Improbable Realities of Glen Wexler

great album covers slaughter stick it to ya album cover  Glen Wexler

Glen Wexler is a preeminent album cover artist and photographer who has worked with many well-known musicians and rock bands, including Van Halen, Michael Jackson, Steve Miller Band, Rush, KISS, Yes, Black Sabbath, ZZ Top, Slaughter, the Black Crowes, Bob Weir, Boston, Kansas, Chaka Kahn, Herbie Hancock, Whitesnake, Peter Frampton, and Chick Corea. With more than 300 great album covers in his portfolio, Wexler’s work has been presented at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

great album covers van-halen balance album cover by glen wexler sideshow freaks

Wexler’s work often has a mysterious and surrealistic feel to it. Many of his works use circus sideshows images to help create this effect. The work of Wexler on Slaughter’s “Stick It To Ya” and “Stick it Live” record album covers are perfect illustration of this influence. Both album covers have knife-throwing themes with other circus images in the background. On Van Halen’s “Balance” album cover, Wexler has placed a set of Siamese twins on a seesaw, ironically making it completely out of balance. More recently in the video, “No Money, No Love”, directed by Wexler for the rock group Heaven and Earth, we see a number of sideshow images, including a clown on slits, a dwarf, a magician, a fire performer and a man with an abnormally long, serpent tongue. These images are used to create a sense of weirdness or absurdity within a realistic context, or as Wexler refers to them “improbable realities”.

great album covers slaughter stick it live album cover by glen wexler   sideshow freaks

Slaughter – “Stick it Live” record album cover

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Giraffe Women of Burma

Sideshow    Giraffe Women  Kayan Lahwi tribe  Padaung Freaks  long-necks

Giraffe Women of Burma

Beauty is described as a characteristic that provides a perceptual experience of pleasure or satisfaction. The experience of beauty generally involves a feeling of attraction and emotional well-being. The subjective nature of this experience has led to the saying “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”

Each society develops general standards concerning what is beautiful. These standards are generally reflected in the art and literature produced by or for a society. Standards of beauty change over time, based on changing cultural values and vary among cultures. Historically, art and literature have shown a wide range of different standards for beauty. However, whatever these standards of beauty, human beings are willing to take drastic actions to comply with their culture’s standards of beauty. An example of this in western civilization, has been the historic used of the corset for female waist-reduction, which reached its peak during the Victorian era. In other cultures the attention may be focused on other parts of the body.

In the mountains on the border between Burma (now known as Myramar) and Thailand live the Kayan Lahwi tribe (also called Padaung). The women of this tribe are known as “giraffe women” to the tourists, because of their seemingly extraordinarily elongated necks caused from the wearing heavy brass rings (actually coils rather than individual rings) around their neck. This custom is thought to have its origin with a Mongolian tribe who assimilated into the Kayan Lahwi tribe thousands of years ago. Theories as to why this practice was first started range from making the women less desirable to slave traders to the belief that the brass coils would provide protection against tiger bites, a peril found in their former homeland. However, today the custom is both an expression of feminine beauty and a show of social status. In fact, the number and value of the brass coils worn by a Kayan woman also confers status and respect on her family.

Sideshow   Kayan Lahwi tribe   Giraffe Women  Padaung   Freaks long-necks

A Kayan girl will begin wearing brass neck coils when she is about five years old and over the years by wearing these coils she will gain the appearance of a substantially lengthen neck. The brass neck coils of are placed on the girl by the village shaman. Her neck is first prepared by massaging it for several hours and then smearing it with a protective salve. The shaman then fits small cushions under the first coil to prevent soreness in the neck. These cushions will be removed by the shaman later as the girl’s neck adjusts to her brass coils. Over time the girl’s brass coil is replaced by a longer one and more turns are added. This process will continue with successive coils added about every two years. As longer coils are added the weight of the coil increases. The weight of the brass coils pushes down on the clavicle, compressing the ribs and ultimately deforming the girl’s collarbone. This deformity can make the neck appear longer by more than 10 inches. Generally a Kayan woman will wear her brass coils for her entire life. In the Kayan Lahwi tribe, adulterous women are punished by the removal of their brass coils. In addition to the neck coils, Kayan women usually wear metal rings around their knees, ankles and wrists.

