Hellzapoppin Circus Sideshow Revue gets freaky at Wildwood Saloon

The vaudeville freak show of wonder held their final tour performance at the Wildwood Saloon last night. The artists engaged in sword swallowing, fire eating, and deadly stunts to rock ‘n’ roll music.

Performers%2C+Bryce+Graves+aka+%E2%80%9CThe+Govna%E2%80%9D++and+Short+E.+Dangerously+aka+%28The+Half+Man%29+perform+as+part+of+Hellzapoppin+Circus+Sideshow+Revue+at+Wildwood+Saloon+on+Saturday%2C+April+3rd%2C+2021.+Hellzapoppin+is+a+touring+act+harkening+back+to+the+days+of+circus+freak+shows+updating+the+concept+for+a+modern+audience.

Tate Hildyard

Performers, Bryce Graves aka “The Govna” and Short E. Dangerously aka (The Half Man) perform as part of Hellzapoppin Circus Sideshow Revue at Wildwood Saloon on Saturday, April 3rd, 2021. Hellzapoppin is a touring act harkening back to the days of circus freak shows updating the concept for a modern audience.

Maddie Johnston, Arts Reporter


Freaks, illusions, and death-defying stunts; Hellzapoppin, the world-renowned circus freak show, offered audience members a night of thrill and wonder last night at Wildwood Saloon.

Outside of the venue, children threw frisbees, bikers lounged back on their motorcycles, and people dressed in all black hurriedly finished their last cigarette before joining the crowded room.

Inside Wildwood, the crowd buzzed with anticipation until a raspy voice from the speaker overhead begged their attention. The voice spoke in a terminally scary tone about facing darkest fears, letting it be the audience’s inspiration to overcome the darkness in their souls. The voice then warned:

“We are trained professionals, but you will see some performers tonight who can and will make mistakes that could very well end their life right before your very eyes. It’s not a matter of if the acts will get hurt, but when.”

The song, “I’m Shipping Up to Boston,” by the Dropkick Murphys began to play as the silhouette of a man dressed as Satan appeared behind the curtain on stage. The man slithered back-and-forth as the crowd applauded the mysterious figure. When the curtain dropped, there stood Bryce “The Govna” Graves, draped in long double braids and a black waistcoat, possessing the strange and wicked charm of the Piper himself. The crowd hailed.

Endurance artist, Auzzy Blood performs as part of Hellzapoppin Circus Sideshow Revue at Wildwood Saloon on Saturday, April 3rd, 2021. Hellzapoppin is a touring act harkening back to the days of circus freak shows updating the concept for a modern audience. (Tate Hildyard)

“Come one, come all, pow, pow, pow, pow. Step up, step in, and let the freakshow begin,” Graves said. “That’s right, ladies and gentleman, while inside here you’re going to see freaks, wonders, and human curiosities, the likes of which you’ve never seen before. Ladies and gentleman, my name is Bryce ‘The Govna’ Graves, and I will be your shepherd and your guide, on a journey of miraculous discovery through a world of the strange, the odd, the macabre where the most unusual people entertain.” 

RELATED: Skarlett Roxx gives high-energy, hard rock performance at Wildwood Saloon

Bryce then invited Willow Lauren to join him, the token stunt-woman of the show. Bold, fearless, and appropriately sultry, Willow kicked off the show by eating fire alongside Graves.

With thunderous applause from the audience, Graves then introduced Short E. Dangerously. 

“Now brothas and sistas, this next performer coming to the stage — you see, this young man, well, he was born to lonely circumstances, he was,” Graves said. “He ran with the bad crowd that taught him to smoke weed and steal. He grew up in bars, and he hotwired cars. He grew up mistreated, so he lied and he cheated — can I get a amen?”

“Amen,” the crowd shouted.

Then entered Short E. Dangerously, a man with no legs, dressed in a studded leather jacket and cowboy hat. Short E. did handstands and spoke about why he joined the circus sideshow. Now, he said, people would have to pay to look at him. Later on he would return to the stage to jump barehanded into a pile of broken glass lit on fire.

Performer, Bryce Graves aka “The Govna” performs as part of Hellzapoppin Circus Sideshow Revue at Wildwood Saloon on Saturday, April 3, 2021. Hellzapoppin is a touring act harkening back to the days of circus freak shows updating the concept for a modern audience. (Tate Hildyard)

Next, in the most deeply unsettling act of the night, was Auzzy Blood. After Hellzapoppin was forced to cancel 150 shows last year, Graves rebuilt the show from the ground up, with Auzzy Blood as his newest addition. Blood entered the stage laughing madly, proudly forcing a hook through his mouth and up his nose. He then did it in reverse.

“Wait, wait, wait, wait, there’s a problem,” Blood said. “There’s a lotta boogers, but no blood. Apparently I’m not living up to my name tonight. We better change that, right?”

An institutionalized level of crazy possessed the man as he took a giant corkscrew and drove it right through his face. He stuck foot-long needles through his arm, mouth, and ears. He hammered a sword down his throat and then did push-ups. I wanted to run far, far away to a nearby church filled with nice old people serving cookies. 

And then, in what was truly the weirdest act I’ve ever seen, Blood clamped a harness to his eye sockets and lifted Short E. Dangerously from the ground, all to the crowd-pleasing sounds of ‘80s rock ‘n’ roll.

The night continued. Willow returned to the stage to swallow and regurgitate razor blades, an oddly comforting contribution after Auzzy Blood’s shenanigans. Derek Cockrum, the “yo yo master” showed off his immaculate yo-yo-ing talents, and Ben Blaque showcased his crossbowing skills. As Willow did aerial tricks on a hoolahoop, Blaque shot arrows through her various body openings, landing them perfectly on the target balloons behind her. 

Hellzapoppin ended the night with a curtain call, receiving ample praise from the audience. With that, Graves took Short. E into his arms and the two waltzed jubilantly off the stage.

Facebook Comments