METROFOCUS: JULY 18, 2019

July 19, 2019 at 5:30 am

Sword-swallowers, fire breathers, and “natural borns” are just a few of the performers who make up the Coney Island Circus Sideshow. Tonight, Metrofocus has your backstage pass to a community that is filled with a rich history and legacy dating back nearly 100 years. This episode… is not for the faint at heart.

Aired on July 18, 2019.

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TONIGHT ON "METROFOCUS," A
SPECIAL SUMMERTIME EDITION AT
THE CONEY ISLAND SIDESHOW.
SO STEP RIGHT UP AND COME ON IN.
"METROFOCUS" HAS YOUR FRONT ROW
SEAT TO SOME OF NEW YORK'S MOST
ECCENTRIC AND UNIQUE
PERFORMANCES FILLED WITH A RICH
HISTORY AND A LEGACY DATING BACK
NEARLY 100 YEARS, THIS SIDESHOW
BY THE SEASHORE IS NOT FOR THE
SQUEAMISH OR THE FAINT OF HEART.
SO JOIN US FOR THIS BACKSTAGE
PASS TO THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF
FREAKS, WONDERS AND HUMAN
CURIOSITIES THAT WILL SURELY
AMAZE YOU.
THOSE STORIES AND MORE AS
"METROFOCUS" STARTS RIGHT NOW.
§
>> THIS IS "METROFOCUS" WITH
RAFAEL PI ROMAN, JACK FORD, AND
JENNA FLANAGAN.
>> "METROFOCUS" IS MADE POSSIBLE
BY
JAMES AND MERRYL TISCH,
SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III,
THE SYLVIA A. AND SIMON B. POYTA
PROGRAMING ENDOWMENT TO FIGHT
ANTI-SEMITISM.
BERNARD AND IRENE SCHWARTZ,
ROSALIND P. WALTER,
BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG,
AND BY --

§
THE AMUSEMENT INDUSTRY BEGINS IN
CONEY ISLAND.
CONEY ISLAND INVENTED THE HOT
DOG.
CONEY ISLAND INVENTED THE ROLLER
COASTER.
CONEY ISLAND INVENTED SOFT ICE
CREAM.
CONEY ISLAND INVENTED THE AWFUL
AMERICAN HABIT OF FAST FOOD, OF
EATING IN THE STREET, BLAME
CONEY ISLAND, BUT UNDERSTAND THE
IMPORTANCE OF CONEY ISLAND.
AS A SID I WOULD DEVOW
DOCUMENTARIES ABOUT CONEY I LAND
AND BOOKS ABOUT CONEY ISLAND
LOOKING AT BOOKS WITH PICTURES
LIKE WOW.
>> HISTORIC CONEY ISLAND, OH, MY
GOSH, IT'S MIND GOGGLING.
YOU CAN'T COMPARE IT TO THIS
CONEY ISLAND.
>> IT HAS SO MUCH HISTORY,
CIRCUS, SIDESHOW, MAGIC,
AMUSEMENT PARKS, THE BIRTH OF
THE ROLLER COASTER, ONE OF THE
MOST FAMOUS EVER BUILT IS THE
CYCLONE AND IT'S STILL UP AND
RUNNING.
>> YOU'RE A KID IS THE BEST
BACKYARD IN THE WORLD.
I GOT THE OCEAN RIDES AND A
SIDESHOW?
I MEAN COME ON.
>> BROOKLYN USED TO BE A BOROUGH
THAT GOT NO RESPECT AND EVEN
WITHIN BROOKLYN, CONEY ISLAND
RARELY GOT RESPECT.
>> I THINK DICK SAGAN'S
OVERBLOWN MERMAID PARADES, HIS
SIDESHOW, ALL THE PROGRAMS AND
THE MUSEUM, I THINK IT
UNDERSCORED TO PEOPLE THAT THIS
WAS AN IMPORTANT PLACE.
WHERE /*.
WE'RE IMPORTANT FOR THE ARTS.
WE'RE IMPORTANT AS A
NEIGHBORHOOD.
WE'RE IMPORTANT AS A
DESTINATION.
>> YOU CAN COME ON IN AT ANY
TIME.
SO STOP ON BY, STEP RIGHT UP.
AND YOU WILL SEE THEM ALL LIVE
ON THE INSIDE.
