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Latest News from Sideshow Illusions

Headless LadyStop Press - For the first time since the 1960’s Yvette the Headless Lady will be seen in Hull!

Watch this space for very exciting news about a unique appearance of the original 1950’s fairground Headless Lady in Hull later this year. She was last seen at Hull Fair in the 1960s, now a new generation of thrill seekers will be able to witness this amazing living medical marvel!

Professor Jon’s Flea Circus
Professor Jon’s Flea Circusat Keighley St George’s Day - March 2016

Professor Jon’s Flea Circus wowed the crowds at Keighley for the town’s St George’s Day celebrations. Keighley’s Deputy Town Clerk said, “ Can I take this opportunity to thank you enormously for the work you did for us on Saturday. Your show was thoroughly enjoyable - for all ages and really well received.”

Butlin's 80th anniversary year! Sideshows
at Bognor Regis and Minehead

Butlin's 80th anniversary year!Butlins are the only seaside resorts to have live sideshows on their 1950’s themed fairgrounds. In Sir Billy’s World of Wonders at Butlin’s Bognor Regis and Minehead, Sideshow Illusions have created six amazing sideshows, with a wonderful new cast they are ready to thrill visitors this 2016 season. Butlins Bognor Regis - Sir Billy’s World of Wonders - Igorstein - see a monster created right before your eyes, Battina - the only Half-Girl Half-Bat in captivity and the Dungeon of Doom - You won’t believe your eyes! (Check admission and show days) -

Butlin's Minehead - Sir Billy’s World of Wonders - The Werewolf - a crazy scientist brings to life a living breathing Werewolf, Madame Pavlova - the psychic Half-Lady and Arachnia the Half-Girl Half-Spider, don’t look into her eyes! (Check admission and show days)

Dr Phantasma’s Ten in One ShowDr Phantasma’s Ten in One Show at the Tattoo Tea Party
- Event City Manchester - March 2016

Dr Phantasma’s Ten in One Show appeared at Manchester’s Event City’s vast, two-day, Tattoo Tea Party with an all new show. With amazing stunts, illusions and attractions - Princess Arachnia with a live Tarantula! - Ramona, Sideshow Queen on the razor-sharp ladder of swords - the Firewire of Doom and much more.

Out of this World Festival - Sheffield Oct 2015

Out of this World FestivalStarring Dr Diabolo’s Sensational Sideshow with Dr Diablo’ s fire eating and bizarre stunts, Ramona, the Sideshow Queens incredible feats and Dangerous Steve’s ladder balancing, fire and chainsaw juggling. More entertainment was provided with The Great Mysto’s street magic, Sam the Scams, “ reads I win, tails you lose” Bunko Booth and an opportunity to learn exciting magic tricks in a hands on magic workshop.

Flea Circus at SheffieldFlea Circus at Sheffield May Fayre in Weston Park 2015

Professor Jon brought his highly entertaining Flea Circus Tent and show to entertain visitors at Sheffield’s May Fayre. Visitors were itching to see the show!

Butterfly Girl flies in Norfolk (March 2015)Butterfly Girl flies in Norfolk (March 2015)

Sideshow Illusions' amazingly illusive, beautiful and exotic Butterfly Girl Illusion is to flap her wings at Davenport's Magic Kingdom visitor attraction in Norfolk for the season. Full time and admission details at -

Butterfly Girl flies in Norfolk (March 2015)Tattoo Tea Party at Event City
Dr Phantasma's Ten in One Show! (March 2015)

The huge two-day, Manchester Tattoo Tea Party attracted record crowds again with even more tattoo artists, exhibitors, and attractions. We were delighted to work with Sue, Martin and their team to present Dr Phantasma's Ten in One Show as a centrepiece attraction and main stage. Dangerous Steve juggles a chainsaw in the show - watch him here - You can experience a flavour of the Tattoo Tea Party and see some great video clips of our show here.

Butlin's World of Wonder Shows (February 2015)

The live shows created by Sideshow Illusions at Butlin's Bognor Regis and Minehead Resorts are all rehearsed and prepared with Butlin's brilliant new actors to scare and entertain guests throughout 2015. Arachnia - Half-Girl, Half-Spider, The Werewolf and Madame Pavlova at Minehead and at Bognor Regis - The Dungeon of Doom, Igorstein and Battina, the living half-girl, half-bat! Dare you enter!

