Alt-Fest is much more than just a bunch of bands and a campsite. We like to think of it as a gathering of the tribes, a place to see whole range of performers, artists and art. It's a chance to totally immerse yourself in the alternative culture, and for a few days at least forget the outside world and discover a new one full of the amazing, the weird and the wonderful. Aside from the music stages we've also got our Circus Big Top packed full of the very best in freakish entertainment to astound you.

We're very happy to have Pyromaniac Fire Arts performing in the Big Top over the weekend. They'll be bringing their hellishly hot fire acts, scary stiltwalkers and a box full of costumes and tricks that'll be sure to leave you open mouthed in awe. So what's it like to play with fire? And who do the entertainers want to see when they're off duty? Alt-Fest spoke to Pyromaniac Fire Arts founder Dr Embers and team member, fire specialist Sakura 'Flame-boyant' Dahmer to find out.

How did you first become interested in fire acts and when did you decide to make it a career?

Dr Embers: "I've always had a passion for the flame, growing up my family gathered around fires and sang and played instruments and when I learned about manipulation arts around 5 years ago, through friends, I thought it would be great fun to learn more about how I can mix fire into a performance art and now here I am, performing at the worlds largest alternative festival with an amazing team of performers from Pyromaniac Fire Arts."

Sakura: "I became interested 12 years ago and started out spinning normal Poi which then progressed to the more danger element side. I decided to make this career move 5 years ago when people told me I should do something with my skills. Before it was just a hobby and when I started getting good reactions from people and being asked if I would mind entertaining I then decided to make my career change."

Are you self-taught or did you have training?

Dr Embers: "I'm 100% self-taught. There are some great trainers and courses available for aspiring performers that want to learn about fire performance and safety. However, personally I found that I learned better and faster on my own. I was lucky enough to have friends that had similar interests so we could teach each other new skills and develop our own style along the way. I would always recommend getting on a course for fire safety, as if you are self taught, you learn the hard way about what is right or what can be dangerous."

Sakura: "I am self-taught and also taught through other people I work with as we learn off each other, obviously we all do our research first for safety measures and practice without fire to perfect that skill before showcasing it or moving onto another."

Obvious question but it has to be asked. A fire act isn't like playing a guitar where if you hit a wrong note it won't hurt. Have you ever got burnt and if so what happened?

Dr Embers: "I have burnt myself a couple of times many moons ago. These days it's mostly just singed hair or a finger burn. Although, there was a time when Sakura and I were rehearsing with fire poi and I had, as you put it, 'hit a wrong note' whilst spinning the flames and unfortunately I wacked myself in the eyeball and quite badly blistered my eye and couldn't see out of it clearly for nearly a week. Thankfully I fully recovered and this hasn't ever happened again. 'Touches wood' Again, I'd recommend attending a fire safety course."

Sakura: "Thankfully I have not been burned apart from the odd surface burn from Body Burning which is normal and goes within a few days but it's not like a burn that scabs and scars and needs medical treatment, it is more just a red mark that then disappears a day or two later."

Dr Embers, You run Pyromaniac Fire Arts, how long has it been going and what acts do you have?

Dr Embers: "Pyromaniac Fire Arts has been established for just over 2 years as one of the UK's leading entertainment specialists. Since then we've been providing all types of freakishly fantastic performance. Some of what we offer is fire shows, LED/laser performances, dancers, little people, stilt acts, aerial artists, signers, magicians, hula hoop acts, face painters, contortionists, acro balancing acts, burlesque, snake charmers and so much more. The list could go on. What's important to know is that whatever act our performers are booked for, they can adapt to almost any theme your can think of, this has meant that we have had a steady increase in repeat clients.

You have a great team. Do you invite people to join or do they apply to you?

Dr Embers: "Thank you, having a team of very strong performers is definitely something we pride ourselves on. I mainly invite performers to join Pyromaniac Fire Arts although I am always looking for new talent and aspiring performers and I welcome anyone to contact us through our website if you would like to be considered to work with us. There are a few things I look out for in performers and that is a great, open personality, willingness to learn and ability to adapt to stressful situations. Not everyone will know about how hard it actually is to be on the performing circuit and it can be very demanding. A thick skin will get you far.

Have you ever had an act want to join who was too extreme or outrageous you had to decline?

Dr Embers: "Not yet, I like to think there is a place for everything in this world. If you ask me, the more outrageous the act, the better! At its heart, Pyromaniac Fire Arts is essentially an alternative style performance company. Yes, we provide acts for more commercial and mainstream events too, but I'd love to have something completely random and outrageous to add to our books. Sakura is one of our more daring performers and has been with us since the beginning. His flaming piercing act always sends a shiver down my spine, let's see what he comes up with next!

We're really happy to have you performing at Alt-fest. Will you be using your full repertoire of techniques, mixing it up through the weekend or are you going to be using a set routine?

Dr Embers: "We are all so hyped up about this festival and having the opportunity to perform for you is just so exciting! There will be a choreographed performance but it will show a vast collection of different skills and techniques throughout. I won't say too much about what to expect but you will be seeing lots of different props and performers doing all sorts of weird and wonderful things for your viewing pleasure."

