Interview With Fixe Magazine

Originally, this interview was sent to me last May, but several months of lacking Internet access did not allow me to fill it out at that time.

While I am very flattered to be featured on the site, I am quite disappointed with the lack of care that my interview received. Reading thru it, you will noticed that a lot of my sentences are cut off, and I really feel that this interrupts the flow of the article. Not to mention that it’s quite annoying.

Despite the fact that I brought this to the attention of the person who posted it, the error remains unchanged, and it’s hard for me not to feel as tho I wasted my time.

Here is the full interview the way it should have been posted. Feel free to leave comments on the article so that maybe someone will correct the mistakes.

*NOTE* – Decided to rework my answer for the costume question because I did not like what I wrote the first time around.

Classic Burlesque has become a huge phenomena lately, what about it first captured your interest?

In 2000, I was taken to a magical land called Coney Island, where traditional sideshow and burlesque were performed in a building that once belonged to the Dreamland Circus Sideshow. While I cannot pinpoint exactly when I saw my first real live burlesque performance, the very act of seducing the audience with carefully choreographed moves was definitely intriguing. Over the years I have seen a number of performances, and sadly many of them are reminiscent of scenes one might find at the strip club. There seems to be little respect for the classic art and the whole purpose of TEASE. Now it’s about how fast one can get naked, and the things one is willing to do once all the goods are exposed. One of my favorite and most memorable performances goes to the lovely Dirty Martini, a so-called ‘plus size’ dancer who received Miss Exotic World honors and can still make men drool. Certainly there are plenty of women who carry on the traditions of real burlesque, but sadly I feel the trend outweighs the art.

What first attracted you to sword swallowing?

Natural curiosity. Understanding that this was not a trick, my mind had numerous questions as to how one could easily slide a solid object into the body without being seriously injured. There is something undeniably sensual about the act, and the more I watched people do it, the more I needed to know how I could make this possible.

How did you learn to swallow swords?

Attending the Coney Island Sideshow School in 2002. Fred Kahl [aka the Great Fredini] was our teacher, tho Tyler Fyre let us look at his swords. Keith Bindlestiff and Red Stuart have also given me pointers in the past. Other than that, it was a whole lot of practice. The first object I ever deep-throated was a wire coat hanger bent in a ‘sword shape’, which took a month to overcome the internal gag reflexes. The first time I swallowed a sword was in August ’07 after half an hour of practice. My goal is to smash the Guinness World Record, which currently stands at 13 for a female, tho the official record is over 20 and has been held for more than a century by the very talented Edith Clifford.

At what kind of events do you perform?

Anywhere there is space, honestly. From seedy basements and grassy backyards to sandy beaches and the vast labyrinth of South Jersey forests, there is no event or venue too small. In fact, I much prefer more intimate settings, in order to be able to interact with the audience.

What’s it like performing all over and experiencing the different scenes?

Hard to describe, really. When I was touring with the carnival in 2005, work and business always came before pleasure. Between performing about 10-12 hours a day, set-up and tear down, we did not have a whole lot of spare time to socialize. However, being able to draw a crowd into a canvas tent and have every pair of eyes set on you is something that makes you understand that you a part of something big. The audience react in a variety of ways and I love every single one of them. At moments, it is what makes performing worth the effort. It is also enjoyable when people come and talk to me, even if they say “I don’t know what to say about that” in response to my sword swallowing. The fact that someone can take a minute to even pay attention to what I am doing gives me a boost of confidence.

The downside of the scene is what most people will never see and maybe do not even want to know about. In my opinion, it seems that who you know and not what you do gets you gigs. My life is dedicated to my art [in all its forms], and at the end of the day, the life time of memories and experience I have gained outweighs any sort of monetary reward or ‘being known’ in the scene.

Has anything crazy ever happened at a show?

No matter how well planned a show is, there is always the chance of the unexpected.

