Be prepared to feel the hot sensuality of V's steampunk sound amidst the electric momentum of the hardcored industrial guitar music that will have you banging your head to songs like Broken Doll, Everybody Hates Me and Evolve or Die. Villainy does run rampant amongst our heroes especially while the band's fearless leader emphatically vocalizes a fierce voice of raw emotion over the microphone. For example, during Rise Above, you shall feel the venomous heat from the words of this Villains' anthem course throughout your veins, folks. Once you start singing the pledge heard in the chorus, there's no turning back. Yet there's also a "softer" side to the villainous sound whenever female member Veronica Jade (on keyboards) and her voice seductively woos and coos countering Mr. Agitator's fierceness as heard during Just A Man. And don't forget, folks, with featured vocals like that, you can definitely be sure the music will be equally as momentous and intense amidst the band's dazzling electronica vibe. No ...you're not seeing things. Yes, those were Pink Elephants (one evilly demented Disney cover with a hauntingly creepy electronica/industrial sound) floating by in their bubble parade. Want to be a part of this villainous gang? Visit http://www.visforvillains.com for more recruitment details.
Okay, folks, moving right along ...there's so much left to see and do at Gearbox Fantastique II yet our time together grows incredibly short. Towards your left of the V Is For Villains sideshow stage, you will encounter the next troupe of sideshow performers eagerly waiting to astound and entertain with their amazing feats of human strength, oddities and more. Watch Matterz Squidling as he lays on top of a bed of real spikes, folks, that will soon be turned into a human see-saw featuring the lovely Betty Bloomerz and Jellyboy T. Clown riding it. Don't worry, ma'am, he won't feel a thing or have any puncture wounds on his back. Now watch him climb up these short flight of steps but they're not just any ordinary flight of steps, kid. Yes, folks, those are actually razor sharp machete blades under his bare feet ...now observe him playing a little carnival tune on his trombone before snapping this mouse trap on his tongue ALL while standing precariously on these blades! Look at that - not a single scratch or mark on the soles of his feet. Next, meet Lunchbox, Squidling's only artist whose performance that can be defined as "...distrubing and silly..." at the same time, folks. You're probably wondering what makes his Squidling show disturbing and silly ...caution if you have a weak stomach, stop reading now and move onto the next paragraph. Well, this performer lifts stuff with his scrotum, lays on a bed of barbed wire and eats really, REALLY gross stuff. Please, remember, kid, DO NOT attempt at home especially when re-create the human sandwich featuring Lunchbox on the bottom while laying on his astroturf of terror, in the middle - some burlesque rubber chickens flown just in time for tonight's show from Las Vegas, then Matterz Squidling on top with his bed of nails and finally, Penquin Man topping the sandwish. Not a single scratch to eithr performer, folks, isn't that amazing?! After getting a cider block (that was on top of his scrotum)whacked by a sledge hammer, watch Lunchbox rest so peacefully on his barbed wire bed (wire that was cut from a school fence near his Long Island home) as Jellyboy chops a vegan sausage (a cucumber, your dirty prudes) in half on his stomach. Please, don't faint, ma'am or you'll miss the mellon being cut in half as well - yes, that was real food being chopped in half on his stomach without causing any harm or injury to him. Okay, folks, who's hungry? Does anyone want to share a can of Alpo Dog food with our Lunchbox here? Or how about a cookie dipped in steak sauce after being rubbed against his balls? Anyone? Aw, sorry, Lunchbox, no wants to share your dinner with you. Or would you like to try a protein cocktail, sir? Oops, should have warned you that it's his own protein (ie semen) you're drinking from that cup ...clean up in the front row!
Terribly sorry for grossing you out, folks, but now feast your eyes on the lovely beauty stepping onto stage as she eats steel and contorts her body into bending positions. Betty Bloomerz, the woman born with rubber bones, can easily swallow things from a wire hanger to razor sharp swords with ease down her throat ...wow, look at that - not a single drop of blood on the blades! She can also eat two swords at the same time as well as swallow a double-edge blade ...still NO blood when pulled out. Cast your eyes ons the Chinese excution box of death where our Betty will be laying inside. Notice there are NO secret compartments or traps to aid her in this next act, folks, when the blades of death are randomly placed around our lovely beauty. And, she has NO clue beforehand where the next blade will be placed next as they trap her inside. Step right up on stage and view Betty Bloomerz twisted in so many different directions inside this box (and yes, she was actually inside the box and contorted to the many blade positions). After escaping this death-defying trap, she will now amaze you with her taste for the hot flames on a stick. She certainly enjoys her fire diet, doesn't she? Question - who is stronger ...Lunchbox or Penquin Man? Watch the following act to discover the answer, everyone, as Penquin Man attaches heavy weights to his ears while Lunchbox attaches his weights to his balls (that's right, ma'am, I said balls ...testicles). Hm, it looks to be a tie ...and the only way to break it is to have a tug-o-war - ears versus scrotum! Ah, the suspense is murder. Who will win this round as both men pull and tug until... Well, it seems both are equally strong as well as demented, folks. Before Penquin Man leaves us, he will now demonstrate what's it like being a human blockhead. Of course, sir, he's all about being safe during this Squidling show ...see that latex condom covering the nail as he pounds it into the center of his skull. Tah dah - (can't reveal how it's done) but he does chew out the condom and more importantly, the nail doesn't have a single drop of blood on it. Our last Squidling performance involves more amazing human oddity featuring Jellyboy T. Clown drinking soda not with his mouth but through a straw up his nose, folks, which further reinforces his motto - "waste not want not". Still this sidewhow performer has other unique talents like doing a "reverse abortion" where he'll show you what he had for breakfast this morning ...and one of you lucky audience members gets to eat it! Aw, you made our clown cry since no one wants what he had that you have made him shove the barrel of gun down his throat before bending over to take his stage bow. Now for his final act, we invite you back on stage to staple the clown ...yes, folks, I said staple the clown. For a small donation to help keep this circus sideshow running, you can use this real stapler containing real staples to attach one dollar or any dollar amount to this clown. Observe Titano stapling his money onto Jellyboy's chest while Jelly holds the microphone so you can hear the sound of the staple punching into his bare skin. That's right, sir, staple his armpit ...ah, welcome, m'lord Baron - yes, you can staple that onto his hip ...he won't feel a thing. Plenty of skin, folks, that's begging to be stapled ...for a crisp $100 dollar bill, our clown will let you staple it to his balls (note - actually that did happen live on stage when a woman stapled a $20 dollar bill onto his balls upon reaching the totaled amount of $100 dollars). Someone get this woman some smelling salts - quick! If ya want to see more of Squidling Brothers Circus Sideshow (from PA), visit http://www.myspace.com/squidlingbrothers.
