What do you get when you mix the age-old art of vaudeville, a slide
of cheeky subversiveness and the passions of street performers ranging
from juggling to fire manipulators and burlesque? In Milwaukee, itís
a recipe for a fun night of entertainment with Dead Manís Carnival,
a modern-day vaudeville troupe headed by "Gypsy Geoff"
"When I first arrived in Milwaukee, I was looking to do solo
shows," says Marsh, a performer-of-many-trades with the troupe
that came to the city from California, and that has literally
performed around the world. "One of the first things I did was
sneak into Summerfest to perform Ö eventually they caught on to
He ultimately met up with a core of four other performers who go
professionally by their "nomes de vaudeville" ó Sir
Pinkerton, Lady Ambrosia, Zero the Clown and Kronk KaPow! ó to form
the basis of the troupe. Theyíre regularly joined by other
performers, both local and travelling, such as Erik Bang!!!
"Weíre always looking for new performers to join us,"
says Gypsy Geoff. "Dead Manís Carnival provides entertainment
that you just canít see on television. You have to experience it
Attending a performance ó think a circus for the decidedly over
21 crowd ó is rarely a passive experience. Many members of the
audience arrive in costume to get in on the act as well.
"The costumes we see are just crazy," says Gypsy Geoff.
"A lot of mad scientists, zombies, even Easter bunnies."
Since forming three years ago, Dead Manís Carnival has primarily
played the bar scene, and geographically throughout southeastern
"We do shows with about 26 to 30 individual performers
involved about every other month," says Gypsy Geoff. "Weíre
gaining a lot of momentum in terms of people finding out about us
But he quickly points out that the troupe has not forgotten its
"Vaudeville started in about 1890 and while it never really
died, it went a little dormant for quite a long time," he says.
"Now, thereís at least five top troupes traveling the United
States and at least 12 in Europe. Itís something that people are
really rediscovering and enjoying. Whatís really neat for us is that
some of the performing spaces here in Milwaukee that weíre now
performing in ó the Oriental, the Miramar ó hosted vaudeville
shows decades ago."
While heís certainly talking about the audience, itís clear
that the many performers also are embracing the art with a new
interest and a sense of fun.
"We donít want to be famous," he says. "We want to
|Dead Manís Carnival will be
performing a New Yearís Eve show at the Miramar Theatre on
Oakland Avenue in Milwaukee. For more information, log on to www.deadmanscarnival.com