"You won't see many books like this around . . . manages to wonderfully
capture the circus atmosphere, the wild, absurd, highly enjoyable, totally
objectionable world of Marvels . . . Gregor dazzles with the smells, the
comedy, the impossibility of all sorts of interactions, of women journalists
asking about male underwear, early morning drive-time radio publicity . . .
You don't get much better life than this book. Intelligently organized,
extraordinarily vivid, this will become a classic in the field of
The Book Reader, Spring/Summer 2001
"Whether or not you are a sideshow fan you have got to get your hands on a
copy of this book. Beautifully written by Jan T. Gregor, the troupe's first
road manager, and full of delicately disturbing illustrations by Ashleigh
Talbot, the book glides effortlessly between styles: from spooky old-time
circus nostalgia in fading canvas colours, to 90's rock'n'roll road-trip
mayhem--with all stops in between! Elegantly crafted, graphic, amusing and
even touching in parts, it is a 'must read'."
Thomas Blackthorne -- magic.web.planet.it
"Full of scandalous backstage stories involving members of Pearl Jam,
Soundgarden, Lush, Marilyn Manson and Nine Inch Nails, to surreal
incidents involving aging drunken clowns offering sexual favors, police
bans, sex, drugs, and everyday life on the road for a troupe whose rider
includes things like containers of maggots (eaten onstage by the
head-to-toe tattooed Enigma).
"The photos are mindbending, the illustrations by Ashleigh Talbot are
amazing, and the writing is insightful, humorous and riveting. Even if
you've never seen or heard of the Jim Rose Circus Sideshow, this book
would be extremely interesting. If you've seen them before, it gives
insight and a unique behind-the-scenes look at this post-modern
phenomenon . . . a breezy, fascinating read--highly recommended."
Pleasant Gehman, Los Angeles
"A sordid tale of sex, drugs, assorted depravity, debauchery and deceit
. . . It's very compelling, funny and loaded with uncensored photos. No
kidding: it is one of the most beautifully designed and illustrated (by
Ashleigh Talbot) books you will ever own."
"Ashleigh Talbot's illustrations are raw edge, shocking, stark,
emotional, blood running fast, gut wrenching impact, unslick, not
polished, childlike, stabbing, outrageous, silly, beautiful, again
beautiful . . . No less than the raw talent that adorns the caves in
France and no more than what we need to feel the pen on the paper. Her
work is a major contribution to the success of 'Circus of the Scars' . .
. get your copy and watch this girl cook."
Doug Higley, Circus Report
"Follows the show from its informal, idealistic beginnings into a hell
of professionalism and modern show business . . . it's fascinating
watching the transformations that occur as the pages turn . . . the
historical Tunchi Diaries give Circus of the Scars depth and context . .
. If you really want to learn how to do the Bed of Nails, find a good
teacher. If you're going to get into the entertainment business, you
might want to use this book as an example of how not to treat your
Bob Pomeroy, Focus
"I read the book in one long sleepless sitting . . . Gregor makes
you feel like you were right there when all this was happening . . .
sweeps you up, and you find yourself turning page after page after
Shawn Porter, Shawn Porter Collection
"The first 165 pages went by like a pamphlet. I was at that mark before
I even looked up to check the clock. Three hours! . . As road manager
for the original Jim Rose Circus Sideshow, somewhere along that road,
this guy learned how to write. While I expected to be "shocked and
appalled" I was "moved and enthralled.". . . big laughs and interrupting
terrors and enough lunatic shenanigans to fill three books . . .
Warning: there are words and photos that will shock some of you . .
Doug Higley, Circus Report
"As befits so colorful and rich a tale, the book's artwork is as
eye-seducing as the story within . . . Brimming with eye-popping
anecdotes, vibrant writing, and enough twists and turns--the ending is a
stunner--to leave you gasping for air and more, Circus of the Scars
pulls no punches in telling an absolutely incredible story. Absolutely,
Eye Magazine Pick of the Month
"Sure to have everyone talking . . . Circus Of The Scars is a real
"trip," if a dark and disturbing one
. . . You better grab a copy before Jim Rose's lawyer's get wind of it!"
Chris Fellner, Freaks!
"I am on my second reading now . . . a masterpiece . . . wonderful . . .
took out all the stops in producing this delightful journey in a life
few have been able to describe in its reality . . . wonderful to my
Ward Alexander, College of Complexes Circus Studios
"A frightening little tome. Hair-raising to say the least."
