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What They Said About "Circus of the Scars"

"When Jim Rose's Circus burst on to the scene in the early 90's, it created the sort of of stir seldom seen since the glory days of freak shows traveling in rail cars 'cross the country, long before the advent of movie, radio, TV and rock n' roll. . . it was the hippest show happening, and Circus of the Scars is the recounting of the halcyon days of Rose and his troupe, spanning the globe, as they did, in their constant efforts to push the envelope of the senses and send the weak-kneed reeling--or, in some cases, hurling. But like all magical stars with a meteoric ascent, this was a baby that burnt out fast . . . a memorable account of the days and nights of a freak show haphazardly tossed into the modern milieu of groupies, drugs and rock n' roll . . . pulls no punches in his portrait of life on the road with this band of lovable misfits who stumbled into a freak show that became larger than life, eventually blowing up in the face of its megalomaniacal leader, precipitating a mutiny in the ranks, and the inevitable split-up of the original "Marvels". . . mention must also be made of the weird and wonderful illustrations of Ashleigh Talbot . . . All in all, her work is strange eye candy that blends with Gregor's text in such a manner seldom seen in print media, with her spooky clown motifs adorning the start of each section, creating just the sort of twisted framework to set the mood for the wild roller coaster ride which unfolds. If you like freak shows, and roller coaster disasters, this is the book for you!"
Adam Gorightly


"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."
Relache, San Francisco


"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 entertainment."
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."
Carpe Noctem


"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 fellow freaks."
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 page."
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, heartily, poke-you-in-the-ribs-and-insist-you-send-off-for-it-now-ingly recommended."
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 eyes."
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 gift."
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 tell."
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."
Implosion Magazine