Freaky fun for young refugees

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The selfie with The Enigma. A refugee kid in temporary living quarters at an Austrian messe halle posed for a shot with one of the sideshow performers. Photos by Clayton Patterson

Refugees, in general, and refugee kids in particular, can be made to feel like virtual freaks in their new countries. It doesn’t even have to take a Donald Trump. But at the Wildstyle & Tattoo Messe in Austria, real live freaks had some fun with the kids and showed them some love.Like, are you feelin’ me? Apparently so. The kids really got a rise out of The Enigma’s horns. Though they might have been a bit puzzled by his cranial tattoos and crenelated ears.

The event is a combination of sideshow acts and a tattoo messe (or “fair,” in German). Clayton Patterson, the Lower East Side documentarian, regularly goes to Austria to participate in and document it.

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Rev. B Dangerous definitely “nose” how to entertain. He “nailed” it, as far as the kids were concerned.

“In a back area at the Wildstyle and Tattoo Messe show in Dornbirn, there was a group of refugee children and some parents and guardians,” Patterson recounted. “A few of us went out, and the freaks did their acts for the kids. They loved it. I heard one young boy say ‘Afghanistan.’

“In Austria and Germany, many cities have messes, or large convention-type halls, to hold shows in,” Patterson said. “The spaces are built to be functional entertainment centers, not hotels, although they are much better than a tent in a compound.

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Not everyone has a taste for this kind of sideshow entertainment, but the young refugees lapped it up.

“At our show, outside in the parking lot, Gary Rumley, the Rev. B Dangerous, noticed a bunch of kids playing in the paved  lot. Gary discovered these people are being warehoused in a messe halle. So he gathered some of us up, Kiros the Twisted Man, The Enigma and me.  The freaks dazzled the kids — freaked them out in a happy and fun way, with mothers and burka-covered guardians smiling in the background  I am sure this was a day these kids will never forget.

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Like, are you feelin’ me? Apparently so. The kids really got a rise out of The Enigma’s horns. Though they might have been a bit puzzled by his cranial tattoos and crenelated ears.

“I believe that these folks’ conditions and placement are as good as the local Austrian government can provide.  It is safe and clean, but it’s just not meant as housing.  But Europe is overwhelmed with the refuges.

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“If you want to stop the refuges, stop the war,” Patterson stressed. “And it is an American tragedy, from my perspective, being in Europe and watching the Presidential Kardashian race — that the most pressing issues are his hair, e-mails, groping, he is a pig, she is a criminal, and so on.”

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