James Taylor, Shocked & Amazed
"An amazingly candid revelation that truly makes the reader an "insider"
to a world few of us will ever know . . . if you want to read a
real-world book about an extremely colorful band of nomadic showmen then
you MUST buy this book."
Larry White, M-U-M magazine; Society of American Magicians
"This was like - candy for me . . . the hand illustrations reminiscent
of 40s tattoo flash and the treasure of backstage photos are enough to
motivate me, but reading the book was the real treat
. . . this was a real page turner, because the lives of the people profiled is
interesting . . . Jan T. Gregor has done a great job of story telling
here, and I highly recommend this book."
Leslie Harpold, SMUG
"Entertaining from start to finish, an interesting look at an
unforgettable piece of '90s pop culture."
Joe Garden, The Onion
"Winner of the Best Oddity in International Publishing award . . .
Look no further than Circus of the Scars, a remarkable achievement by
any standard, a work very much equal of its subject . . . presented in
one of the most impressive packages you'll see this or any other year."
Edmonton Journal, Alan Kellogg
"Be forewarned, Jan Gregor and Tim Cridland pull no punches and the
off-stage experiences are often more graphic than anything presented on
stage . . . I found "Circus Of The Scars" to be 450 pages of compulsive
reading. A great plus is the illustrations by Ashleigh Talbot and the
dozens of action photos of the troupe on and off stage. If you are a fan
of human oddities, sideshows, freaks or unusual acts, this book is a
"must" for your library. Highly recommended."
Walt Hudson, Circus Report - October 26, 1998
"This book is interesting, informative, and funny. It is highly
recommended . . . 32 pages of photos (one of Mister Lifto that gives us
more information than we need!) . . . Circus of the Scars makes a great
Gerry Krochak, Regina Leader-Post
"Circus Of The Scars is fantastic! . . . It's exactly the kind of book I
best like to read . . . a nice thick armchair adventure that takes me to
places and situations that fascinate me but which I'd otherwise only
glimpse . . . My god is it beautiful! It's the best-looking book I've
seen since . . . since I don't know when. It's hypnotizingly inviting!
It looks as a book of wonders ought to look!"
Jim Woodring, cartoonist-author of Frank
"Genuinely affecting . . . notable for the detail it brings to the
experience . . . offers more straight dope than any freakshow junkie
could ever hope to metabolize."
Marc Savlov-Austin Chronicle
"Reveals all the intimacies, idiosyncrasies and eccentricities
surrounding the show . . . gives us the inside shish-kebab on the
characters who turned a curiosity into an unlikely world-renown circus
. . . Gregor can tell a great story and, with a colorful cast as his
palette, there's no shortage of entertaining and provocative stories to
Joe Ehrbar, The Rocket
"The rise and fall of a freak show is a tragic and touching thing . . . a
new book recounts the troupe's 15 minutes of flame-throwing, slug-eating
glory . . . "
Playboy After Hours
"The Jim Rose Circus Sideshow, with its many-wondered calvacade of freaks
and characters, provide a background for probably one of the best road
diaries as I've read in a long time. A cover worth of the Bible and tons
of indescribably brilliant illustrations by the legendary Triangle Slash
(who did the early Circus Sideshow posters and art). Needles, flames,
slugs, bombs in the toilet . . ."
V. Blast, Mansplat
"Circus Of The Scars will have special appeal to people who have spent
their lives in show business. Gregor and Cridland recount the early
years . . . the poor accommodations, the all-night drives, sleeping in
trucks, all the things showpeople have experienced in their lives."
Bob Childress, The White Tops
"Circus of the Scars highlights are a) Ashleigh Talbot's 117 lovingly
rendered illustrations, and b) the two photographs of the highly
acclaimed Mr. Lifto hoisting heavy weights suspended from his pierced
penis . . . Devotees of the sideshow arts and the Jim Rose Circus
Sideshow in particular will be fascinated by this work; others will
merely thumb through it and gape in numbed astonishment at the
rotogravure of Mr. Lifto's exploits . . . It's a hard-to-top
stocking-stuffer for that snotty punk on your shopping list who seems to
already have everything he or she could possibly want or need."
Dennis P. Eichhorn, Scram Magazine
"Documents its details-emotions, arguments, actions, ect.-while also
detailing the very eventful and humorous antics of the constantly
touring Marvels. And, no, Circus of the Scars is not authorized by Rose
. . . Top quality -- Gregor is an excellent writer and thoroughly
entertains. It's a book you'll want to keep and even tell your friends
to read -- if they give it back to you."