Olde City Sideshow: Bug Eaters, Sword Swallowers, Human Blockheads Take Over Churchill's
Living in South Florida, you may feel like you're part of one big circus. Whether it's escaped wild animals and endless palmetto bugs or that crazy lady tossing her baby at a police officer, this region is awash in a weirdness that never seems to settle.
Olde City Sideshow
Maybe what Miami needs is a professional touch, someone to take all that freaky behavior and put it in the capable hands of trained performers. Enter Olde City Sideshow, a traveling evening of performance art in the stylings of vaudeville, burlesque and the historical sideshow atmosphere, mixed with Philadelphia's counter-culture flair.
Founded in 2006, Philadelphia's Olde City Sideshow has evolved from a classical vaudeville show with silent talkers to a modern variety event, featuring a combination of acts ranging from fire eating, sword swallowing, and glass walking, to comedy, magic, the Human Blockhead & Human Insectivore, burlesque, and more.
"I'm a rotten sword swallower, which is something I tell myself I'm going to work on all the time, but I think sword swallowing is one of the most awful, boring, least rewarding things ever, so I tend not to do it," said Olde City performer Reggie Bugmuncher. "I do the insectivore act, which usually includes eating crawlers, crickets, goldfish and the like."
Other stomach-twisting acts Olde City specializes in are Bed of Nails, Bed of Barbed Wire, and Human Blockhead. "Sometimes we get cinder blocks smashed on us with a sledgehammer or audience members stand on us when we're inside the barbed wire," Reggie said. "Human blockhead is when people hammer nails in their noses."
Though they might sound like scenes from the next installment of Hostel, Olde City Sideshow's acts stem from historical and modern takes on the vaudeville performance genre, with professionally trained entertainers Brunetti and Danny Borneo at the helm.
"Dan's more of the nose person," Reggie said. "We do glass walking, and over the past year we've been doing more sideshow-themed burlesque, which incorporates more glass rubbing on my body, fire eating and breathing...I had all through college been completely in love with the Pontani Sisters, these burlesque dancers out of New York. I was completely entranced with them and that opened up my love of variety."
Though she started at the bottom, Reggie eventually moved up to perform her favorite acts, like Bed of Nails. "Every single time somebody steps on me, or every single time the sledgehammer comes down on the cinder blocks, there's always that moment of, 'Oh my God, why am I doing this?' " Reggie said. "There's this intense rush."