The worst thing that ever happened was back in 2004, during the midnite performance on the Wall of Death. My late friend Jon had constructed the track out in the Pine Barrens in South Jersey and we sold tickets to anyone brave enough to come witness the Death Defying Daredevil at his best. Riding at about 90MPH on a custom motorcycle, there must have been a loose board or fastener or something, and I watched Jon fly head first over the handlebars and skid across the wooden planks for a good thirty seconds or so. Everyone was in shock, and each second that ticked by as medics rushed to his aid felt like a lead weight in my stomach. While he was pronounced dead for a brief minute, Jon was able to walk away from the accident. However, the physical effects were permanent, and led to him retiring completely from show business.

Less tragic incidents include: cutting my foot on broken glass [at least the audience knows it is real] and bleeding on the floor for a moment, tho the injury was very minor; some guy deciding to whip out his member and urinate in front of the sideshow during its performance; and dealing with hecklers who do not quite know when to stop.

Are there any other creative mediums you work in?

Painting – mostly acrylics, water color and oil
Drawing – tattoo flash and pin ups
Writing – blogger for over a decade, created two magazines and currently finishing up a novel
Photography – self-portraits, urban decay, abandoned places and general natural scenery
Hair – hand made, one-of-a-kind wigs, pieces and accessories

Would love to make some organic body jewelry too.

What are your favorite types of outfits to perform in?

Carny Style is not something that comes pre-manufactured from an assembly line, but rather a careful evolution of personal aesthetics. It defies all scenes and subcultures, and most certainly is not going to be found on the racks of Hot Topic, nor can it be purchased in any form. My personal style takes cues from 50s pin-ups and Kustom Kulture, Victorian wares, American Circus and pretty much anything that is fun, exciting and comfortable to wear.

The idea is to separate stage clothes from everyday wear. Sword swallowing in a corset also adds a bit of danger, which is why I enjoy wearing them to perform this feat. Red, blue or yellow is incorporated into most of my outfits in one form or another, utilizing everything from fabrics to hair to make-up. Oh, and just once it would be fun to sword swallow while wearing latex couture.

What kind of music do you like?

Interestingly enough, there is a wide spectrum of things I listen to. Big band, swing, surf, doo-wop, rockabilly and lounge are definite favorites, particularly for uplifting moods or background music. Punk, metal, noise, industrial, hardcore and grindcore work for those times where aggression or anger need to come out.  I have even formed a love for old school rap and hip-hop, as well as country and bluegrass, but not that pop crap that is all over the radio. Hank III, George Jones and similar veins is what I prefer.

What do you like to do for fun?

Supporting local bands, observing people in public, being visually obnoxious and random social experiments.  A good friend of mine taught me that people are far more interesting when you take them out of their comfort zone, and I greatly enjoy doing this whenever possible.

Additional Info

Writer/Editor/Publisher – Alive On the Inside: magazine dedicated to preservation and education of American Circus & Sideshow history and culture; Aesthetic Evolution: magazine that strives to educate the public about body modification history and culture.

Finishing a novel that has been in the works for several years. Set in the mid 1950s, the fictional story takes place in an ocean side community that hosts a carnival, with a traditional 10-in-1 sideshow. The two main characters meet by chance during dinner in the city, and their first encounter stirs up all sorts of feelings and emotions that were once very dormant. The next few days are a blur of romance, passion and strange events that will constantly test their new relationship. He also has a dark secret, one that the lovely heroine knows from personal experience and will stop at nothing to uncover. However, once their past is unlocked, what can prevent the future from becoming very grim? A riveting tale of love and cannibalism.

Guinness Book of World Records title holder – recognized as #35 to swallow Thomas Blackthorne’s Sword of Swords.

Tales From the Road

A continuation of the feature introduced last month, in which I opened up the proverbial vault of things I wrote while traveling with an authentic 10-in-1 sideshow on the carnival circuit.  To briefly recap, I found the opportunity via Sideshow World, packed my bags and drove out to Bedford, PA.  There I met a couple who owned a menagerie and had spent fifteen years exhibiting them all across the country and had spent my first night on a carnival lot sleeping in the back of a spook house.

