What was your first memories of Show Business and how did that
A: My first memory of show business was when I got to
ride in the opening ceremonies of the Ringling show at
Square Garden. The other thing I remember is seeing a magician
at my elementary school, but I can't remember which one was
first, it was all around the same time.
Q: It's my understanding that you were bitten by the show
bug at age 8, what was it that you liked about magic?
A: Just the fact that I could do something that few
others could and it would even impress adults. At 8 most boys
are trying to find there way and discover who they are. I, like
a lot of other future magi used magic tricks to be accepted.
Later I took my love of magic and used it to freak people out.
Q: What were the first tricks you learned and were did
A: I bought a Blackstone magic kit from Kay Bee Toys. It
had a slew of tricks that were all pretty cheesy, but to me they
were the Holy Grail. I think the first trick I learned was the
Lota Bowl. That is the trick where you empty a bowl of water and
it keeps refilling itself over and over again. Then there was
the snapper, which to this day is still one of my favorite
tricks to pull on someone. My first shows were of coarse for my
family, then when we would have company I would do a show for
them, then I did a few shows for my friends at there birthday
parties. But, my first professional tricks came when I was about
14 and I met a clown/magician at a party and he gave me the
number for a gentleman who sold professional magic out of his
house. The first time I set foot in his showroom I thought I was
going to die, it was like discovering King Tut's Tomb to me.
That's when I knew that I really wanted to stick with this.
Q: What was the reaction of your family when they learned
about your interest?
A: Well, they thought it was great. They have always been
very supportive of what I do. They don't always agree with some
of the risks I take but they support me.
Q: You were in a parade at Madison Square Garden, Why and
how were you selected to be a part of the circus parade?
A: Back in the day, I don't know if they still do, some
people from the show would come into the audience and select
some kids at random to sit in the cars that opened the show. I
was there with my Cub Scout troop...(hold for laughter), and
they were picking people in my section so I jumped up and made
sure they picked me. It was a great experience that I have never
Q: Now that was Ringling Brothers?
A: Yes, the Ringling show
Q: Now, it was around the age of 10 you experienced your
first sideshow, Was that on The Ringling Brothers, Barnum &
Bailey Circus what impressed you about the sideshow?
A: No, the first sideshow I saw was at the Clyde Beatty
show. It was in a mall parking lot and my father, who was a
police officer at the time, took me to see the circus. He told
me about the tent outside and said that we should go take a
look, and low and behold there were the freaks. They had them
all, a bearded lady, snake girl, fire eater, contortionist,
little people, and a sword swallower. Once again I was chosen to
pull a sword from his gullet and I thought he was the coolest
guy in the world. Just to see everyone looking up at us and
being in total awe, it was very impressive.
Q: Do you remember who was on that show and your
impression of their acts?
A: I don't remember any of there names but the sword
swallower and the really sexy fire eater/snake girl. I thought
all of them were incredible at the time. I don't know if I saw
them today if I would have the same impression.
Q: How did that effect the direction you thought you
wanted to go?
A: Well, I love magic and always will. I have made a good
living off of magic as well. But, I always kept my love of
sideshow stunts out of my performing life because I didn't think
anyone but me wanted to see this stuff. But, I put in fire
eating first into my magic act and it went over, in a huge way.
So now my act is a combination of my two loves, the magic &
illusion and the sideshow stunts.
Q: You referrer to the sideshow acts as stunts, some
people think that the sideshow acts are like magic acts, you
know the sword goes into the handle etc. Could you tell our
reader what the differences between the two arts are and do you
think people miss understand what sideshow performers do and the
danger that they face in doing the acts.
A: Well, when I perform magic I usually refer to them as
effects or illusions. I do not claim that they are real.
Although when I do an effect that is a ghost effect or haunted
effect I neither deny nor say if it was real or not, I let them
make that decision. But when I am performing sideshow stunts
that is exactly what they are. We are no different then a
stuntman, because we take calculated risks. We are trained and
skilled performers who make dangerous stunts fun and exciting to
watch but for the most part come out mostly unscathed. I let the
audience know throughout the course of the show how long some of
the stunts have taken me to perfect and how many hours and
sometimes years it has taken to make it look so easy. With magic
there is only the illusion of danger for the most part, but not
always. In the sideshow there is real actual and sometimes
physical harm that can come to us. Although we have been known
to stretch the truth form time to time ala Barnum.
