The Live Free or Die Tattoo Expo is going on its 11th year in 2017! For the past 5 years, The Coney Island Sideshow has come to New Hampshire to perform at the expo and they are making another appearance this year.

I had the chance to speak with Adam RealMan, the Dean and professor from Coney Island Sideshow School about his past and upcoming performances at LFOD. Adam got his start in the sideshow business when he was just a kid. He grew up in Coney Island, was working on the boardwalk, saw the show and wanted to get involved. Since his start he has learned many skills such as but not limited to: fire eating, sword swallowing, walking on glass, lying on a bed of nails and much more; and none of the acts are tricks of any sort. Everything that they do is 100% real and yes, very dangerous if not trained properly.

His performances started at Live Free or Die when Jon Thomas, owner of Spider-Bite Tattoo & Body Piercing contacted him about 5 years ago to see if he would be interested in coming down to the show. Adam spoke very highly of Jon and gushed about how great of a job he has done with the expo and how much it has grown throughout the years. Although the Coney Island Sideshow has been coming to NH for years now, the performances are always fresh. Adam strives to contribute to the excitement of the expo by not only keeping each year’s performance fresh, but also making sure each show during the weekend is full of variety.

I asked Adam how he thought the sideshow culture fit in with the tattoo culture. He explained how the history of sideshows were very much intertwined with tattooing. Before tattoos became popular and trendy like they are today, a tattooed person was a rare sight. Tattooed people were not common and they were considered to be on the outskirts of society, representing America’s counter-culture and rebellious side. The sideshow became the only place where “normal” people could see tattoos, among other oddities. With the strong historical ties between sideshows and tattoos, it seemed like a perfect fit to include the Coney Island Sideshow at LFOD.

Overall, the sideshow is about celebrating our differences and what makes each person unique. Some people are born with physical oddities and some have amazing abilities. All shapes, sizes, color and creed can be seen at the sideshow. The sideshow is very diverse but Adam explained that so are the people who come to watch. He says you can find all walks of life, a rugged biker next to a buttoned-up businessman at his shows. Its nothing short of amazing, how the sideshow appeals to everyone.

Adam admitted he is unique in the sideshow business; he has no tattoos or piercings. Most people who work sideshows are heavily adorned with tattoos and/or piercings; it’s very much a part of the culture. He loves and appreciates the art of tattooing but claims that its just not his thing. His lack of body modifications is something that sets him apart from a world that has embraced body art.

In July, expect to see amazing acts from Adam and the other performers from Coney Island. I asked him to give us a little sneak peak on what to expect in this year’s show. He didn’t want to give it away, but he hinted at some classics such as: sword swallowing, the “block head” and even the famous performance called “Metamorphosis” that was originally performed by the great Houdini. For more Adam RealMan, visit his site at

Book your tickets to the 2017 Live Free or Die Tattoo Expo in Manchester, NH and come see the freak show for yourself!

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Interviewed and written by Dani Peasley, a freelance writer and artist from Contoocook, NH.