Here are two distinct looks at the Jim Rose Circus Experience. This sideshow troupe rose to fame in the 1990s, first with their hometown of Seattle and then on the road with bands like Nine Inch Nails and Marilyn Manson. The first book is FREAK LIKE ME, written by Rose himself. This volume covers his life prior to the freakshow and how the group formed. The second book is THE CIRCUS OF THE SCARS, and is a compilation that includes many of the sideshow performers, but not Jim Rose. Two very interesting viewpoints indeed...!
Freak Like Me
by Jim Rose
Why would a man assemble a group of modern-day, self-made Freaks and tour the world, making people faint and throw up? Written by the group founder/leader, Freak Like Me covers Rose's childhood in Phonenix, getting teased for being cross-eyed and always being tied up while playing cowboys and Indians. Years later, working as an exterminator, Rose hands in his bug sprayer and heads to Europe, picking up the fine art of street performing along the way. Recounted is the birth of the Jim Rose Circus Sideshow in 1991, and the various incarnations up through the tour with Nine Inch Nails in 1994. The book has tons of pictures and descriptions of plenty of things you shouldn't do at home: as Rose intones in his show "go over to your friend's house to practice until you get really good." A bit Rose-centric at times, this is nevertheless an excellent look at the post modern sideshow.
Circus of the Scars : The True Inside Odyssey of a Modern Circus Sideshow
by Jan T. Gregor, Ruby Dalsgard (editor) and Ashleigh Talbot (illustrator) and Tim Cridland
Written by Jan Gregor, who held the position of road manager for the Jim Rose Circus Sideshow, this volume is an excellent counterpoint to Rose's "Freak Like Me." Having read both, I found this to have a broader viewpoint, including more details about and from the varied members of the group. The book covers mid 1991 through 1993 (Gregor's tenure), with many diary-like accounts of tour dates from this time. Also included are notes on historical sideshows, pictures of the original members of the troupe in action and excerpts from a rediscovered 142-year-old circus diary....