Circus of Horrors, Alternative, Circus, Theatre, Liverpool, Tour

10 questions with …. Circus of Horror’s Dr.Haze

Britain’s favourite touring freakshow the Circus Of Horrors is coming to York on Tuesday so, ahead of the show, we spoke to the ringmaster himself Dr.Haze

Interview by Graham Finney & Photo copyright © Jo Forrest

Britain’s favourite touring freakshow the Circus Of Horrors is heading back up North with a show at the Grand Theatre in York next week. Ahead of the dates Totalntertainment spoke to Circus Of Horrors mastermind Dr.Haze.

What can you tell us about the new show “Voodoo”? What about new acts?

“With this show, we’ve been out on tour since October last year, apart from a break for Christmas, and we’ll be out until April. I don’t want to give too much about the new show but it’s based around voodoo and a Ouiji board.

As for acts, well, we’ve got some new acts this time around who are slightly different to what we’ve used before. This time we’ve got a contortionist from Tansania who has never performed outside Tansania. You know the scene in The Exorcist where the girls head spins around on her body? Well, we all know in the movie back then it was mechanical and nowadays it would be done with CGI. This guy can virtually turn around for real by himself. We’ve got him on the show and this is the first time anyone will have seen him in the UK. We’ve also got a knife-throwing, crossbow act from Transylvania who are very different to your standard circus knife-throwing act. We like to try and mix up the acts with each show. The other thing about most of the acts on the show is that, this time, the majority of the dangerous stuff is performed by females. It’s a nod to the sufragette movement.”

Speaking of the sufragette movement, what’s your view on the current uproar surrounding use of females in the darts, F1 etc.? Have you ever experienced any problems?

“The Sufragette movement was all about fighting for equality for women but how is telling somebody they can’t do something supporting that? I think what triggered this is the events at the Presidents Club which, if true, were appalling and no woman should be subjected to that ever. However, to tell a woman she can’t do something because they’re too sexy is just ridiculous.”

“We’ve never experienced any problems either. The thing about all the girls in Circus of Horrors is that they want to be there. In Circus Of Horrors the women are King! They do everything themselves right from the costume designs through to the actual dangerous acts. To tell these girls that they can’t do something, they can’t earn money from something they enjoy goes against everything the Sufragettes stood for.”

How do you find the acts for your show? Do they approach you or do you go looking for something specific?

“A lot of the acts come to us. The contortionist from Tansania, our acrobats showed his videos on YouTube and he’s never been outside Tansania, so we brought him in. The knife-throwing girl and her husband, who is a strongman, came to us as well.”

Is there any time you look at an act and think no, you’re not for us?

“The thing is, if somebody comes to us with an act, we have to look at the specific act and how often they can do it. There is no point in somebody coming to us with the ability to do something grotesque but who can only do it once a month, that’s no use to us. We look for acts who can perform their act once, sometimes twice, a day.”

You’ve been doing Circus Of Horrors for twenty-two years now. How do you keep it challenging?

“I am always looking to bring in new acts, like the contortionist from Tansania. I’m always looking at writing new music as that is a massive part of the show. It’s what, I think, makes us different to other circus acts.”

Alternative, Circus, Theatre, Liverpool, Tour

Circus Of Horrors is seemingly never off the road. How do you find time to write a new show?

“It’s an ongoing process. I’m constantly looking for ideas and inspiration. It could be a new act, a word that conjurs up an image, anything really. I’ll get an idea in my head and from there see if I can devise a show around it that would commercially work for us for the next year. That exactly how I came up with this show, I saw the word voodoo and the idea from this shows story grew from there.”

After so long doing this, what do you personally get out of the Circus Of Horrors?

“I just love performing. I know this may come across as pretentious but this is my art. It’s something I love doing for myself and I’m extremely lucky that people keep wanting to buy tickets to support my work. This isn’t a flash in the pan thing for me where we could have done it for a few years then disappeared so the fact that I’ve been able to keep doing this for twenty-two years now is not only a tribute to me but also a tribute to the fans who keep coming out to support us and the acts who are part of the whole experience.”

If you were to call it a day tomorrow, what would your lasting memory be?

“Wow, that’s a tough question as there probably isn’t one particular memory. We’ve had so many great tours in places like Japan and South America and we’re the only British Circus to perform in Moscow. Like I said, we’ve done so many incredible things that it’s hard to pick one specific memory. One thing I didn’t like was the Britain’s Got Talent thing, I was glad when that was over. Didn’t enjoy that one bit.”

If you could go back twenty-two years, what advice would you give yourself?

“I’d probably tell myself to be more courageous. The show is a lot slicker now that it was back then when the whole thing was a lot more raw. People still say they remember those shows at the Roundhouse and, if I’m honest, I don’t think it’s any better but the whole thing is a lot slicker.”

You’ll be heading up north again on this trek, any message for your Northern fans?

“Being a Northerner myself I’m always proud to come home. The thing is that I hope it isn’t too cold because, living down South these days, I’ve got used to the warmer weather. Not that it will bother you Northerners though who couldn’t care less about a little thing like a bit of cold weather and will probably turn up in your vests. I’m just looking forward to being welcomed back up North by all you Circus of Horrors fans…”

For more information and a full list of tour dates, visit www.circusofhorrors.co.uk.