Dead Man’s Carnival

An interview with Pinkerton Xyloma
by Mike Huberty
April 2012

Dead Man's Carnival

Dead Man's Carnival

Combining the best of live music, classic vaudeville, and circus sideshows, Milwaukee-based DEAD MAN’S CARNIVAL is a unique theater experience for the Midwest They are a regular fixture at the city’s Miramar Theatre, but have been traveling around the country for the past several years. We talked to frontman and musician, Pinkerton Xyloma, about their upcoming appearance at the Majestic in Madison.

Maximum Ink: What inspired you guys to start a sideshow in the first place?
Pinkerton Xyloma: Many of us started as street performers. Traveling around the country we met many awesome people, some of which were seasoned circus performers. For the most part, sideshow performance has survived returning to its origins of traveling buskers.
MI: What’s the particular act that you first saw that made you realize you wanted to do this?
Pinkerton Xyloma: As a collective show of more than 40 people everyone’s introduction was different. Personally the first legit sideshow I saw was in the Great Milwaukee Circus Parade. It was 2000 and Grim Brothers sideshow was performing on the lake. Their show was real wild and raw. It even included a performance by Slymenstra Hymen of Gwar.
MI: What musical acts inspired Sir Pinkerton and The Magnificents?
Pinkerton Xyloma: Mostly American Roots Pre-WWII Jazz, Blues, Boogie, Ragtime. We are often compared to Tom Waits.
MI: What song would be a good intro to your musical styles?
Pinkerton Xyloma: We are so across the board it is hard to say. The music to arrange to custom suited to the act it is backing. It is better to say that we are meant to be enjoyed live. For folks out of the area unable to attend I suppose I would say “Rolling Dice on a Daydream”
MI: Is there a link that we can send people to so they can hear it?
Pinkerton Xyloma:
MI: What advice do you have to anyone thinking of trying out a sideshow act?
Pinkerton Xyloma: Yes, certainly. Be careful. Very carefully. Many of this acts are dangerous without proper instruction. If you are dead set on learning consider contacting us or some other experienced professional to seek training. 
MI: What’s your most memorable outside of Wisconsin performing experience?
Pinkerton Xyloma: There was a show in Phoenix where one of our performers caught on fire through a freak accident (No pun intended) He was fine and further safety measures were put in place needless to say.
MI: What are your plans for the rest of the year?
Pinkerton Xyloma: We are making a film as well as a webcast t.v. program about the underground  Vaudeville/Circus/Burlesque scene in the Mid-west. A part of this documentary will be our monthly productions at the Miramar Theater in Milwaukee (2844 N. Oakland Ave). The show will take place on the first Fri. of every month (May 4th, June 1st, July 6th, Aug. 3rd, Sept 7th, Oct. 5th, & Nov 2nd. We will also be performing in a different Mid-west city each month the evening after our hometown production. 
MI: What’s the act that always makes people’s jaws drop at the Dead Man’s Carnival?
Pinkerton Xyloma: Our shows take the audience through a considerable spectrum of different emotions. We pride our self in the fact that there really is something for everyone. The other side of the coin to that is that there will likely be something that is not your cup of tea as well. We wouldn’t have it any other way. It there isn’t at least one act that challenges the crowd we have likely failed in our goal to show them something they’ve never seen. For some people that will be a Test of Human Endurance from one of our Sideshow Expects, others a Burlesque dancer, or perhaps a absurd comedy bit with a few too many dirty words.

MI: What’s your favorite aspect of being in such a unique act?
Pinkerton Xyloma: Well, I think this question sort of answers itself. It is really nice to provide a time and place for the misfits that just don’t fit in any where else. 
MI: Here’s your chance to make a pitch: anything you want to say, get off your chest, need to say to the world that we haven’t already covered?
Pinkerton Xyloma: We will be performing Sat. April 7th at the Majestic Theater in Downtown Madison. 8pm $10 at the door.


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