NFA - 20th Anniversary Celebrations - Sumptous Box Set (December 2014)NFA - 20th Anniversary Celebrations - Sumptuous Box Set (December 2014)

We are delighted to have been able to contribute explanatory notes and to have photographs of our shows in the exclusive and beautifully produced fine print, limited edition, Box Set. It features a variety of popular entertainment topics including Fairgrounds, Circus, Film, Magic and Variety. Launched at the University of Sheffield on December with a show presented by Professor Vanessa and with Jon Marshall on the bill - hundreds attended and many eagerly collected their box sets with books, facsimiles, fine art print and NFA ephemera, they are already valued collector's items.

More National Fairground Archive 20th Anniversary Celebrations
at Sheffield Fayre (September 2014)

Three of our original 1950s Sideshows were the feature entertainment at this year's two-day Sheffield Fayre. The Mummy, Cleo, The Girl in the Goldfish Bowl, and Yvette, the Headless Lady. Professor Jon's Flea Circus added to the line-up.
It poured down on Bank Holiday Monday but it didn't dampen the crowds and the shows were open and busy all day.

National Fairground Archive 20th Anniversary Celebrations at Sheffield May Fayre (May 2014)

2014 marked 20 years of The National Fairground Archive at The University of Sheffield. A year of celebrations and events are planned by Professor Vanessa and the Archive team. At Sheffield’s May Fair - thanks to Howard and his team from Sheffield Council, thousands of spectators turned up to help celebrate and enjoy the entertainment including Professor Jon's Flea Circus.

Davenport's Magic Kingdom New Show (April 2014)Davenport's Magic Kingdom New Show (April 2014)

Gloria the Living Half Lady will be amazing and amusing the visitors to Norfolk’s popular attraction - Davenport’s Magic Kingdom. It’s close to Cromer at North Walsham, open 10am to 5pm daily. Family tickets and other concessions are available.

utlin’s Minehead - World of Wonder Opens March 2014Butlinís Minehead - World of Wonder Opens March 2014)

We built and opened a new World of Wonder Sideshow in the newly refurbished fairground at Butlin's Minehead Resort. Three Sideshows were installed and the cast trained to thrill the crowds during the season, Arachnia - Half-Girl, Half-Spider, The Werewolf and Madame Pavlova.

Ten in One at Tattoo Tea Party (March 2014)

This massive event at Manchester's Event City attracted thousands and we presented Dr Phantasma's Ten in One Show throughout the weekend playing to packed houses at every performance.

hree New Sideshows for Butlin’s Bognor Regis  (February 2014)Three New Sideshows for Butlinís Bognor Regis
(February 2014)

Sideshow Illusions devised, built and scripted three exciting new sideshows for the World of Wonders that we installed in 2013. The team including with Mark and Sarah Copeland, Steve Collison and Richard Morris created The Dungeon of Doom, Igorstein and Battina the living, half-girl, half-bat! All shows ready to open for Feb half-term and to thrill the guests during the 2014 season.

utlin’s Minehead - World of Wonder Opens March 2014Sheffield Fayre (August 2013)

Our fourth visit to Sheffield’s Norfolk Park! Sideshow illusions presented Professor Jon's Flea Circus and Dr Diabolo's Strange But True Show. To complement these sideshow attractions we arranged a program of street theatre and arena entertainment with Dangerous Steve, The Great Inferno, The Fabulous Kapow Sisters and Circus Avago among the acts.

Sideshow Illusions on Facebook (June 2013)

Don’t forget there  are plenty more pictures on our facebook page - do add us as a friend

Professor Jon’s Flea Circus at Sheffield May FayreProfessor Jon’s Flea Circus
at Sheffield May Fayre
(May 2013)

There were great audiences for Professor Jon’s Flea Circus at Sheffield’s May Fair - thanks to Howard and his team from Sheffield Council and Professor Vanessa from the National Fairground Archive for booking Jon and his cast including, Fearless Frederico, Bella the weight lifting Flea and Danny the Flea High Diver.

Professor Jon’s Flea Circus at Sheffield May FayreYvette Davenport’s Magic Kingdom (May 2013)

Yvette The Headless Lady is thrilling the crowds from May to September at Norfolk’s latest visitor attraction - Davenport’s Magic Kingdom. It’s a few miles from Cromer in North Walsham, open 10am to 5pm daily, admission £9.50 and £6 with family tickets and other concessions.

New Sideshows for Butlinís Bognor RegisNew Sideshows for Butlin’s Bognor Regis (February 2013)

Sideshow Illusions were commissioned by Butlins to design, create and install three new sideshows for their newly revamped 1950s style fairground at their Bognor Regis resort.

