METROFOCUS: JULY 18, 2019

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.

TRANSCRIPT

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 --

Funders

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

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