‘Shocked and Amazed Carnival Sideshow’ at Artisphere This Saturday 3/16 at 9 PM

Fire eating, sword swallowing, magic, daring escapes and more

SAT MARCH 16th at 9PM

Step into the bizarre world of the carnival sideshow, and prepare yourself for a night of unparalleled amusement as the foremost expert on the history of sideshow entertainment,  James Taylor, curates Shocked and Amazed, his first ever live event. Presented as an intimate cabaret evening in Artisphere’s Black Box Theatre, the evening features Coney Island’s most daring darlings, the acclaimed New York Variety All-Stars, favorite performers from DC’s former Palace of Wonders from the Cheeky Monkey Sideshow plus the burlesque stylings of GiGi Holliday. Tickets are $15.

The New York Variety All-Stars hail from Coney Island, New York and consist of the ultimate vaudeville magician, Adam Cardone, strongman extraordinaire Adam RealMan and femme fatale, Kryssy Kocktail (pictured at right). Individually, they’ve each made a name for themselves in the seat of American sideshow, Coney Island, specializing in razor blade eating, whip cracking, sword swallowing, fire eating, straight jacket escapes and more.

Beginning in 2006, DC’s sideshow scene had a home at the Palace of Wonders, the only place in town where you could see fire-breathing, glass-walking, razors in mouths, nails in noses, curvy chicks in bowler hats as well as Taylor’s museum of freak memorabilia. In October 2010, the Palace of Wonders closed. Artisphere is pleased to collaborate with Taylor to provide a stage for DC-based sideshow troupe Cheeky Monkey Sideshow members Mab Just Mab (pictured below) and Swami Yomahmi. Their specialties include glass walking, human blockhead, balloon swallowing, bed of nails and various other death-defying and awe inspiring feats.

Mab has as been featured in several documentaries and books on the sideshow revival and performs solo with The Accidental Circus and as a pillar of the Cheeky Monkey Sideshow. Appearances for Swami Yomahmi include The Arch Campbell Variety Show, Coney Island’s Congress of Curious People and the 98 Rock Morning Show. He’s been featured on National Geographic’s “Is It Real?,” the film Step Right Up and the books,Weird Virginia and Carny Sideshows.  He has also previously performed for Ripley’s Believe it or Not. Gigi Holliday is a DC-based burlesque dancer who earned her stripes working with the famed Sticky Buns Burlesque troupe after graduating with honors from Trixie Little Burlesque Bootcamp.  Holliday was the first burlesque performer to take the Howard Theatre stage since the days of Duke Ellington.

Shocked and Amazed  is also the title of James Taylor’s journal of weirdness as entertainment and is the definitive source for all things strange and bizarre. The Shocked and Amazedjournal views the sideshow tradition through a modern lens and profiles the stunning new wave of entertainers.Taylor is a graduate of the University of Maryland and the Johns Hopkins University Writing Seminars and co-founded Dolphin-Moon Press in 1973, making it one of Baltimore’s oldest small press publishing houses. For nearly a decade, in the late 1980s and early 1990s, Taylor was literary chairman to the Baltimore Mayor’s Advisory Committee on Art and Culture and was a member of the Maryland governor’s panel choosing the state’s poet laureate. In 1999 he co-founded with Dick Horne the American Dime Museum in Baltimore, a museum that was part Victorian recreation and part homage to circus, carnival and dime museum culture; Taylor dissolved his partnership with Horne in 2003. Almost immediately, he began work on reestablishing his own museum attractions in Washington, DC, in the Palace of Wonders which opened in 2006. He has given countless readings of his work in the United States and abroad and has been featured internationally on numerous occasions on TV, radio and in print in connection with his own writing, his museums and Dolphin-Moon Press. He has also served as historical consultant to numerous television productions in his capacity as variety arts historian. He has three books of poetry and fiction to date: TigerwolvesTricks of Vision, and Artifacture (featuring illustrations by half a dozen artists). In his private life, he has worked for the state government of Maryland since 1975, and for 25 years, beginning in 1984, he was an Associate Professor of English at the Dundalk Campus of the Community College of Baltimore County.


Artisphere connects artists and audiences through an eclectic mix of fresh, thought-provoking arts programming. We’re your spot for insight into the creative process and to engage in artistic adventures—from contemporary visual art, live music and theatre to new media, film and dance. Come explore, experience and engage—collide with art. Artisphere is located at 1101 Wilson Boulevard in Arlington, Virginia, two blocks from the Rosslyn Metro (blue/orange) and within walking distance of Georgetown. Admission to Artisphere and all its visual art galleries is free; there is a cost for ticketed events. Artisphere is pleased to offer its patrons free parking evenings after 5:00 p.m. and all day on weekends. For more information about Artisphere, visit www.artisphere.com.


Artisphere is located at 1101 Wilson Boulevard in Arlington, VA 22209. Phone: (703) 875-1100 TTY: (703) 228-1855. 

Please note that Artisphere’s Spectrum Theatre is directly adjacent to Artisphere’s main building and is located at 1611 N. Kent Street.

Admission and Tickets
Admission to Artisphere and its galleries is always free; there is a cost for ticketed events. Tickets for all events, unless otherwise noted, are available for advance purchase online through tickets.artisphere.com. Tickets are also available for purchase through the Box Office Call Center at (888) 841-2787.

Wednesday-Friday: 4:00 –11:00 p.m.
Saturday: Noon – 11:00 p.m.
Sunday: Noon – 5:00 p.m.
Monday – Tuesday: Closed
*Open later pending programmed event

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Free Parking
Free parking with validation on evenings (after 5pm) and all day on weekends. For events at Artisphere (1101 Wilson) use the N. Kent Street garage entrance; validate at Artisphere’s Front Desk. For events at Artisphere’s Spectrum Theatre (adjacent to Artisphere and located at 1611 N. Kent) use the Arlington Ridge Road garage entrance. No validation needed for Spectrum Theatre events.

Two blocks from Rosslyn Metro (blue/orange).

DC Circulator
The Dupont-Georgetown-Rosslyn line drops two blocks away.

Artisphere is wheelchair accessible. Assisted listening devices are available for seated events. Sign-language interpreters available; two weeks advance notice requested. The hearing impaired can learn about our upcoming programs by phone by dialing 711 (a national relay service) and requesting our calendar number (703) 875-1136. To access general information about Artisphere or to request a sign-language interpreter, request (703) 875-1100. The information will be provided by text.


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