Working with Mark and Sarah Copeland, Dave Whatt, Steve Collison and Richard Morris. the shows were built and the cast trained all ready to open for February half-term to thrill the visitors. There are three shows -  Madame Pavlova, the Living Half-Lady: The Werewolf and Arachnia, the half-girl, half-spider.

Yvette The Headless Lady for Halloween (October 2012)

Working with Becky and Camille of events company, Theme Traders, Yvette made an appearance for a private client in Kent at an elaborate Halloween party. Guests were invited into the show booth to see Madame Arcana appear in a magic mirror before being sent further into the tent to be introduced to Yvette.

Ten in One at Sheffield Fayre (August 2012)Ten in One at Sheffield Fayre (August 2012)

Making a third visit to Sheffield’s Norfolk Park, Sideshow illusions presented their latest show - Dr Phantasma’s Ten in One show. The magnificent forty foot long, colourful banner line and outside bally platform made an impressive sight and attracted huge queues to step inside and see the 25 minute sideshow featuring ten different acts. Amongst the acts Dangerous Steve juggled fire and balanced on a high ladder on the centre stage, Bendy Bendini tied himself in knots, forced his body and twisted his limbs through the small aperture in an unstrung tennis racquet, No Middle Myrtle and a live Man Eating Fish were displayed and Dr Diabolo ate and blew volcanos of fire before Miss Elastina curved and contorted her body to avoid many steel blades from harming her body.

Daily ExpressReturn of the Freak Show - Daily Express (June 2012)

On June 6th Joanna Della-Ragione published a two-page interview about the Wondershow. “The check-suited showman draws you in with a grin as wide as his eyes. “See the Headless Woman! Alive and human!. The allure of his call cannot be ignored ...”

All the Fun of the Fair BBC4 (June 2012)All the Fun of the Fair BBC4 (June 2012)

Jon contributed to this excellent Timeshift documentary, recorded in 2011, and broadcast again on BBC4 this June - “From the sideshows to the freak shows the story of fairs is the tale of one of our first forms of popular entertainment.” The Stage reviewer said - “The most interesting part of All the Fun of the Fair concerned the Sideshows. In an age before advertising standards, the showman would stand outside a tent and marshal all his skills of oratory, imagination, hyperbole, persuasion and performance to sell a must see phenomenon. As 19th century showman Tom Norman put it, ‘It’s not the show but the tale you tell’.”

Show Row at Carterís Traditional Fair Pinkneys GreenShow Row at Carter’s Traditional Fair Pinkneys Green
(May 2012)

We were delighted to work with Anna and Joby Carter to bring back the Headless Lady to a fairground for the first time for many years sharing the show row with Colin’s Appleton, Pat and Joan the Siamese Twins Show, his Mirror Show and Voltini’s Electric show all standing next to the wonderful Carter’s vintage rides, it really gave the visitors a taste of a 1950s fairground.

Show Row at Carter’s Traditional Fair Pinkneys GreenBBC  - In pictures:
The return of the fairground sideshow
(April 2012)

An excellent slideshow of pictures from our Roundhouse show and other pictures from the National Fairground Archive.

“Unmissable” This is Cabaret (April 2012)

“Jon Marshall’s sideshow illusions steal the show with the fresh appeal of their tongue-in-cheek candidness. In these times of anaesthetised, politically-correct entertainment, who can resist the lurid lure of Mademoiselle Yvette the Headless Lady (“Alive and Human!”) or the Butterfly Girl? “£1,000 if not alive!”

Selling out its seven-day run before the first night, it’s an undisputed success. it is an authentic demonstration of a fascinating tradition in the performing arts that, though seemingly obsolete, still brings curious smiles and unguarded laughter to faces of every age. For that alone, it is unmissable.”

“Joyous celebration” Exeunt (April 2012)

“The Wondershow is really all about the sideshows. These short performances (the majority created by Jon Marshall’s Sideshow Illusions) make use of the same optical illusions and patent guffery that could be found at many an early-20th century fair. Marshall deserves considerable credit for his preservation and recreation of tricks and techniques that could easily have been lost forever. There’s a real charm to every booth, and it’s a treat for fans of vintage illusion, with a dash of Pepper’s Ghost (take that phantom-Tupac) and other infamous optical techniques. Don’t miss The Headless Woman (genuinely impressive) or The Mummy, a joyous celebration of charlatanism with some top-class circus skills thrown in.”

