When: Thu., Nov. 21, 9 p.m. 2013
Squidling Brothers Circus Sideshow, led by Philadelphia-based brothers Jelly Boy the Clown and Matterz Squidling, is a darkly comedic, physically grueling twist on sideshows of the early 20th century — a combination of the freakish unpleasantness of Geek Love and Ripley’s Believe It Or Not set to the smoky tunes of a steampunk cabaret singing “Pink Elephants on Parade.” “We’re all about manipulating dark and dangerous objects without being harmed,” Jelly Boy stated on the group’s website. How to do that while eating glass, cramming your body into a suitcase, climbing a ladder made out of machetes, writhing on a bed of nails, or shoving hypodermic needles through one’s arms, neck, and torso is unclear. But ultimately, none of it is an illusion. “We’re not necessarily about mutilation or pain, but overcoming and escaping those things,” Jelly Boy stated. Audience members are encouraged to heckle, yell, laugh, and groan, as well as participate in fun — or horrifying, depending on your perspective — games like “What’s In My Ass?,” which involves a paddle, a blindfold, and several brave contestants. See what sort of twisted ideas these salty, sultry, swaggering circus freaks have up their sleeves (or sinuses) this week when the Squidling Brothers Circus Sideshow stops by Café Van Kleef (1621 Telegraph Ave., Oakland).