With the recent resurgence of interest in the darker side of vaudeville -- a PBS special, Side Show, numerous New York shows with titles like Tenement Vaudville and Once Vaudeville -- it comes as little surprise for NY's La MaMa to present Scott Baker's Geek Circus, The Twisted Shockfest, Oct. 29-31. Baker was a cast member of Broadway's long-running Oh! Calcutta. When it closed he went to Coney Island and learned the trade of being a "geek." In Geek Circus, Baker combines shock value with a literature, committing such acts as pounding thirty nails into his skull while reciting Wordsworth, and, while enunciating lyrics by Shakespeare, sucking a condom up his nose, blowing it out -- inflated -- and flossing with it.
Baker also tries to put a historical perspective on being a geek, explaining that in the beginning, geeks were bums off the street who were promised a bottle a day and a place to sleep it off if they would bite the head off a live chicken. Baker performs how the conversations must have gone between the bum and the ringmaster, followed by offering the audience a chance for him to actually perform the chicken act -- or substitute a bowl of live crickets instead.
For tickets ($12) or more information on Scott Baker's Geek Circus, The Twisted Shockfest playing at La MaMa E.T.C., October 29-31, call (212) 475-7710.
-- By Sean McGrath