Too far?

QUESTIONS have been raised about whether a Fringe Festival show crossed the line with its depictions of self-harm.

Fringe is known for dishing up the unorthodox and unusual, but Danger Cabaret’s El Bizarro left audiences in a cold sweat last week, with one person fainting during the performance.

“We are a freak side show,” says MC and co-creative director Magnus Danger Magnus.

“We wanted to make the weirdest cabaret we could.”

• Pin cushion virtuoso Damien Kenny brought his segment to a climax by piercing his cheeks with a sword. Photos by Johannes Reinhart

The Voice saw the Perth-based show last week, and despite content warnings about “nudity”, “course language” and ”live body piercing”, we weren’t prepared for the horror that unfolded and had to make a very abrupt seat change from front to back row.

“There’s a lot of intense stuff,” agrees Magnus.

“Ordinarily people walk out and faint. I think we are doing our job right if people get shocked and crazied out.”

But audience member Jemma Goodliffe says El Bizarro crossed the line.

“Harming yourself with potentially long-term consequences is not what I’d consider an acceptable form of entertainment.

“The lack for forewarning of the self-harm content left me feeling quite disturbed.”

• Married couple Circus Carnis shared some pretty twisted fantasies.

During the show performer Damien Kenny, self-described as a pin cushion virtuoso, repeatedly plunged needles into his arm and spattered a white sheet with blood before bringing the display to a climax by stabbing a small sword through both cheeks.

Circus Carnis also had the audience turning a collective shade of off-white, as the married couple shared their twisted fantasies, including the Princess of Pain dancing on broken glass, and Reverend Butcher lifting a metal drum with some very delicate parts of his flesh.

Magnus says the difference between self-harming and his cabaret is the intent.

“The intent of our acts is to entertain, whereas self harm has a very different intent.

“All of these people are professionals and mentally stable people and they know what they are doing.”

He says after the show there is an hour long procedure during which medical grade quarantining and wound attending takes place.

•  MC Magnus Danger Magnus says they’re doing their job if people get squeamish.

“We are very, very careful about safety.”

Creative director Jasmine Danks says the show was born in 2015 from a desire to “turn it up to eleven.”

“We knew all these weirdoes and friends of ours had some pretty crazy acts no one would let them do.”

Danks says almost every show sold out, and the season went well.

“We are one of the only shows where people came back maybe three or four times to watch the same show,” she says.

by MOLLY SCHMIDT

8 responses to “Too far?

  1. No, it didn’t go too far, because it was no intent of”self harm”… The intent was not to cause trauma to themselves and the performers had safety measures in place…

  2. Clearly people arent doing their research when booking tickets to these shows… I can’t wait to see what bleeds next year!!

  3. “The lack for forewarning of the self-harm content left me feeling quite disturbed.”

    So the many signs on all the entry doors, the frequent verbal warnings throughout, the description of the show, plus other reviews, we’re not sufficient warning about the content of the show?
    It was a great show and I will be back to see it next year

  4. Thanks for coming, Molly!
    Like I said in the phone interview, good for you for switching seats instead of chickening out That’s some journalistic chutzpah right there. If you or your friend Jemma would ever like to come to one of our shows in the future as our guests then please let us know. I’d love for Jemma to meet everyone and set her mind at ease about any misunderstanding she may have about performers and acts like ours.
    Some of our friends are a teensy bit salty about our family’s performances being misrepresented as “self-harm” but I think you presented our explanations fairly and any reasonable person can see that we’re professional and conscientious people that are just easily misunderstood. It’s shocking because we make it that way on purpose but we love each other, our jobs and our audience.
    Thank you again,
    Magnus D. Magnus

  5. My girlfriend and I have been to see Circus Carnis like four or five times at different venues including Fringe. El Bizzarro front row twice.

    Staff put down floor coverings, disinfect the stage/clean up any blood. Piercing, suspension, etc. Not actually dangerous if someone who knows what they’re doing does it.

    The venue posts warnings. There is literally staff warning people before the event. Magnus warns you about what you’re going to see. Repeatedly. He even gives you the chance to leave.

    If this sort of thing isn’t for you, then don’t go see it. You were warned so many times. Don’t try to screw it up for everyone else with empty clickbait articles.

    Alice and I will be back next year and are going to sign up as Friends of Fringe.

  6. PS. I have an actual photo of the signage you failed to read that was outside both entrances.

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