Q: A lot of kids are exposed to Magic and Sideshows, Most
just play around with dime store magic or play circus moving on
to the other things kids find interesting. What was it that
attracted you to both these forms of entertainment?
A: MONEY!!! Just kidding. We all know there isn't a whole
lot of that in the beginning. It was the sensation that I got
from being on stage, the rush and the butterflies. I lived in a
semi rural town and I didn't hang out with a lot of my friends
outside of school. So I had plenty of time to practice and hone
my skills. And when I would show someone and I could fool them
or freak them out I knew I didn't want that feeling to end.
Q: Was it something your parents supported or did they
think it was just a passing fad?
A: They were always very supportive of my magic. I don't
think they thought that I would make a living from it, but the
sideshow act was a little different. They thought I was going to
kill myself with the crazy things I was trying to do. You see
everything I perform in the show I taught myself. I used trial
and error to figure this stuff out, I wish I had access to
someone who could have helped me but at that time there was just
no one for me to go to. So like most parents they tried to talk
me out of it, but that didn't work obviously. It is not what I
would suggest others do, I was very lucky in a few situations.
Q: What encouragement did you receive from you friends
and family, and how did that effect you decision to enter the
A: They all thought the things that I could do were very
impressive, but they didn't want me to get hurt. That was
everyone's main concern, they were afraid that since I didn't
have anyone to teach me that I would screw myself up. And I a
few occasions I did just that and had to go to the emergency
room. Buy, no pain no gain, and I soldiered on.
Q: What was your biggest break as a child performer?
A: I would have to say when I landed a deal with all the
recreation departments. I thought I hit the mother load. They
were paying me $500 to do an hour show. To a young kid that was
Q: Going from Magic to Sideshow Arts is a little jump,
what were some of the acts you learned?
A: First was escapes, then fire eating, bed of nails,
blockhead, glass eating, and pincushion.
Q: As most performers learn they have mishaps, what were
some of the things that happened to you?
A: Well, I burned the hell out of myself many, many
times. Learning to eat fire wit
no one to help was a painful lesson. The blockhead act also
proved to be a bit painful when I would scrape the inside of the
nose and bleed. Glass eating actually didn't give me any problem
as I developed a way of trying it that made it less dangerous.
But, pain is part of the job if you are not willing to bleed for
this art form then you should not get into it.
Q: Most season performer who advise the up and coming to
search out a mentor and not try to learn the acts
on their own, what your thoughts and advice to a new comer?
A: Definitely get a mentor!!! I would never suggest that
anyone should learn the way I did. You will learn quicker and
much more safely, avoiding all the pitfalls that I went through.
Q: You mentioned that you self taught yourself the
sideshow acts, but wouldn't recommend others trying to learn
with out a professional mentor, Could you give me more of your
thoughts and reasoning on why it's best to find a mentor?
A: For the simple reason of health issues. I spent a lot
of time researching the human anatomy, looking up different body
parts and where all of the nerves are. I would not change this
for the world because my knowledge has served me many times.
With a mentor you would just be able to learn the stunts in a
safer environment. When I taught myself how to eat glass, I
spent a week doing it. I started with a small piece, chewed it
up and waited to see what would happen the next day, and then I
kept going until I could devour the whole bulb. It just makes
sense to have a mentor, I was very lucky and fortunately for me
I had a lot of resource material on the human body.
I would say your were more than lucky, without proper training
and conditioning crashed glass can cut you insides or even kill
you. Where you aware of the risks and did you have the
information on conditioning when you started?
A: I was aware of the risks but I used my knowledge. I
knew what glass was made of and I knew how fine light bulb glass
was and how I could grind it up with my teeth. So, I just
put my best foot forward and went for it. Common sense plays a
big part in my life; I really took the time to break up the
glass with a hammer at first to see how it broke and to see how
small the fragments were. Then I read up on what glass is made
of and what are its primary components and put the equation
together to make it work. As far as conditioning for the stunt,
that came late after I figured out how to do it. I have a
nutritionist friend who sat down with me and went over all the
things that they could think of that would boost my immune
system and gave me there best guess as to what to eat to make my
system stronger for the stunts that I wanted to do. But, first
they told me not to do it...LOL.
