Heather Holliday got her first break ten years ago at the Coney Island Sideshow, when, on her first day as an intern, the snake charmer quit and a girl was needed to assist on stage. The New York native was quick to step into the breach and her circus career took off. Dolores Daiquiri chats to her on the eve of visit to New Zealand as one of the stars of Limbo, a sexy circus cabaret at the Auckland Arts Festival.
You're an impressive fire eater and you were one of the world's youngest sword swallowers. Can you share your other circus skills?
I also do whip cracking, knife throwing and a little bit of tap. I can do any other sideshow acts required but fire is my favourite. I've been doing sword swallowing the longest and I'm best at it. I've been doing fire professionallly for six years. With sword swallowing– you learn through repetition. I've never hurt myself with a sword but I'm always very cautious. I'm usually more concerned with the show rather than than having an accident.
What is your favourite city to perform in and why?
I love New York as it's loud. Middle America is really really fun, I prefer Australia over Europe as the audiences are louder and more appreciative.
Do you have a backstage ritual?
Not really. I'm always running from show to show getting organised. I always have a messy table/desk as I'm busy all the time working.
Who are your idols or influences and why?
Miss Behave is one of my idols. In a sideshow female performers can be territorial, so not many woman do it.
Are any of your family members performers too?
No just me. My mom is an artist who makes all my costumes.
Where do you see yourself five years from now?
I don't have a five-year plan. I prefer a more spontaneous approach. I don't like to jinx things. I only ever set short term goals.
Any tips for anyone wanting to be a sideshow circus artist?
Safety is key. I make it look risky but I am very careful. Go slow, take your time, don’t perform something you are not comfortable with.
Describe what you do in two words.
Dangerous and feminine.
To book tickets for Limbo visit http://ticketmaster.co.nz/