Miss Anti-Beauty Pageant

[Originally written 3.24.03]

Was putting my face on Friday morning and the phone rings.  It was so good to hear Jon’s voice.  He invited me to come over around 7:30 for some dinner.  Went to school happy.  Did absolutely nothing for most of my time there.

The highlight was going to lunch with Shane.  Funniest shit ever.  You would think these people never saw anything out of the ordinary. Then again, having us look the way we do and wearing those awful Crapi uniforms does make for good entertainment.  Shane exclaims “Look, the freak show’s here!” as we entered the pizza joint.  I swear, the guy behind the counter took 5 minutes to understand we wanted a whole white pizza with eggplant and tomato on half, to the point I felt my brain being turned to mush due to his stupidity.  Lucky for them the pizza was good.

Dashed back here to shower and all that.  Was bombarded by a thunderstorm that came out of nowhere, causing everyone to drive like an ass.  Guess people never saw water falling out of the sky before.  Thankfully I made it thru the obstacle course that was the Garden State Parkway to Jon’s nice, dry, safe house.

Shared a bowl before heading out for Chinese food and bought a bottle of whiskey as well.  The rain dried up long enough for us to have the Miss Anti-Beauty Pageant, so that was a relief.  Since this is the third year for the pageant, there was an awesome crowd, which makes all the hard work and effort we put into advertising worth the while.  Things like this don’t just happen by magic, and Jon actually builds the stage himself with the assistance of a couple friends.  Yea, it might be DIY, but we still make it look good.   The event was well-received, a gorgeous girl won the crown, and I placed first in the Hair Art competition, but that might be due to a biased judges panel.  *ha ha*

Then the music swelled and it was time for some good ol’ fun South Jersey hillbilly style.  There were a lot of couples swing dancing, which for some strange reason always puts a smile on me face.  Much consumption of ‘shine and ‘shrooms took place alongside smoking, but it was a super friendly atmosphere and I met a lot of great people.  Jon and myself did a midnite performance which I had been nervous about, but it went really well.  [That boy is getting me addicted to being in front of a crowd.]  Partied into the a.m. hours after that, then we all went down to the beach to watch the sunrise.  Said good-bye to many faces I hope I remember, thanking them for coming out and having a good time, and then it was time for sleep.

Saturday I woke up to breakfast in bed, which came with side of blunt.  Jon was in the mood for an adventure [in addition to wanting to take the Chevy out], so we play Pick Random Diner™ and land on one that’s way the fuck up in Staten Island.  It was absolutely beautiful outside, so neither one of us minded the drive.  When I am with Jon in that Chevy, time does not seem to exist.  The windows are rolled down, the music gets turned up and we both spark a joint, losing ourselves in conversation.  Spent an hour going the wrong way trying to locate the Victory.  At least we got to enjoy the fabulous scenery.  *ha ha*

Finally stopped and asked for directions, we wind up goin back the way we just came.  Meanwhile, I am staring out the window in awe of how beautiful the houses were and how upscale the neighborhoods were.  Especially the mansions way up on the hills.  Wonder who lives there? [Ceazan weaze seahzay meazafeazia?]  The diner was really nice, one of those stand-alone dinner cars with brick that was added later to make it more solid.  The food was good, and we entertained ourselves by talking about the other people in our language.  *hehe*

Returned to his place to smoke ourselves stupid and make some alcoholic slush things.  Later in the evening, we drive out to the Pine Barrens, eat some mushrooms and choose to wander around.  Now this is only the sort of thing I would do with Jon, because I trust him more than anyone I know, and he is very familiar with the maze of trees that ordinarily confuse sober people.  That’s not to say I wasn’t kind of scared, considering the fact that it was pitch black out and we were tripping.  It felt as tho my hand was melted into his, and so long as I was aware of his presence [perhaps even too aware], I knew I was completely safe.  Jon would never let anything happen to me, and it really does give me a great sense of comfort.  The experience actually helped me to calm down, and I saw some amazing things.

Sunday was mostly spent in bed, smoking or eating.  Obviously by now I have noticed that Jon tends to allow me to stay longer and longer, because I know he doesn’t want to let me go.  After dinner, he surprised me with a gift in the form of a second pair of shears, in case anything happened to the first pair, along with a nice leather pouch to keep all my tools in.  Have I mentioned yet how much my best friend rocks?

Came back here sometime after nine and avoided contact until I had to go to bed.