July 22, 2005 – Hard Working Carnies


It was massively humid late in the morning; so hot that everyone was sweating just doing light chores.  The only mild inconvenience I have experienced thus far is having to walk down that hill to the bathroom, but a little exercise is never bad.  Took claim on sleeping quarters that is essentially a box of sorts built over the cab of an International truck that is used for hauling the main bunkhouse around.  Being the only female, I was told I did not have to share space with the guys if I did not want to, and while I am not one to ask for special treatment I felt it would be rude to turn down the offer.  So I proceeded to move in my luggage, unpacking items that would be needed or used on a daily basis. and the rest staying put.  A trip was made into town for food and few other things such as water, ice and a cooler, as well as a folding chair scored from the dollar store.

The crew right now consists of the Manager [who is an old school Carny that used to travel back in the day], this guy who will be doing magic and mentalist tricks, and this guy that has worked for the Boss for a year.  He mainly works the spook house though, so there are only four of us to fill various roles once the sideshow is actually happening.

We were put to work and given instructions to bring the components for the stage into the tent [which we would be sharing with the menagerie] and setting it up.  Having animals to play with is fun though that comes once responsibilities are filled.  The goats are great, even if their eyes are a bit creepy, and the miniature horses are quite nice; one of them is very affectionate and will eat treats out of your hand.

There is always plenty to do though, so play time comes after sweat has been spilled and you are told you can have a rest.  Some people might have a problem with taking orders, but I don’t because my experience is limited to setting up Outlaw Cirkus shows and this is much different.   Assembled the aforementioned stage, working in the late afternoon so as not the expend energy under the hot sun.  Next we were taught how to put up the banner line, which is that row of colorful banners one usually sees in front of a sideshow tent.  The banners are clipped onto ropes that are hoisted by pullies attached to wooden posts, each of which has to be manually staked into the ground.  Each post has to be positioned just right before that happens to make the line straight, otherwise the whole thing could fall down.  Believe me, watching the men swing that sledge with grimaces on their faces tells you how hard that is.

Would have taken my turn but I was not allowed [yes, I was told this] and kind of felt useless because I would have at least tried even I was bad at it.  No matter, the job was done and then the painted signs had to be hung, so I made up for my lack of participation on the stake-driving by carrying as many signs as possible.  Since there was not much else for me to do once those were up on the posts of the banner line, I was told that I could take a shower.  Noted here that the shower is an open stall at one end of the bunkhouse separate from the other sleeping quarters except for one, which makes a bit weird it is there because not all fairgrounds have bathrooms with shower facilities.

Once all squeaky clean, I was able to leave the lot and went into town for dinner, relieved to be done for the day.  The remainder of the evening was spent listening to stories told the boss or his son, learning the lingo and what it really means to travel with a carnival.  Eventually I headed off to my new bed and realized it was two in the morning when I climbed up.  The mattress was slightly more comfortable than the first, and after all that work I was happy to pass out.

July 23, 2005 – Receiving the Proverbial Torch


The morning I woke up to was a beautiful one, as the humidity that had us panting yesterday has been replaced by a very pleasant breeze, which made spending time outside much better.

Now seems like a good time to introduce the crew a bit more.  Brett hails from Chicago and does a mentalist act, bending forks out of shape with the power of his mind; forecasts one’s past, present or future with Tarot cards and also has a blindfold at.  Our Manager and Boss are very friendly and keep us laughing while making sure all work gets done.  Reg is the resident handyman and scapegoat, often on the receiving end of many jokes.  In fact, we all bust each others balls, but it is always in good fun and prepares you for what the townsfolk might shout at you when on stage.

This guy came along while we were setting up the remainder of the banner line and was welcomed into the crew as an all-purpose worker.  The Boss calls him Elvis due to the black hair and heavy Southern accent.  We have one strange Family alright, but we work hard together to get things done and then lose hours in each other’s companies as stories stretch late into the night.

