Sideshow performer Jeremy Kinison of Cut Throat Freak Show loves to shock and awe with his dangerous-looking antics. And he did plenty of both while living in the Valley for more than a decade, whether it was juggling chainsaws at local bars or leaping on broken glass on street corners at various First Fridays.
On Saturday, the 33-year-old daredevil, who spends his time these days touring with Cut Throat Freak Show across the country, returns to his old stomping grounds of Phoenix to drop more jaws and pop more eyes when the troupe performs at Gypsy Bar. Their array of sideshow-quality stunts (which includes glass eating, hatchet tossing, and sword swallowing) will be part of the carnival-style entertainment taking place during Jen Deveroux's Bearded Octopus art show.
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Though Kinison says that Cut Throat's showcase at Gypsy Bar this weekend will be jam-packed with the same sort of thrilling tricks that entertained locals for more than 10 years -- like his trademark gag of lifting heavy objects with chains that are hooked onto his lower eyelids and cheeks -- plenty of new stunts and performers have been added to the wild repertoire.
The past year has been a busy one for Kinison and the other members of Cut Throat. They made memorable appearances on NBC's America's Got Talent last summer, when he and his wife, Lauren "CandyPants" Grace, wowed the judges, including notorious shock jock Howard Stern. (Unfortunately, Kinison says, the troupe had a disagreement with the show's producers over scheduling and weren't able to make a second appearance on AGT.) More importantly, they also traveled around the country adding equally weird acts and performers to the ensemble.
Needless to say, Cut Throat has changed considerably since the days when Kinison performed regularly outside Carly's Bistro during practically every First Friday.
"It's a much wider spectrum than the show used to be, and a lot sillier," he says. "We still have all of the really shocking material, which I know is going to shock at more of an upscale kind of place like [Gypsy Bar]. But we've gotten so silly with it that even if you have to cringe and turn away from a couple of the things, we've got some really, really inane stuff too."
Some of the new additions to the already strange rogue's gallery include Harvey Gross (a.k.a. "The Grossest Man in Sideshow") who wields the ability to shoot "six-foot clouds of green smoke out his ass," and he eats insects to boot.
"He's a nasty character," Kinison says. "He's known as the 'Prince of Pus' and the 'King of the Booger Fling.'"
There's also Hermie the Alternative Balloon Twister, who creates space aliens and vampires that shoot confetti-like blood out of their nether regions, and the performer known as Fiasco, a transvestite hatchet juggler and old friend of Kinison's whom he's known since 1996.
And then there's Candy Pants, a tattooed femme fatale who swallows swords, eats fire, and balances precariously on wine glasses.
Kinison has also added some new gags to arsenal of outlandish capers, including a variation of the old "Human Blockhead" trick where he inserts a long, skinny Lego piece into his sinus cavity. He hopes to astound the crowd at Gypsy Bar with the act, but only if he can get another Lego toy removed.
"I've been taking one of the shorter Lego pieces, like 10 dots by one, and shoving it up my nose and then coughing it up and pulling it out of my mouth," Kinison says. "The last time I did it, I got it stuck up my nose and it's still there. I've got an appointment in Vegas two days before I get to Phoenix to get it taken out. It doesn't hurt, it's not causing any problems -- I can still blow a snot rocket if I want to -- I just can't do that trick right now with it in there."
Feats of skill involving children's toys and freaks emitting noxious fumes won't be the only weirdness at the event, Deveroux says, as Bearded Octopus will feature such circus-style fun and attractions as striptease vixens Scandalesque and the Gypsy Bar staff dressed as sideshow characters, like the bearded lady. Both cotton candy and popcorn will also be available.
Deveroux says that when she was planning the event, she wanted it to do more than showcase the theatrics of Kinison and his kooky crew.
"I wanted to integrate it into a big production," she says. "Since we already have a sideshow going, we figured it would be cool to have an event that was very circus-like."
That extends to all the works that will cover the walls of the Gypsy Bar, as Deveroux has gathered a rather bizarre and ribald repast of art to astound, astonish, and amaze during the circus-inspired event.
As usual with one of Deveroux's visual smorgasbords, Bearded Octopus is jam-packed with works from a horde of Valley creative types. More than 60 locals have submitted works, and a majority of the pieces involved will feature unusual tableaus and strange characters.
Jason Rudolph Peña, for instance, contributed an acrylic on wood panel painting titled Jerry, which boasts the portrait of a pinhead-like individual. Jeremy Arviso also got into the theme of the showcase by creating what Deveroux calls a "very provocative and weird piece" involving the titular beaded octopus.
"He wouldn't tell me exactly what he's doing, but it sounds like it going to be pretty freaky," she says. "And all of these artists have created thing with oddities and whatnot that just seem to pop off the canvas."
That includes the works like local brush-wielder Daniel Langhans' trademark Care Bears rendered in skeleton form and pastels, and Tato Caraveo provided some of his typically freaky-yet-dreamy paintings.
Other artists involved in the show include Ashely Macias, Yai Nosaur, Randy Boogie Barton, Jayme Blue, Erika Jaynes, Aimee Bergvall, Stacks Malone, Nicole Marie McCord, Alekzander Shaw, Pitufo Azteca, The Erawig22, Marc Kosmo, Aimee Shattuck, Stefanie Hagemann, and Ray Rivas.
Seven folks will also be doing live art over the course of the evening, including Arviso and Banding Hendrix.
"The art crowd probably won't be shocked by some of the stuff at Bearded Octopus, but some of the more mainstream people that come out," she says. "I wanted this show to be shocking, and they're definitely going to bring that to the table."
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If some Gypsy Bar patrons in attendance do become overwhelmed, they can always retreat to the adjacent Lucky Strike bowling alley.
"We may also put an inflatable castle in there, so they could maybe go into there if everything gets too freaky," Deveroux jokes.
The Bearded Octopus Art Show featuring Cut Throat Freak Show takes place at 9:30 p.m. Saturday, March 9, at Gypsy Bar. Admission is free.