(director/writer: Cory Wees; screenwriter: Jan Gregor; cinematographers: Tim Cridland, Jaymz Bee, Dennis Sita; editor: Cory Wees; music: Paul Lawrence; cast:  Petie Balls, Bebe the Circus Queen,  Matt ‘The Tube’ Crowley, The Enigma, Jim Rose, Tim Cridland; Runtime: 95; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Jan Gregor; Filmhub/Apple TV; 2022)

“It was well-made.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

The feature-film debut of Cory Wees. It’s an insider circus documentary that explores the ex-smack addict Jim Rose and his circus sideshow that began in 1991 and became part of the grunge rock scene.

The Seattle-born Jim Rose Circus Sideshow, now a relic, was popular in clubs and theaters for a brief period in the early 1990s. It was everywhere in America, and even traveled to Europe.

Rose was a contortionist, escape artist, and busker, who was the ringmaster and partnered with his wife BeBe–the Circus Queen. Rose recruited four performers called The Four Marvels to form the Jim Rose Circus Sideshow. They were: 1-The Amazing Mr. Lifto (Joe Hermann)–an androgynous cross-dresser who lifts cement blocks with his nipples; 2- Zamora The Torture King (Tim Kridland–a fire-eater; 3- The Enigma (Paul Lawrence–a sword swallower; 4- Matt ‘The Tube’ Crowley-a dim wit, using rubber tubes to absorb stuff and regurgitate his stomach contents.

Also part of the show was Dolly the Doll Lady–a dwarf.

The film’s producer Jan Gregor was the show’s road manager and jack-of-all-trades. He published the book Circus of the Scars: The True Inside Odyssey of a Modern Circus Sideshow.

If you have an interest in freaky circus sideshows, then I would recommend the documentary. Since I have no interest in the subject matter, I couldn’t recommend it–though I thought it was well-made.

It played at the San Francisco Independent Film Festival.