A new definition of queer: The Flaming Carnivale of Deviance at Pi Bar


Feeling defiantly deviant about the RNC circus coming to town? Come one, come all to the Flaming Carnivale of Deviance at the Pi Bar and express yourself on August 31, the eve of the convention. This outdoor adults-only carnival will be a veritable feast for the senses, celebrating freedom of expression.

Flaming Carnivale of Deviance, Pi Bar and Restaurant, 2532 25th Ave. S., Minneapolis, Sunday, August 31. Live performances outdoors from 4 p.m.-12 a.m. Admission $5, or free with costume.

Flaming Carnivale, a benefit for organizations providing assistance to RNC protesters, will feature feats of fire, a plethora of punk and rock performances, theatre, carnival games, side shows, burlesque, 5-minute “Freedom of Expression” cabaret. There will also be a bizarre bazaar of adult vendors selling their wares, and many more surprises throughout the day and into the night.

Dance to the carni-core music of the Knotwells, infamous for years for their wild punk take on bluegrass, old country, and East Euro folk. Lead singer Arik Xist provides the perfect incentive to express yourself as he dances wildly to his band’s banjo, fiddle, guitar, bass and more, luring you nigh with carnival barker calls interspersed with his singing.

Tired of G.W.B.? Thrash to G.W.A. (Gay Witch Abortion), hardcore duo Shawn Walker (percussion) and Jesse Bottomley, voted one of First Avenue’s best new bands this year. Also performing (order yet to be determined) are Bernie the Trailer Park Queen, Doric, River Bottom Sucker Fish, DJ Lori Barbero, APOX, Foxy Tann, and Midnight Muse Revue.

The Bedlam Theatre troupe, renowned for their radical shows, are performing. You won’t want to miss Rah Kojis and friends performing flaming feats with fire: flaming fire whips, swords, juggling, fire fans, fire-eating, and fire-spitting. All this and a bed of nails. Their dramatic vaudevillian show on Madeline Island during the 4th of July amazed the huge crowds that gathered—expect a scorching show of thrills and delights.

The event is organized by Pi co-owner Tara Yule and Pi entertainment director Shannon Blowtorch. Yule noted while others bars seem afraid of fall-out during the RNC, there’s no fear of that at Pi. “We’re a bar for alternative, subversive, and counterculture clientele. The actual intention of Pi is to be a place for all people who are subversive or progressive in some way—not only lesbian or gay.”

Yule added she’s going toward a more general definition of the term “queer”: anyone who is apart from the norm. “This carnival will be a jumping-off point making a statement, reflecting who we are. I’m dismayed in some ways with the seeming lack of momentum of social justice movements. We need to reinvigorate the counterculture movement, and that’s why Pi is here. We are good at bringing people together. It’s a magical place. Here, worlds collide.”

Cyn Collins is a Twin Cities freelance arts and culture writer. She is the author of West Bank Boogie, a substitute programmer at KFAI, and an assistant producer of Write On Radio.