Sideshow   Ndebele woman   Africa   Freaks

Interestingly, there is a tribe located in South Africa and Zimbabwe where the women also wear neck rings. As part of their traditional dress, the women of the South Ndebele tribe wear metal neck rings, which they called “dzilla”. As in the Kayan culture, the neck rings are an expression of beauty and indicated the wealth and status of the Ndebele woman and her family. Both Kayan and Ndebele women also wear metal rings, usually made of copper or brass, around their knees, ankles and wrists. However, unlike Kayan girls, Ndebele women are not allowed to wear neck rings until they are married. Also the Ndebele neck rings differ from the coils worn by the Kayan women, in that the rings are individual, so they do not put as much pressure on the Ndebele woman’s rib cage. Because of these differences, the necks of the Ndebele women do not appear to be as elongated as those of the Kayan women.

Ndebele women adorned themselves with a number of ornaments that symbolize their status in Ndebele society. The Ndebele wife wears rings of metal around her neck, arms and legs. These marriage rings symbolize her bond and faithfulness to her husband. The rings are provided by the husband. The richer the husband, the more rings the Ndebele wife receives. The rings are believed to have strong ritual powers and the Ndebele wife would only remove the rings after the death of her husband.

Married Ndebele women wear a number of items that are associated with their marriage, including isigolwani. These isigolwani are grass neck hoops that are twisted into a coil and covered with beads. Married Ndebele women also wear an apron called an ijogolo. The ijogolo marks the consummation of the marriage, which in Ndebele culture only occurs after the birth of the first child. A Ndebele wife also wears a marriage blanket called a nguba. The nguba is decorated with beadwork to record significant events that take place during the Ndebele woman’s lifetime. A married Ndebele woman wears some form of head covering as a sign of respect for her husband. This head covering can ranged from a knitted cap to a simple beaded headband to an elaborate beaded headdress.

Sideshow  Giraffe women Kayan Lahwi Tribe  Padaung Freaks long-necks

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Sideshow   Giraffe Women    Burma Padaung  long-necks Freaks

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Sideshow     Giraffe Woman Padaung    Burma   long-necks  Freak

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Freaks or Not “Bamboozed” is a funny film

Tropfest is the world’s biggest short film festival(oxymoron???). The 2013 Tropfest film winner was West Australian filmmaker Matt Hardie’s film “Bamboozled”. Tropfest began in Sydney Australia over 20 years ago has continued to grow in size and notoriety.

Matt Hardie also won the best actor award at Tropfest for his role in the film. In describing how he came up with the film’s concept, Hardie said “I was going for a walk, I knew I wanted to make a Tropfest film and sex change popped into my head.”

Unfortunately, the film has created an outcry from the transgender community, some of whom find it offensive and are concerned that the film portrays them as freaks. I believe that is a bit of an over reaction to this movie. On the other hand, their sensitivity is also understandable when there are people like Todd Kincannon, the former executive director of the South Carolina Republican Party, making hateful comments about the transgender community. This past October, Kincannon launched into an anti-transgender tirade on his now suspended Twitter account.

“The only things I hate these days are commies, trannies, and most Muslims.”
— Todd Kincannon (@ToddKincannon) October 5, 2013

“I have no problem with gays but I hate trannies. I think they are disgusting freaks, and they are. Am I evil?”
— Todd Kincannon (@ToddKincannon) October 6, 2013

“There are people who respect transgender rights. And there are people who think you should all be put in a camp. That’s me.”
— Todd Kincannon (@ToddKincannon) October 14, 2013

“I have plenty of compassion for trannies. They should all be locked up in mental institutions and their care paid for by the state.”
— Todd Kincannon (@ToddKincannon) October 14, 2013

“I’m totally ok with gays and I celebrate female bisexuality as if it were the Mona Lisa of genital sports. But transsexuals are sick freaks.”
— Todd Kincannon (@ToddKincannon) October 14, 2013

Although some people are clearly uncomfortable with the whole transgender issue, it has become a more prevalent theme in the entertainment industry. The novel, “The Danish Girl”, a fictionalized account of the life of Lili Elbe, the first person to undergo sex reassignment surgery, is being made into a movie starring Nicole Kidman and Charlize Theron. In 2012, “Hit & Miss”, a British television series about a transsexual contract killer, premiered in both England and the United States. “Hollyoaks”, a long-running British television teen drama, introduced the character of Jason Costello, a boy who feels that he’s a male in a girl’s body, in 2011. In 2005, TransGeneration first appeared on the Sundance Channel. This eight episode documentary series depicted the lives of four transgender college students and their struggle as they were gender transitioning. The series is currently back on the Sundance Channel.

