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Carn-evil

Leave the kiddies at home: The Bindlestiff Family Cirkus & Autonomadic Bookmobile Roadshow is a walk on the dark side

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What happens when you combine the circus with a seedy carnival freakshow, vaudeville and cabaret and throw in a hearty helping of East Side strip club?

You get the Bindlestiff Family Cirkus & Autonomadic Bookmobile Roadshow, a product of New York's edgy alternative nightlife that features "sideshow stunts, circus skills, live music, daredevil feats, magic and novelty acts."

Each time the show rolls into a new town, its staff assembles two hours worth of acts, which may include a fellow who swallows swords, coat hangers and a neon tube; a precision-bullwhip act in which rose petals held in a volunteer's teeth are sliced apart; the "straitjacket escape death match"; drag queens and bearded ladies; trapeze and aerial acts and acrobats; gory magic tricks, psychic surgery and tarot-card readers; the old fakir-sledgehammered-into-bed-of-nails and nail-hammered-into-blockhead's-skull tricks; glass-walking and fire-eating; slack-wire-walking by a man in high heels; "international accordion legend" CornMo and another musician who plays the tampon applicator; and a "pyrotic duo" fire act, juggling and plate-spinning.

Oh yeah -- the fire act involves pogo sticks, the juggling involves toilet plungers and the plate-spinning involves dildoes.

The well-choreographed show has been described as rife with "pratfalls, flips, whips and cream pies" that evoke a bygone age of circuses and vaudeville. The Cirkus' founders, Ringmistress Philomena and Kinko the Drunken Clown, may also bring along old-time carnival games for the crowd to enjoy during intermission. (They award condoms as prizes). They always travel with the Autonomadic Bookmobile, which sells subversive books, comics and periodicals published by the anarchist press that shares their warehouse headquarters in Brooklyn, N.Y.

This raunchy, decadent circus is definitely not for the kids: Only those 18 and up will be admitted.

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