Q: What kind of preparation and precautions do you do
before you go on stage?
A: I stretch for about 30 minutes prior to the show. I
also take charcoal pills 30 minutes prior to the show to help
absorb the toxins and poisons I put in my system. I drink lots
of water before and after the show, along with eating asparagus,
broccoli, cauliflower, raw spinach, all with crushed hot peppers
Q: I've been told by many performers that they prepare
not only physically but mentally before doing their acts. How
does your preparation help you mentally while you’re on stage?
A: It is very important to focus on stage and I usually
have my alone time prior to the show so that I can get my head
in the right place. I usually like to be alone before a show and
my crew knows that and leaves me alone. I can be something of a
bastard before the show because I am a serious perfectionist. I
never feel that the show is good enough, it can always be
better. With the proper meditation before the show it allows me
to be funnier and more relaxed while on stage so that I can have
fun with the audience.
Q: In the last couple of years the sideshow has had a
revival among young people; most of them have never had an
opportunity to see what most of us think is a traditional
sideshow. How would you compare what a lot of today's performers
do with the traditional sideshow acts?
A: I like watching the traditional acts myself, from a
historical point of view. But from a performers view point I
find a lot of those acts lacking entertainment value for today's
audience. I perform a very theatrical sideshow with lots of
costumes and upbeat music and special effects. The venues I play
and the audiences that I work for expect more, they are
comparing us to video games, MTV, JACKASS, things like that. You
have to really up the aunty, production value wise at your shows
now. Kids are much slicker now you can't get up there and do a
bally with old time humor and expect a kid covered in tattoos
and piercings to be impressed or laugh. You have to know your
audience, and today's audience want more of everything. That is
one of the reasons that I have put both my magic/illusion act
and my sideshow act together. It mixes well and lets them see a
little of everything, not just one or the other, so it doesn't
get stale for them.
Q: You were a street performer when you first started,
what kind of reaction did you receive from your audience?
A: It was mixed, like most street performances. Some days
you had great audiences that were fun to perform for and then
you had those other ones that made you want to jump off a roof.
But, they always loved the fire eating that was my mainstay.
Q: I know there are many young people that try to break
into show business by street performing; did you have a lot of
competition and what advise would you give a person wanting to
start now a days in the business?
A: The first thing that they are going to realize is that
no one want to pay you. Everyone tells you to do this show for
free and it will get you exposure. The only thing I ever
received form a free show was more requests for free shows. You
have to do them in the beginning but try to get at least a
little money out of them so that they don't think you are a push
over. You might also want to get use to eating roman noodle
soup, because you will not make a lot of money in the beginning,
but stick with it and if you want it bad enough you will
succeed. Don't let anyone tell you that it can't be done,
because there are a lot of us out there doing this for a living.
Always try to keep your act fresh and exciting to get stuck in a
rut where you are just doing the stunt and that's it. You need
to make sure that the people are having fun and they will be
excited to see you again.
Q: You have performed all around the country, what was
your first big job, and where did that lead you?
A: My first big job came when I met an older magician
named Jack Adams. I was doing a show with Jeff McBride and
several others at a Hindu monastery in upstate NY. Jack lived
there and he and I became friends. I later asked him if he would
take me on as an apprentice and teach me more about the art of
stage presence and showmanship. I later toured all of the US
with him and his daughter in a show called The Incredible Merlin
Magic Show. It was the biggest thing I had done up till then,
and I learned volumes form that man and I will always be
indebted to him for what he taught me. He was a student of Al
Flosso, and he passed on a lot of what he learned to me.
Q: Jack Adams was your mentor, why do think he made such
an impact on you and what would you say was the greatest wisdom
you learned from your experience working with him?