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Sideshow Freak or Wayseer – You Decide!!!

Described by some as “a voice in the wilderness” Garret John LoPorto is an American activist, best-selling author, speaker, entrepreneur, viral YouTube video artist and champion for rebels and revolutionaries everywhere. Garret John LoPorto claims that he wants to rally all of us to turn on to what we are, tune into our highest calling and drop out of unhelpful institutions to blaze a trail for what the world really needs. The following video called “The Wayseer Manifesto” is his “clarion call to all the world’s mavericks, activists, artists, visionaries and pioneers” that he has describes as “Wayseers” so that they can come together and claim their collective power. Listen and decide for yourself is this just a catchy song, the ranting of a mad man, media manipulation, spiritual propaganda or is it something else.

Below is a transcript of the video for those of you that would like to study the words more carefully. Enjoy, but don’t think to hard!

“By Garret John LoPorto on September 22, 2010

The Wayseer Manifesto

ATTENTION: All you rule-breakers, you misfits and troublemakers – all you free spirits and pioneers – all you visionaries and non-conformists …

Everything that the establishment has told you is wrong with you – is actually what’s right with you.

You see things others don’t. You are hardwired to change the world. Unlike 9 out of 10 people – your mind is irrepressible – and this threatens authority. You were born to be a revolutionary.

You can’t stand rules because in your heart you know there’s a better way.

You have strengths dangerous to the establishment – and it wants them eliminated, So your whole life you’ve been told your strengths were weaknesses – Now I’m telling you otherwise.

Your impulsivity is a gift – impulses are your key to the miraculous,

Your distractibility – is an artifact of your inspired creativity,

Your mood swings – reflect the natural pulse of life, they give you unstoppable energy when you’re high and deep soulful insight when you’re low,

Been diagnosed with a ‘disorder’? That’s society’s latest way to deny it’s own illness by pointing the finger at you. Your addictive personality is just a symptom of your vast underused capacity for heroic, creative expression and spiritual connection. your utter lack of repression, your wide eyed idealism, your unmitigated open mind – didn’t anyone ever tell you?! these are the traits shared by the greatest pioneers and visionaries and innovators, revolutionaries, procrastinators and drama queens, activists on the social scene, space cadets and mavericks, philosophers and derelicts, business suits flying fighter jets, football stars and sex addicts, celebrities with ADD, alcoholics who seek novelty, first responders – prophets and saints, mystics and change agents.

We are – all – the same – you know
‘cuz we’re all affected by the way –
We are – all – the same – you know
‘cuz we’re all attracted to the flame –

You know in your heart that there’s a natural order to life,
something more sovereign than any man-made rules or laws could ever express.

This natural order is called ‘the Way.’

The Way is the eternal substrate of the cosmos. It guides the very current of time and space. The Way is known by some as the Will of God, Divine Providence, the Holy Spirit, the implicate order, the Tao, reverse-entropy, life-force, but for now we’ll simply call it ‘the Way.’ The Way is reflected in you as the source of your inspiration, the source of your passions, your wisdom, your enthusiasm, your intuition, your spiritual fire – love. The Way takes the chaos out of the Universe and breathes life into it by reflecting divine order. The Way, when experienced by the mind, is genius, when perceived through the eyes is beauty, when felt with the senses is grace, when allowed into the heart … is love.

Most people cannot sense the Way directly. … But then there are the Wayseers. The keepers of the flame. Wayseers have an unexplainable knack for just knowing the Way. They sense it in their very being. They can’t tell you why or how they arrived at the right answer. They just know it in their core. They can’t show their work. So don’t ask. Their minds simply resonate with the Way. When the Way is present, so are they.

