What do you do?
I’m a circus side show performer, so what that means is anything from juggling; acrobatics, to contortion; and freak show. So, I hammer nails into my skull; eat fire, and broken glass; bed of nails. All the fun freaky shit, basically.
What was the journey that lead you to this style of performance?
I always really loved circus growing up. Got around and starting talking to all of the buskers and performers. I started off in the streets as a magician, doing street shows with magic; then got more interested in the circus and the freakier side of things. I don’t do as much magic anymore. I feel that Adelaide has enough talented magicians; but there’s not a lot of side show freaks in Adelaide.
What comments do you get from audiences about your show?
Oh, “is it real?” like the nails that go into the skull, or the power drill, or the glass, and that. Uh, ‘yes’ [laughs]. There’s a lot of stigma around this industry that it’s all smoke and mirrors, and magic. I kind of try to explain the difference to people between ‘magic’ and ‘sideshow’. What we do (sideshow) is real. We’ve trained to push our bodies to that next step. Magic is more… a mental thing. Illusion; they trick, and amaze, and it is amazing.
What do you think appeals to people about your show?
The fact that it is quite different. I mean obviously if you live over in Melbourne or Sydney, where there’s a lot of other side-show performers, that might not apply quite as much, but you know in Adelaide in your everyday life, you don’t see someone drilling into their head, Although we might have seen people do it before at Fringe or at the Adelaide Show; it’s still considered a bizarre thing, really.
What is Rare DNA?
It started originally for charity event fundraising. I started collecting contacts of a lot of great musicians, beat-boxers, magicians, stilt walkers, burlesque performers. We’d go to the fundraising event and perform, from it we’d take a percentage and the rest would go to the organisers. That’s what Rare DNA started as. That part didn’t take off that much, as say using Rare DNA as the official body of Malachi Frost. It’s become a contact network for event performers, an event entertainment company, I guess. We don’t do the management of an event, we just supply the performers. I’ve just gotten confirmation that Rare DNA is doing the Clipsal; so through Rare DNA it’ll be me and another Adelaide performer doing that.
How long does it take to prepare for a show?
If I were to create a new street show, it’s a matter of finding out which stunts I’m allowed to do in the street, also scripting. It could be two weeks of head down focus before I can get the 20 minute spot to put onto the street. Whereas if I do a solo show, it’s not so much working out which tricks I can already do, it’s what’s going to be the new stunt. I want a new stunt for every solo show I do. I’ve got two stunts that I’ve been working on for the past two years, and I’m still not happy with them, to perform live. But, a lot of the stage stuff or walk around stuff that we get hired for, it’s a lot of rehashing old routines. So, that’s really quick. I could get a phone call now for a gig to do tonight, I’d decide this that and the other to put in a show for 20 minutes and that’s it.
Do you have an act/stunt that gets more attention than others?
Ha, yes, the power drill, obviously because you’re putting a running power drill into the skull (after demonstrating it through a plank of wood). So, that one gets a nice big reaction. But the one that people ask about the most is, the glass eating. I only do it at certain gigs, because, well, I’m eating glass, it’s not something I want to do every day. Basically, for the glass routine, you walk and stomp on the glass, and then you pick out a nice looking one, and then swallow it. People will ask ‘is it sugar glass?’, the amount of effort it would take to pick out one piece of sugar glass from out of all of that, and do it in a way that would make it look like I’m eating real glass, it’s easier just to eat the real glass! [laughs] And it usually still has the label on it, because I usually drink from a glass bottle and then smash it.
What’s your most difficult stunt?
The stilt walking. Once you get up on, and can walk on stilts, that’s great, congratulations, but then when you add in a strait jacket, it’s really hard. You no longer have your arms to rely on for balance. For half the time your head is inside a jacket with your arms strapped to your sides. You can’t see anything, you can’t put your hands out. You’re relying solely on your centre of gravity and the sound of the stilts against the ground. It’s difficult to know whether you’re walking to the edge of the stage or not. That’s one of the hardest stunts. Every other stunt though, it gets easier the more times you do it, but you never stop practising.
What do you want people to take from your show?
If there’s one thing I really want to get across it’s that I am Adelaide based. I hear it a lot, “the performers are in Melbourne, Sydney”, or, “if you want to get anywhere, you move out of Adelaide”. I think Adelaide has some great venues, we have great performers, we have the second largest Fringe Festival in the world, only beaten by Edinburgh obviously. Whyy do we have to move somewhere else? Why fly someone from Melbourne when you’ve got someone in Adelaide? Support your own artists.
What kind of settings and venues do you perform at?
You pretty much adapt for any space or stage.
Do you have a favourite stunt/act?
Tennis racket contortion. That has always been my favourite stunt. I like trying to make it look as absolutely awkward as possible. It’s the one I have the most fun with.
What’s one thing we should know about the show?
This show is real, it’s dangerous, do not bring your children to the show if they are easily influenced. With my show, and any other side show genre, we work incredibly hard to train our bodies how to do these stunts safely. It’s not illusion; it’s not fake nails, fake power drills, sugar glass, smoke and mirrors. It’s real and scary sometimes.
How can we see your act?
Hire me [laughs]. For a lot of what I do, I’m not allowed to do it on the streets, so the best way to see what we do is to convince your boss to hire us for a Christmas party or wait for a solo show. If you jump onto the facebook page we always list the shows we’ve got coming up, different functions or corporate gigs, or even if I’m doing some street stuff.
Malachi Frost as part of Rare DNA are also performing at the Clipsal 500 so be sure to check them out.
*Please note, the photos chosen for this interview are quite PG because the content might not be appropriate for the faint hearted. Please do check out the Malachi Frost; Rare DNA facebook page for more photos.