Thursday, January 26, 2012

sideshow alley freak storm at sydney royal show

Freak storm: sideshow alley to shake up the Show
Daniel Lewis
April 4, 2007

"I actually think that we are all freaks" ... Rima Hadchiti performs in the Psycho Sideshow of Anarchy at the Easter Show. This year's Show has resurrected sideshow alley.
Photo: Peter Rae

IN A retro move stirring nostalgia in those who remember the bearded lady, the Royal Easter Show is bringing back the freaks that once starred in sideshow alley.

The Psycho Sideshow of Anarchy features acts like midget belly dancer Tiny Rima and the sword swallowing Space Cowboy.

This is the Show's 10th year at Homebush but when the Show starts tomorrow there will be a Big Top with three weird and wonderful shows daily, and the Tiny Top, which seats 36. It started in 2000 and tent master Tony Rooke is delighted to be appearing for the first time at an agricultural show. Contemporary sideshow, he stresses, has none of the exploitation associated with sideshow freaks in the movie Elephant Man.

Mr Rooke said some people took offence at acts like Tiny Rima, but "we treat Rima like royalty. She loves [performing]. Everybody's got something special about them."

Rima Hadchiti, 24, from Melbourne, is one metre tall and weighs 19.5 kilograms. Her father is a musician who encouraged her to dance and "entertainment was always in my blood". She has no fear of the label freak. "I actually think that we are all freaks. You will never find a person who is exactly like you. I'm just expressing my freakiness, like everyone else."

Space Cowboy - Chayne Hultgren, 28, from Byron Bay - swallows a torso-length steel sword and does a mind-reading act. He won't be doing the act where he guesses which one of five polystyrene cups has a knife in it by smashing the other cups with his hand after an accident last month in Adelaide. "The newspaper headline was, 'Psychic Needs Surgery After Slice of Reality'," he said.

Rod Berrell, 63, one of the Show's horse-riding greencoats in the Main Arena, said the Tiny Top it took him back. "One of the things I remember very vividly was Big Chief Little Wolf, the wrestler," he said. "He put an Indian death lock on me."

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