Hit town for lunch then sat and played cards since there was not much else to do.  The banners had not arrived yet and everything else has already been taken care of.  Talk of a BBQ had the crew eager for some good food and I volunteered to make an alcohol run since a few people had mentioned wanting to have a drink if that was happening.  The local liquor store had the green label Jack Daniels, which I have not seen in New Jersey and talked myself into buying it.  Now the same size bottle retails for about $24 back home but here is was several dollars less.  A bottle of Smirnoff vodka was only ten bucks so that went on the counter too.  Pleased with the acquisition, a stop was made for the appropriate mixers and a bag of ice.

It was getting late by the time I returned to the fairgrounds, and despite the fun we had exchanging stories and jokes, the crew was desiring BBQ.  Since I seemed to enjoy driving so much, I was asked to take Boss Jr.’s girlfriend into town to acquire the food, and I was happy to oblige.  Needless to say, the hungry crew was happy for our return and moments later the meat started cooking.  There was a buffet style set up on tables inside the tent, with everyone grabbing a paper plate and plastic utensils to help themselves.  For a variety of reasons, the Bosses and their ladies do not eat pork or beef, so the sausage and burgers were turkey.  The sausage was great, but I did not care much for the burger.  Thankfully a few rather strong screwdrivers aided in washing that down, as did the watermelon and cantaloupe.

With stomach full and definitely slightly buzzed, it was time to get in bed.  However, as I am getting ready to climb up to my bunk, I get a surprise visit from Reg.  We wind up smoking a bowl and chatting about the crew, though I did more listening than talking.  It is difficult to have a detailed opinion of people that you just met, though certain personality traits often surface quickly, particularly when one speaks highly of themselves.  If I am going to trust anyone here, it most certainly would be the Boss and his wife who have been doing this long enough to make those snap judgments.

For instance, the Boss had a feeling that the couple who had come up to say hello were going to be trouble.  Nonetheless, because we could use the extra hand, the girl wound up being invited on as the Bally Girl.  Her duty will entail standing on the stage set up outside the tent in a skimpy costume and wave the tip in, which is why the role is also known as being the Bally Bitch.  It does not take much skill or effort and so the role can be filled by pretty much anyone.

Her boyfriend works at the bingo tent down the hill in the main part of the carnival, and they have a darling mixed breed puppy that always accompanies them.  Did not get a good feeling from them myself initially, and it has stuck with me the more they open their mouths, fixated on scoring weed and talking about it way too much.  It seems they are more in need of a ride than anything, and hey, if they can make some money along the way they might as well take the opportunity to do so.  The guy made a commented about how he wanted to bring his younger brother along, but did not say a word about that to the Boss’s wife.  Well, these Carnies certainly are not stupid, and I am sure they are keeping an eye on everyone.

Smoking that bowl with Reg, my suspicions were confirmed and it was hinted that good behavior is rewarded while those who don’t want to get with it can get on down the road.  It was also good to know that my assumptions of certain individuals have been picked up by someone else who just happens to have the ability to read people.

Aside from all that, Reg explained it was important for everyone to learn all we can about what it takes to put on a show.  Not only so that we have a greater appreciation for this, but also that we understand the business should there be a desire to frame our own show.  Just as there are those who are ensuring the sideshow acts are kept alive by teaching a new generation, so too are these people ensuring that the traveling show will have a future as well.  It is a great honor, and I certainly have learned that a lot of hard work goes into this; the sweat and sore muscles are worth the reward that is yielded.

Full, slightly drunk and very high, sleep was welcomed.

Free Uriah & Quentin


Ordinarily, I do not get involved with personal matters, nor make them a part of such a public forum. However, I feel that this situation deserves all the attention that it can get.

