Run away with the circus, Bohemian-style 

Is it the heavy makeup? The bright red bulbous honker? Or, perhaps, the untamed fro that gives you the willies? Whatever it is, if clowns induce cringing, it’s high time to face that coulrophobia head-on with some immersion therapy.

This Saturday, run away with the circus. See for yourself that clowns aren’t so creepy at the Bohemian Carnival.

Each third Saturday of the month, the DNA Lounge transforms into an indie circus playground of swinging aerialists, fire dancers and sexy big top performers to create a wildly entertaining evening of escapism.

The Bohemian Carnival thrusts performers and theatergoers alike into an arena where you’re not quite sure who, exactly, is the performer. Is the gal slinking around in seductive carny-garb the main attraction — or is it the dude twisting himself into pretzel?

"It’s not always easy to differentiate the audience from the performers," says carnival co-producer Mike Gaines of the avant-cabaret collective Vau de Vire Society.

Gaines and fellow producer Boenobo the Klown, ringmaster of Circus Metropolus and electronic clown band Gooferman, assembled the Bohemian Carnival in September 2006 with the intent of creating an environment where trained circus performers and folks off the street could come together to form a "carnival for the working class."

"That’s what I think is the magical thing about this. There really isn’t another event on an ongoing basis that comes close to the grassroots indie vibe that we deliver," Gaines says. "The performers are really passionate about what they do and that’s what draws in the audience."

Gaines and company encourage the audience to don costumes and interact with the performers to gain the full effect of the interactive performance art experience.

But what if you’re not hip to the San Francisco circus subculture and don’t exactly have an outfit that screams "ringmaster"?

Well, the carnival has you covered with its insta-clown booth, which basically involves a clowntastic makeover in minutes.

Whether or not you decide to gussy up in your best carnival gear, Boenobo the Klown insists there’s absolutely no pretension behind the face paint.

"There’s that Burning Man performance art vibe going on here, so it’s just going to be smiles all around," he says. "This isn’t Friday night at Ruby Skye where you roll in to see your favorite DJ and just bob your head left to right. I don’t think anyone is going to be made to feel uncomfortable. The Bohemian Carnival is a place where people can go and abandon their hang-ups for a little bit at whatever level they want and have a good time."

Bohemian Carnival

Where: DNA Lounge, 375 11th St., San Francisco

When: 9 p.m. Saturday

Tickets: $15 (21 and older)

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Staff Report

Staff Report

A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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