“Happy Venereal Disease everybody!” Bunny Savage yelled as we walked inside the Kung Fu Necktie.

It was Valentine’s Day. Instead of celebrating with a bottle of cheap wine, a movie, and some old fashioned sex, Sweet T and I were in Philadelphia covering the Dead Flowers’ Freakshow Gameshow. We were too intrigued to pass this up. Plus, we didn’t give a shit about Valentine’s Day.

On this rather cold and dreary lover’s holiday, a group of demonic and demented individuals gathered in the city for something new. The booths were empty, the bar and stage floor were crowded, and my beer was half full.

As I walked towards the stage I could see a plastic drop cloth had been laid down.

“Look, Gisella Rose!” Sweet T said to me excitedly, camera in hand.

“Wait, wasn’t she the girl who pokes herself with needl –”

A great “OHHHHHHHHH!” of surprise erupted in unison from the audience as Gisella Rose began stabbing herself in the face with long, metal skewers. Gisella went on piercing her face and a heart-shaped outline on her stomach to Garbage’s #1 Crush. Blood splattered on the plastic floor mat as she ripped the pins and needles out.

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Skinny Pete jabbed me in the ribs. “HOLY SHIT THAT’S HOT,” he said without blinking. I needed a drink.

After another city wide special, I returned just in time to see what looked like a Minotaur setting up gear. Titano Oddfellow was certainly a sight to behold. He was literally covered head to toe in tattoos, sported a loincloth and appeared to have sprouted horns from his forehead.

“I need a volunteer! Who’s the dirtiest fucker in this place?” Titano asked.

Zero suddenly shouted at him from the sidelines, “SKINNY PETE, RIGHT HERE!”

“Skinny Pete is pretty dirty,” Ms. Aliyah Strychnine said into the microphone. Skinny Pete hopped up on stage. Aliyah held up a cardboard sign that read “SCREAM”, instead of “APPLAUSE”. So we all screamed instead.

Skinny Pete was lying on his back in a leather harness. Titano then proceeded to place the handle of the harness in his mouth and raised Skinny Pete off the ground using only his teeth. It was impressive. A Minotaur had just used his face to lift my friend.

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After another cigarette and a city wide, what I saw on stage was Bunny Savage, Titano Oddfellow, and the one and only Needles Jones. They stood together and sang a very dirty and very Philadelphian acappella rendition of “The Lion Sleeps Tonight”.

“In the jail cell, the grimy jail cell…” Needles bellowed. I spit my beer back into the glass with raucous laughter. I posted up in a spot far back in the corner of the room so as not to get in the way with my recorder and my boisterous cackle. This chorus of the damned belted out several hilarious verses of this bastardized version of the classic Tokens’ tune before they were through.

Magick Mike shambled onto the stage for a twisted version of the dating game, Dead Flower’s style. This deranged clown sat in the Bachelor Seat and barraged three confused young women with several rounds of incoherent, rapid fire questions.

“Contestant #1 – I don’t play the trumpet. How would you sound if I blew you?”

“Contestant #2 – What kind of fuckin’ does you like?”

“Contestant #3 – What’s your favorite color?”

And their respective responses:

“I’d sound like a saxophone!”

“All I need is a floor.”

“Uhhh – Pink?”

Aliya held up another cardboard sign that read “EXISTENTIAL CRISIS”. Laughter rippled through the crowd. From behind me near the soundboard and PA system, I heard the voice of Dead Flowers’ occasional emcee and sound technician, Joey Patrone speaking in exasperated tones.

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“What do you mean he wants us off stage by 10:30? It’s already after 10 o’clock! I don’t care if he double booked; we were supposed to go till almost midnight!”

What? The show was getting shut down early? I was instantly bummed out. Suddenly, like a switch had been flipped, the event went from a casual pace to a slightly more frantic one. All but the next two acts had to be cut from the roster.

“Alright,” said Aliya, “I’d like to welcome Brooklyn’s own, Champagne Jerry!”

Champagne Jerry was wearing thick lensed glasses and wielding a champagne bottle. Around his neck hung a lacquered piece of wood with a picture of a bear on it. His two person entourage jumped and yelled behind him on stage.

I turned to Zero and Skinny Pete, my face aglow with laughter and joy.

“This guy is fucking awesome,” I said.

“Y’all, sometimes on the road in hotel rooms you can get pretty bored,” Champagne Jerry said, “and when you get bored, you start watching stuff on the CNN. And one anchor has her own show on the CNN, and that’s the Erin Burnett. I figured if you have your own show on the CNN channel, I should probably write a song about you.”

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I looked around and saw that I was not the only person who had no fucking clue who Erin Burnett was. Apparently, she hosts a show on CNN.

“ERIN BURNETT, COME OUT OF THE TV BOX, AND FUCK THE SHIT OUT OF MEEEEEE!” went the hook to Champagne Jerry’s ode to the attractive CNN news anchor. I was sold. Before I knew it, I was singing along to the chorus like it was my favorite song.

The beautiful Margot Go closed out the night with a “commercial break” burlesque dance in homage to that wonderfully salty meat, Spam! Fishnet stockings, tassels, a box with no nutrition, and one helluva nice butt made this one commercial I was willing to sit through.

I turned to Zero and said, “She’s got me fully cooked! Zing!”

[Here, Zro Lvs grabs Roc’s recorder and records a message of his own]:

“This is Zero commandeering this drunken asshole’s notes [in a superbly accurate imitation of Roc’s voice]: ‘Somewhere between the spam being fully cooked and the booty hanging out, I was completely intrigued.’”

“Stop that, you asshole!” I grabbed my recorder out of his hands. Sorry about that, folks.

Just as the “commercial break” ended, Mister E. bid us farewell and I looked at the time. It was only 10:27. As quickly as this night had begun, it was over.

The bottom line:

Double-booking can really cause problems for performers who have a routine that is dependent on a full time-slot and money. Despite this, the event was still one of the most entertaining shows I’ve been to before. No one else is doing anything like what Dead Flowers was aiming for with Freakshow Gameshow. I have hopes to see this event again in the future.