Posted on Thursday, April 14 2016 04:59:00 PM in Blog posts by Harley Fox
Mongolian Laughing Boy – The Silly Fakir
As a recent employee of The Circus Of Horrors, I have seen the weird and wonderful from behind the scenes, from my colleges hanging from their hair to dwarfs doing unspeakable things with a henry hoover. It’s safe to say this Circus has it all.
One artist in particular stood out to me throughout the tour that I accompanied them on. Tony Wallis has been performing as Mongolian Laughing boy for the past twenty one years.
Born in to Circus he has lived and breathed performing his whole life. Originally performing clowning, flying trapeze and stilt walking he had an accident whilst riding a unicycle on a tight wire losing his balance and falling off.
Though this may seem shocking to some, this is just one story of the many times Tony has injured himself in comical way on stage. He has grown up in the Circus environment learning all the tricks of the trade and following in his father’s footsteps as a professional freak show performer. Though this father would call him ‘stupid’ for some of his acts some of his fondest memories are of him and his father performing freak show together.
Mongolian Laughing Boy (nicknamed ‘Mongi’) lives to perform the grotesque and shocking. I would along with Maria Morose assist Mongi during his hat pin act for The Circus Of Horrors. Mongi would take center stage as Dr. Haze (The ringmaster and creator of the show) would instruct him to show the audience the hat pin, asking them to touch the tip to ensure it was indeed as sharp as it looked.
Dr.Haze would build the suspense; the music would become quieter as he commanded Mongi to push the pin through his neck flesh. The audience would recoil in horror as he would turn left to right showing the audience the protruding pin.
The show is not over yet however, as another pin is handed to Mongi and there he goes again into the audience to prove the authenticity of the hat pin he is about to mutilate himself with. This time the pin goes straight through both his cheeks. At this point you can hear the cries of disgust from the audience.
But wait! “It’s audience participation time” Announces Dr.Haze as myself and Maria peer into the audience about to choose our volunteers. We would walk down into the crowd to pick our females, escorting them onto stage. They would generally be nervous and un-suspecting of their tasks about to come, exposed in front of thousands of people it was their time to shine.
The first woman would be directed to pull the pin from Mongi’s neck; his skin would cling to the pin as she would hesitantly tease it out of his skin. Once removed, the pin would be handed to Maria.
Our next victim is up, told by Dr.Haze to take it ‘nice and slow’ as she attempts to grasp the pin in Mongi’s cheek. The music begins to build as the pin is tugged out of his face and handed to myself; the audience erupts into applause as Mongolian Laughing Boy takes his bow.
Despite performing alongside Mongi for many weeks, this act would never fail to send shivers up my spine. I met with Mongi to discuss the process he goes through to perform his act;
He told me that “Hygiene with the pins is very important, they are cleaned before each show, just before I go on stage and also on stage because one infection could really mess you up, I use surgical spirit to clean them and I don't use anything special to help the skin heal, just Savlon. It's bloody tough going through the scar tissue every day and can be rather sore”
Performing for up to 26 days in a row you can only imagine the pain Mongi must feel repeatedly ramming the pins through unhealed scar tissue day after day. Scar tissue can take up to three months to heal, and notoriously it is painful to pierce through.
I asked Mongi if he always enjoys performing his hat pin act to which he replied “Oh yes, I love it, the reaction you get from the audience is fantastic and always makes it wort while, I've always said that if I can make one person per day laugh then I'm happy, and when I'm doing my act I can make lots of people laugh in one go and it's a great feeling”
Photo supplied with thanks by Shahrooz Farahmand
It’s safe to say that Mongi, after decades of performing still enjoys every moment of his career. I can concur that the feeling you get performing your act, that you have worked tirelessly to perfect in front of thousands of fans is incomparable to anything else.
It has been a pleasure to work with this bizarre man and learn the history of how he has come to be one of the world’s most recognizable freak show performers.
Written by Harley Fox - newest member of the BMG jewellery team