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Hell’s Comin’ with Them

A red Texas-emblazoned, self-proclaimed pirate vehicle bears down on Eugene, laden with instruments (musical and otherwise) and the talented rogues who know how to use them. The Hellzapoppin’ Sideshow is a carnival of the grotesque, a touring troupe of human oddities performing feats of pain and handling it without batting a wing, like professionals of the underworld.

Organized, produced and emceed by Bryce “The Govna” Graves, Hellzapoppin’ has blazed across the country and in Sweden since late 2008, through numerous tours and festivals oriented to the heavy rock and metal crowds. The classic revue-style variety show is punctuated by muscle-puncturing, fire-eating, sword-swallowing, body-contorting, glass-jumping, bullwhip-wielding and voluntary electrocution.

In addition to Graves, the tour also features Zamora the Torture King, a two-decade veteran of physical art who has toured as a sideshow performer since Lollapalooza in 1992, including a 15-year run at Knott’s Scary Farm, the largest Halloween event in the world. Zamora’s extreme pain tolerance, a highlight of his act, is a result of extensive studies in the fields of martial arts, hypnosis, Middle Eastern philosophies and the science of anatomy.  

“This is like real magic,” Zamora says of his seemingly impossible feats. “There are no tricks or illusions.” Watching this stuff on TV (Zamora has been featured on Ripley’s Believe it or Not and Guinness World Records) is no substitute to the live performance. “Nothing compares to seeing this up close and in intimate real life,” he says.

Also on the bill, Ms. Maryann Magdalen, a beautiful Swedish sword-swallower (one of only 15 women in the world to publicly perform the feat), tours with Hellzapoppin’. Blades are involved in some of her other feats, as is a bed of nails.

Of course, no circus would be complete without a mascot, and Mr. Buggles, the wonder dog from Kentucky, also performs.

Hellzapoppin’ Sideshow ignites 10 pm Friday, Aug. 24, at Cozmic, 199 W. 8th St., www.cozmicpresents.com; $10, $5 with Eugene Celebration Wristband. 18 and over.