Freaks and Geeks
After a decade touring with GWAR, the band that pioneered shooting warm white liquid at audiences from a six-foot "penis," what exactly do you consider a move up? Falling into league with Satan? A stint as a Sing Sing prison guard with "Jump me" tattooed on your forehead? If you're thirtysomething interior designer Danielle Stampe and her domineeringly sexy alter ego Slymenstra Hymen, you revive the Girly Freak Show, a mix of Old World eroticism and New World sideshow grotesqueries.
GFS got its start at Lollapalooza in 1996, the brainchild of contortionist duo the Pain Proof Rubber Girls, but it eventually collapsed when the performers sought better-paying jobs. Three years ago, when Stampe wanted to launch a new electrical stunt show, she contacted the twins, who gave her the naming rights to GFS.
We should mention that Stampe holds three Guinness World Records, two for fire breathing (duration and distance) and one for using her body as a conduit for potentially lethal doses of electricity (which she shoots from her fingertips as 20-foot bolts of lightning). "I resurrected GFS just for that stunt," Stampe says. She later dropped the daring feat when the tour didn't cover the $5,000-a-jolt price tag.
So where does a sexy California girl with a voltage fetish turn when she gets a disconnect notice from the electric company? Back to basics, of course. GFS has become a show that celebrates men's fear of women; it does so by employing a fusion of French burlesque, American sideshow and Gen-X shock-rock antics.
For contrast, Stampe has brought in a token male and straight man, Zamora the Torture King, who walks across swords, licks red-hot metal and pulls a string through his mouth via a bleeding cut above his navel. She also has added a host of new characters, including Cannibal Stripper and her Hoochey Coochey Ouchy Crouchy Dance. "Don't miss it, boys," she says through an eerily tempting laugh.
"I try to do it like I am stripping for the first time," Stampe says. "I am just falling all over the place and tripping .In the end, I eat my own heart out."
Then there's the mermaid act, which is the real "geek" part of the show. "I eat bugs and fish and all that kinda stuff, but I do it in a really glamorous way, coming out of a gold clamshell and stuff."
If the revival takes hold, Stampe's dark love of electricity, pain and burlesque might just land her a spot as the aging Elvira's replacement. This fall Stampe's show is scheduled to appear at the Halloween Haunt at Knott's Berry Farm, where the buxom Mistress of the Dark has been hostess for years. Stampe practically vibrates, sans AC current, at the career potential of that gig.
"This [tour] is the first time out [for us], and I took it to the rock and roll world, but I would like to leave rock and roll soon."
Can sex and violence really mix with a theme park that's trotting out Snoopy and Charlie Brown as pitch characters? Hmm. Someone may need a session with Lucy the Therapist when it's all said and done. And we don't think it'll be Slymenstra.
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