“The adults are screaming louder than the children”  Rosenna East, The Big Issue (April 2012)

“This vintage circus carnival thrives on a good old fashioned sense of wonder with a healthy dose of subtext. The dark space of the Roundhouse, shaped like a Circus tent but more severe, fills with colourful characters, in the dim light, lines between reality and fiction are starting to blur.  The vintage sideshows that line the walls are indeed curiosities. To start with, it's genuinely confusing. Instead of blowing us away, it draws us in. After the Headless Woman I am hooked. How on earth did they do that? We're all marveling at a woman with no head taking off her gloves and crossing her very live legs. Eventually we're in the Mummy, and the adults are screaming louder than the children. Roll up for a bit of heartwarming wonder.”  

“comic horror and visual trickery“ 4 Stars  London Evening Standard (April 2012)

“... combining circus with a subversive revival of the traditional sideshow (“no videos please, they haven’t ben invented”) Gasp at Cleo the five-inch goldfish woman. Be amazed as the headless lady removes an item of clothing. Calm down, gents, it’s a glove. Inside of sitting passively one wanders from intimate tent to tent investigating whatever catches the eye. An Egyptian Mummy adds a dash of comic horror and visual trickery. I was assured that Electra, The 27,000 volt girl was shockingly good. Enjoy this lucky dip and forget about the double dip recession for two hours.”

“Entertains and baffles the sell-out crowd” Liz Arratoon, The Stage (April 2012)

“if ever there were a reason to have a promenade show, it would be to wander round Jon Marshall’s painstakingly restored/recreated sideshow illusions, which form the heart of the production and still have the power not only to entertain but to baffle the sell-out crowd. Six - including the intriguing Butterfly Girl, introduced by that loud-suited epitome of a showman Marshall himself, the terrifying Mummy held back by Jamie Waudby, and henpecked shyster Steve Collison’s presentation of Kay Trayford as Gloria, the mouthy Living Half Lady - surround a central stage. There is a buzz of excitement and chatter as people bustle between the attractions, avoiding electrocution at the hands of Tim Cockerill’s Dr Sparks character or getting splashed by the Girl in the Goldfish Bowl.  If fairs are about fun, this is where to find it.”

The Roundhouse Circusfest shows were a sell out!The Roundhouse Circusfest shows were a sell out!
(April 2012)

“This promenade performance oozes atmosphere” The Guardian Six of our Sideshows arranged around the perimeter of the wonderful Roundhouse main auditorium, lit beautifully by talented lighting designer Tim Lutkin, with a centre stage and area for intriguing parades and spectacular circus acts right in the middle of the audience, arranged and choreographed by Mark and Sarah Copeland of the Insect Circus. Amy Saunders, the amazing Miss Behave introduced Professor Vanessa’s Wondershow and the audience were able to roam from show to show, watch the acts, have a drink at the bar area and play Pinball Geof’s great vintage machines.

WondershowSideshows at the Wondershow, 23 – 29 April (March 2012)

Book Now! We are presenting our original 1950s Sideshows – Yvette The Headless Lady, Cleo, the Girl in the Goldfish Bowl, The Living Half Lady, Electra, she defies death by 27,000 volts, The Mummy and our new Butterfly Girl, half-girl, half-human in this spectacular show.

It is the first time that sideshows like these have been seen in London for many years. It’s part of the Roundhouse CircusFest 2012.

Tickets are selling fast for the nine performances.

ShowzamShowzam 2012 (Feb 2012)

Our Showzam 2012 Festival appearances were a great success. The Headless Lady intrigued audiences, The Monster show amazed and scared all who entered and our new Dr Phantasma’s Ten in One Show made its debut. Everyone admired the tremendous forty-foot-long banner line and stage designed by Steve and Dave with the beautiful banners created by Mark and Martha Copeland. The inside show was a hit with brilliant performances by Tim Cockerill, the Great Inferno, Bendini, Sword Swallowing and Contortion, Dr Diabolo as The Pain Proof Man and Miss Elastina, Jessica Jackson, Daisy Stemple as Princess Arachnia and Vanessa the live Tarantula. Live music by star accordionist Nancy Petulengro. Dr Phantasma’s Ten in One will appear at Sheffield Fayre in August.

RipleysTim in Ripleys (Dec 2011)

Sideshow Illusions collaborator and performer Tim Cockerill has the great honour of appearing in Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Annual 2012.

His fire eating act and incredible eating molten lead stunt is featured. It was Jon Gresham’s fire eating act that inspired Tim to re-create Jons’s act and then to develop his own performance as The Great Inferno.

Tim will be appearing in Dr Phantasma’s Ten in One Show in Showzam, Blackpool Feb 2012

For more information call 01482 709939 or contact Sideshow Illusions today!