Tales From the Road

After pulling up stakes in Clearfield, the crew packs up and moves on to upstate New York, where the fair grounds and crowds are much larger.

August 14, 2005 – the Big Time

Two tents in two days.  It was physically exhausting, and at times I was unsure if we would be able to do it.  Pounding stakes into asphalt is just down right awful, and took up so much time it was ridiculous.  Was hoping to have everything set up inside so it would not have to be done the following day, giving us all a chance to relax.  That went sour, as there was a lack of pullies and rope for the banners.  Since leaving Pennsylvania, a new tent has been added for the sideshow, which comes with its own banner line and thus the shortage of materials.  There was a general lack of leadership as well.  We only know so much about everything, and with this being the first time the sideshow has its own tent, some guidelines would have been nice.  However, we all pitched in and managed to have a good opening day.

There are two new additions who hail from Texas.  Timmy does fire-eating and a slew of magic tricks; Elk will be doing sword swallowing, Human Blockhead and Human Pincushion in the Blow-Off.  They are quite professional, having performed with troupes down in Texas, and Timmy offers very helpful advice on how to improve our acts.

Miss Cara is still utterly useless.  No matter how many times someone tells that girl to do a job, she finds any reason not to.  She constantly comes off the bally stage for water or gum, to get something out of her purse and so on.  Her ‘breaks’ take much longer than they should have, and as I understood it, the Bally Bitch is supposed to be up there all the time to get the tip in.  The other day she brought drama to work.  Some low-life poser waste of flesh comes poking around the back of the tent, looking for Miss Electra.  He was politely told to fuck off.  Later on, some other grimy dude is standing next to our sleeping quarters, holding her purse.  Apparently she had also hooked up with some random guy during her 45 minute break.  Which I feel is a direct insult to the Boss, who just gave here a speech the night before about how she should have more respect for herself.  We all know she does not listen, which is why she spent most of that day leaning over or squatting down while on the bally stage and chatting with any guy who gave her just a shred of attention.

Today she was supposed to raise the banners with me, and I already knew that would not happen from the moment we had been paired up.  Enlisted the help of Elk to shake the truck where she was sleeping but no dice, and we decided to just do the job ourselves.  When she finally arrives [being very late], she just laughs when we tell her about trying to wake her up.  Then Elk took her aside and had a nice chat with her.  Poor little Cara had to go for a walk, probably to cry or something.  When she returned I decided to have some fun with her.  Found out she had been sleeping and reminded her that she was supposed to be in the tent like everyone else.

“Fun time is over for you,” I said.  “Your job is to be up on the bally stage, and right after the Electric Chair Routine is done, you go back on the stage, not fuck around or come into the tent every five minutes.”

She totally flips out and says she wanted to leave anyway, her face all read when she stormed off.  Then she comes back with the Boss; outright lies and drama follows.  He sends her down to the menagerie tent and it’s about fucking time.  Of course that means the rest of us have to make up for her absence, but if we all do our part everything will be fine.  Get the feeling Cara is not going to be around much longer.

The Manager is on his way back to California, apparently not doing the things he was supposed to and said everything was too much for him.  It is a shame because we had fun for the first two weeks, but he was just not in control as he should have been.

Other than that the show has been going well.  The people are fairly cheap, not wanting to pay the admission or trying to get in with tickets, but I guess between the parking and gate fee I can understand their hesitation of parting with more money.  Had the chance to be the Insectivore for the Blow-Off yesterday and it was fun.  Crickets are pretty tasty, but those legs can get to you.  In a weird way, I have this sense of pride performing the act because is the closest thing to being a real Geek these days.

We were all invited to this OABA Jamboree that was held at the Zoppe Family Circus tent.  What a real traditional Circus they are, complete with single ring and classic acts.  [There had been an opportunity to see the show for free one afternoon.]  The Jamboree consisted of a dinner for all of the Carnies, which would be followed by a raffle, the proceeds benefiting the organization.  It was the first time we really associated with those who were in charge of the rides, games and concessions.  There were rows of tables set up for everyone to sit at, the food laid out buffet style.  Set aside was a group of tables especially for the Zoppe Family, which made me smile a bit when I thought about the significance.

During our meal, this guy asks us what we do and Elk explains that we work the sideshow.  He replies with “Oh, you mean with that Miss Electra who gives blow jobs for twenty bucks.”  Despite the embarrassment [because the sideshow really needs to have a negative reputation], we informed him that she was no longer with us.  Suffice to say I am very glad she left.

There will be a new member joining the crew on Wednesday, though I am uncertain if he is staying.  It would be nice to have another person, though Timmy will be bringing a female friend and fellow performer up from Texas at the end of the month.  People come and people go, but the show must always continue, hopefully with no further problems.  There is always something though, and maybe that is just a part of the business.

By the way, I finally got that shower after five days.  The stall in the bathroom was not as gross as the one in the bunkhouse, but nothing spectacular either so I kept my flip-flops on.  Will try to stop by there again later tonight, as there is just no time for it during the day.

Happens to be raining at the moment and feels like it is going to be one of those days that just drags out.  It might get better later on, as it usually does.  The Boss said he will be giving us a few dings to see how they move, because we should all be generating extra cash for ourselves.  Made decent tips in the Blow-Off yesterday and have three more days working it [including today] so I am looking forward to that.

There are times during the morning and afternoon on weekdays where there is not much of a crowd.  A maximum of five people will be enough for us to do a five minute show, even if we wind up doing it two minutes later and so on and so forth.  We also do not pitch the Blow-Off unless there are at least ten people in the tent because people are less likely to part with an extra dollar.  These moments are usually spent keeping each other entertained in creative ways.

One example is what I have come to call the Hand of God.  Some weeks back, the Boss had extended use of this long metal rod to practice sword swallowing.  However, common sense dictates that such an object cannot be compared to a sword, not to mention the fact that the smaller diameter can cause said rod to go in the wrong part of the body — like puncturing the lungs for instance.  Since no one was going to be jamming it in their throat any time soon, it was used to create tiny lightening bolts when waved over the Electric Chair.  This spawned the idea to place a cricket on the chair and then zap it with the Hand of God.  It was amazing to watch the electricity shoot from the metal rod into the cricket, which obviously toasted the insect, guts oozing out and a smell that reminded me of fresh roasted peanuts.

What can I say, we are very juvenile in our humor

We are in Hamburg until Saturday, then jump to Syracuse and after that we head to Maryland.  We will have a week to relax before doing the show there and know that we are all thankful to have that down time.

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