A new Circus of Horrors show, is bringing hairculian women, demon dwarfs and strong men to Weymouth on Wednesday. Performers ANASTASIA SAWICKA and HANNIBAL HELMURTO tell THE GUIDE what the audience can expect from Psycho Asylum.

THEY must be one of the oddest couples in the country. He swallows swords for living and she performs an aerial act suspended only by her hair.

Meet Anastasia Sawicka and Hannibal Helmurto, who have been performing with the Circus of Horrors since 2005.

Hannibal is a former tax collector from Germany and Anastasia is a former bio-chemistry student.

The pair are starring in a new Circus of Horrors show called Psycho Asylum which visits Weymouth Pavilion on Wednesday (23), Lighthouse Poole later this month and Bournemouth Pavilion in March.

Anastasia, 32, from Poland, explains that her act is rather novel.

"It's an aerial act but rather than being suspended by silks, I am suspended by my hair. It is a very old circus act that was originally performed by Chinese men. I saw the Circus of Horrors when I was 16 - there was a lady doing the act - I thought I would be good at this because I was used to boys pulling on my pigtails at school!"

But she says it is a long process to prepare her hair.

"It's a really, really long process - it takes about 45 minutes to prepare my hair, which is half way down my back.

"I wanted something that looked grand so I was looking for something that would work on a big stage.

"It took me at least a year to two years to practise and get the act show ready - you get used to the sensation at the very beginning it was very painful and now I think because I am prepared you get used to the sensation. Most circus acts are painful to be honest. Circus hurts, full stop!

"I start by putting plenty of conditioner through my hair- for extra elasticity if you like, then we plait the hair around a metal ring like a rope and secure it like that.

"It has to be super tight so it doesn't come undone because I can be at least 10 metres off the ground so it is important that we make it safe and secure.

"All the hair needs to be brushed out evenly so that the pull is even on all strands of the hair so none of the hairs will come out - if there is a tangle in it then it will be pulled out.

"It is exactly what it looks like - I am hanging by my hair, so it is quite hard on your spine and your neck so I have to make sure I am totally warmed up first before we do the act - but it is a fantastic feeling.

"It is the closest to feeling like actually flying. In a traditional circus act they are usually hanging on to some sort of apparatus. I have complete freedom of movement, so it really is exhilarating.

"We also have a lady who is knife thrower and she is throwing knives around her husband - there is loads in the show.

"What makes it so special is we have a live band behind us and it's been designed and tailored to every act, we really do get people from all walks of life coming to the show aged from 16 to 60.

Anastasia joined Circus of Horrors when she was 18 and studying bio-chemistry.

She said: "I was only going to do it for one year but I fell in love with the lifestyle - every day is like Halloween, which is my favourite holiday.

"It's like touring with your family, or the Addams family in this case. I wouldn't change it for the world."

Hannibal Helmurto became involved with Circus of Horrors after going to see the show and falling in love with it. It was that moment when he realised he wanted a future away from the tax office.

He said: "It's never too late to follow your dreams so I would say if you have a chance to run away with the circus you should go for it!"

* The Circus of Horrors Psycho Asylum is at Weymouth Pavilion on Wednesday, January 23. Call the box office for tickets. It also tours to Lighthouse, Poole on January 24 and Bournemouth Pavilion on March 5.


Hosted by the unmistakable Doktor Haze, for more than 23-years, Circus of Horrors has shocked audiences the world over with its trademark blend of horror and burlesque with bizarre and barely believable acts.

It stormed into the finals of Britain’s Got Talent and became the first circus to perform in the West End for more than a century.

Its latest incarnation, Psycho Asylum, is a nod to its most successful show ever, The Asylum.

This time the company is exploring its deepest, darkest recesses, the place where all hope has gone and there’s nowhere left to hide. This is where the serial killers, the psychopaths and the criminally insane are left to their own devices presented as a rock ‘n’ rollercoaster ride of a show with its forked tongue planted firmly in its cheek.

Circus of Horrors drew its first breaths at the 1995 Glastonbury festival and became an instant hit, touring all over the world from Chile to Chatham, Argentina to Aberdeen, Japan to Jersey including festival appearances with Alice Cooper, Ermine, Motley Cure, Oasis, Iron Maiden, Manic Street Preachers, Foo Fighters, Guns & Roses, Marilyn Manson, Ozzy Osbourne and many more.

Its various television appearances have brought the extreme to the mainstream, turning what began as a cult show into a household name with credits that include The X Factor, Daybreak, Who Wants to be a Millionaire?, This Morning, The One Show and A Royal Command Performance.