Freak Out!

By Ann Powers | Sunday, April 28, 2019

“Now we freak. Oh, what a joy!”

                         -From "Le Freak" by Chic, Live at Budokan

Calling all freaks! The Astoria Freak Show will unleash its inaugural performance from 5 to 8 p.m. at the McVarish Secret Gallery, 160 10th Street, on Saturday, May 11.

Local author Christopher Minnick and a small group of volunteers are organizing the performance-art extravaganza that promises to showcase “incredible feats of nature and human abilities.” The lineup includes sword swallowers, human pincushions, magicians, clowns, dancers, musicians, contortionists, people with fake body parts tattooed over their real body parts, folks with weights hanging from their noses and nipples, others who can solve math problems at lightning speed and many more.

With such extreme feats of strength and abilities, this event may boggle your mind at the human body's capabilities. 

Photo courtesy of Astoria Freak Show. 

And one of those freaky delights will be Fantasma. She defies human frailty and reason by walking on razor-sharp swords, flirting with potentially lethal electrical current and traversing over broken glass. Those in the know of all things freaky say it takes massive amounts of concentration, dedication and training to match the talents of circus sideshow performers like Fantasma. She has performed with the Ward Hall's Infamous World of Wonders Sideshow, the Squidling Brothers Side Show and the legendary Coney Island USA cast.

Another performer includes Minnick, who also boasts an impressive resume. He penned the novel, FERMENT. Told as a series of 48 short vignettes, the book explores the bizarre characters and gritty experiences of a small traveling circus on the verge of collapse. A sequel called Pickled Punk is in the works . Needless to say, he’s kind of obsessed with clown culture.

He also co-founded the Institute of Fun, a company producing wine tastings, movie screenings, concerts and other social events. In 2018, he and his wife, Margaret, relocated to Astoria after becoming smitten with the quaint and artsy seaside village while on a trip to the North Oregon Coast. Helping Minnick put the Freak Show together is his wife, business organizer Mickki Langston and local piano teacher Paul Brady as director of music. 

Photo courtesy of Astoria Freak Show. 

This Freak Show is garnering attention so quickly that even in its debut year, organizers say they already sold out of the 800 tickets they had available. But all is not lost. There's still a chance to get your freak on in Astoria. Minnick says Freak Show sponsors have tickets and may be offering some last-minute opportunities to secure yours. For a list of sponsors and possible ticket options go here.

Please note, organizers advise that the Astoria Freak Show is currently appropriate for adults. They hope to produce a kid-friendly version in the future. 

But don't freak out if you don't make it to the Freak Show. There's still plenty of art and adventure to go around. The Freak Show coincides with the Astoria's Second Saturday Art Walk from 5 to 8 p.m. 

During the Art Walk, downtown businesses stay open a little later, offer refreshments, provide entertainment and display original works of art and culture. Participating venues are highlighted throughout town with colorful pinwheels, and maps will be available at shops and galleries, as well as area hotels.

The Second Saturday Art Walk is monthly and year round. It’s a great way for people of all ages to celebrate Astoria’s vibrant and multifaceted art scene and check out different shops and restaurants along the way.

Photo courtesy of Flavel House Museum. 

You can also get a head start on celebrating motherhood that same Saturday (May 11) in Astoria by treating the moms in your life to a lovely afternoon of tea and scones at the Flavel House Museum. Hot tea and sweet pastries will be served in the Victorian mansion's formal dining room during the Mother's Day Tea. Afterwards take time to enjoy a self-guided tour of the elegant estate. 

Learn about more events and activities throughout the North Oregon Coast and Washington's Long Beach Peninsula on our Daytime EventsNightlife and Community Events pages. We'd love to hear about your highlights while visiting, so please share them in the comments section below.

About the Author Ann Powers
Ann Powers is a reporter and writer who has lived and worked on the Oregon Coast. She is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin - Madison and currently working on her master's degree in multimedia journalism at the University of Oregon's Portland campus. Originally from Wisconsin, she now calls Oregon home, describing it as, "the Midwest of the Pacific Northwest," due to its dairy-state status, beautiful environment and friendly people.