>> SIDESHOW IS ALMOST LIKE A
SECRET SOCIETY.
BUT IT DOESN'T REALLY HAVE THE
RULES OF A SECRET SOCIETY.
IT JUST EXISTS AND THERE'S A
WHOLE BUNCH OF FREAKY AND
INTERESTING ARTISTS AND
PERSONALITIES WHO HANG OUT
AROUND HERE.
AND PEOPLE LOOK OUT FOR EACH
OTHER.
>> SIDESHOW WAS THE TENT OUTSIDE
OF THE CIRCUS, THE EXTRA
ATTRACTION FOR ONE MERE DOLLAR.
>> SO WE ARE THE EXTRA
ATTRACTION THAT'S NOW IN A UNIT
ITSELF.
>> IF THEY'VE SEEN THE SIDESHOW,
IF THEY ALSO COME TO THE MUSEUM,
I THINK IT PUTS CONEY ISLAND IN
A MORE SOPHISTICATED CONTEXT.
IT HAS TO REFLECT NEW YORK CITY
THE WAY TIMES SQUARE, CENTRAL
PARK, HARLEM REFLECTED NEW YORK
CITY.
AND THAT'S WHY WE DO IT.
>> CONEY ISLAND USA SIDESHOWS BY
THE SEASHORE RUNS A TEN IN ONE
CIRCUS SHOW, AND THAT'S TEN ACTS
FOR ONE LOW PRICE.
THE AUDIENCE THAT WE GET HERE IS
REALLY A CROSS SECTION OF WHAT
AMERICA IS.
AND YOU KNOW, WHAT AMERICA
SHOULD BE.
YOU'RE GETTING TOURISTS.
YOU'RE GETTING YOU KNOW, PEOPLE
WHO SPEAK ENGLISH, PEOPLE WHO
DON'T SPEAK ENGLISH, FAMILIES,
PUNKS, ADULTS, YOU KNOW IT, RUNS
THE GAMUT FROM YOU KNOW SOUP TO
NUTS HERE.
>> SIDESHOW FOR THE MOST PART
HAS GONE UNDERGROUND AND GONE
PUNK ROCK AND INDICATORING TO
THE WEIRD AND THE ADULTS BUT I
THINK THE MAGICAL THING ABOUT
THIS PLACE IS A LITTLE KID CAN
WATCH IT, AND IT'S FUNNY AND
IT'S ACCEPTABLE AND IT'S SHOWING
THEM SOMETHING WEIRD THAT'S ALSO
ACCEPTABLE.
>> IT'S CHEAPER THAN A MOVIE.
AND IT'S LIVE ENTERTAINMENT.
>> ESPECIALLY WHEN YOU'RE THIS
CLOSE TO THE STAGE.
THE FIRE EATER SPITS OUT A
FIREBALL, AND THE ENTIRE
AUDIENCE FEELS THE HEAT ON THEIR
FACE.
I MEAN, YOU KNOW IT'S REAL.
WHAT MAKES SOMEONE WANT TO
BECOME A PERFORMER?
THAT'S ANOTHER STORY.
>> MY NAME IS WENDI BLADES.
I'M FROM BROOKLYN, NEW YORK.
I'VE GOT A HEART OF GOLD AND A
STOMACH OF STEEL.
I'M A PROFESSIONAL SWORD
SWALLOWER.
I LOVE DANGEROUS ACTS I DO AND
HAVE DONE MANY DANGEROUS ACTS
ESPECIALLY HERE ON THIS STAGE IN
CONEY ISLAND.
YOU WAS A LITTLE BIT OF A WILD
CHILD.
I WAS A LITTLE BIT OF THE BLACK
SHEEP OF MY FAMILY, EVEN THOUGH
MY FATHER WAS THE ORIGINAL BLACK
SHEEP, BUT I WAS THE BLACK
SHEEP'S DAUGHTER.
MY FATHER, HE'S BEEN COMING HERE
SINCE HE WAS A CHILD.
AND NOW I'M HERE CARRYING ON A
LEGEND, FOURTH GENERATION NEW
YORKER, GREAT, GREAT, GREAT
MOTHER WAS ON THE MAY FLOWER.
HER LAST NAME IS INSCRIBED ON
ELLIS ISLAND.
