I wish to travel with the carnivàle, any carnivàle. Only, unfortunately, I’m not talented, so this is not at all a possibility. Instead, I can live vicariously through trips to random carnivàles, the world over.
Laura and I spent nearly six hours at the Carnivàle Lune Bleue, I coveting all who worked there and the undoubtedly sexy and hedonistic lives they (must!) live.
Everything about this particular Carnivàle is sensual, seduction dripping off of every costume, southern accent, musical instrument, and constant sense of freak-show danger and threat.
The first three people we met were a belly dancer, a little person (their language, not mine) and a woman atop stilts. The music was burlesque in flavor and floating past our taste buds were clouds of popcorn, cotton candy and candied apple sticky sweetness. I was immediately stoned on happy and couldn’t stop laughing the entire night through.
Our first stop was at Carnival Diablo, where we saw a woman jump over shards of glass, lay atop a bed of nails and be beheaded; where a man drank boiling water, pounded a nail through his nose, ran a hook through his (unusually large) tongue, hooked it to a mesh bucket of stones and raised the stones from the ground; where another man bent a steel rod with his teeth, had darts thrown at and tacked into his skin, sat in an electrical chair, placed his hand in a mousetrap, smashed a can of dog food over his finger (if ever there was a true fetishist, it is he…); and, where a third man swallowed swords (at which point, L started coughing in solidarity with) and fire.
Nikolai Diablo (the MC) was derangedly sweet, making me unsure as to whether I should cry or smile when he chose to focus on me while someone prepared something behind him. He pointed me out and then just stood at the edge of the stage and stared…and stared…and stared…before he stared a little more. He later came over and gave me the “head of the bottle” that he broke into pieces in preparation for the Countess who would walk through the glass. No surprise, he handed me the “head” from the crotch of his pants.
No matter that L and I laughed our way through that which didn’t make her gag, this is not a show for children, but one which I highly recommend to the rest of you.
Running out of Diablo, we rode the carousel and the old-fashioned ferris wheel before we skipped into the Cirque Maroc tent. While on the Ferris Wheel, I took this for you, so that you might join us on the ride:
…and while on the carousel, we attempted to take pictures. Have you ever tried to do this? It is, to say the least, tricky as you are never at level, hence this wonderful photo of L and I looking as though she is two storeys beneath me:
Cirque Maroc is a visual and auditory feast, with two MCs, one of whom I wanted to bring home and make my best friend (the slightly pudgy funnier, softer, cuter MC). It was, much in the spirit of Cirque du Soleil, an absolute wonder, with two women of particular note: one who plays with / slides up and down / contorts around a hanging rope, and another woman who creates majic when her body collides with a hamster wheel for humans. I know it’s not technically a ‘hamster wheel’, and it is in fact a ‘german wheel’,
leave it to the Germans to come up with what is possibly a torture instrument or a fetishist’s fantasy a rather massive rolling wheel made for people.
L had her fortune read as I made fun of the cards (“…are those refugees crossing a river? Is that a British ‘bobby’? Is your fortune teller high? Do you believe this shit? I think he’s high…awesome…”) and sat in the bus. This bus. Which still runs. And is, in fact, the real bus from the Nightmare on Elm Street films:
We ate dinner beneath the tent, at The Cookhouse, L feasting on thick orange soup and I on Moroccan chicken while listening to The Unsettlers, whose music reminded me of the genius that is Polish punk band Gogol Bordello. I was mesmerized by the combination of their music, the cool air, the spicy food, the woman on stilts, the man playing with fire, thinking to myself that these people must be having sex with one another randomly and everywhere and all at once and what a strange and free and unusual and extremely seductive world that is the Carnivàle.
I loved it.
And to perfectly illustrate the strange weather one walks into at the Carnivàle Lune Bleue, watch and listen carefully, with particular attention paid at around the 56 second mark:
Two special shout outs to two of the carnis, first to the woman wearing a hat and glasses ushering us into the Cirque Maroc tent, you are hilarious and brilliant with your stuttering naivete, and I can’t help but wonder if you married your cousin who is also your mum’s uncle and best friend, and to the young gentleman who runs the shooting game, you are simply perfect at your job.
Two further recommendations: (1) go immediately; and, (2) then come again next year. I most definitely will.
Find the official Carnivàle Lune Bleue site here, please.
All photos from L & I’s adventure found here.
The Unsettlers (they are brilliant and I can not stop listening to their cd)