A: Because he told me when I sucked. Unlike a lot of
people you know they are always nice and they don't tell you
when an effect you are doing or a joke or something sucks. I
don't need people to tell me that everything is good, because I
know that is not true. I need someone to be constructive with
me, tell me what you didn't like and how I might make it better,
that makes you good. He was very honest and even though my
feelings were hurt from time to time, it made me the performer I
am today. The greatest wisdom he gave to me was to be myself and
not to copy others. I have emulated some that I think are great
but I don't copy them. Take something that you think is great
and make it your own, but do not do it the same way that they
do, then you are just cheating yourself and cheapening the
Q: What other magicians would you say had a great effect
on your stile and what was it that you learned from them?
A: Well, Jeff McBride was someone who came into my life
when I was changing my magic act. I was looking for something
much freakier and over the top to do. I was using heavy metal
music in my show and lots of crazy make-up and pyro. someone
told me about him and showed me a video of his act, and I said
that is exactly the type of thing that I am working on. It was
weird to see someone doing something that you have been trying
to do without ever knowing that they exist. We later became
friends and I have worked with him and learned volumes from him
Q: You have had appearances on TV, Live performances,
etc. What was the most interesting appearance you made?
A: I performed in a drag show one time that was pretty
interesting. To see how they transform themselves and the pain
that some of them go through to achieve the illusion is just
incredible. I will never look at duck tape in the same way
again; they could use them in a commercial to sell that stuff.
Q: I have read you were on the Howard Stern Show, what
was your experiences and how did you get hooked up with Howard?
A: I was at a bar in
one night doing a show with a band. Before the show I was making
my way up to the bar and I saw a guy who looked familiar. It
turned out that he was K. C. one of the producers from the show.
So I started talking to him and asked him flat out who do I talk
to about getting on the show. He said me, why what do you do? I
said watch and I took a straw from the bar and shoved it up my
nose and pulled it out and licked a booger off it. He asked what
else I could do and I told him to just watch the show. After the
show he took my number and by the following week I was on the
show. Just goes to show you, you never know who you will meet in
Q: How did being on the Howard Stern Show help you
A: A lot, doing that show first of all is great on a
resume. Secondly it is great for my demo reel, and then of
coarse Howard got me the spot on Ripley's. I would have to say
that doing his show was definitely worth getting up at 4 in the
Q: What is it that you like best about performance?
A: The freedom to be who I am all the time. Most people
get up everyday and hate what it is that they do for a living; I
won't ever have to feel that way. I am one of the luckiest
people in the world because I got to choose my profession
because I wanted to do it, not because I had to pick something
with good benefits and a 104 K. Those people envy us for our
freedom and uniqueness.
Q: Show business is a great place and I find that most
folks that are successful have a passion to perform. As you said
you got to choose your profession because You wanted to do it,
not because You had to pick something with good benefits and a
104 K, what are your plans if you can no longer perform and do
you see yourself being in the business for the rest of you work
A: If I can no longer perform then my life would be
pretty empty. I guess I would have to start giving classes on
the art to at least be involved a little bit. This is the only
job I can see myself doing, other then my other passion which is
mortuary science. If for some reason I had to give up performing
I would go back to that.
Mortuary science, would you share a little background of how you
got involved and why you find it interesting?
A: When I was in high school I was asked by my councilor
what type of field I wanted to go into. I had already been
involved with the haunted attraction industry and my grandmother
used to take me to funeral homes when I was young, so the first
thing I thought of was a mortician. I figured it was a good job;
you would always have work since people always died. You didn't
have to worry about not getting along wit your co-workers
because you were around dead people so if they said anything you
just get the hell out of there. I have always had an interest in
the human body, especially when it was post mortem. I don't
really know why but I could just stare at them all day when I
was little. I find that the vessel we occupy when we are alive
is more interesting when it is in decay. I know that sounds sick
but it really is hard to describe what it is that I like about
mortuary science that anyone could understand without babbling
on and on.
Q: What do you like least?
A: Negative people and people who stereo type us for the
way we look and what we do. It really pisses me off that people
come up to me and ask me after a show, "So what is your day
job?" They have no clue that you can make a living touring doing
this type of entertainment and make a very nice living. Then you
just have the people who hate you and talk shit because you have
the freedom to look and be what you want to and get paid for it,
while they have to sit in there office cubicle and rot away one
day at a time.
Q: I understand negative people, do you get a lot of
hackling from people at your shows and how do you handle them?
