‘Freak show’ buskers to disappear after new government ban on social gatherings

"Freak show" street performers will disappear under the new ban on social gatherings of more than six people, an industry boss says.

Gory routines that attract hundreds of audience members will be axed when the rules come in force in England next Monday, according to The Busking Project co-founder Nick Broad.

The zany acts include Union Jack-mad Spikey Will, who sandwiches himself between two nail boards.

He finds the biggest tourist to stand on him in central London's Covent Garden and often ends up bloody.

Nick, 36, said: "Circus shows are done, there's no chance and it's the same for freak shows, absolutely.

"They are skilful and talented in what they are doing and nobody in government has demonstrated that they are.

"Nobody is going to do a 45 minute show if there's just six people.

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"Spikey Will, he lays on his back on a bed of nails and then puts another bed of nails on his chest and gets the largest tourist to stand on it. There's blood.

"Freak shows are shaking their heads at what they seeing in this government."

The Busking Project website has around 2,500 performers ready to hire with "Freak Shows" available for £200.

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Nick, of Balham, south London, said the new rules will kill off street performers who had already been struggling during lockdown.

He said: "Any kind of event has gone from about five a day to three a month.

"The circus shows I think have been hardest hit, the people who go down to Covent Garden and do these large shows.

"If they don't have 100s of people watching they are basically not going to make enough money to live off.

"And nobody is going to hire an event where you have fewer than seven people in it."

He reckoned the rules will also leave theatres and cinemas "f**ked" and added that "freak shows" have a history spanning 1,000s of years.

He said the acts, also known as "side shows" are "as popular as ever" and included a gruesome routine in Europe where a man "pushes a corn kernel up through his nose and then it came out of his tear ducts and popped out of his eyes".

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