Drawin’ the Wildcard in Atlantic City

[Originally written on this date in 2005]

For some reason I have found a soft spot in my psyche for zombies.  The other morning I watched Day of the Dead and Army of Darkness; Romero’s Land of the Dead will be coming to theaters next month and I was stoked when I saw the first trailer.

Where did this fascination of the living dead come from?  Maybe it was seeing the re-make of Dawn of the Dead last year, or the fact that I have happily ‘zombified’ myself on a number of occasions for Halloween and related festivities.

Anyway, after my mini movie marathon, I remembered this super awesome dream I had a couple of months back.  Trapped in a mall with a bunch of other people, we were trying to figure out what we should do while walking around. Out of nowhere this woman comes up to me and shoves me into my Taurus, insisting that I have to drive until daylight and not to stop for anything.  Pedal to the metal, I am speeding into the darkness hitting zombies left and right, not really sure of where I am headed but knowing that I have to keep going.

Eventually the sun rises and I roll the windows down as I head towards a beach; something tells me it’s where I want to be.  There are a bunch of other people gathered next to the water, dressed in combat boots and patched together clothes like some sort of neo-tribal diesel punk warriors ready to take on whatever is coming.  Parking the car I approach a group and relay my heroic battle through the zombies, but they are hesitant to accept me.  Someone with heavy face tattoos and a spiked baseball bat comes up and asks if I know the code; I utter this incomprehensible string of words without missing a beat, though I have no idea what I actually said or what language I was supposed to be speaking.  Though surprised, they  gladly welcome me into their group and together we make a plan for protecting ourselves against the zombies.

The dream skipped ahead [they usually do that]: somehow we uncover the knowledge that there really weren’t any zombies.  It was just a drill instituted by the military/government to test the citizen’s reactions or something like that.

Funny thing about the dream is that my car was a paperweight at the time, thus being a zombie itself in my dream and perhaps the reason I was able to kill any that tried to attack me by simply running them over.  Weird, but it was fun.

Anyway, due to certain circumstances I was unable to attend Atlantic City’s first ever tattoo convention last year.  When I saw the performance lineup I decided that the admission was worth being able to check out the artist action and sales booths as well.  The afternoon could not have been any more gorgeous as I headed down the highway, and then the rain started to pour down for a solid five minutes before suddenly stopping.  Oh how I love the strange weather in the South.  Since I have not really driven down to AC much I had no idea where I was going when I got off the highway, but I managed to find the location and a decent parking spot.

Had some fun with the security guards, and it was not the 30+ piercings that set off the metal detectors –  the spikes, studs, safety pins and all those other little metal bits that adorned my body were the culprits.

Wandered around collecting business cards from the various shops that had booths set up, and while I have not heard of most of the local ones it was nice to know that there is some quality work in the Garden State.  Stopped at Fat Kat to ask some questions as I am seriously considering cover-ups on my forearms.  The one artist does really awesome old school work, and that is the style of tattoo I am after, so I may have to take a trip down there at some point.

While waiting for the sideshow to begin, a photographer from Prick [a body modification magazine] asked if they could take some pictures of me for an article they were writing about the convention.  Though I felt there were people who had far more impressive modifications, I was happy to oblige and even had to sign a release form.  Handed him a  business card and politely requested if he could send me either the photos or the link to the article when it comes out.

Later on in the day, after an hour of postponement [due to not having any union workers to set up the microphones], I headed over to the auditorium to see the Cripsy Family Carnival’s performance.

The music was pretty nifty, but the acts were dry and that is disappointing since this was my first time seeing them.  Was not digging the fact they pulled out a collapsable sword before the one guy swallowed a real [and rather short] one.  Also, not to be rude, but a fat guy in an ill-fitting ‘straitjacket’ that does not even attempt to sell the escape is incredibly boring, especially since said ‘straitjacket’ looks like it was a rip-off of something Lip Service made.  The most enjoyable part was being able to touch a python due to the fact that snakes are awesome.

After the show I stopped to say hello to Stephanie, whom I haven’t seen since the Bindlestiff show in NY a few months back.  We  chatted for a while about random things including how she made the adorable costume she was wearing, which is always fun.  Next thing I know, she is introducing me to Franco, and the three of us step aside for a serious biz talk.  As nervous as I was, I explained as eloquently as possible how my interest in sideshow came about and went on to talk about what I had done with Jon and Outlaw Cirkus.  Well apparently it always helps to say the right thing, as he mentioned possibly having a spot for us at the Gathering [in September], and that we should e-mail him a reminder so he could see if there would be an open slot for us to do some performance.  Being referred to him by the Bindlestiffs also helped immensely and I desperately wished Jon had been there to be part of the moment.

Even later on that evening, I sat down for the second sideshow performance, courtesy of the Bindlestiffs.  They never cease to amaze, and rightly so.  They have been doing this for a long time now; it’s no wonder they are flawless and always entertaining.  Of course I really liked Stephanie’s glass routine and every time I watch them I find myself learning new things, ready to apply them to my own routines and whatnot.

The convention was pretty much over at that point, so I wandered down to the boardwalk and managed to rustle up a salad from one of the food joints.  Driving back was long, boring and dark.  Somewhere on Route 18 sleep must have been winning over on me or something.  While I had noticed the cop behind me, I figured he was just out looking for someone to bust for speeding.  As I am pulling onto Route 1, the lights go on and I have no idea what I did.

That light on the cop car couldn’t have been any brighter.  He asks for my info and I give it to him.  He asks if I had been drinking and I said no.  He checked the back seat, gave my car the once over and said I had “trouble maintaining my lane”, whatever that meant.  He again asked if I had been drinking and I firmly stated no, so he just said to be careful and that was that.

A strange way to end an otherwise fantastic day, and now all I can think about is how much I want to tell Jon about everything that happened.

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