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WHILE BRUCE, BONO AND AXL (sore throat and all) may be making the Big Statements on tour this summer, the prize for high spirits and sheer show—not to mention weirdness—has to go to Lollapalooza ’92. The eight-week traveling rock fest cum carnival has sold out in 22 cities since its West Coast start on July 18 and is “the biggest and most extravagant party-down event of the entire summer,” boasts Anthony Kiedis, lead raver for the headlining Red Hot Chili Peppers. “It’s like the ultimate alternative country fair.”

Kiedis ain’t kidding. Lollapalooza’s caravan of 14 buses, 16 trucks and 250 people plans to hit 30 cities in all, offering fans a daylong mix of main-stage music and sideshow strangeness. Concertgoers who aren’t gaga over the funky Peppers, Seattle rockers Pearl Jam, rapper Ice Cube or the other stage acts can go Dada in the Crush Cage, smashing old appliances with a stick, or at the test-your-strength wake-up-Mr.-President gong, bopping a likeness of George Bush.

Just looking? Take a gander at Lifto, who suspends weights from his eyelids, which seems mild compared with freakish feats of the Torture King, who sticks needles in his eye sockets, or Matt the Tube, who inhales a beer-ketchup-choeolate-syrup-and-Maalox cocktail through his nose. If you still have your stomach, mosey over to the smart drinks stand to quaff Guava Quantum Punch and Grapefruit Orbit Juice.

While loudspeakers blare surreal sound collages including everything from old Richard Nixon speech excerpts to Jerry Rubin’s ’60s Yippie rhetoric, activists plead for animal rights, legalized cannabis, voter registration and more. A dollar donated to AIDS research at the safe sex wheel of fortune earns bettors a chance to win cassette tapes, condoms or backstage passes. Anyone seeking a distinctive memento need look no farther than the body-piercing booth, featuring the latest in nose and nipple rings.

Entrance to the extravaganza costs $22 to $28, making the tour as lucrative as it is loopy. All 15,000 tickets for its Sept. 13 finale in L.A. sold out in less than 30 minutes, and tour promoters say an estimated $350,000 will be donated to AIDS research and organizations for the homeless. “People can get into whatever they connect with,” says Kiedis. “If they’d rather see the guy making love to a bed of nails at the freak show instead of watching one of the bands, that’s their prerogative.”