While others are blind to it, and society begs you to ignore it, ‘the Way’ stirs you inside. Neurological repression blocks most people’s awareness of the Way – censoring all thoughts and impulses from the unconscious is their prefrontal cortex – the gestapo of the brain – nothing which violates its socialized programming even gets through; but your mind is different. your mind has been cracked wide open to the Way – by some miraculous genetic trait, some psychotropic chemical or maybe even by the will of your very soul, your brain’s reward pathways have been hijacked – dopamine employed to overthrow the fascist dictatorship of your prefrontal cortex – now your brain is free of repression, your mind free of censorship, your awareness exposed to the turbulent seas of the unconscious – through this open doorway divine light shines into your consciousness showing you the Way. This is what makes you a Wayseer.

90% of human civilization is populated with those who’s brains are blocked to the Way. Their brains are hardwired to enforce the social programming indoctrinated since birth. Unlike you they cannot break out of this programming, because they have not yet experienced the necessary revolution of mind. These programmed people take social institutions and rules very seriously. Society is full of games programmed to keep peoples’ minds occupied so they will not revolt. These games often cause sick fixations on peculiar protocols, power structures, taboos and domination – all subtle forms of human bondage – This distinct form of madness is not only tolerated by the masses but insisted upon. The programmed ones believe in rules so forcefully they become willing to destroy anyone who violates them.

Wayseers are the ones who call their bluff. Since Wayseer minds are free to reject social programming, Wayseers readily see social institutions for what they are – imaginary games. Wayseers comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable. Helping those who are lost in these games and refuse to help themselves is a calling of many Wayseers. Since Wayseers are the ones who keep contact with the original source of reality – they are able to disrupt societal conventions and even governments to realign humanity with the Way.

The Wayseers are an ancient lineage. A kind of priesthood – carriers of the flame – ones “in the know.” There must always be Wayseers to reform the dizzying psychotic spinning gears of society – giant mindless hamster wheels obscuring the pure blue sky, keeping humanity shackled in a darkened cage – so Wayseers are called – to shed light on the madness of society – to continually resurrect the timeless transcendent Spirit of Truth –

Wayseers reveal this divine truth by devoting themselves to the birth of some creative or disruptive act expressed through art or philosophy, innovations to shake up industry, revolutions for democracy, coups that topple hypocrisy, movements of solidarity, changes that leave a legacy, rebellions against policy, spirit infused technology, moments of clarity, things that challenge barbarity, watersheds of sincerity, momentous drives for charity

We are – all – the same – you know
‘cuz we’re all affected by the way –
We are – all – the same – you know
‘cuz we’re all attracted to the flame –

This is your calling, Wayseer.
You’ve found your tribe.
Welcome home.”

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Jessica Joslin – Strange Nature

Portrait of Jessica by JARED JOSLIN

“Portrait of Jessica” by JARED JOSLIN

Jessica Joslin – Innovative Artist – Strange Nature

Jessica Joslin is a wonderful mixed media artist who turns animal bones and antique mechanical parts into a menagerie of unusual, yet magical creatures. Her artwork is, at the same time, both whimsical and macabre. Each of her sculptures starts out as a diverse collection of found objects that is reborn as a new life form. These curious creatures demand your attention with their contrast between life and death; engineered and natural; generalized and detailed; and mechanistic and organic.

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Trained as a visual artist, with a strong background in photography, Joslin is also self-taught in taxidermy, animal anatomy, model making, prototyping, casting and carpentry. It is this eclectic array of skills that Joslin uses to create her fascinating art. She has pioneered new ground in the art world by following both her passions – art and biology.

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As a child, Joslin was interested in biology. Growing up in Boston, her father would take her to the Harvard Museum of Natural History where she studied the collections of articulated skeletons in their wooden cabinets. “In part, that really shaped my attitude toward working with bones, because I never saw them as macabre,” Joslin said. “I saw them as a beautiful thing left over from an animal. People tend to associate bones and mortality so they have an instinctual aversion to them. But for me, I’m coming at it from a long- standing interest in naturalism and osteology.” Encouraged by her visits to museums, Joslin also developed a passion for collecting seedpods, bones, seashells, and other objects of natural history. As a young girl, family hikes proved to be treasure hunts for Joslin.