Band members charged in Orange rape; incident occurred at house party after New Haven concert

To be honest, I have no affiliation with either of the gentlemen, nor have I ever met them personally. In fact, the first time I even saw the Goddamn Gallows was last Tuesday at Kung Fu Necktie here in Philadelphia. They were, without a doubt, one of the best ‘billy bands I’ve had the pleasure of seeing in a long time.

When I read the above article, my jaw literally dropped as I went from one sentence to the next. While there are certainly two sides to every story, and the only people who really know what happened are those who were there, something wasn’t sitting quite right.

It seems all of the comments have disappeared since yesterday, but there were a few that seemed quite rude and even judgmental of Uriah and Quentin. Part of me felt this was due to their appearance, since apparently having tattoos automatically means one is guilty of whatever accusations another throws at them.

Punk rockers dispute rape charges

Thankfully, there is a large network of supporters, as well as numerous eyewitness accounts that do not fault Uriah and Quentin. However, false claims certainly damages a reputation, and the two men are still currently behind bars while everything gets sorted out.

Farmageddon Records is looking for bands who would like to submit tracks for the Free Uriah Baker and Quentin Price Compilation CD. Please contact darren@newrootsorder.com if you would like to help out.

One of the easiest ways to aid Uriah and Quentin is via the Facebook page, or by making a donation.

Personal letters are also highly encouraged, but please be advised of what else can and cannot be sent via mail.

Uriah Freedom Baker inmate #377470
Quentin Price inmate #377472
Bridgeport CC
1106 North Ave
Bridgeport, CT
06604

Infection of Ignorance

There are a lot of reasons I admired my late friend Jon. He always had a way with words, and was never afraid to say exactly what was on his mind. Even now, I remember many times when we were out in public, having open conversations about whatever, and people would turn to stare. Partly due to the fact that we certainly stood out, wearing our body modifications with pride despite the fact that everyone around us was plain-skinned. We also made a point of going to restaurants where people wore button-down shirts with ties and jackets or evening gowns and expensive jewelry. There we were, with Doc Marten boots, patches, safety pins, spikes, studs, leather jackets – whatever made us feel comfortable, really. It was something we did for amusement, watching everyone else as they tried to steal a glance without getting caught.

In any event, there is not a whole lot that Jon actually put into written words, and even less that has ever been in the public eye of the Internet. However, when I find myself feeling down or lonely or whatever, I find comfort in reading the few things he left behind. Maybe I get some sort of new found inspiration or use it as a reminder of who I am and where I come from. Or perhaps even that I have some weird compulsion to share intimate parts of my life with anyone who can spare a moment to read.

This isn’t something that I have recently noticed, but as of late, it seems to have gotten worse.

One would think that in this day and age, having an open mind would be a common occurrence. However, the fact is, the reverse is quite true.

People may want to believe that they are open-minded, but mention a “controversial” topic and watch them squirm. Or better yet, try to engage in conversation of a taboo nature and see how fast they turn the other way.

Society seems to be unaware of this massive infection.

This disease does not discriminate. No matter your gender, age, race, ethnicity, religion, sexual preference, so on and so forth, no one is immune.

There might be a cure, if you can teach yourself, your children and others around you to be tolerant.

What is tolerance exactly?

Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but that doesn’t necessarily give you the right to cram it down my throat. It doesn’t mean that I want to hear you talk out of your ass because you don’t like the way I look or agree with my values.

I don’t ask for anyone to accept me.  Acceptance is not a strong point in society.

What I’m getting at here, is that I come into contact with people who are infected on a daily basis, and it’s really making me sick.

Why are they so quick to judge me when they don’t know me? Why do they assume things about me that may or may not be true? Why must they build themselves up by calling me names?

The answer is- IGNORANCE.

Yes, this is what plagues those that feel the need to tell me what I think and believe in, even though I have never met them, and they know nothing about me.

Nobody ever said being a Carny was easy, and that is something I have been aware of since my youth. However, my choice of lifestyle is no one else’s business, and I don’t appreciate the bullshit that I have to put up with.

They don’t know me, but they sure act like they do.

