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Doug Clark: Guest role in freak show may stretch talents, but that’s all

Thu., July 2, 2009

I grew up in a time when running away and joining the circus was a common dream for baby boomer boys like me.

This fantasy was eventually replaced by others. Like, say, those inspired when I discovered my older brother’s Playboy magazine collection.

Still, the innocent childhood desire to be a part of a circus has never fully gone away.

(It’s probably why I write about city government. It puts me in contact with more clowns than I’d ever find under a big top.)

And now, I’m pleased to report, I have been offered a chance to make my boyhood dream come true. There’s only one catch.

The Jim Rose Circus is not exactly the elephants-and- acrobats venue that springs to mind when you hear the word “circus.”

This is more of a punk rock freak show.

“Would you have any problems with getting hit by a chair?” Rose asked me during a phone call.

“Naw,” I told him. The shrinking newspaper has cut my pay, but they haven’t taken away my health insurance. Yet.

So mark your calendars for next Thursday. The place to be at 7 p.m. is The Grail Venue and Restaurant, 4720 Seltice Way, in Coeur d’Alene. (Tickets are $15 in advance and $18 at the door.)

This version of the Rose Circus features famed wrestler Jake “The Snake” Roberts and a 160-pound albino Burmese python.

Plus fisticuffs, mayhem and crazy, eye-popping stunts …

Rose wants me to be on stage for some of it.

What could possibly go wrong?

Plenty, actually. I wrote about Rose when he performed in Spokane way back in 1994.

It wasn’t dull.

A burly guy with purple hair stuck his fingers into a spring-loaded animal trap. A woman tossed darts into a man’s bare back.

I’ll never forget The Enigma. His entire body had been tattooed with blue jigsaw pieces.

He ate a light bulb, I recall.

But as weird as The Enigma was, he had nothing on the skinny dude who called himself The Amazing Mr. Lifto.

His specialty was picking up heavy objects with rings attached to his private parts.

This is why I e-mailed Rose explaining that while I’ll do most anything for a story, I do have limits:

No vomiting anywhere near me.

No darts in back.

I won’t hang anything from my genitalia.

Rose assured me that these terms were acceptable. Besides, he said, Mr. Lifto isn’t touring with him anymore.

The poor man apparently suffered an unspeakable injury while performing.

Show-business people call this “a bad break.”

Street Music TV

In milder entertainment news …

Highlights from last month’s Spokane Street Music Week have made it to TV.

“Steppin’ Out Spokane” airs Friday at 11:30 p.m. and Saturday at 5:30 p.m. on Channel 8. My pals Jim Lyons and Joe Long produce the show through their production company, Big Tree.

“Steppin’ Out Spokane” covers local artists, touring musicians and sports. Plus the show has one of the catchiest theme songs since “Mister Ed.”

I could be biased, however, since I wrote it.

Doug Clark is a columnist for The Spokesman-Review. He can be reached at (509) 459-5432 or by e-mail at


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