Paranormal Cirque II Orange Unit Performance with dancers. Photo by Mike Olivas with Bearded Gonzo Photography.

Circus on Edge

A nail-biting, R-rated experience came to Eugene

Comical, artistic, creepy and jaw-dropping are just a few words to describe Paranormal Cirque. Driving down 13th Avenue, I saw a line outside wrapped around the red and black big top tent in the Lane Events Center parking lot before every performance last weekend. 

Back in my hometown of Colorado Springs, I attended my first Paranormal Cirque in 2021. I had no idea what to expect. A cloud of mystical smoke trailed along as I headed to my seat. I remember gasping at the thought of someone riding a motorcycle on a high wire while a performer held on below. I couldn’t believe all the talents that were showcased that night. And the same goes for last Saturday night here in Eugene. 

The wait around the tent didn’t last long as staff members wearing “scary” costumes and makeup scanned tickets. Smoke welcomed guests into the entrance with a miniature haunted house and two concessions on either side with your typical circus snacks of hot dogs, cotton candy, churros and more. (The cash-only part was a bit irritating for a few customers complaining off to the side.)

Approaching the stage area and seating, a staff member showed everyone to their seats. Moments later, an expected, yet unexpected act began the show. I say expected because I talked with one of the hosts before the show about a few of the performances. But it was undeniably unexpected. A woman walked out with vibrant red hair and sexy attire. She had a wheel full of swords. The next thing I knew she was swallowing sword after sword and retrieving sword after sword. The audience was enthralled with this excruciating talent.

A few acts went by with contortionists and performers popping up in the crowd and on the stage making me think, is the human body even real? How are they that flexible and coordinated? 

Then, the comedy began. 

The two hosts, Steve Copeland and Ryan Combs, acted as ghost hunters and incorporated audience members into their comedy acts. One of the most memorable moments was the game show “Suck My Blood,” though Steve, who hosted the game show, encouraged audience members to get creative when finishing the phrase “suck my….”

 Might I add that the language got vulgar, no wonder it’s for mature audiences only. The crowd loved it. After every joke — or insult — the tent roared with laughter.

The game show continued and Ryan acted as a vampire contestant. One lucky audience member hopped on stage as a true Eugenean to compete and win against Ryan. One of the next acts included roller skates, an elevated surface and two people. While circling the short elevated round surface on wheels, the performers held one another in numerous ways, like one holding on to the other by an arm and leg only. It was a nail-biter. One wrong move, and off they would swing someone into the crowd. 

A few of the acts had me wondering whether they almost fell on purpose or tried to make it seem like it was on purpose to cover it up, like the high wire act. 

Two performers walked across a wire high above the stage. One tried it blindfolded and slipped but grabbed the wire just in time to flip his way back up to his feet and successfully complete the trip. The crowd felt it, too. The audience members fell quiet for a moment and instantly clapped and cheered him on as he tried again.

Act after act, you couldn’t anticipate what would happen next, especially with Steve mostly naked running wild amongst the crowd shaking his junk. The R-rated circus threw f-bombs around like confetti at a birthday party. 

It wouldn’t be a thriller event without “Thriller,” by Michael Jackson, playing while the zombie actors danced in the final performance. 

More info on Paranormal Cirque and tour dates at