published Friday, November 4th, 2011

Phillips: Celebrating Halloween with pain, not candy

How much would you pay to watch a stranger stick his hand in a metal animal trap? How about hammer a nail into something with his forehead? Let someone walk on his back while lying on shards of broken glass?

If you were among those who attended The Honest Pint's inaugural Halloween bash Monday, you know the answer is "$10."

What's better, the show also featured music by Opposite Box and Doctor Shock's Shock Theater Orchestra. That's a lot of entertainment for a 10-spot.

While none of the activities mentioned above may sound appealing to most people, the members of Subterranean Cirqus are definitely not most people.

The Cirqus is an amalgamation of fringe performers of all kinds, from burlesque dancers and escape artists to fire dancers and exhibitionists with an incredible ability to endure pain.

The rotating cast of performers is fronted by ringmasters John-Michael Bond and Joel Ruiz. Other stalwarts include nerveless wonders Lazarus Z Hellgate and Pinkie the Princess of Pain, comedian Andy Pyburn and Irish Strongman Leroy Lewis.

I attended my first Cirqus at JJ's Bohemia in March. Watching people subject themselves to incredibly painful experiences was hardly a normal Saturday night for me, but it was surprising how refreshing I found the experience. It beats hearing another cover band, for sure.

I was no less entertained the second time around as I watched people bending steel bars with their throats and rolling up frying pans like they were metal tortillas.

Even as I was grimacing at the performers' potential lack of mental balance, I couldn't help but grin that something so ... out there ... even exists in Chattanooga.

Forget Andrew Hamilton. Seeing something so unusual is definitely worth an Andrew Jackson, at least.

  • In less happy news, Jackie Greene canceled his show Thursday at Rhythm & Brews due to the death of his father. Venue manager Mike Dougher said he hopes to schedule a new date for the singer/songwriter, who last played here as a member of Joan Osborne and Trigger Hippy.

  • There are no shows scheduled this week at Track 29, but you can snag tickets to the recently announced Christmas For Kids benefit concert featuring "American Idol" finalist Lauren Alaina on Dec. 7 for $20. Get them online at

In the meantime, pick up Alaina's debut album, "Wildflower," which has received an overall positive rating of 72 via online review aggregator MetaCritic since its Oct. 11 release.

  • If you're a fan of Paul Simon's seminal album "Graceland" (and why wouldn't you be?), be sure to block off Feb. 16 on your calendars. That's when you can see a performance by Ladysmith Black Mambazo, the South African vocal group who collaborated with Simon, as part of the Patten Performances at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

Tickets to Patten Performance Series events, which are held at Roland Hayes Concert Hall, are $22 for adults, $19 for seniors and $16 for students.

about Casey Phillips...

Casey Phillips has worked as a features reporter in the Life department since May 2007. He writes about entertainment, consumer technology, animals and news of the weird. Casey hails from Knoxville and earned a bachelor of science degree in journalism and a bachelor of arts in German from Middle Tennessee State University, where he worked as the features editor for the student newspaper, Sidelines. Casey's writing has earned numerous accolades, including first and second place ...

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