Offering a Edgy and Humor-filled Twist on the Classic American Sideshows of the Early 20th Century, Brothers "Matterz Squidling” and "Jelly Boy the Clown” Have Created an International Sensation with a Dare-Devilish Mix of Music, Freak Show, Dancing, Unusual Sword Swallowing, Aerial, Burlesque and Body Modification
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With fellow performers Roc Roc It, Princess Tweedle Needle and Maray Squeezebox the Squidlings Perform Across the U.S. And Europe at Carnivals, Festivals, Bars, Squats, and Large Theaters.
The two Philadelphia-based brothers "Jelly Boy The Clown” (Living Cartoon and Natural-Born Weirdo) and "Matterz Squidling" (The Impenetrable Music Man) stepped right up in 2007 to create The Squidling Bros. Circus Sideshow. Putting a comic and dare-devilish spin on the classic American Sideshows of the early 20th century.
The brothers are accompanied by a trio of international performers. Roc Roc It (The Worlds Only Inflatable Boy) a traveling street performer from Berlin who made his mark in Coney Island USA. Roc has since brought laughs and thrills to audiences through out Europe as a member of the Squidlings and as a solo performer. Princess Tweedle Needle is Holland's one and only Human Pin Cushion Girl. She performs various classical fakir acts and mixes them with modern sideshow. Her charming, comical character will spin around in the heads of the audience when she performs. All her acts are real and she is not affraid to bleed for you! Maray Fuego Squeezebox provides the music to the show with her powerful voice and accordion converging different influences of punk, hardcore, gypsy jazz and smoky lounge.
A few acts you can expect to see are fire breathing, a man walking up a ladder of machetes barefoot and jumping into a pile of broken glass without a scratch! "Unusual sword swallowing,” which involves shooting fireworks out of a sword or shooting a jet of flame out of the handle! Syringe needles pierced through various parts of the body. A large metal anchor spun by pierced ear lobes. Nail beds, humans and chickens stacked together in a delicate balance.
While Jelly Boy describes their first tours as "throwing everything in a few bags and boxes and hitting the road, flying, taking the train, whatever it took to get there,” they've since evolved into a must see sensation. Over the past few years, the Squidling Bros. Circus Sideshow have performed with Primus, Exploited and Circus Contraption. They have appeared at the Bohemian Carnival with the Vau De Vire Society, The Coney Island Rockabilly Festival 2008-10, The World Steam Punk Expo Detroit 2010, Opatijske Barufe 2011 in Croatia, Theatre Bizarre 2009-12 and The Amsterdam Tattoo Museum in 2012.
Jelly Boy the Clown proved himself an amazing real life escape artist in the summer of 2011 when he was badly burned in a Queens apartment fire that was unrelated to any performance. Coming off a long day of working at Ripley's Believe It Or Not as a sword swallower, he was crashing at a friend's apartment for the night and woke up to a house fire. Rescued by the NYFD, he sustained burns on 15 percent of his body and his lungs, suffered carbon monoxide poisoning and was in ICU for six weeks. Typical of his work ethic and powerful passion for life, Jelly Boy defied the medical odds, quickly learned to walk and eat again, and was back on the road within two months of getting out of the hospital.
"We're all about manipulating dark and dangerous objects, but without being truly harmed,” says Jelly Boy. "We're not necessarily about mutilation or pain but overcoming and escaping those things. Much like martial arts, learning to do these stunts takes a lot of research and trial and error. We made our own props and practiced in the safety of our living rooms. A lot of things appear like illusions, but this is a stunt show, not an illusion show. That's always the most interesting thing about a circus sideshow—what you're watching is very real but it still boggles the mind. Everything we're doing is based on pre-existing side show acts, but we're basically reinventing the genre for ourselves. People have been sticking screwdrivers up their nose for a long time and swallowing swords for thousands!”
In 2004 the brothers created "Carnivolution,” the monthly DIY underground party and circus show performed with puppets, costumes and guest sideshow and circus performers. The Squidling Bros. Circus Sideshow is an outgrowth of this show, which began on South Street before moving to a unique outdoor space at the Tiberino Museum in West Philadelphia. Several backyards are connected to an art garden, with 3-D murals and sculptures throughout.
"The Squidling Bros. concept evolved out of the variety shows we were doing with Carnivolution,” says Matterz. "We developed sketch comedy vaudelville show like with puppets and live performers. We had a live music stage and a sideshow stage that was a gravel pit with a treehouse overlooking it. We started to tell the Squidling story with our variety show, as if The Squidling Bros. were traveling through space and time to different dimensions. When we started traveling with the Sideshow, some young artists were there to keep it happening every month. We currently hold it in the same place, the second Friday of every month, from May through October, and usually schedule our touring around it.”
During the summers of 2009-10, The Squidlings also produced a weekly summer variety sideshow, burlesque night in Coney Island, USA, held every Saturday on the boardwalk at Cha Cha's, a bar favored by wise guys and wild women—and anyone else who enjoys hanging. Individual performers have also appeared on the stage at the Coney Island USA Sideshow by the Sea and Ripley's Believe It Or Not in Times Square.
"We believe The Squidling Bros. Sideshow Circus is successful because people are always fascinated by the physically impossible, or seeing before their eyes something that should be impossible,” says Jelly. "There's an element here that you don't get in live music, where the audience is a continual part of the show, and yelling, heckling and call and response is encouraged. Those chants take everyone back to a primal part of the human experience. People like danger and love to laugh. They are excited by daredevils and the idea of cheating death but just barely. We bring all these elements and so many more together in one place. Other similar shows in recent years were straight freak shows. Ours is more of a freak show and stunt show with dancing, aerial stunts and comedy.”