Freak Show Deluxe at the Hollywood Fringe Festival

I've never met a nicer bunch of freaks than the artists of the Freak Show Deluxe (FSD), a retro-futuristic collection of acts rescued from carnival side shows and the seamy, late-night side of state fairs.

Getting ready for the show

FSD is an entertaining, funny, and often cringe-inducing show -- I saw their act twice before I started shooting them, and enjoyed myself immensely both times.

For a group of people who can seem somewhat intimidating on stage, they're an amazingly gracious, kind, and funny group backstage. I was honored to be there for the three shows I shot.

I wasn't surprised by how hard working these professionals were -- it's common in small theater. I wasn't prepared, however, for how much these people damage themselves in the course of their acts. Some of it is incidental to the act -- you can't walk on broken glass without cutting yourself occasionally -- and some of it is done deliberately in cold-blooded preparation for a show. (Don't worry. I wasn't able to catch most of the mayhem on camera, and I promised not to reveal some of it.)

However, most of what happens on stage is exactly what it appears to be. This is what your back looks like after you've had a concrete block broken on your chest while laying on a bed of nails.

Examining the bed of nails

His back after the bed of nails

I'd like to offer a sincere thanks to the FSD cast -- I'm incredibly glad that they welcomed me into their backstage lives, and I'm very happy to have met such a talented and friendly bunch.

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