>> WELL, TODAY I'M DOING
STRAITJACKET ALL DAY.
SO I'M GOING TO GET A LITTLE BIT
CRAZY AND WILD ON THE STAGE,
WHICH IS FUN FOR ME BECAUSE I
GET TO LET LOOSE AND BE THIS
LIKE INSANE CHARACTER.
>> I WOULD SAY HOUDINI WAS THE
FIRST ONE TO MAKE IT AN ACT.
WHAT'S REALLY AWESOME ABOUT
SIDESHOW AND CIRCUS IS THAT WE
REALLY ARE USING OUR BODIES.
IT'S REAL.
IT IS AS REAL AS IT GETS.
>> I WOULD HATE TO JUST STAND
HERE AND SWALLOW SWORD OFS FOR
AN AUDIENCE JUST HOW THEY WOULD
BACK IN THE DAY.
SO THAT'S THE MODERN TAKE ON
WHAT I DO IS I DON'T JUST
SWALLOW SWORDS FOR AN AUDIENCE.
I HAVE A STORY.
I HAVE A CHARACTER.
I HAVE A SONG.
I HAVE A DANCE.
I HAVE A SCRIPT.
I'VE ALWAYS, WAS A PERFORMER, I
JUST DIDN'T KNOW IT YET.
>> PEOPLE CALL ME JELLY BOY.
A LOT OF TIMES JELLY BOY THE
CLOWN.
BUT I'M ORIGINALLY FROM A LITTLE
TOWN CALLED SUFFERN, NEW YORK.
MY OLDER BROTHER, HE WAS A VERY
STRANGE SURREAL ARTIST.
AND PRETTY MUCH WHEN HE DIED, I
DEDICATED MY LIFE TO THE PURSUIT
OF THE STRANGE AND JUST DECIDING
TO FIND OTHER STRANGE PEOPLE
THAT FELT A LITTLE BIT ON THE
OUTSIDE AND BRINGING PEOPLE
TOGETHER TO CREATE A SPECTACLE
OR A SHOW.
SACRIFICES IS THINGS LIKE I
DON'T HAVE A NORMAL LIFE.
NOT THAT I REALLY WANTED A
NORMAL LIFE, BUT FOR INSTANCE,
I'M NOT MARRIED.
I DON'T HAVE ANY CHILDREN.
YOU KNOW, I DON'T HAVE A HOUSE.
I DON'T OWN ANYTHING.
I BASICALLY HAVE ALL THE THINGS
THAT I HAVE IN MY BAG.
THAT I TRAVEL WITH AROUND THE
WORLD AND THE ROAD IS MY HOME.
THINGS HAVE BEEN HAPPENING IN
HERE IN CONEY ISLAND SINCE THE
BEGINNING OF AMERICAN SIDESHOW.
SO I STARTED COMING AND I
STARTED GETTING CARRIED OUT WITH
THE ENTHUSIASM OF WHAT IT WAS
ALL ABOUT.
>> ON THE STAGE NOW, LIVE ON THE
OUTSIDE, IT'S SHE IS A FIRE
EATER.
SHE COMES TO US FROM DALLAS,
TEXAS.
>> MY NAME IS SAGE SOVEREIGN.
JUST GROWING UP I HAD A SUPER
MUSICAL HOUSEHOLD.
I WAS OBSESSED WITH GYMNASTICS,
OPERA AND CIRCUS AND SIDESHOW.
UPON MOVING TO NEW YORK, I FELT
REALLY LOST AS TO MY PATH AND
LOST AS TO WHAT I WANTED TO DO
AND SAY.
I REMEMBERED HOW PASSIONATE AND
EXCITED I WAS WHEN I PLAYED WITH
FIRE FOR THE FIRST TIME.
I REMEMBER THE POWER AND THE
ENERGY FROM IT AND HOW IT
BROUGHT ME REALLY INTO MY MYSELF
SO YEAH, NEW YORK CITY WAS WHEN
I LIKE OFFICIALLY DEDICATED
MYSELF TO REALLY LEARNING FIRE
AND REALLY PERFORMING.
I DON'T WANT TO JUST SHOW PEOPLE
A SERIES OF TRICKS.
I WANT PEOPLE TO EXPERIENCE AN
EMOTION.