Sakura: "We do plan to mix things up a bit. We have various performing circus skills in our group so be sure to see the many ways we can manipulate fire and light to give an amazing show."

You're going to be performing alongside other members of the Pyromaniac Fire Arts team. Who else is in the group and what sort of acts can we expect to see?

Dr Embers: "Coming to Alt-Fest to perform for you guys we have Sakura 'Flame-boyant' Dahmer, Siobhan FireFly, Ophelie Frenchkiss, Skyler, Master Rook and a few other very talented folk including Tourette's Pete. It's publicly known that Pete suffers from Tourette's Syndrome so you can expect a bit of potty mouthed humor from this hilarious character. Expect to feel the heat rise up form the stage as a story created in the flames of hell is visually performed for you. There will be fire, light, stilt creatures and amazing costumes!"

What's the funniest or strangest thing that's happened to you during a show?

Dr Embers: "I do a lot of fire eating, so much so that I swear I have no taste buds left. I was at a charity event in Norfolk and was there as a fire eating entertainer, half way through my body burning/fire eating performance I managed to 'sniff' up the flames into my nostrils before I could put it out. Everybody watching noticed and laughed whilst I was coughing and trying to regain breath. This was actually scary at the time as you can seriously hurt yourself, however, looking back it must have been hilarious to watch."

Sakura: "I would probably have to say a show I did at Club Antichrist for NNYE in January 2014. My show was a little naughty should we say with a fire torch inserted into my orifice during my performance. I enjoyed the reaction from people and a spectator after the set came up to me and said "I am not gay but your performance really aroused me." Also Alix Fox compere for the evening saying "Pyromaniac Fire Arts though after that performance it should be Pyromaniac Fire Farts," that tickled me so much."

What do you think of Alt-fest, the line up, other entertainments and art, and the fact that it's crowd led?

Dr Embers: "AMAZING! Alt-Fest is going to be the first ever proper festival I've been to, and what a way to start! The line up looks immense and I cannot wait to see Eisenfunk on the Industrial stage, obviously Marilyn Manson will be epic and I'm pretty excited about seeing VNV Nation. As far as entertainments concerned, I am gearing up to watch Joe Black in the Big top as well as Circus Of Horrors. I mean, I could go on and on about all the things that have added to my excitement for this event but I may pee myself. Being crowd led has made this festival one that people want to be involved with, the people have the power and I think that's just fantastic! Well done to Missy and Dom on that."

Sakura: "I think the line up is amazing and I do hope that no one I want to see collides. I think the whole set up is a good concept and not only being crowd led but family orientated as well, fun for all the family. There is going to be so much to see and do that I really do not think there will be a dull moment. When I was first told about Alt-Fest I was supportive in the idea and I hope this Festival returns for many years to come. I also like that it is crowd led and our voices are being heard, people also being able to get involved themselves to do art work etc is also an amazing opportunity for others."

Sakura, We know you're a massive Marilyn Manson fan. What song do you most want him to play?

Sakura: "I love this question but hate it too, I really don't think I can pin point to a single song as there are so many but I would love to hear, The Beautiful People, Antichrist Superstar, Slo-mo-tion, Coma White/Black.... I could keep listing but you will prob end up with every song. For me just being there and being in the moment of watching my most favourite artist AGAIN is mind blowing enough for me. I am hoping that I get to meet and shake the guys hand though as that would make Alt-Fest an even more spectacular moment for me on a personal level."

What other bands or entertainers are you hoping to see?

Dr Embers: "Personally, I'm hoping to catch Pretty Addicted on stage as that would be most epic. I hope that we see lots of other walkabout entertainment. Most festivals don't have what Alt-Fest has, something for everyone. I'm hoping to see incredible stage productions, amazing costumes and performances and people just generally having a great time. What more could you want?"

Sakura: "I am definitely seeing or should I say supporting Pretty Addicted as well as helping them out on stage with a few fiery tricks during their set. Others I want to see include VNV, Unter Null, SAM, Soman, Covenant, Eisenfunk, Suicide Commando, SITD, Gary Numan, CombiChrist, Cradle Of Filth, Circus Of Horrors, Joe Black and anything new I might be interested in. I'm sure I will pick up some new interests from this Festival and also look forward to the club nights being held there too."

And finally in three words describe what being a part of Alt-Fest means to you?

Dr Embers: "First, Inspiring, Proud. This festival will bring about a lot of firsts for me and I can't wait, it will be such a brilliant time and anyone that's not there is going to be missing out! It really is quite inspiring to see just how amazing the team behind the scenes have done, they've worked so hard and it really shows. I am very proud to be a part of such an amazing event, it's going to be the first of many attendances for me, whether that be as a performer or simply a festival goer. Alt-Fest is definitely something to be proud to be part of."

Sakura: "A-FUCKING-MAZEBALLS hahaha, aside from that Priviledged, Honoured & Excited."

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