Sideshow Freaks Jessica Joslin artwork 10

Joslin says that she has always loved the taxidermy displays found in natural history museums. After she began teaching herself taxidermy, Joslin’s artwork began to reflect elements of the craft. In 1992, Joslin built her first anatomical beast while still attending the Art Institute of Chicago. Although related, Joslin’s art, which is inspired by her interest in biology and anatomy, is not taxidermy. She works with animal forms and uses animal parts, like a taxidermist; but she only uses bones and not the animal’s skin so it’s not taxidermy; it’s more like osteology. Whereas taxidermy is primarily concerned with the animal’s exterior form; Joslin’s artwork focuses on the internal structure, which in turn reflects the animal’s external form.

Sideshow Freaks Jessica Joslin artwork 9

To date, Joslin has created over 200 of her amazing sculptures that range in size from an inch tall to nearly six feet high. Joslin devotes many hours to perfecting every nuance of a sculpture putting her heart and soul into her art. She typically works with found objects, such as antique chandeliers, jewelry, candy dishes, silverware, arcane industrial hardware, animal skulls, or the bones of birds and fish that are reconfigured into the appropriate anatomical forms. The found objects are carefully selected and then meticulously assembled using mechanical fastenings, such as miniature machine bolts, universal joints, or couplings, into intricate fusions of bone and metal that magically comes to life.

Sideshow Freaks Jessica Joslin artwork 8

Sideshow Freaks Jessica Joslin artwork7

Joslin’s artwork provokes strong reactions from its viewers. According to Joslin, “People are either horrified or delighted. There isn’t a whole lot in between!” Those that found her work disturbing were mainly concerned about the animal bones used in the artwork. While those who found the artwork delightful felt a child-like sense of wonder for these magical creatures.

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We thank Jessica Joslin, a wonderful artist, innovator and amateur naturist for her beautiful contributions to the sideshow of life.

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Jessica Joslin also has a book of her works, Strange Nature, published by Lisa Sette Gallery. she said. “I’ve heard so many lovely, wonderful things from people who have seen my work online and enjoy it, but can’t afford to be an art collector, so I wanted to do something. I am hoping those people will see the book and get a better idea of how finely crafted these pieces are, and it will get my work to a wider audience.” For more of Jessica Joslin’s work, go to:

Learn More About Jessica Joslin

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Andrew Ucles Catches More Than Wild Rabbits Using Snakes

This morning I accidentally can across the following video on YouTube that was made by a young Australian, Andrew Ucles, who epitomizes the modern day sideshow freak. After watching this video, I would describe Andrew Ucles as a young, wilder version of Steve Irwin mixed with a little bit of Johnny Knoxville and Michael Jackson. Take a look at the video – what do you think?

Catching Wild Rabbits using Snakes

I find his whole concept of using deadly poisonous snakes to catch rabbits as a survival technique to be more than a bit crazy. If you are going to catch venomous snakes as a survival foraging strategy why not just cut off their heads and eat the snakes. Why risk your life by putting the snakes down a rabbit’s burrow simple to get the rabbit to run out. The risk-reward equation is all wrong here.

However, after seeing this video I had to find out more about this guy, Andrew Ucles. Who is he? Why would he do this? And of course that was the real point of the video – to get your attention – and it works. Like a train wreck that you cannot turn away from, Andrew Ucles and his work has that quality that compels you to want to see and know more. Andrew, himself, is actual quite a good showman. He is likeable and confident and he has a boldness that I believe most people will find appealing. So who is this guy, anyway?

On his website, Andrew describes himself as a passionate, unique and eccentric 25 year old Australian wildlife adventurer with an insatiable curiosity for catching wild animals. He claims to be inspired by the likes of Steve Irwin, Donald Schutlz, Sir David Attenborough and Bear Grylls. Andrew has a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science, is currently studying for his master’s in Environmental Science and Animal Management and has indicated an interest in pursuing a doctorate in the near future.

