Whether it is swallowing eighteen swords in one go, or lying on a bed of sharp forks, there is nothing that freak performers love more than making people squirm. But proving that even the smallest guys have ambitions, ‘freak’ talents, and also a big heart of gold, we sat down with Jeremy Hallam (also known as ‘Goliath’) to unveil what makes him – a 127cm tall dwarf — special in the sideshow showbiz. Susan Ma reports.
Striding across the room in a macho manner with a large smirk on his face, Jeremy Hallam takes the stage as his alter ego: ‘Goliath’ the World’s Smallest Strongman. Nothing could dampen the crowd’s spirits as they welcomed the mysterious Goliath with a riveting applause. Stunned by his size, kids on the floor were also cheering him on, unaware that there’s more to Jeremy than what meets the eye….
Using his physical appearance to his advantage, Jeremy kicked his career off by strutting the runway for a modelling agency, worked as a ‘mini Santa’, and then spent most of the latter years bartending clubgoers at night. And in between these jobs, he even helps out with his Dad’s sheet-metal manufacturing family business. He’s not just the World’s Smallest Strongman – he’s quite a busy individual as well.
Jeremy, being the unstoppable force he is, began his Melbourne-based business ‘Dwarfsome Entertainment’ back in 2008, often travelling back and forth between Sydney and Melbourne to entertain at various events.
Don’t let Jeremy’s size deceive you though. Weighing in at 40 kilograms, Jeremy can bend metals as if they are elastic, and can lift full-grown humans above his head as if they were kids.
Funnily enough, the self-proclaimed ‘Goliath’ has yet to win a Guinness Worlds Record title that mirrors his talents and audacious nature. Ever since Jeremy has been recognised by the Australian public, it has been one of his goals to perform overseas, and meet his fellow competitors. But until then, he’s the World’s Smallest Strongman.
“It’s true,” says Jeremy with a grin on his face, throwing the gauntlet down. “I’m yet to be proven otherwise, as I’m open to challengers.”
“Back at home, I’m always competing with my mates and brothers who are three-four times taller, and bigger than me. So if I heard of anything overseas where I could take on the strength of another small person, I’d go there. Perhaps then, I’ll finally win a title. You’ll never know.”
While the idea of ‘freak performers’ is usually associated with naturally-born oddities and talents, Jeremy still has to put in that additional few hours of hard work to maintain his fitness and reputation.
“I’ve been training since I was 14-15 years old, so it’s been over ten years now,” Jeremy said. “Considering my size and all, I just figured that I should keep up with everybody else. My boys are my personal trainers, so we often train together in our own time.”
And although Jeremy’s no stranger to intolerable and ignorant comments, he surprisingly had a normal childhood. Growing up in the South-Eastern suburbs of Melbourne with his parents, and his two older brothers and a younger brother, going to school was apparently “very easy”:
“When I began school, I quickly made best friends with the tallest kid in the grade on my first day,” Jeremy said with a big laugh. “Funnily enough, we got on really well, so it was pretty cool that no-one couldn’t really mess with me.”
“People have tried to put me down with their comments so often that I pretty much know how to retaliate with great replies, making them look like idiots in the end. Of course, I have the option of beating them up. [laughs] But nah, I try to ignore haters as much as I can.”
Now one of Australia’s top sideshow performers, Jeremy’s success could not have been achieved if it wasn’t for his friend, Chayne Hultgren.
Hultgren, famously known as Space Cowboy, was Jeremy’s first manager in the freak showbiz. After seeing photos of Jeremy weight-lifting and baring his washboard abs, Chayne knew that Jeremy was the “strongest dwarf that he had ever seen”, and immediately signed Jeremy to be part of his freakshow at the 2009 Woodford Folk Festival.
“Jeremy’s a natural when it comes to performing and acting on stage,” Chayne praised. “He’s not afraid of talking in front of a big crowd and everyone loves his cheeky whit, his charm and his feats of strength. He is a remarkable friend, and person to work with. As I always say, he’s definitely ‘dwarfsome’.”
Jeremy recently joined and performed with the ‘Psycho Sideshow’ at the Sydney Royal Easter Show, completing the circle of diverse freak acts. The five-strong troupe consists of Space Cowboy who holds Guinness World Record titles for swallowing over 17 swords, Shep Huntly (aka as The Man with the Iron Skin), Henna the Contortionist, Lady Loz the Mistress of Fire, and of course, Goliath himself.
“It was definitely an amazing experience working with Psycho Sideshow — they have been incredibly welcoming and supportive,” Jeremy said.
“Personally, shows like that makes me want to keep performing and acting. Although performing three times a day does get tiring at times, you sort of naturally feed energy off their screaming and cheering. It’s definitely worth the experience.”
Whilst freak shows have a reputation for being highly exploitive in the past, freak troupes like Psycho Sideshow and even freak performers themselves are overcoming this stereotype. Jeremy believes that their freak shows are more “positive and exhilarating” as they essentially perform freak acts that normal people can’t.
“By the end of the day, everyone is different and have different talents and skills that they want to show — that’s what Psycho Sideshow is all about,” Jeremy said.
We’ve had slip-ups before such as Space Cowboy dropping his chainsaw. But the show must go on, so we usually we try to make it flawless as possible. The crowd thinks its all part of the act anyway.”
When asked about some of the best highlights of performing in front of packed houses such as the Sydney Easter Show and Fringe Festivals in Adelaide and Queensland, Jeremy simply answers that he’s enamoured with performing and acting:
“I just love performing with amazing and talented people– we might be considered ‘freaks’, but that’s who we are,” Jeremy said. “I also love meeting my fans, and performing to sell-out crowds. I love every minute and everyday of it. I’d do it forever.”