Tales From the Road

It has been a few months since my last post about traveling the carnival circuit with a 10-in-1 sideshow, so I might as well get this blog back on track by continuing with that adventure.  The crew spent two weeks in Syracuse, which hosted the largest State Fair in America, and would soon be moving south to Maryland.

September 6, 2005  –  Great New York State Fair Comes to an End

Despite heavy winds and even an entire day of rain, the last weekend of the fair proved the be an even greater success than Hamburg.  At one point during a rainy day, the Boss comes up to us for one of his motivational speeches.  They pretty much equate to him telling us to get the people in, grind the shows out and GTFM so we can get paid.  This time he informed us of a devastating hurricane called Katrina that hit hard in Louisiana.  Being on the carnival lot 24/7 and not having access to television or newspapers, we are fairly detached from the outside world and so obviously had no clue any of this was happening.  He goes on to say that there are carnivals stuck down South and they cannot move to the next spot because they do not even have the money to gas up the trucks.  Another example of how the unexpected can hit you any time while on the road.

A free supply of newspapers has kept us up to date with what is happening on the outside world.  The whole hurricane situation has really made an impact with gas prices soaring higher than ever, reportedly up to seven dollars a gallon down in Louisiana.  Around here the average is around $3.30, and this whole thing is kind of strange considering I had a dream a while back when the prices first started going up.  Driving alone I was on a nondescript highway passing dozens of gas stations the prices were $3.30 – $5.00, and even some that were as much as seven or eight dollars.  Find this a bit ironic with the way things are, and it makes me appreciate not having to drive on a daily basis.  Can only imagine how much people are shelling out at the pump these days just to commute to work.

With the addition of the Blade Box, which is presented as a ding instead of a magic illusion, we are doing our best to earn money so that rent and payroll can be paid.

Standing outside the tent last night to watch the fireworks, I could not help but feel a sense of pride in knowing I had completed another spot.  The hours were long and at times more physically demanding than one would expect.  Thankfully there is always enough humor to keep us laughing, such as the Great Panty Ninja Escapade.  There is a story that goes along with this, though Elk tends to tell it best.  One night while some people were heading to the bath house for showers after the show ended, a pair of thong underwear was discovered just lying on the ground.  They were subsequently picked up and for a moment we deliberated as to who they belonged to.  Before the owner could claim them, they wound up on Elk’s head as he proclaimed his rank as Panty Ninja and much hilarity ensued.

On another evening, a police officer comes down to the sideshow tent and politely requests that we turn down volume of the grind.  Apparently there was some sort of fight between two gangs somewhere on the fairgrounds and officers needed to hear each other as they communicated via walkie-talkie.  Saw a couple of guys being escorted out in handcuffs and have to wonder why people feel the carnival is a good place to sort out their beef.  All the Carnies are well-prepared should anyone ever try anything, and it made me chuckle a little bit that people cannot behave themselves.

The weather is certainly changing with warm breezy afternoons transitioning to chilly evenings — what I prefer to call perfect leather jacket weather.  Having this piece of Jon on my back as I sit and write this from a carnival lot in upstate New York, I long to be with him in New Jersey for so many reasons.  Then I am reminded of how much I am enjoying my time and that we will have many stories to share when we meet again.

Went for a ride on the Ferris wheel for fee last night, because that is one of the many perks you get when you work on the lot.  As it slowly turned, I could begin to see the vast stretch of midway below: a bright strip of colored, blinking lights.  For a moment I felt like I was on top of the world, a sophisticated Queen gazing down at the carnival that almost seemed to stretch endlessly before me.  Then it was over and time to work.

Tear down went exceptionally well as did packing everything into the trailer, which is much more efficient with a larger crew.  We finished just as the morning was slowly creeping in, which is a first and quite an accomplishment for the seven of us.  The banner line still has to be loaded into the possum belly, but aside from that and organizing my bunk so nothing breaks during the jump, I am ready and eager to go.

Onward then to Maryland, which is about a five-hour drive from here.  The Oldsmobile is still running well and I only plan to make stops for fuel whenever necessary.  Will probably be heading out later to fill up even though I still have half a tank left — I just like to be prepared and have no idea what the prices will be like in Frederick.  Should grab some snacks while in town so I do not have to worry about that either.

Set up will occur in one day and thankfully we are grass this time so driving those stakes should not be as demanding as it has been.  Then we get a whole week to relax even though there are still going to be responsibilities to take care of before we are allowed to hit town.  Going to do some shopping for food and other essential items; it is important to stock up especially since produce will become quite expensive.  The Boss said much of it comes from down South and with the ports a wreck from Hurricane Katrina, it will cost more to get things to the consumer.

Our route has certainly been effected by the hurricane, as originally there were plans to travel further South, going to Virginia before heading back to Pennsylvania, but that has been scrapped.  Instead we will be going directly to PA as the Boss is working on getting us a spot somewhere there.  A haunted house is possible but nothing is concrete at this moment.  Everyone is pretty excited to be doing something for Halloween though.

It is a beautiful afternoon here at the grounds as trucks continuously remove rides.  Going to take a moment to appreciate this time and enjoy myself before we have to start driving.

 

Homesick

It may sound strange, but I miss that weird little state called New Jersey.  There is not one particular thing of course, just a list of stuff I personally enjoy that has been lacking while on the road.  People can say whatever they want about Jersey and hate it for any reason.  I am proud to call it my home and appreciate it a lot more now that I am away.

This time last year I was enjoying these glorious afternoon in my Oldsmobile, listening to AM radio that played all the hits of the ‘50s, smoking a blunt and driving down to South Jersey to secretly hang out with my best friend.  How I miss Jon at this moment.  The memories have me smiling, and it is hard to believe those adventures happened so long ago when it does not feel that way.  Certainly had no idea that I would be where I am now, and it makes me happy to see how far I have come.

What do I miss about Jersey?

Cruising down to the Shore and being on the beach in general.  It has been quite some time since I last laid eyes upon the ocean.

Getting high, watching the sunset and causing havoc with my favorite Carny are all things I am currently yearning for.  Wonder what he has been up to.

Riding down the D&R Canal, taking in the sights as I speed along the trail.

Getting drunk and: going to the movies, bowling, miniature golfing or playing a few rounds of pool.  While I have enjoyed some alcohol—mostly Smirnoff malt liquors because the grocery store does not carry Jack Daniels, and I have not had the time to scout for a liquor store—it certainly is not the same without my partner in crime.  Jon certainly has a way of helping out with the drunken adventures, and as the days and weeks pass by, my heart aches for him more and more.

Had wanted to attend the tattoo convention in Philadelphia back in July, as well as the one in the Medowlands come October.  Obviously being here meant missing out on quite a few things, such as the Jump ‘n’ Jalopy Jive at Asbury Lanes.

Life passes by as you continue to grind out shows.

Lacking the ability to smoke up and write or drive around listening to surf tunes is tugging at my heart-strings.  Have shared a few bowls with Reg, which was very enjoyable.  It’s just not the same as it was, and certainly no comparison to getting high with Jon or James.  Man, do I miss them both, particularly since I did not see them before I left, but the circumstances were understandable.

No matter what, I am sticking with it until the end.  Between the money I am saving now and what will be earned at the tree lot, I should be able to afford a better place to live once returning to Jersey.  Some investment will be made in body modifications, continuing the tradition of obtaining something new for my birthday.  Definitely want to spend New Year’s Eve doing anything fun, but do not want to get ahead of myself with plans.  Will just have to see what happens.

Looking forward to making some calls when we get to Maryland.  Would be nice to get in touch with a few people back home, to find out what has bein going on and all that.  Perhaps it will put my mind at ease.  Knowing I cannot talk to the one person I really want to is going to bug me.  We parted on an odd note, with Jon stating that he would be doing some traveling of his own.  Driving down historic Route 66, making stops at Graceland, Las Vegas and eventually arriving in California.  He said he would be staying there for a while, doing who knows what, but hopefully being safe.  Sometimes I am quite concerned for his health, even if he insists that is not necessary.  Watching your best friend die for a few minutes does that sort of thing to you, but I cannot worry myself either.  More than anything, I just want to hear his voice once, as other things are making me unhappy and I could really use that boost of confidence he always seems to give.  He is definitely on the list of things to do once I get back to Jersey.

There will be a few free days after the Halloween spot and before heading to the tree lot.  Perhaps there might be an opportunity to come home for a minute, though it would not be enough time to arrange a meeting with Jon.  Especially since I really don’t have a way to contact him, and his all the way on the West Coast.  This is the most time we have ever spent apart since we became friends, and I do not like it all.  But as I said, it would be better not to get stuck on that thought.

At least I know what I want to do when my time with the carnival comes to an end, so I have something to look forward to.  This year may end the way I always wanted it to.  On that note, I will try not to think about what I miss and enjoy my time out here for what it is.

Tales From the Road

Following the completion of the first two-week run, the show rolls into Syracuse for the second largest State Fair in America, and I learn exactly how hard it can be to live on the road.

August 26, 2005 – Survivor: Carnival Edition

It is a rough world out there.  Behind the colored lights, spinning rides and loud music is hard work, and some people are just not cut out for it.

Brett wound up leaving during our second week in Hamburg.  He was part of the first group, knew how to get the money from rubes and inadvertently taught me how to bend silverware with mental powers.  We all had a good laugh when he hooked up with Cara and wound up with the Carny Fucker Disease, the joke providing us with much entertainment.  However, he had been talking about leaving, partially due to the fact that he needs insulin which has to be refrigerated, and that not a luxury offered in the bunk house, plus other personal reasons.

To follow with the old cliché when a door closes a window opens, we had two new people join.  Vick and Hana are natives of Buffalo, New York who happened to see the ‘Help Wanted’ sign on the ticket box and decided to become part of the crew.  They are slowly but surely finding love with each other.

Despite a few particularly stormy days, we had a strong finish in Hamburg, drawing large crowds all weekend and heavily all Sunday afternoon.  Was highly amused by the amount of Hot-Topic geared people who came in.  No matter what genre they blatantly stereotyped themselves into, the majority of them were completely disgusted by one or more of the acts, especially my Pierced Weightlifting.

Tear down went much better with all the extra hands, though it still left us quite exhausted.  There was a chaotic orchestra around us as rides were neatly packed up and trucks hauled them to the next spot.  It was kind of interesting to watch the Ferris wheel disappear slice by slice.  The sky turn from night to day and we all got a free look at Tiny Tim, the World’s Smallest Horse.  He had been positioned across from us on the midway, the grind having to be heard way too many times that it may have all made us slightly mad.

Our departure was around 9:30 that night and it was a three-hour drive to Syracuse.  A few of us took the time to drive around the fairgrounds to check things out since we would not have the chance once we started working.  A security cart pulled up to inform us the midway was closed and we needed to go, adding that if anything went missing, we would be highly suspected.  Timmy had a show to do in California, so he left for that on Monday and will be back for the second week we are here.  It puts an empty spot in the show but there are enough of us to take up the slack.

Though set up went fairly well, we were about to unroll the menagerie tent when people began running towards one of the rides.  Security drives up in their golf carts, then comes an ambulance.  Cue the news channels and it is a true media circus.  Action has ceased and we are wondering what is happening.  Apparently there had been a man placing ‘stabilizing blocks’ under the Enterprise; the ride slipped and the man was crushed to death.  This should be sufficient evidence that this can be a dangerous line of work, no matter how fun one perceives it to be.

Speaking of that, I got my foot run over during set up.  We were using Hana’s truck to hauls some of the heavier items from the bunk house to the sideshow tent.  Guess I was just standing in the wrong place at the wrong time but thankfully had my New Rocks on, which prevented my toes from getting crushed.  She felt really bad about it, but honestly I felt little pain.  Small injuries happen and then there was also that time in Hamburg when Elk was coming off stage and the stairs collapsed.  Unfortunately the Carny Engineering and ingenuity of using big wooden blocks as means of stabilization filed miserably.  There was a whole lot of nonsense surrounding that stage, seeing as how none of the stairs we have are tall enough for it, but that has all been sorted now.

In any event, the menagerie tent and the banner line for the sideshow were put up all in one day.  Our tent went up the following afternoon and my hands are still sore from driving stakes.  However, it is done and the tent is much closer to the bunk house than it was at the last spot.  Opening day went alright for a Thursday, but the crowd dwindled around nine.

Here we are at the second largest State Fair in the country, waiting for people to come in.  We are at this spot until the end of September, and then it is off to Maryland.  Personally I tend to use these moments to handle my new albino python named Damien.  The Boss had bought a few snakes and brought them in for the purpose of having the girls hold them on the bally stage.  Generates a bit more curiosity, or scares people in some cases.  Definitely wanted the albino right away, perhaps due to my slight fetish of Nature’s freaks.  He was rather awnry when I first made an attempt to get him out of the snake box, but that was mostly due to the fact that he was shedding.  He has calmed down a bit since then, but seems to prefer me over others.  The Boss said I may keep him at the end of the seasons, which is very generous.  Have thought about having a pet snake for quite some time, so am very excited about that.

There are benefits to working at the carnival such as discounts on food, occasionally getting it for free.   For example, these two girls came to see the show one night and since it was so late, we did not charge them.  In return, they hooked us up with free meals [mostly chicken fingers and a large drink] which saved us from having to spend money on food.

This is a great way to make a living no matter how hard it may seem at times and right now I cannot see myself doing anything else.

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.

Tales From the Road

The fourth installment of this series chronically the time I spent traveling with the carnival picks up after the first week of learning the ropes and performing in Bedford, PA.

August 1, 2005 – Circus Jump

Saturday turned out to be a great night after all, with several large crowds that came in to see the show.  Have to say that I was really pleased with the way the three of us worked together, particularly when Miss Priss left yet again before everything was finished.

As suspected, the Boss pretty much wrote her off for the behavior, as well as the fact that the boyfriend’s brother left his post too.  [He had been asked to take care of the animals.]  The Boss found it funny when I told him what she had said the other day.  They had enough nerve to ask for pay; after all of the expenses rendered, cash asked for in advance and the cut she had coming due to incomplete days, the Boss figured she had earned a sawbuck [ten dollars].  Personally, I would not have given her a dime and perhaps a piece of my min instead.  She actually came up to the tent during tear down and could not figure out why I wanted nothing to do with her.  Did not hear what the Boss said to her but got the gist of it, and she should be lucky to have received any money at all.

Tearing down everything in one night that had been put up over the course of three days was a physically exhausting task to endure, particularly since we did at least four dozen shows in one day.  Such is the nature of a Circus Jump.  In the old days of Circus, the tent and all is taken down, packed up and hauled to the next location, where it is immediately set up; then the opening happens the very next day.  Our jump is not much different, as we have to move out tonight as soon as everything is packed up, then will set up tomorrow and open the next day.  While there had been a lot of help, I was still weary.

Miss Priss made another appearance while the animals were being loaded up.  It seemed her costume [the one that allegedly had been ‘stolen’] was discovered in the Bingo tent where her boyfriend conveniently worked.  For some reason she came to return it, but the Boss made it known that neither she nor her boyfriend was welcome in the crew.

Around six in the morning, the spot where the tent and animals had been there remained but a footprint, and we were sent to bed.  While were supposed to hit the road, the loader had broken down when we were packing.  The set back costs us time, but the rest was certainly welcomed.  Five hours later, we were rudely awakened.  Finished loading everything up, but then one of the dogs had gotten loose and was running around.  Leave it up to an animal to delay the whole operation.  Decided to use the opportunity to fuel up and then finally everyone rolled out.

Pennsylvania is actually a very beautiful state with many rolling hills, expansive farmland and much uninterrupted green beauty.  Bedford was not too bad, though it had a high population of people missing limbs, which is something I have not encountered before.  One parking attendant had no right arm from the elbow down, while another had an entire prosthetic on the right arm and half of one on the left.  Saw a guy at the local diner with his left arm missing and other people without a leg from the knee down, one of whom had the plastic replacement tattooed.  Even had some entertainment one evening in the form of a local boy and his brother, who were more than happy to share the tales of stupidity.  Both of them had various bones and body parts replaced with metal, due to accidents encountered from racing, but mostly it was just from plain fucking around.

Did they play some sort of betting game where the loser forfeited a limb?

Clearfield is definitely out in the sticks with a smaller lot for the tent.  Some asshole had parked their car exactly where we were intended to set up.  That was a whole scene of trying to find out who the owner of said car was, and even joking that we could move it with the loader.  At least there was time for a nap and the chance to suck down a strawberry smoothie that I bought from a stand on the midway.  Then it was right back to work, but thankfully the sun was going down which cooled things off a bit.  Night arrived before we knew it, but the banner line and tent were up; the bally stage was assembled in the dark.  The inside stage would have been put together as well, except that the two pieces we needed were in another truck that had not arrived yet.

Two perks of the spot are being close to the bathroom and the food, but I am trying not to spend too much money on the latter as the midway will empty pockets mighty fast.  The smells are intoxicating and oh so tempting though.

Before heading to bed, I went to retrieve my rat from the car, only to find out she had died.  The road is no place for a live animal unless of course it can be tended to on a consistent basis.