SOMEONE CAME UP TO ME IN THE
FREAK BAR AFTER ONE OF MY SHOWS
AND THEY'RE LIKE, WHEN YOU.
ED I FELT LIKE ALL OF MY WORRIES
AND ALL OF MY BILLS AND
EVERYTHING THAT I WAS
EXPERIENCING JUST VARNISHED FROM
MY MIND I WAS SO PRESENT WITH
YOU.
WE'RE ALWAYS WANTING TO
TRANSPORT PEOPLE.
>> YOU KNOW HIM, WOLVERINE,
JUGGERNAUT.
>> YES.
>> YES.
WELL, THIS GUY IS ALL OF THOSE
PEOPLE WRAPPED UP INTO ONE
CONDENSED INTO THE BEAUTIFUL
BODY OF A MARSUPIAL.
HE IS THE ELECTRIC KOALA PRINCE.
THE VELVET CRAYON.
>> MY NAME IS VERY VET CRAYON.
I MOSTLY AM A MUSICIAN IN THE
SHOW.
§ IN A ROOM, THERE IS A MAN
>> BECAUSE I AM A NATURAL BORN
FREAK KIND OF WHATEVER I WANT TO
DO CAN BE CLASSIFIED AS
SIDESHOW.
>> A NATURAL BORN IN THE
SIDESHOW WORLD IS SOMEBODY BORN
WITH A DEFORMITY BUT WHEN WE
ACTUALLY HAVE BEEN DEBATING THIS
A BIT, WHAT THAT MEANS, SO BY
THE DEFINITION THAT I'VE BEEN
ADHERING TO I GUESS IS THAT A
NATURAL BORN DOESN'T NECESSARILY
MEAN SOMEBODY WITH A DISABILITY
THAT DOES SIDESHOW.
BECAUSE IN THE MODERN CULTURE,
SO MANY THINGS ARE CONSIDERED A
DISABILITY BUT WALKING OUT IN
THE WORLD, YOU'RE NOT A FREAK.
BEING A NATURAL BORN IS MORE
ABOUT PHYSICALLY LOOKING
DIFFERENT.
SO THAT WHEN WE LEAVE THE
SIDESHOW, WE STILL LOOK THIS
WAY.
>> MY BONES ARE A LITTLE LESS
DENSE THAN YOURS, SO THEY BREAK
JUST A LITTLE BIT EASIER.
WITH THAT SAID, THIS IS A
TRADITIONAL ACT.
WHAT TO EXPECT FROM BEFORE THE
1940s, IT'S CALLED AN AASK ME
ANYTHING.
>> I DO AN ACT WHERE I ALLOW THE
AUDIENCE TO ASK ME ANYTHING
AFTER I EXPLAIN MY DISABILITY TO
THEM.
I WAS JUST THINKING ABOUT WHAT
OLD SIDESHOW FREAK SHOW USED TO
BE ABOUT, AND IT WAS YOU KNOW, A
FREAK WOULD BE THERE AND YOU
COULD JUST TALK TO THEM AND YOU
KNOW, THEY SAY THAT SOME OF THEM
ARE LAUGHED AT, SURE, BUT SOME
OF THEM ARE VERY EDUCATED
PEOPLE.
NOT A LOT OF THEM BUT SOME OF
THEM WERE AND YOU COULD TALK TO
THEM AND LEARN ABOUT THEIR
DIFFERENCES AND EVERYTHING.
SO I WANTED TO SEE HOW TO DO
THAT IN THE MODERN DAY.
>> SOMETHING YOU ALWAYS WANTED
TO ASK SOMEBODY THAT WAS BORN
DIFFERENT BUT MIGHT HAVE BEEN
NERVOUS OF THEIR RESPONSE, TRUST
ME, THE GUY IN THE FREAK SHOW IS
NOT GOING TO JUDGE YOU.
>> YEAH, GO FOR IT.
>> HOW TALL ARE YOU?
>> I'M ABOUT THREE FEET TALL.
SHORTER.
LIKE THIS TALL IF I WAS STANDING
BUT I CAN'T DO THAT.
>> I THINK I ALWAYS KNEW I WAS
DIFFERENT IN SOME WAY, YOU KNOW?
