Freak Show: 

Gallery5's "Carnival of 5 Fires"

click to enlarge art41_review_gallery5_100.jpg

The State Fair of Virginia wasn't the only place to see carnies and oddities last weekend. Despite the unrelenting downpour that plagued the First Fridays' Artwalk Oct. 6, crowds turned out in droves to take part in the "Carnival of 5 Fires" at Gallery5. But this was no ordinary carnival; with fried Oreos and turkey legs, this was the type of carnival that an episode of "Tales from the Crypt" could've been based on.

On the second floor of the gallery, sideshow freaks, caged behind thin bars of cardboard, cat-called to the crowd, bringing smiles from the audience. The Parasitic Twins, Syrus and Tyrus (Eric Weinraub and Brandon Peck), entertained those brave enough to get close to them with tales of their spontaneous birth in the James River. The twins also made it clear they were looking for compatible mates to settle down with. It's unclear whether their search was complete by the end of the night.

Partly to escape the Parasitic Twins, but mostly because of her mastery with marionettes, people stood on their toes to watch Rose Csorba manipulate the puppet strings with her hands.

"Her enthusiasm was almost as exciting as seeing the marionettes," said first-year Virginia Commonwealth University art student Elizabeth Childress, who had never seen a marionette show before.

Csorba's handmade marionettes, fashioned out of found objects, were also displayed in cabinets. Paintings and photographs by various artists hung upstairs, but the crowd's attention was more focused on the performances.

Samson Trinh and his 11-piece Upper East Side Band blared trumpets, trombones and saxophones for the crowd on the first floor, while amateur swing dancers from the crowd strutted their stuff, keeping onlookers entertained.

The Nouvelle Burlesque troop pranced onstage with suggestive dance steps, swinging their striped-legging-clad thighs over chairs, as spectators hung off the stairway trying to catch a glimpse of the action.

The crowd's energy, fueled by $3 wine and beer, lasted well past 10 p.m., when other galleries closed their doors.

Emaleigh Franzak, event organizer and people-watcher, said that the enthusiasm and participation from the crowd helped make the event a success.

"The energy from everyone was intense," she said. "The artists dressed up [as carnies and side show freaks] were festive, and all the shows downstairs were fun."

The "Carnival of 5 Fires" was a one-night event, but its accompanying artwork will remain up through Oct. 25. S

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