Andrew describes his upbringing as middle class, and where family conversations revolved around financial gains and the importance of sustainability through one’s career. His parents had encouraged him to become an engineer or a miner as these were considered to be good stable careers. However, Andrew says that he was quick to develop a dislike for this line of thinking. Andrew recalls, “From a young age I perceived life differently; whilst other kids would be collecting basketball cards and hanging out at the skate park, I would be in the bush collecting venomous snakes and spiders, watching and studying animals to develop techniques to capture them.” He describes the story of his life as “one big close call with death”. Apparently, he has been bitten by venomous snakes that he would capture as a child, and more recently he was stung by venomous scorpions in the Australia outback. Andrew goes on to say “but the risks I have taken have paid off.”

I guess by that he is referring to the success that his 35 videos have found on YouTube. His YouTube channel has an audience of over 4 million and climbing rapidly. In August 2012, Andrew Ucles set off to Zambia, Africa to

walk the Zambezi River and document his journey. He journeyed across Zambia interacting with dangerous animals and indigenous people. On his unforgettable, three month journey, Andrew covered more than 350 kilometers. More recently Andrew returned to Africa and spent 10 weeks in Kenya. The footage from his African experience was compelling enough for Discovery International (i.e. The Discovery Channel) to cut a deal with Andrew that could have his documentary segment viewed by over 1.6 billion people later this year. Not one to miss an opportunity Andrew has created Ucles Entertainment Productions and is even developing a tour package for adventure travelers who want to “Experience a part of his passion, skill and love for wildlife and embark on a camping trip unlike any other.”

Andrew says “I was born a dreamer, I am different.” And it is clear that Andrew is different and that he is following his dream and his passion. We wish him much success and admire Andrew Ucles for having the courage to take the road less traveled, a true sideshow freak on the stage of life, entertaining and inspiring the rest of us who have simply followed each other down the common path.
.   Andrew Ucles Catches More Than Wild Rabbits using Snakes

Andrew Ucles Website   Andrew Ucles Catches More Than Wild Rabbits using Snakes  Africa

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An Brief History of Sword Swallowing

sideshow freaks  history of sword swallowing   indian sword swallower

Sword swallowing, along with fire eating, fire walking, beds of nails, and snake charming is an ancient art having its origins in India about thousands of years ago. Developed by priests, known as fakirs or sadhus, the art was used to demonstrate the fakir’s connection with the gods.

sideshow freaks  indian fakir  bed of nails

Ironically, Native American (American Indian) Shamen independently developed a type of sword swallowing, although they did not have swords. Instead the Native American shaman swallowed either a long stick or an arrow, to prove their strength and endurance. This practice was also often associated with venomous snake handling and other ascetic religious practices.

sideshow freaks hopi snake dance  native american

Sword Swallowing is extremely dangerous and should not be attempted by amateurs or thrill seekers. Safely swallowing a sword comprises both great physical and mental control. The first obstacle in acquiring this ability is to overcoming the gag reflex. This can be achieved over time by accustoming the pharynx to touch. The art of sword swallowing can take many years to learn and even more to truly master.
sideshow freaks sword swallower  sword swallowing circus sideshow

From India, sword swallowing spread west to Greece and then to Rome and east to China and then to Japan. Like magic, drama, and music, all of which have their origins in religious practices, sword swallowing became a form of entertainment. During the time of the Roman Empire, sword swallowers entertained at festivals. Sword swallowing became popular in early Japan as part of an acrobatic form of theater known as “Sangaku”. Sangaku also featured tightrope walking, juggling, and other acrobatic skills. Later as sword swallowing spread across Europe, it was usually practiced mainly by traveling street performers who would perform in public squares and at festivals.

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circus sideshow captain don leslie  sword swallower sideshow freaks Captain Don Leslie – Circus Sideshow Performer

In the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, sword swallowing found a welcomed spot in the sideshows of circuses and carnivals. During this time when the circus was the most popular form of entertainment in America, sword swallowers flourished and for many years their numbers increased. Since the 1950’s with the cost efficiency and popularity of mechanical rides at carnivals and the advent of the television, and now the internet, the golden age of the circus is gone. With the demise of the American Circus industry, the numbers of sword swallowers dwindled. Today there are perhaps fifty sword swallowers in the world. However, with the current revival of sideshow performances sword swallowing may also be making a comeback.

circus sideshow  dai andrews sword swallower modern farik  sideshow freaks

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