Hey, I am aware of my appearance, so calling attention to it seems kind of juvenile, and I no desire to have you tell me what I am and what I am not.

Save yourself from infection.

Making No Apologies

There have been a lot of events in my life that have helped shaped me into the person I am today.   Some of them will always be cherished, while others I desperately wish to rid from my brain once and for all.  For whatever reason, I have spent a lot of time supporting others and being the person they perceive me to be.  Within relationships, I have compromised to make someone else happy.  In rare circumstances, I stopped being myself out of fear of rejection.  While I am certainly pleased with my ability to act [I am a Carny after all], denying my true self is a lie that eats me up inside.

People make assumptions about me all the time, and even more so, really enjoy talking shit.   There have been plenty of posts that are dedicated to making fun of me, which is touching and all.  It is interesting how random anonymous individuals can pass judgment on someone they have never met, nor even tried talking to.  It takes minimal effort to converse with me, and I talk way more than given credit for.  Ask me the right questions, and I can ramble.  Bring something interesting to the table, and I am sure that we can chat for hours.

In the past week, I had two people tell me: “Go fuck yourself“.  Am I really that much of an awful human being that I do not even deserve to be spoken to with respect?

It occurs that perhaps I am not the problem, despite what some people may want me to believe.  The truth is that I can be a total sweetheart or a complete asshole – it really depends on how people treat me.  Perhaps being raised by Jon, a true Southern gentleman who adopted his attitude from the ‘7os punk scene, is responsible for that.  To be honest, it really depends on how someone approached me, and there are times where I am not in the mood to talk.  Though I understand this can give the wrong impression, if you want to make assumptions about me, I don’t want to know you.

There are plenty of reasons I have for not wanting to interact with people, the main one being that I am an introvert and doing so is exhausting so I need to recharge and I prefer my own company over being around a bunch of gauchos.  Though I have given freely of myself in many ways, kindness has often been taken advantage of.  Caring too much about others has led me to neglect myself, and I am tired of being treated like a doormat.   Perhaps I am also too trusting and open with my feelings, but I was raised to communicate and not hold anything back.

As Kurt Cobain once said: I would rather be hated for who I am than be loved for who I am not.  People tell me that I can open up to them, but they sure turn tail and run when things get rough.  While I can be very emotional, it is not something I have control over and not everyone knows how to deal with it properly.   However, I do not ask people to do so and I am not responsible if you choose to care.  If you take that upon yourself, you need to accept the fact that I am not a fucking plastic doll; I have an opinion and I am not afraid to express it, I will cry when I damn well feel like it and do not need to be teased about it, and I will not let someone else blame me for the choices that they make because they do not like the way things are going.

There is not a lot I ask of those who wish to be my friends: do not lie to me, steal from me, cheat on me or otherwise fuck me over, and I will show you the same respect.  It seems very simple to me, but people act like I am asking for the moon and stars.  Do not tell me that you care and then not show it.  Talk is cheap; actions speaks volumes of your character, and the truth always surfaces sooner or later.

In the past, I have spent way too much time trying to ‘do the right thing’ for the sake of satisfying someone else’s needs.  In fact, I have compromised and made changes [to my benefit on a few occasions] only to be tossed aside like a used napkin.  That ends now.

There is endless pride in being myself and not trying to ‘fit in’, because I do not need to be stereotyped or lumped into a genre.  They are all quite teeming with drama and bullshit, which I want no part of.   Once upon a time I was appreciated for what I was worth and loved every minute of it.   Lately I miss being that person and wonder why I have allowed myself to be convinced that was a bad thing.

If you cannot deal with who I am, then please, do not waste my time with lies and bullshit.  Do not tell me you are my friend and then walk all over me.  Do not tell me you care but do little to show it.  Do not take advantage of my kindness and trust, then turn around and throw it in my face.

Never again will I apologize for being me, and I am taking great caution with who I trust and call my friend.  It will be an honor reserved for those who prove they are worthy of the title.  Everyone else can kindly fuck off.