AND I BROKE BONES A LOT BECAUSE
I GREW UP WITH BRITTLE BONES,
OSTEO-GENESIS IMPERFECTA AND IT
MEANS MY BONES ARE LESS DENSE
THAN EVERYONE ELSE'S, SO THEY
JUST BREAK EASIER.
MY BROTHER WAS ATHLETIC AND HE
RAN CROSS-COUNTRY, AND I WANTED
TO DO IT.
SO THEY FOUND ORGANIZATIONS NOW
KNOWN AS WHEELCHAIR SPORTS USA,
AND I GOT INVOLVED WITH THAT AND
THEN I STARTED TO SEE PEOPLE
WITH DISABILITIES AND THAT MADE
ME REALIZE I WAS DIFFERENT AND
THAT WAS A REALLY COOL THING.
>> ONE, TWO, THREE.
>> THE SIDESHOW WE DO IS RUN BY
THE RIGHT PEOPLE WITH THE RIGHT
EDUCATION.
>> I WRITE DOWN HOW MANY SHOWS
WE DID.
IT'S FUN TO KEEP A RECORD OF
THINGS.
>> SO WE HIRE DISABLED
PERFORMERS.
WE'RE AT THE FOREFRONT OF
ADVOCATING FOR DIVERSITY OF
DISABLED PERFORMERS.
SO A DPIS DES ABLED PERSON, YES,
CAN BE A DOCTOR, CAN BE A
LAWYER, BUT THEY CAN ALSO BE A
ROCK STAR IN THE CONEY ISLAND
CIRCUS SIDESHOW.
>> PEOPLE, A SAMPLE OF THE
MARVELOUS FREAKS YOU'LL SEE FOR
THE PRICE OF A SMALL THIN DIME.
>> AND IF THERE ARE QUESTIONABLE
THINGS IN THE HISTORY OF
SIDESHOW, WE DEAL WITH THAT
CAREFULLY, AND YOU HAVE TO TRUST
US.
WE'RE TRYING TO BREAK NEW
GROUND.
>> I REALLY DO THINK THIS PLACE
DOES TRY TO PROJECT PEOPLE WITH
DISABILITIES AS LIKE THE ROYALTY
OF SIDESHOW AND PUT US OUT THERE
IN A WAY THAT YOU KNOW IT'S,
HEY, WE'RE DIFFERENT AND THIS IS
A SAFE SPACE TO BE DIFFERENT.
>> I JUST AM A NATURAL BORN, AND
NO MATTER WHAT I DO, I'M GOING
TO BE ONE.
SO I JUST WANT TO BE GOOD FOR
CRIPPLES.
NOT NECESSARILY SIDESHOW, NOT
NECESSARILY FREAK SHOW, BUT GOOD
FOR MY PEOPLE AND MY MINORITY,
AND I THINK ONE WAY TO DO THAT,
MY OWN REVOLUTION, IS TO BE OUT
THERE AND BE IN PEOPLE'S EYES
AND BE LIKE WELL, HERE I AM
WHETHER YOU LIKE IT OR NOT.
I HOPE YOU LIKE IT.
>> YOU'VE SEEN IT ON TV.
NOW YOU HAVE TO SEE IT LIVE.
IT'S THE CONEY ISLAND SIDESHOW.
FREAKS, WONDERS, AND HUMAN
CURIOSITIES.
MERCY, WHAT A SHOW.
>> THE 1950s TO THE MID-1960s,
THIS WAS THE WONDERLAND CIRCUS
SIDESHOW WITH SOME OF THE FAMOUS
FREAKS AND UNUSUAL PERFORMERS
WHO ARE NOW IN THE SIDESHOW HALL
OF FAME, ACTUALLY WORKED IN THIS
BUILDING.
WE DID RENT THE BUILDING ON THE
BOARDWALK THAT'S NOW NATHAN'S ON
THE BOARDWALK.
AND WE WERE THERE FOR 11 YEARS.
>> YOU HAD JOHN BRADSHAW WHO WAS
THE TALKER.
YOU KNOW, BIG GUY, HEAVY GUY
WITH A DEEP SOUTHERN DRAWL.
AND HE WAS THE ONE WHO WAS
OUTSIDE ON THE STAGE AND HE
WOULD TRY TO GET YOU IN ON
THE -- YOU KNOW, I WAS JUST A
KID WHO WOULD COME WEEK, I WAS
LIKE A GROUPIE, WEEK AFTER WEEK
AFTER WEEK JUST BECAUSE I
THOUGHT IT WAS COOL.
