By LORNA PERRY
Nothing says freak show like palm trees, volleyball players, 20oz tallboys of PBR and…honest-to-God freaks of mothereffin’ nature. Such was the case at the Westport Beach Club last night, during the 999 Eyes Authentic Vaudevillian Freak Show.
Things kicked off with KC’s Hopeless Destroyers, delivering their tightly-wound brand of pummeling punk rock to a sizeable, eclectic audience that included musician types, the heavily tattooed/pierced, average joes, volleyball players and a smattering of small children.
Many people (especially wide-eyed children) took the time to browse through the large, archival photo display on hand chronicling the history of freak shows at the entrance to the venue.
As day turned to dusk, the show began. A band of gypsy musicians filed onstage, taking their places in front of the colorful, oddity-filled carnival back drops behind them. Most noticable was the drummer, a normal-sized man with tiny, T-Rex-sized arms and twisted hands. As the band swung into upbeat carnival polka, the host for the evening, a lass wearing striped stockings and a marching band hat, took the stage and introduced the first act.
A clown with a mullet instead of a ‘fro brought out a closed box the size of a guitar case and set it on center stage – from which rose Tripod Girl. Strikingly pretty, she sat on top of her case while hoisting a microphone, and sang slow, smoky blues numbers to the audience. Perfectly normal from the waist up, below was another story – she had one leg and one foot, and it was about 4 inches long.
As the show went on, it became clear that 999 Eyes is less the pain and mangling variety of freak show, and more the traditional variety of freak show— showcasing genetic anomolies and the like.
Tripod Girl was followed by Lobster Girl, a young woman with no discernable freakish attributes, save the fused claw she had for a left hand. Not quite as extreme as Grady Stiles, but a claw non the less. She proved the usabilty of her claw by tying complicated knots in a rope.
Elephant Man was next, and while he in wasn’t of the extreme Joeseph Merrick type, he was definitely suffering von Recklinghausen disease.
Tripod Girl came back out and amazingly, did handstands for the crowd while Lobster Girl and a tiny, tiny midget shot a hotdog into the mouth of a clown using a customized T-shirt cannon.
A sword swallower dropped several different swords down his gullet and invited an audience member to pull the last one out.
What was perhaps the most unusual act was saved for last. The tiny tiny midget woman who helped shoot the hot dog cannon came out with a big bucket of broken glass. Spreading the glass on the stage, she took off her shoes and placed her lumpy, misshappen feet on the glass and then jumped up and down with glee, ending her act with the splits.
The show wound down to an end after that, which is just as well, since the wind was kicking up into Something Wicked This Way Comes –like gales.