A: I LOVE hecklers!! They make me so happy when they
shout out stupid remarks that are so common. Then I just go into
a more comedy approach with them and get the audience to hate
them or make fun of them. But, they do make it fun for me, so I
keep on my toes. There is nothing that they can say that I
haven't heard before or that I don't have a comeback for. I
usually can shoot them down within 3 retorts.
Q: In the same vain do you get people that try to disrupt
your show and have you been hurt by anyone from your audience?
A: I did have this one guy at my haunted attraction show
that got pissed when I was messing with his girlfriend. She was
this overly made up blonde girl who was very pretty and she knew
it. She was drunk and tried to upstage me and I just proceeded
to tare into her. I normally don't do that as a rule but she was
really obnoxious and she deserved to get knocked down a few
pegs, sometimes karma looks like me. He man got stupid and
started to come on stage to fight me, but I have police security
at that show and they grabbed him and took him away. It was kind
of funny and I made a joke about it as they took him away and
kept going on with the show. Some of the audience thought it was
part of the act. But, I have had just two incidences where an
audience member hurt me. They were both during the blockhead, I
have the audience member pull the nail out with pliers, but
theses two girls thought it was fake and they yanked on the nail
really hard up and down and I just spewed blood all over them.
Once again, I just made a joke cleaned myself off and kept
going, the show must go on.
I know of a couple of performers who had people removed because
of threats but after the show the guy was wanting for them. Have
you ever had that experience?
A: No, not yet....I have been very lucky. I have a great
support team, and I always make sure that I have security at the
show and that they follow me and my crew to our vehicles after
the show. I have my own security that I bring on shows that are
big events just so I can make sure everyone is safe. Plus, I
usually make sure that I park away from the spectators.
Q: It sounds like you've had a pretty well rounded
career, what do you feel you have given back to the art and how
have you influenced other performers who know you or have see
you on stage?
A: I hope that I have at least made some people laugh and
pick up a book to learn. I hope that I have given back to the
art a new approach and a new audience. I hope that I have
influenced other performers to see that you don't have to
perform just within the boundaries of what you know. Go outside
of what you know and you will see that there is a whole new
group of spectators just waiting to be freaked out.
Q: Is there anything you haven't added to your
performance that you would like to learn?
A: I'm currently working on sword swallowing, that is the
one stunt that I feel I must learn. It is just the
quintessential sideshow stunt that I feel I have not put into my
act. I do so many other stunts but that is the one, for myself I
feel I must do.
Q: I know a lot of the folks in the business do
variations on an act, have you developed any new acts, what are
they and what reaction do you get from your audiences?
A: I am doing a new stunt where I am handcuffed, wrapped
in 50 feet of chain that is pad locked to me, and then I'm
locked into a mail bag. Now, while I try to escape my two
assistants beat me with baseball bats. It is a comedy piece for
the most part, but I took two escape effects and put them
together to try to make something not only funny but
entertaining as well.
Q: Where do you want to find yourself in five years?
A: Hopefully still in Vegas. I have an audition the
beginning of September for a show at the Excalibur Hotel, and if
I get it I will be moving there again full time and that is
where I would like to stay for many years. I would also like to
continue to tour from time to time and do some shows overseas.
But mostly I would like to be doing what I love and to meet more
sideshow people and do combined shows so that a more wide
variety of people can see what it is that we have devoted our
lives to doing.
Q: Is there anything else you would like to tell our
A: Never forget where we came from, we are sideshow
performers. I have seen too many of us trying to be the main
act, that is not what we are. We are the show on the side, if
you make your show available to be a middle act or an opener
then you will get more work. I work frequently the whole year
long because I never forget that. I have headlined with my
magic/illusion act, but never with the sideshow act. It is best
when you don't give them too much of it because then they become
immune to the sites and it loses its edge. We are the little
dirty secret that is whispered about in the corner, and that is
why so many people like to come play with us. If anyone would
like to contact me they can get me through my web site at
Interview by John Robinson
All Photographs courtesy of John
Each month we will try and
interview a new performer for the site. Because of the logistics
of it face to face interviews are tough to come by. A good
percentage of the interviews we will be doing will be via e-mail
or telephone. If you are interested in being interviewed for the
drop us a line.