>> MY BOSS DICK ZIGUN, I KNOW
HIM SINCE I'M 7, MY DAD MET HIM
AND STARTED WORKING WITH HIM AND
HE FELL IN LOVE WITH THE
SIDESHOW.
I USED TO WATCH IT ON THE
BOARDWALK.
I WAS TERRIFIED.
I USED TO HOLD ON TO MY FATHER'S
SWEATER AND I WAS SCARED TO COME
AND SEE MADAM TWISTO'S BLADE BOX
AND NOW I DO, MADAM TWISTO'S
BLADE BOX 35 TIMES A WEEK.
TALK ABOUT IRONY.
OR MAYBE THINGS THAT WERE MEANT
TO BE.
>> FRIENDS, WHAT DO WE DO WHEN
SOMETHING GETS STUCK?
>> PUSH IT.
>> PUSH IT HARDER, THAT'S RIGHT.
>> OKAY.
>> THANK YOU RANDOM DISEMBODIED
VOICE.
>> THE SIDESHOW WAS HERE OVER
100 YEARS AGO, DREAMLAND CIRCUS
SIDESHOW WAS ONE OF THEM.
MARIE ROBERTS THE BANNER
PAINTER, HER UNCLE LESTER WAS
THE OUTSIDE TALKER FOR THE
DREAMLAND CIRCUS SIDESHOW.
>> HER BANNERS ARE ALL ALONG THE
FRONT OF THE BUILDING, IN THE
INSIDE OF THE THEATER, INSIDE OF
THE BAR.
ALL OVER THE PLACE.
>> I GREW UP NOT ONLY SPEAKING
CARNEY BUT I GREW UP WITH ALL
THE SIDESHOW LORE THAT MY
FATHER, MY UNCLE AND HIS
BROTHERS SPOKE ABOUT.
I SAID I'M GOING TO CONEY ISLAND
TODAY.
THE BANNER THAT'S HANGING IN THE
CONEY ISLAND MUSEUM IN THE
CENTER IS MY UNCLE LESTER ON THE
LEFT, AND HE'S POINTING TO FIVE
OF HIS FRIENDS FROM THE
DREAMLAND CIRCUS SIDESHOW IN THE
1920s.
FOR ME, IT WAS KIND OF A WEAVING
TOGETHER OF BOTH HALVES OF MY
LIFE.
AND THE VERY WONDERFUL REALITY
THE TOULOUSE-LAUTREC REALITY I
HAVE NOW WHERE I CAN GO AND
WATCH THE SIDESHOW OVER AND OVER
AND OVER AND KEEP DRAWING AND
MAKING PAINTINGS AND PRINTS FROM
THEM.
IT STILL AMAZES ME TO LOOK OUT
THE WINDOW AND SEE PEOPLE ARE
STOPPING TO LOOK AT MY BANNERS
AND COMING INTO THE SHOW.
WHEN I MET DICK ZIGUN, IT SEEMED
LIKE I FOUND A TRIBE OF
LIKE-MINDED PEOPLE.
AND IT KIND OF GAVE ME A PLACE
TO BE AT HOME, A PLACE WHERE I
COULD BE ACCEPTED.
>> GIVES YOU A SENSE THAT YOU'RE
NOT ALONE AS STRANGE AS YOU ARE
OR AS WEIRD AS YOUR LIFE HAS
BECOME, YOU KNOW, YOU'RE IN THE
RIGHT PLACE.
>> NEXT SUNDAY FOR THEM, TODAY
IS MY LAST DAY.
YEAH.
>> YOU'RE GOING TO HAVE A GOING
AWAY LITTLE SHINDIG.
>> YEAH.
COULD WE SAY IT'S A NEW
TRADITION?
IT'S BASICALLY A NEW TRADITION.
WE'VE DONE IT ALL SEASON.
THE CAST COMES OUT AND WE DO A
QUICK TOAST ON STAGE IN FRONT OF
EVERYONE.
REALLY TO SHOW --
THAT LIKE IT'S NOT JUST A JOB.
WE ARE ALL VERY VERY MUCH FAMILY
HERE.
>> WE FIGHT LIKE FAMILY.
