Sunday, May 04, 2008

The Pleasure of Piercing Performances

The great Kirokaya and few forgotten fakirs

While today body piercing is an accepted social and artistic practice (as it used to be in earlier civilizations), fifty years ago it was still a novelty for circus goers.
In the late 60s, circuses started to book fakirs who, beside cataleptic creativity and fire funambolisms, pierced their bodies with a plethora of penetrating pins.
It happened in France, Italy, Germany, Great Britain, Spain, under small and large big tops or on the theatre stages of big and rural towns. Producers used to set vaudeville touring units called "festival of mistery" or such; and circuses called the audience replacing on posters clowns and elephants with fakirs.

Among those was Johnson, "the gentleman fakir", emphasizing his stage dandyesque elegance with his repulsive feats.

But the most impressive was Kirokaya: billed from Nepal but probably european. After some feats of piercing, he invited spectator in the ring to have fun throwing darts into his back. At the end of his act, having inserted hooks in his chest, he pulled a small cart with four men on the top, with the only driving force of his skin.

Kirokaya became a star in Italy in the late 60s and early 70s, during his succesful tours with the famous Darix Togni circus. We have lost his traces today.

Below, there is a newsreel clip of one of the many "occult festivals" organized in France in the 60s. It was a surreal conclave of performers happily inflicting themselves all kind of tortures.
We discovered that one of them, the fakir wearing glasses, is Kirokaya in person.

Today the world is more used to the sport of piercing and to the aficionado gatherings. Tatoo shops are at every corner.
Let's remember for few instants to a time, just few decades ago, when all that still stimulated the wonderful conflict between pleasure and repulsion.

1 comment:

Jean-Luc said...

An other fakir performance:

my adress:

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