the Conundrum and his eye hook

Something Freaky This Way Came...

The Jim Rose Circus
Vancouver, B.C.
Saturday, March 15, 1997

Review by Suzanne Goodwin
Photography by Rodney Gitzel

"I jumped into the gene pool when Mum wasn't looking... and crawled my way out of the abortion bucket..." said the alien warbling voice over the P.A. just before the show. Eew, yuck. But this was merely a precursor to the Jim Rose Circus, Seattle's grotesque cocktail of all the stuff you're warned never to try at home.

Bebe takes a nap Starting the show was Bebe the Circus Queen, a skinny ringer for Elvira, who walked barefoot up a ladder of swords, then lay topless on a bed of nails while Rose stood on her chest. Allowing a black-hooded guy to chop in half a watermelon balanced upon the back of her neck was another standard trick, but it suitably primed us for cringing -- so enter the Conundrum.

the Conundrum and his scorpion A strange, blue, completely jigsaw puzzle piece tattooed man with little nubby horns imbedded into his bald head (you may have seen him on the X-Files or in National Geographic), the Conundrum (née the Enigma) first showed us all a new way to have fun with a condom: Just shove it up your nose and blow it out the other nostril! Want more fun? Have Bebe strap a metal plate to her crotch, and while she goes at it with a grinder, just crawl through her legs and light up a smoke in the fountain of sparks.

the Conundrum and an icky condom A face full of sparks just doesn't faze a guy who lets a live scorpion crawl into his mouth and chases that down with cockroaches and other creepies. Dessert followed with an "anatomical smoothie" (mostly blue Gatorade, some yogurt and a few other bits of flavouring) pumped into his stomach via plastic tubing, then pumped out again and then re-ingested normally with a drinking glass. Definitely getting gross now, the Conundrum wasn't quite done. He completed his feast by swallowing and extracting an entire sword blade... yikes! (Not content with all that, he also spent the rest of the night hunched over his keyboards, conjuring up most of the show's industrial-ish soundtrack.)

Bebe grinding away... Next up: Mexican Transvestite Wrestling, in which one masked and caped wrestler pins his/her/its opponent long enough to make them suck on the hot pink dildo swinging from their groin. Though not particularly skillful or interesting, it was a brief respite from bodily torture testing and it did introduce us to Billy Martinez, "the Human Pretzel."

the Conundrum gets pumped After dislocating his shoulder and having an audience member swing from his dangling arm (eeg!), Billy fit his entire body headfirst through an unstrung tennis racquet (it was a little slow going near the, um, midriff), and then taught us a more comfortable way to play bass guitar: with your feet behind your head!

But why let the kids have all the fun? The ringmaster had a few tricks up his nose, too: swallowing razor blades and regurgitating them tied onto a string; hammering a spoon stem into his head via a nostril and then removing it coated in blood; having Bebe throw darts at his bare back; and, still not feeling enough pain, having a reluctant female audience member stomp his face into a bag of broken glass.

Billy Martinez pretends he's Geddy Lee Jim Rose is obviously a guy you don't screw with, as some audience participants found out when they wouldn't fake being hypnotized. If you want water poured all over you, or to be ridden around onstage like an ass and have your wallet stolen, just don't do what he says. I wonder what this guy does for kicks...

Judy & Katy He probably watches Topless Female Sumo Wrestling. Keen to share this sport with us, Rose introduced us to Judy "Bull Moose" Jenkins (420 lbs, apparently) and Katy "the Pile Driver" Wilson (380 lbs). Reminiscent of Homer Simpson's cannon-ball-in-the-stomach trick, Judy first lay on her back with a cinder block on her stomach while that black-hooded guy smashed it with a sledge hammer. Judy and Katy then proceeded to wrestle, wearing nothing but traditional Sumo costumes, ferociously bumping bellies and shoving each other around until one went out of bounds or fell over. This isn't likely to take the strip bar world by storm...

Mr. Lifto lifts... But enough of the trailer-trash jolly-fest; it was time for some art -- chainsaw art. Yes, you, too, can have your initials carved into an apple with a chainsaw -- while the apple is in your mouth! No one was left unscathed tonight as the Chainsaw Stunt Team ran amok throughout the crowd in the suddenly darkened venue with chainsaws buzzing away for a little urban clear-cutting.

the 'cuckoo cock' The evening's finale was a naked Mr. Lifto and his "cuckoo-cock": two household irons attached to cords, duct-taped to his penis, and lifted and swung about. He then lifted, all at once, a live car battery hooked up to his tongue, a cinder block attached to nipple rings and those irons, again, attached by cords to the carabiners he uses as ear-rings. Seemingly on the brink of his pain threshold, Mr. Lifto finished up with a bang and lit up 100 firecrackers on his chest to end the freakmare.

Altogether weird and kinda gross, the show was oddly fascinating. Jim Rose knows how to keep a crowd on its toes and, as our MC, he never skipped a beat between his sardonic wit and frenetic stage energy. Chalk this one up for the freaks.

First published in Drop-D Magazine on April 4, 1997

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