‘Peep’ Show at Spiegelworld’s EMPIRE!

I’ve been to a few Cirque shows, but Spiegelworld’s touring EMPIRE show is by far the most intimate. And raunchy. It thrilled me in so many ways. Not just from the derring-do acrobatics that I’ve come to expect at a circus, but the entertaining sideshow, off-colour banter and audience participation that helped make it a true spectacle.

Cast members roam the aisles and get right up in your face, encouraging interaction from the get go. One of my favourite characters is Half-Naked Asian Dude Wearing Pigtails (Yasu Yoshikawa), whose expressive face and physical nature quickly help you forget about the outside world. 

The venue is as intimate as you can get, the stage a mere 3 meters in diameter. Suspended from the centre of the tent is a giant aerial sphere that split in two, enabling the contortionist acrobat, Miss A In A Bubble (Lucia Carbines), to slither around inside and eventually emerge like a butterfly out of a chrysalis.

The entire show featured a cohesive live soundtrack, led by Canadian singer Miss Purple (Tessa Alves) and musician Moondog (Aurelien Budynek). The rest of the cast is a collection of misfits from around the world, including international performers from Australia, USA, Ukraine, Russia, Ethiopia, Japan and France. 

Other highlights of Spiegelworld’s EMPIRE included a hot couple in roller skates, Blue Tarpoleon and Polka Dot Woman (Denis Petaev and Mariia Beisembetova), that could spin and twirl in that 3-meter ring as if it were three times its size. And Lime Green Lady and Carrot Man (Vlad Ivashkin and Aiusha Khadzh Khamed), with their sexy, balancing acrobatics.

EMPIRE hosts Oscar and Fanny (Don Colliver and Jamie Franta), are a hilarious swinging couple that flirt with each other and audience members alike throughout the 90-minute show. If you’re in the first few rows, expect to be part of the show. I hope you like bananas.

The finale is the Sanddorn Branch Balance act, performed by Graffiti Guy in 3D (Andreis Jacobs Rigolo). It’s a jaw-dropping assemblage of a dozen sticks resembling ribs of a T-rex — one by one — until they’re suspended on the last stick. The show is worth the price of admission for this act alone. 

If you go see EMPIRE, be prepared for big thrills, some nudity and coarse language. It would make for an awesome first date.

About author

Roger Cullman is an award-winning photojournalist. His work has appeared in NOW Magazine, blogTO, Sports Illustrated and The Globe & Mail. Find and follow him on Twitter and Instagram @rogercullman and check out his website: