After landing in Bedford, PA and being introduced to the rest of the crew, the time has come to finally open the show to the public and learn first hand how a grind show operates.
July 24, 2005 – Debut Show: Bedford, PA
Following the usual morning relaxation period, it was right to work moving the stage we had assembled the other day, relocating it outside for the bally. There is a bigger and subsequently taller stage, which had to be taken inside for us to perform on. Then the props were moved inside and the banners were unloaded. Had the privilege of hanging them up with the Manager, while Ma [the boss’s wife] taught me the proper way to hoist them and tie down the ropes so the banners would not fall should a strong wind come by. It was a bit awkward at first, but I got the hang of it by the third banner and making slipknots is already becoming second nature. A small complication arose in the form of not having ties for some of the banners, missing pullies and ropes. Once that was sorted, I thought the rest of the job would go smoothly, but then the Manager accidentally cut himself with some scissors. Brett and Elvis were sent to assist me with the remaining banners, and the line appeared fairly even for my first time doing something like this. The teaser, which is a banner that is stretched across the front of the tent so people who walk by can’t see in, had to be hung from the tent itself, and all free hands were on that.
It was rather annoying that the curious people walking by kept asking when we would be open. The Boss explained that the girls were having their showers and suggested they should come back later. Definitely admired how he handled the situation with true showmanship and feel I will be learning a lot from him.
Had been applying makeup whenever I had a spare moment, and was then told to do whatever I needed in order to be ready for the first show that evening.
Here I will state that I noticed the Deadhead girl did absolutely no work whatsoever. She walked around in the outfit the Manager bought because she did not like the costumes that were available, doing nothing more than walking her dog or carrying a beverage. Now I see this as being a little unfair because the rest of us are sweating in order to get everything done. We all get compensated for our services, and while I know that she receives a smaller salary than the rest of us, it would not hurt for her to pitch in. This sort of behavior will certainly be noticed, both by those of us pulling our weight as well as the eyes that constantly make sure we are doing so.
Show time was very unorganized, as none were certain who was supposed to go on first and how we would rotate. The schedule was hectic as I was going up and down on the main stage, then out to the bally stage. The crowds were not that enthused, though we tried our best to get them involved. Most of the response was pretty weak, but some grossed-out reactions were all I needed to hear to know that at least they were paying attention. It is somewhat disheartening to see how many people stop on the midway for the bally versus the amount that actually filter in, but is was opening night and all.
Managed to get glass stuck in my foot twice and had to stop jumping into it after that. Lifting five pounds with my ears seemed to go over well, as did the Bed of Nails, though I need to expand the patter so that the set is not as short. Would also like to add a couple of acts, and perhaps get in the Blow-Off doing the Insectivore to make some extra scratch until we can figure out some dings.
The night was over before I knew it, and even though we were tired and hungry, the crew stuck around to hear what the Boss thought. All suggestions were taken seriously, and to my relief there really was not much criticism. Considering this was the first time any of were doing something like this, it went fairly well. The more we do it, the more natural it will become, and pretty soon we won’t even think about what we are doing.
My stomach had been empty all day, so I headed out to town and went to a diner just like I would back home. This one was fairly large and really nice, complete with rolling chairs. Ate until I was full and returned with a few leftovers, relieved to get some sleep. A storm rolled in some time during the early morning hours, quite loud and very fierce, but it helped cool things down a bit, even if it is still humid.
July 28, 2005 – Strange Dreams
There were definitely some weird images in my head last night, but once scene in particular that I can recall with clarity. Not sure where I was, but two people I know were chatting with Jon. Now that I sit here and recall the dream, I believe they had come to see me perform or something like that. At first glance, my dream mind had mistaken Jon for Brian Setzer. It must have been the flashy outfit that consisted of tight red leather pants, black shirt half unbuttoned, blue snakeskin boots and tons silver jewelry. The last time we saw each other, he had just gotten his hair cut for Summer and shaved his face clean. However, in the dream, his dirty blonde locks were tamed into a stellar pompadour, accented by perfectly trimmed chops.
Next thing I know, the two of us are climbing into his Mercury. Being tired, I ask him to “turn the colors off” [whatever that means]. Jon pushes a button on the dashboard, and then we are driving through a landscape that could be right out of Sin City, the sky red and black above.
This is what I get for eating around midnight before heading to bed. It is a bit ironic that the dream included the one person I had wanted to see before I left New Jersey. There is a good reason I did not have the opportunity to, but someone should tell my subconscious that. Wonder what other odd dreams I can come up with.
July 29, 2005 – Week In Revue
Anyone who is blissfully ignorant to believe that show business [no matter what field] is some sort of glamorous fairy tale would have a rude awakening if they were here right now. Being up on stage in front of a gaping crowd is certainly a great rush, fantastic beyond description and exactly the reason I wanted to do this. However, as it has already been documented, there is a lot of physical labor involved that people who are enamored by circus or sideshow do not see or even think about.
When the weather was bad earlier this week, we had to grind out our shows in order to get as many paying customers as possible to come in. The constant demand for performance is rough, but that does not stop me from having a wide smile and doing what I do best. Have learned a great deal so far, including how to tie down a tent in preparation for inclement weather, even if it did only rain for about ten minutes or less.
Of course no Family is complete without drama or bullshit, though I tend to stay far away from both as best I can. Though I do voice my opinion at appropriate moments, particularly when the Boss asks for it. He is wise to everything, the type of man who can smell bullshit from a mile away and before it even hits the ground. He is highly intelligent with a killer witty attitude, and to me that is what makes him so great. While he is willing to give anyone a fair chance, he also does not hesitate to put them in their place should they try to pull a fast one. As the saying goes, you cannot bullshit a bullshitter.
An example of that is Elvis being excused from the outfit. Kind of a shame since he was a decent worker, and the first person I met out here who could actually speak Carny. He even helped Spirit [this goat that refused to use its front legs] to stand up without falling over. However, he tried to feed the Boss some story about being offered a job by his grandfather. The Boss does not appreciate being lied to and had facts that confirmed the story was just made up, so he told Elvis it would be best for him to move along.
Yesterday, Little Miss Priss – the Deadhead chick that does not want to help with any of the physical work, yet wants attention for being up on the bally stage and in the electric chair – put up a big stink about her wardrobe. She had left the clothes our Manager bought in the bathroom and apparently someone stole it. The Boss gave her a few other costumes to try on, and she wound up in a blue bathing suit with white sequined stripes. Not even halfway into the show, she got off stage, changed and left for the night. Well, the rest of us had to pick up her slack, which meant assuming her duties on the bally stage and in the Blow-Off.
Somehow I am chosen to sit in the electric chair and definitely got shocked on my ass, so I really don’t want to have to do it again. Her beef was composed of the claim that her [quite small] boobs were popping out, and guys were pointing and laughing because her cooch was showing. She even tried to use the old “I have my period” excuse. The Boss was not pleased, having some words for her and the boyfriend.
Today she is in a neon orange bikini [a thong no less], with a black shawl tied around her waist. So far there are no complaints and I suspect that she was just trying to get more free clothes because she was unhappy with the previous selection of a pink leopard print shirt, pink shorts and black fishnets. That was too revealing but a thong bikini is totally fine? Oh, and apparently she has completely forgotten about having her period.
On a more humorous note, when inquiry was posed as to why she did not help set up [or assist with any manual labor at all], she claimed both the Boss and Manager said she did not have to. Sure, that is why two nights ago the Manager remarked that he should not allow her to leave right after the show is finished, because she can assist us in lowering the banners at night. The Boss also mentioned earlier that Miss Priss, her boyfriend and the brother would be useful in tearing down, so I am pretty sure he did not tell her she could skip doing such work. It amuses me when people convince themselves that they can lie and no one will know.
Last night the Boss came over while I was dining on a bowl of Coco Pebbles and bestowed me with a great compliment: “I just wanted to tell you that out of all the people here, you’re the only one[ with your shit together.” It was something I appreciated very much, as I am here to perform and get a lasting experience out of everything. People can point, laugh and say whatever stupid shit they want, because I will be making a profit off them in the end.
There has been other things going on as well, but would rather not go into much detail about it. Though I will say that the crew was concerned when our fearless leader — the Manager that is — was taken to the hospital early this morning. The stress must have gotten to him, but the good news is that he is doing well and will return in a few days.
The rest of us are pretty much running the show at the moment, minus the Blow-Off. Sold a few pieces of jewelry here and there to pull in some scratch for myself. So far the only money I have spent was on food, gas and washing clothes at the laundromat. We are allowed to ask for a cash advance on our salary if needed, since we will not get paid until Tuesday. Seems like a long time to wait but there is nothing I really need at the moment so I don’t mind.
Right now the pitch on the bally stage is bombing because the Manager is not doing it. People are finding it difficult to deliver a good one to gather a large tip, but we are doing our best. Later on, I might practice sword swallowing because it would be awesome to add in the show.
Have to go to work now.