Move along quickly, folks, time inside Gearbox Fantastique II is fading fast ...on your right, you'll see a lively trio of musicians dressed in drab vaudevillian funeral attire. Say "hello" to Hellblinki as they entertain the ears with upbeat tempos amidst an eclectic gypsy/folk alternative rock sound though having a sad and/or haunting disposition within their songs. Yet this rockin' band refuses to take themselves (or life) seriously, folks, now when they're Rising A Rukus Tonight. And they definitely will as that creepy carnival/gypsy rhythms grab a hold of you (as heard in the opening song - Breaking Everything) or taht quick-pace tempo inside a two-step beat which gets your feel swept into a jig (during Julian's Junk). There's nothing like Hellblinki's use of simplisitic, artisan tone and whimsical lyrics throughout the performance to have you immediately enjoying the comedic vibe. Why don't you join this band in a Zombie Slow Dance, folks, where you, the audience, get to dance like zombies within a waltz-like tempo as the lovely female vocalist regal the ears with her Disney princess (sounding almost like Ariel) voice. Doesn't it sem rather odd that they should be quite "happy" for a funeral march band especially when performing the song Doing It All For You (off Hellblinki's 7 inch vinyl record)? Stil this trio is all about fun ...or are they while warning you youngsters - Don't Go Down To The Woods Tonight? What's in the woods, you ask, can't tell you but listen very closely to the lyrics and heed their advice unlike that Johnson kid who didn't and... Well, that's enough scaring the britches off your keister, folks, for the night after enjoying this gypsy/rock band. For more information about Hellblinki, visit http://www.hellblinki.com.
Arrgh, you need to walk up the gang plank, folks, to meet our last and final Gearbox sideshow character for the night. Not to worry, he won't make you walk the plank over some hungry sea creatures or plunder your town for booty ...this pirate is quite harmless and has a mad obsession for pancakes. The one and only comedic swashbuckler of the seven seas - Thee Bluebeard who does "...improve comedy talk show..." Why a talk show? Well, it seems he's "...interested in what people have to say..." no matter if it's boring, he'll make it seem interesting to the rest of us. And about those pancakes he loves so much - he doesn't get them at the local iHop or Denny's (according to him - they are not real pancakes) ...the best only come from his galley (kitchen) where his fair Lady G makes them for him. Fashionably dressed as you see in his blue kilt, fine blue peacock plummage and other pirate things, Bluebeard will be chatting briefly with Professor and Reverend Captain Flint about mustaches and who's the strongest man between them. Before inviting some of you fromt he audience to join him on stage, our resident pirate is a strong literacy advocate, folks, and highly suggests you read one of his favorite books - Where The Wild Things Are. Ah, it appears he has chosen two lovely wenches to join him on stage tonight - Luna and VVasher VVoman but sadly there's not enought time to spend and really get better acquainted with the beauties. Our time here definitely sailed fast when having pirate fun with Thee Bluebeard. He wants you to know that he's a regular at Renassiance Faires as well as travels the country for shows ...you might even catch him a ship around Navy Pier too. Want to learn more about Bluebeard, visit him at http://www.theebluebeard.com, matey. As you move about the sideshow area, folks, be sure to stop and visit our local craftsmen and vendors like A Mouse For Tea (whimsical taxidermy featuring real stuffed mice) who are a visible part and support Steampunk Chicago. There's a best attire contest happening right now in which you can win unique, one of a kind prizes. Also meet one other person who's a part of Steampunk scene - Inspector General whose DJ music involves a "...electro swing gypsy house dance..." sound. Dressed in his grandfather's pant and with a "Occupy Japan" pin on his lapel, this Dj will be releasing a mixed tape featuring electro-swing/steampunk/dance music as well as another project he collaborated coming out by the end of summer on the Grand Central label. You'll be able to find it iTunes and more.
Our journey through this Gearbox Fantastique II has come to an end ...but don't despair, folks, there's always some form or fashion of a Gearbox happening around town again soon. Visit http://www.steampunkchicago.com for more information and where another version of this will be happening soon.
Until next time, support your local scene and circus sideshow performers,