At least getting some sleep was enjoyable, though the crew woke up around eleven today to finish everything up.  Now it is past opening and we still have yet to do a show.

There was nonexistent water pressure earlier while I was attempting to shower, getting stuck with shampoo in my hair.

The show is actually staring now, so I will have to write more later.

August 7, 2005 – Another Weekly Episode Comes to a Close

Currently I am sitting in the empty space where just last night a red and white canvas tent stood.  Most of the rides have been packed up and hauled away; the rest are waiting for transport.  Tear down went slightly better than last time.  Why we are delayed in departing for Hamburg, New York is beyond me.  Suppose there is a reason, but no one has offered explanation.

In the past week, two goats died; one was really sick and Spirit finally gave up.  Ma  was pretty upset but said it was better than having him suffer.

We also picked up a new Bally Bitch in the form of this fairly hefty old head chick.  Nancy enjoys letting it all hang out in revealing costumes, and I am fairly surprised she could squeeze into that neon orange bikini.  It was well-know that she would not last long, and there was even a pool going on what day she would quit.  Nancy was also definitely not the brightest crayon in the box and certainly unfit for physical work.  For some reason, she got into an argument with the Boss on Thursday, which subsequently led to her being asked to leave the grounds.  Apparently she was not doing the things she had been hired to.  Thought she would at least be here until Friday, then leave when she found out what tear down entailed.

There is always another piece of flesh to fill the empty spot, and its name is Cara.  Will admit right now I really dislike the girl and while in general I have no problem talking to her, she seems to enjoy flirting with the male members of our crew.  The first time I met her was back in Bedford [she was working at one of the games] while walking up the midway after having purchased food.  Then she re-appears here in Clearfield, quit her job and decided she wanted to join the show.  Her presence annoys me but suppose that I will have to ‘play nice’ for now.

It has become quite clear that the Boss and Ma are quite fond of me.  Even Donnie [the Boss’s brother from another father] said they take note of things, such as waking up early to put the banners up instead of waiting for other people to do it, and apparently some people have that habit.  Boss Jr. even stated that I am doing a good job, and he is always the first to let you know if you are slacking.  Ma bought a few skirts for herself but did not like the way they looked on her and said I could take them if I wanted, which is so kind and generous.

Have also been invited to work at the tree lot.  After the whole fair season is over, they sell trees and wreaths down in Maryland from the first week in November until some time in December.  Apparently the help gets paid very well, and since there is not much waiting for me back in Jersey, I am seriously considering the offer.

Noted here that there has been no ass-kissing because it is much easier to be myself and do exactly what I was hired for than trying to lie or cheat people who are really nice to me.  Besides, this is not my first time in a crew so I know how certain things work and feel that gives me a slight advantage over the others.  In any event, I am ecstatic that my hard work and enthusiasm is being noticed.

Getting back on track with traveling and volunteering to drive ahead in order to keep an eye out for cops.  The journey through the mountains was quite beautiful, what with the clean cool air, lush greenery and picture-perfect sunset.  However, it was also long and tedious, civilization sprinkled about here and there.  A small highlight was getting to see the Zippo factory in Bradford [PA] complete with huge neon lighter alongside smaller ones that decorated the roof top.  Moments later I crossed into the Empire State and was quite happy to do so.

The evening rolled in as I continued onward, stopping at Burger King for something to eat and then again to refuel the car.  While at the station I consulted a map to figure out where I was and how much further I had to go.  There was a Carny sitting at the next table who had just come from the fairgrounds and he said it was only twelve miles away.  Picked up a pamphlet that details some of the events which will be going on at the fair and have a feeling there are going to be many more people in attendance than at the last two spots combined.

Arrived at the grounds after eleven and decided to catch up on sleep since everyone else was still traveling.  Somewhere around five in the morning, I woke up just in time to see the bunk house and one of the other trailers driving up.  They had stopped for some repairs which caused the delay.  Used one of the most disgusting restroom I have ever seen before happily climbing into bed.

Currently we are sitting outside the lot with no water or electricity.  Apparently we do not have a space to set up in yet, so writing is pretty much the only thing to do right now.  In a while I am going to explore the lot and make attempt to locate a cleaner bathroom — hopefully with a shower.  Would be nice to wash up a little and head into town to check things out.  Niagara Falls is a nice drive from here, but I don’t know if there will be a chance to see it.

Have to charge my phone to make a few calls, and I have a feeling that it is going to be a long day.