WE LOVE EACH OTHER LIKE FAMILY.
WHEN EGOT TO COME TOGETHER, WE
COME TOGETHER AS FAMILY.
AND IF ANYBODY FROM THE OUTSIDE
TRIES TO MESS WITH US, WE
REALLY, WE REALLY STICK TOGETHER
LIKE FAMILY, RIGHT, GENDER?
>> THAT'S RIGHT.
YOU HEAR THAT, STAN?
BETTER NOT MESS WITH US TODAY.
>> WHAT YOU WANT TO USE IS A
THICK GLASS BOTTLES.
YOU HEAR THAT?
THAT'S REAL GLASS.
I MOVED IT AROUND IN THE BAG,
MOVED IT AROUND IN THE BUCKET,
DUMPED IT ON TOP OF MY PILE.
NOW I'M ALL SET TO WALK ON IT.
SO I CHOSE WHAT WAS FOUNDED
ABOUT 17, GIVE OR TAKE 17 YEARS
AGO.
THEY STARTED UP THE SCHOOL WITH
THE HOPES THAT THEY COULD KEEP
THESE TRADITIONS ALIVE.
YOU CAN HOP UP.
WHEN YOU HEAR THAT, LIKE THE
CRACKING, THAT, LIKE THAT
POPPING, THAT'S SOME OF THESE
SHEETS OF GLASS THAT ARE JUST
BREAKING DOWN INTO SMALLER
PIECES.
THE MAJORITY OF EVERYBODY, 90%
OF THESE BOTTLES ARE SMASHED
RIGHT HERE AT SIDESHOW SCHOOL.
I TOOK THE CLASS, I THINK IT WAS
THE SECOND EVER CLASS.
SO I'M A STUDENT, I'M A GRADUATE
OF THE SIDESHOW SCHOOL AND THEN
IT WAS ABOUT SIX YEARS AFTER I
HAD TAKEN THE CLASS THAT I WAS
APPROACHED, CAN YOU TEACH THE
SIDESHOW SCHOOL.
>> NOT ON THE RIB CAGE.
>> YOU CAN COME TO SIDESHOW
SCHOOL, LEARN THE RIGHT WAY FROM
PROFESSIONALS, THE SAFEST
ATMOSPHERE AND LEARN THE TRUE
SAFETY OF EVERY ACT.
>> A LITTLE BIT MORE.
RIGHT, BOOM, LIKE THAT.
>> THE SWORES THAT WE USE IN THE
SHOW DO NOT COLLAPSE.
THERE'S NO SUCH THING AS COLD
FIRE.
>> YEAH.
>> OH, IT CAN'T BE REAL.
YOU'D BURN YOUR MOUTH IF YOU PUT
IT IN YOUR MOUTH.
WHAT IS COLD FIRE?
THERE'S NO SUCH THING AS COLD
FIRE.
WHEN YOU SEE THE SHOW AND YOU
BREAK IT DOWN, THE AUDIENCE IS
WALKING OUT OF HERE SAYING THAT
IS REALLY IMPRESSIVE.
I MEAN, THESE PEOPLE ARE
DAREDEVILS.
THEY'RE RISKING THEIR LIVES FOR
OUR ENTERTAINMENT.
§
>> THE AMERICAN SIDESHOW HAS GOT
A PLACE IN THE FUTURE.
IT'S GOT A PLACE IN THE PAST.
IT HAD A TIME WHERE IT HAD
DIPPED OUT BECAUSE IT WAS
EXTREMELY POPULAR AT THE TURN OF
THE LAST CENTURY.
AND THEN THROUGH THE INVENTION
OF RADIO AND TELEVISION AND THE
WORLD WARS, IT TOOK LIKE A NOSE
DIVE INTO OBSCURITY.
AND THAT WAS TOUGH.
IT SURVIVED.
THERE WERE A FEW TROUPES THAT
KEPT IT GOING IN CARNIVALS AND
IN DIME MUSEUMS AND THINGS LIKE
THAT.
NOW IT'S ON A COMEBACK.
THE ELECTRICITY BETWEEN THE
AUDIENCE AND THE PERFORMERS AND
THE BACK AND FORTH, THE
CONVERSATION THAT'S HAPPENING IN
THE PERFORMANCE, IT'S CON
CONTINUAL JUS.
