Have a freakishly entertaining talent to share with the public?
Local author Christopher Minnick and a small group of volunteers are organizing the inaugural Astoria Freak Show, an extravaganza in May benefitting physical accessibility initiatives.
The volunteers are looking for performance artists who can safely perform their acts inside Jill McVarish’s Secret Gallery on 10th Street during May’s Second Saturday Art Walk.
“There are traditional freak show things going back to the Jim Rose (Circus) Sideshow from the ‘90s, like contortionists or bed-of-nail walkers or sword swallowers — people who can lift things up with piercings through their tongue,” Minnick said.
Minnick is drawn to the freak show in part from his affinity for clown culture, detailed in his fictional novel “Ferment” from 2017, and his upcoming sequel, “Pickled Punk.”
In Sacramento, Minnick was the co-founder and chief fun officer of the Institute of Fun, a company producing wine tastings, movie screenings, concerts and other social events. A year ago, he and his wife, Margaret, relocated after falling in love with Astoria while on a trip to the Oregon Coast.
“This is an extension of the Institute of Fun, bringing it to Astoria, and it’s also a realization of a dream of mine to do a sideshow that’s more performance art than it is freakiness,” Minnick said.
Helping Minnick is his wife, business organizer Mickki Langston and local piano teacher Paul Brady as director of music.
“We want our community to be a place that is really open and accessible for everyone,” Langston said. “Part of what we will be doing with the event is contributing some of the proceeds to accessibility projects in the city … improvement of infrastructure to make sure people can get around and do the things they need to do in everyday life and enjoy the community.”
Along with freaks, the effort is gathering volunteers — “clowns, mostly clowns,” Minnick said — to help run the show, and sponsors to make sure performers are compensated.
People can apply to be a volunteer or freak in the show at astoriafreakshow.com by April 1.