Q&A: Dangerfun Promoter Ian Michael Talks Rock and Roll and Sideshows

Dangerfun ringmaster Ian Michael
Dangerfun ringmaster Ian Michael

Through his Dangerfun brand, Miami-based promoter Ian Michael boasts some of the most unusual events in the tricounty area.While some are straightforward rock and roll shows, most are so much more. The typical Dangerfun Sideshow evening of entertainment may involve bands sharing the stage with contortionists and burlesque dancers, with any other kinds of random mischief thrown in.

This weekend sees two different kinds of Dangerfun events around downtown Fort Lauderdale. On Friday at Green Room, Michael throws a pretty much music-only tribute night, this one dubbed "Bowie's in Space" and devoted to the inimitable Thin White Duke. Five bands will take the stage performing originals alongside covers, and later on, the evening turns into an afterparty for the nearby VNV Nation show at Culture Room, complete with EBM and synth pop DJs.

On Saturday, Michael takes over the Poorhouse for a full-on circus-themed party, featuring the Dangerfun Sideshow alongside burlesque performances from Cupcake Burlesque and the Glamour Goddesses.

In advance of both the events, we caught up with Michael for a quick Q&A on how he started down this fun freak-show road. Here's what he had to say.

Upcoming Events

Bowie's in Space tribute night. 10 p.m. Friday, February 17 at Green Room, 109 SW 2nd Ave., Fort Lauderdale. Admission is free; age 21 and up. Click here.

Dangerfun Sideshow, at Klarissa's Annual Birthday Bash, 9:30 p.m. Saturday, February 18 at the Poorhouse, 110 Nugent Ave., Fort Lauderdale. Admission is free; age 21 and up. Click here.

County Grind: You've been a performer yourself for a while, but when did you start promoting your own events, and why?

Ian Michael: That's hard to say. I've been performing as long as I can remember and I've always been telling people to come. Why? Well, who wants to perform to an empty room? That's just practice, and you can do that at home!

How did you get started on circus-type arts? What got you interested in putting on these types of events, and where do you find the other performers?

In addition to music I also learned how to juggle and do magic at a young age. As I graduated, I put aside my dreams of joining the circus to focus on my musical career. Then after a decade of gigs in a million different bands I began to feel like it wasn't working out. I didn't want to give up music. I wanted to add something to it.

Then I got a steady gig playing with a gypsy band at an Italian restaurant. It was the perfect opportunity to show off my hidden talents. Each member of my gypsy trio had a special circus talent or two, and while we played we would take turns showing off. The crowds loved us and we had a good run together.

Eventually my comrades and I parted ways. I joined new bands but I wanted to keep the circus tradition going. I started performing in between bands at the shows I was playing. Word of mouth began to spread about my sideshow antics. Soon friends introduced me to friends with similar interests and hidden talents. We began training, writing acts, and performing routines together. Next thing we know, we have a troupe and everyone wants it at their show.

What's the craziest thing that's happened at a Dangerfun Sideshow event?

A few years ago we were doing a show at Churchill's Pub and the place was packed out. All of sudden, the reality show Bad Girls Club shows up and starts filming. The locals didn't like the bright cameras and began harassing the crew. One of the bands began to curse out the Bad Girls while playing. They even made it into a song. The girls didn't like it. Later one of the Bad Girls pushed me while I was performing and then proceeded to cop a feel. I couldn't tell if I should have been pissed off, aroused, or both.

How do you decide which venues would be suitable for this kind of thing? Do you ever have a hard time convincing them to let you bring a circus?

Usually venues or bookers call us. We are really good at customizing a show to fit any environment. We've done house parties, festivals, restaurants, nightclubs. Usually when a client asks us to perform we have to find out what the limit is for what we can do. For example, not all places have permits or insurance for fire performances.

My favorite area in Broward is Las Olas because you have so many great bars for live entertainment in one spot.

Who are some of the performers at your upcoming events about which you're most excited?

We've had some amazing new talent jump on board lately like Pablo Paniagua, a.k.a. the Great Pablini; Michael Falkov, a recent ESPN juggling champion; Jazzmyn the Whir-Whind, a hula-hoop master; Dayna the Slinky Cat, a contortionist' and we always work with Miami's premier burlesque troupe, Shameless Burlesque! With Shameless we do vaudeville productions, which is absolutely my favorite.

Keep up with Dangerfun's schedule of parties and shows on Facebook at facebook.com/Dangerfunsideshow.

Follow County Grind on Facebook and Twitter: @CountyGrind.

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