I have always fancied myself as unique and quirky, to quote Winona Ryder in the blockbuster movie Beetlejuice: “I myself am strange and unusual”. My penchant for things out of the ordinary led me to an ensemble opulent in all things strange and unusual, Hellzapoppin Circus Sideshow Review.
Hellzapoppin describes themselves as mavericks, trailblazers, rebels, rule-breakers, outlaws…true uninhibited artists. Honestly, I would never be able to find the adjectives to describe this troupe better. Originating in Dallas, Texas over thirteen years ago, the group pays homage to the Movie and Broadway musical by naming their troupe Hellzapoppin after the successful show. The troupe consists of Bryce Graves, Eric Ross, Short E Dangerously, the World Famous Lizard Man, and Willow Lauren, each with their own distinctive talent. Let me say this, oh the talent these humans possess puts them in the same league as super hero’s in my book.
My assistant extraordinaire Erin and I arrived a little after doors opened and we were surprised at how packed The Cavalier Theatre in La Crosse, Wisconsin was. The crowd around us was a diverse mishmash of humans, the excitement of the crowd was almost palpable. Erin and I spotted fellow show-goers of all ages that seemed to belong to all classes of society.
The show opened with some hard-driving heavy metal music, yes folks, this was my utopia. Ring leader Bryce Graves, a.k.a. “The Gova”, almost floated onto the stage surrounded by billowing smoke and strobe-like lights. Graves invited the crowd to get up off their ass’s and get up as close as they could to the stage. After a quick synopsis of what the night may bring, Graves promptly put a screwdriver up his nose. You read that right, screwdriver up the nose, I will let that sink into your gray matter for a heartbeat. Lucky for me, I was front and center, I can attest that Graves did in fact put a real screwdriver up his nostril, and he has no nose hair.
Barreling onto the stage like a green tornado, Erik Sprague, The World-Famous Lizard Man, usurped the spotlight from Graves. I am not going to lie, despite all his body modifications and green skin, Spraque oozes sexuality. It could be the forked tongue, but I can’t be sure. The next member of the sideshow was by far the bell of this ball, Short E Dangerously, the world’s shortest daredevil. Honestly, after the initial shock of how compact he was had worn off, I believe the crowd was able to just be in awe of his balancing skills. Next to grace the stage was contortionist Willow Lauren. As beautiful as she was bendy, she definitely struts her stuff. The dapper Eric Ross was the last member of the troupe to take the spotlight. This man takes piercing to the next level. Hell, I don’t think there is level for what Ross does with sharp pointy things.
As the night progressed each performer would take the stage and reach into their fantastical bag of tricks stunning the entranced audience with a feat even more astounding than the last. We witnessed Eric Ross lay his bareback on a bed of nails than having Graves place another sheet of razor-sharp nails on top of Ross. I believe the entire crowd held their breath in trepidation and excitement as Short E, and Willow climbed up on the human pincushion while he was sandwiched between the two nail sheets. I fell more in love with the Lizard man as he showed his mastery at sword swallowing, that shiznit is beyond badass. Bryce Graves continued to gross me completely out by popping kernels of corn out of his eyeballs, while show-goers around me obviously thought it was fabulous.
The crème de la crème of the entire night was by far the Chinese Blade Box of Death. The gorgeous queen of contortions, Willow Lauren was all smiles as she climbed into the death box. Bryce Graves explained each step he was performing as he put the razor-sharp blade sheets into the box of death. Graves then invited the crowd to come up on stage to get an up-close and personal peek at Miss Lauren. Full disclosure, I was attempting to take pictures while I was going passed the box, but when my cowardly eyes fell upon that lovely lady surrounded by those intrepid blades, I had to avert my eyes. Yes, I am a chicken shit when it to things like that because the danger of Willow Lauren getting injured was real and palpable to me. Lauren showed absolutely no fear the entire stunt. Someday I hope she will be my spirit animal so I may catch some of her awesomeness.
Folks, the bottom line here is: catch Hellzapoppin Circus Sideshow as soon as you possibly can. This show will appeal to all humans, I do not care if you are doctor, a lawyer, a teacher, a housewife, a burger flipper, a student or a freak like me, you will dig this show.