Interview: Australian street performer The Human Knot tangles with Oklahoma City's Festival of the Arts
From Friday’s The Oklahoman. To view a video of The Human Knot performing, click here.
The Human Knot tangles with the Festival of the Arts
Australian contortionist/comedian Al Millar is bringing is jaw-dropping feats of flexibility and daring to downtown Oklahoma City as the event’s official street performer.
After practically twisting himself into the proverbial pretzel to perform “contortionist pushups,” juggling a small running chainsaw and cracking up the crowd with his cheeky jokes, Al Millar’s grand finale involves perching on a 12-foot pole and keeping three long knives and himself in the air while his specially made “Triple-Trouble, Double-Ended Ice Axe Blender Blade” twirls over his head like a perilous propeller.
“If you like the show, tell your friends. If you did not like the show, keep it to yourself. No one likes a whiner,” he joked Thursday afternoon before he put the handle of the homemade blade in his mouth and sent it spinning.
Apparently, this is what going to work looks like when you’re an internationally known contortionist/comedian with the stage name ALAKAZAM and the job description “The Human Knot.” And, really, it must be seen to be believed.
The native Australian is this year’s official street performer for the Festival of the Arts, which means three times a day during downtown Oklahoma City’s annual “rite of spring,” he does his feats of flexibility and daring in the clearing between Stage Center and the food and artists tents. The festival’s tradition of hosting street performers goes back to at least the 1970s, said Emily Trotter, communications manager for festival organizers the Arts Council of Oklahoma City.
“It’s the biggest crowd I’ve ever seen for a street performer here. It’s very entertaining,” Trotter said Thursday as people gathered on bleachers, curbs and grassy spots to watch “The Human Knot” tangle and untangle himself. “He’s not just juggling bowling pins here, folks.”
Along with juggling knives, balls and a little chainsaw and scaling the Chinese circus pole with the help of a couple of volunteers, Millar’s act involves wriggling his entire 6-foot, 155-pound physique through the frame of an unstrung squash racquet. “No way!” squealed several students from Mustang Creek Elementary Thursday afternoon as they watched Millar squish and squirm his torso and limbs to maneuver the small round of plastic from his head to his feet, all while spouting self-deprecating, occasionally bawdy one-liners.
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