HIP talks to Dr Haze, the founder and inspiration behind Circus of Horrors who still runs the show as the fire-eating ringmaster.

How long has the Circus of Horrors been going?
We were actually nearing the end of our 25th anniversary tour when we were forced to stop, because of Covid, in mid-March. We’d been planning to finish the tour at Glastonbury where it all started 25 years ago – on what would have been Glastonbury’s 50th anniversary.

How was that tour?
It was a great tour which included a sell-out show at the London Palladium, featuring a one-off performance with punk rock band The Damned.

Why is this new tour with Circus Berlin?
You have to innovate. We’ve found a safer way for punters than going to a shop. We have links with Circus Berlin so it was an obvious choice. The big top will be half capacity for this performance with a maximum number of 550 people. It depends on the audience mix and the number of social bubbles that book or turn up on the night. It has to be a safe experience as well as enjoyable.

How do you keep up the momentum after 25 years?
I love what I’m doing. I’m not an actor, I’m a performer. I get as much out of it as the audience do. I realised how much I enjoyed performing during lockdown when I couldn’t get out there. I realised I could never retire. I can’t wait to get back out there and strut my stuff.

How did you get into circuses?
I was circus born in a circus caravan and brought up by circus people when my father left. The circus people were very kind and looked after us both. My parents got back together when I was 11 and after a spell in a bedsit my father got itchy feet again, but this time we went off to join a circus in Ireland, becoming fire-eaters. I had to learn on the job as an 11-year old – up to then mother wouldn’t have let me play with matches on my own. 

And what about the Circus of Horrors. How did that start?
I used to be into glam rock and loved horror films. Horror changed dramatically in the 70s with films like the Exorcist which were a big influence on me. I was a big T Rex fan and loved all the music of that period. I wanted to combine rock and roll with circus acts. So I developed the unique Circus of Horrors. I still do fire-eating. And I write and perform all the songs – as well as being the ring master.

Is it a dangerous way of life?
Not really. But one thing I used to do really was dangerous. That was to stand in the middle of ‘the globe of death’ with the motorbikes whizzing all around me at top speed, just standing there in my top and tails. That is scary! I’ve lived a charmed life, visiting places all over the world and enjoying every moment.

What’s was your most popular venue?
The Download Festival in Donnington. Full of rockers but never any trouble. The last one was a mud bath but nobody was bothered, they just got on with it. 

What do you know about Hastings audiences? 
I know Hastings well from when I was a musician. My grandmother was from Folkstone so I have some South Coast roots. Hastings is special. Some crazy people there. I hope they all come along to see us.

See The Circus Comes to Town for booking details and information about Circus Berlin.

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