Partying With Freakshow Performers at the Cannibal Circus

By Xerxes Praetorius Horde

clownThe days of rock ‘n roll excess are over. The decadence of the 80’s LA glam metal scene will forever be legend. The energy and bitter social upheaval of the original 1970’s punk scene can never be duplicated.  Gone are the days when a record company throws thousands, even millions, at a young inexperienced group of musicians full of energy and mischief only to see it devoured by the black hole of vice and self destruction.

Gone are the days of innocence when we pondered…did Ozzy really bite the head off a bat? Did Alice Cooper really eat his own shit on stage? Did Gene Simmons have a tongue transplant? Did Keith Richards really snort his dad’s ashes?

It’s all over. Gene Simmons is a family man, Dani Filth is on TV gameshows, and Henry Rollins is a motivational speaker. Rock has finally matured. No more crazy shit.  Right?

Back in 2009/2010, at the height of the New Jacobin Club’s era of stage shows with our largest ever touring group including the Angry Teeth Freakshow, I would frequently get asked “What’s it like on the road with the New Jacobin Club and freakshow?” This question often went hand in hand with – “you’re not all like this offstage too, right? Because that would be insane…”

Indeed it would. First, a bit of background if you aren’t familiar with the legendary Angry Teeth Freakshow. Beginning as a duo who broke away from the larger Rogues Gallery freakshow, the AT eventually expanded to 4 performers in 2009 (Rima the Birdgirl, Firecrotch Jones, Raunchy Raybees, Poon Puncher). This is when the NJC and AT toured the Canadian prairies performing the “Cannibal Circus Roadshow,” a spectacle who’s climax featured a really nasty and messy stunt best described as barbaric lesbian cannibalism performed ceremoniously on a bed of machetes. It was on this tour we also began a few signature stunts on stage that we’ve kept until today – setting the microphone stands on fire, pretty girl hammering a nail into her skull, fire breathing, fire eating, and the outrageous Angry Teeth specialty – flaming staple tag.

Never heard of it? It’s when you play tag with staple guns – in this case, Rima and Jones would take turns stapling cute valentine’s cards or messages on to each other in provocative – I mean strategic – areas. Loser gets all the little scraps of paper stapled to her set on fire. Did I mention these were made of flash paper? No? Well that makes them go up in flames quite explosively.

It takes a special kind of crazy to do this sort of show.  Not the carefully calculated crazy of a professional sword swallower who chokes down a 2 foot broadsword, and not the concentration or determination of a torture freak who drives sharp objects through his arms and tongue. Nope. This is pure insanity with the added thrill of potential chaos.

I used to have a theory that performing this show was like being a wild starving dog chained to a post and told not to eat the meat dangling just out of his reach.  You did this because that’s what people wanted to see. Of course, after the show is over, the dog is released and hungrily tears the meat to shreds.

After the show is over, potential chaos becomes realized chaos.

In our case, not the attractive sort of chaos that the beautiful, rich or famous enjoy. This was not 1987, this was 2009. And we were a 10 piece horror rock show on the road in Western Canada, not Motley Crue partying on Sunset Strip.  Aftershow activities ranged from sitting in a hotel room staring and wondering at the dried reddish brown splatter on the ceiling to finding out that two of our entourage are being questioned by police outside the club about “two clowns carrying a cattle prod around in public.”

“No, officer, we just found this lying here by the alley.”

“So you’re telling me that there must be two other girls dressed as clowns that were running around the clubs on this strip with a cattle prod?”

“Yes, officer.”

The police let them go. This actually happened.

On another occasion the majority of the female portion of our ensemble decided to go swimming at particularly ritzy hotel’s rooftop pool. At least one or two were in costume. I came out to see when they were going to come back in as this was late in the afternoon before a show, and saw that they were beginning to attract a small following of older gentleman staying at the hotel for an international convention on city planning or architecture or something. The few that I spoke briefly with were all from Europe. Need I say they were more than thrilled to be invited to our show that evening?

The show was a blast – the doors to the club were locked around 2:00am with a raging party still inside. Present were members of another widely known freakshow (minor TV celebrities), some of the older European businessmen from the hotel, friends from other bands that made the trip into the big city for our show, even the tow-truck driver that dragged our cargo van into town (that in itself is another story entirely). That night we gave away nearly every copy of the limited edition ep of cover songs we were promoting  to everyone in attendance (you can download the NJC’s cover of Killing Joke’s “Love Like Blood” for free right here).   Decadence, Western Canadian style.

RatKing and I returned to the hotel from the club, not knowing the time, at 7 am the following morning. I half stalked, half staggered across the spacious lobby in full stage costume & makeup with a drink in my hand. Something was wrong. I stopped, looked around, and noticed that a lot of people were looking at us. Families checking in, businessmen checking out to catch flights, among them a couple of the conferance attendees.

I stopped halfway across the shiny marble floor of the lobby and for reasons I can’t explain I put my drink down on the floor.

“Sorry,” I announced.

Then we quietly completed our walk to the elevator to go up to one of the uncomfortably crowded hotel rooms.

RoTT ‘N RoLL

 

(you can watch a full-length New Jacobin Club/Angry Teeth Freakshow concert as well as a ton of extra interviews and documentary footage on the DVD “Inside the Cannibal Circus”)

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