I’ve said it before, for someone with a lot of friends who perform sideshow I’m kind of squeamish. I see, maybe, half of their acts, peeking through my fingers. Imagine my delight when I found out a bunch of friends had joined together to form a sideshow troupe! I had a chance recently to chat with the five members of the newly formed The Aunt Sally Sideshow about their upcoming show at the Bier Baron and where they would actually draw the line.
Lucrezia: So first question I ask everyone – name, tagline, when and why did you get into sideshow/variety/burlesque?
Valeria: Valeria Voxx, The Velvet Valkyrie. I got in almost by accident, stayed in because I liked the crazy folks I got to work with. That was about 6 years ago.
Charlie: Charlie Artful, “The steak and cheese of sideshow.” In 2010, I saw Baron Von Geiger deadlift 100lbs with his ears and was inspired
Shaggy: Shaggy Wilcox, a werewolf in transition. I got involved two to three years ago because I wanted to push my body to the limits of human possibility.
Misha: Misha Mysteriosa, Maven of the Macabre. This is actually my first side show performance, but I’ve been a belly dancer for 10 years. I’m the new kid.
Who’s Aunt Sally?
Shaggy: I think Aunt Sally is a culmination of our collective spirit.
Charlie: That we throw things at.
Shaggy: Aunt Sally was an old parlor game in which drunks took turns trying to knock a pipe out of an old woman’s mouth.
Todd: Aunt Sally became the name based on two criteria – it had to be sideshow/carnie related, and we thought it would be fun to have the initials spell something kind of naughty – A.S.S. or Aunt Sally’s Sideshow. Aunt Sally is a pub game played in a small part of Britain that featured a figure of an old woman’s head with a pipe in its mouth. The goal was to break off the pipe by throwing a baton about 18” long. The game was so popular in the late 1800s that “Aunt Sally” became a colloquialism meaning someone who was the object of an easy but unfair attack.
That’s so sweet! What’s everyone’s sideshow specialty?
Shaggy: Pain endurance.
Misha: Belly dancing while balancing a sword on various parts of my body.
Charlie: Making classy a dirty word.
Valeria: Right now I’m mainly glass walking and burlesque, but I’m currently working new stuff into my repertoire. Pretty excited too, though some of it is going to take a few months of training.
Todd: Rope and straight jacket escapes and puns.
Will Aunt Sally be having any guest artists?
Todd: Eventually, yes.
Shaggy: In the near future but not at this first show.
Charlie: We will welcome guest hosts and performers in the future, but right now we are working on figuring out our own voice.
Do you plan on doing any themed or scripted shows?
Shaggy: Mostly no. The scene is already so heavily saturated with that kind of thing.
Charlie: If we come up with something really good, maybe.
Valeria: We’ve been tossing around one theme idea but that’s not going to be for a while.
What’s the no cross line for you with sideshow?
Todd: Needles for me.
Valeria: Fire for me.
Shaggy: My only boundary personally is to never do someone else’s signature act and call it my own. Nothing else is off limits.
Misha: Permanent scarring on my face. Ha ha.
Charlie: Bug eating (human terrarium).
What other gigs does Aunt Sally have lined up?
Shaggy: This is it. We are all committing suicide at this show.
Misha: The ultimate performance piece.
Charlie: Every other month at the Bier Baron starting in January.
Any last thoughts/words?
Shaggy: We are the future and end of sideshow. We are the darkness that swallows the light. Also we’re making these adorable gift bags for our VIPs.
Charlie: We are the new Power Rangers movie of sideshow. No one knows what to make of us, but tickets will be bought.
Misha: I’m still very new at this, but these lovely weirdos are teaching me the ropes. I’m excited to learn how high my pain tolerance is.
What’s in the gift bags?
Shaggy: The gift bags are a secret, also I don’t know, but to go back and answer your question seriously – I would like to make this my full time job: Performing, teaching and running a venue/museum. And I would like to do that with these lovely freaks.
The Aunt Sally Sideshow Reunion performs tomorrow, Saturday, November 5, 2016 at 9:00 PM at the Bier Baron – 1523 22nd Street, N.W., in Washington, DC. Tickets are available at the door for $15 or online for $12 or $20 (for VIP section, if you’re not faint of heart).