IT DEFINITELY HAS A PLACE LIVE
ENTERTAINMENT NEEDS TO MAKE A
COMEBACK.
>> I THINK THE ONLY WAY TO
PRESERVE IT IS TO LET IT GROW
AND DON'T BE HELD DOWN BY WHAT
SIDESHOW WAS.
ALLOWING THE ARTISTS JUST DO
WHAT THEY WANT WITHIN REASON YOU
KNOW, OF COURSE, IS A WAY TO
PRESERVE THAT.
>> AT THE MET, THAT SHOW WAS AN
AMAZING EXPERIENCE BECAUSE IT
MERGED OPERA AND SIDESHOW.
IT WORKED SO WELL AND IT'S
SOMETHING THAT PEOPLE WANT TO
SEE AND THOSE PEOPLE WHO HAD
NEVER SEEN SIDESHOW WERE
ASTOUNDED BY IT.
SO IT'S NEVER GOING TO DIE
BECAUSE IT IS SO EXCEPTIONAL.
IT IS SO UNIQUE.
>> TO ME IT INSPIRES ME TO MAKE
MY OWN OPPORTUNITIES AND CREATE
MORE OF MY OWN LIKE PATH AND
CREATE MORE ENVIRONMENTS FOR
OTHER WOMEN TO WORK WITH A
FEMALE PRODUCER.
>> MAKING THE IMPOSSIBLE
POSSIBLE IS WHAT THIS STAGE
SHOWS AN AUDIENCE.
IT GIVES THEM THIS FEELING THAT
YOU DON'T GET TO FEEL EVERY DAY.
YOU WALK IN HERE AND YOU LEAVE
YOUR TROUBLES AND EVERYTHING
BEHIND BECAUSE HERE IT'S MIND
OVER MATTER.
>> I BELIEVE I'M SUPPOSED TO BE
HERE RIGHT NOW DOING THIS.
CARRYING ON THIS DYING ART.
I SAY THAT EVERY DAY IN MY
PERFORMANCE TO THE AUDIENCE.
AS I'M PERFORMING THAT I TAKE
PRIDE IN BEING A MODERN DAY
SWORD SWALLOWER.
I'M 26 YEARS OLD.
I'M YOUNG.
AND I HAVE A SHOT AT INSPIRING
WOMEN AND KEEPING A DYING ART
ALIVE.
SO I SHOULD BE HERE.
I'M AT THE RIGHT PLACE AT THE
RIGHT TIME.
>> I DO HAVE THIS WHICH WILL
HELP YOU SEE THAT I AM A CLOWN.
SEE, I'M ALLERGIC TO GLUE SO I
CAN'T GLUE NOSES TO MY FACE SO I
HAD TO COME UP WITH THIS, THE
NOSE THAT YOU CAN HAMMER ON TO
YOUR FACE.
ONCE YOU HAVE THESE TWO THINGS,
ALL YOU NEED IS A HAMMER AND A
FACE.
NOW, IF YOU WANT FIND A HAMMER,
ONE OF THESE WILL DO JUST FINE.
THIS IS THE MERMAN IPA, I THINK
YOU'RE DRINKING ONE, TOO.
YOU CAN GET IT AT THE FREAK BAR
HERE AT CONEY ISLAND.
YOU TAKE IT AND YOU CHISEL THE
NAIL INTO THE NOSE AND THEN YOU
TAKE THE NOSE AND YOU HAMMER IT
ON TO YOUR FACE STRAIGHT BACK
JUST MISSING THE BRAIN.
THAT'S THE KEY PART TO THE WHOLE
THING IF YOU WANT TO TRY THIS AT
HOME.
DON'T TRY THIS AT HOME.
YOU JUST HAMMER IT STRAIGHT
BACK.
§
>> UNTIL YOU BECOME A CLOWN AND
THEN OKAY.
THANK YOU, GOOD NIGHT.
§
>> "METROFOCUS" IS MADE POSSIBLE
BY
JAMES AND MERRYL TISCH,
SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III,
THE SYLVIA A. AND SIMON B. POYTA
PROGRAMING ENDOWMENT TO FIGHT
ANTI-SEMITISM.
BERNARD AND IRENE SCHWARTZ,
ROSALIND P. WALTER,
BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG,
AND BY --

Mutual of America PSEG

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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