Categories
American Circus Book Shelf History Interview Performing Arts Photography Rose's Royal Midget Troupe Variety Arts Vaudeville Vaudevisuals Interview Video Women

Vaudevisuals interview with Karen McCarty – “Gladys Farkas”

Karen McCarty and I have known each other for quite sometime. When I heard that her grandmother was a ‘midget’ performer with Rose’s Royal Midgets I couldn’t believe my ears. I am publishing a book on this unique performing company and with this interview I had first hand information about a company that has been gone for years. A company of 25 midgets that performed World-wide for many years.

Trained as a young girl in dance and singing she was quite an asset to the company once she was employed by Ike Rose.

Healthy Humor is a Not for Profit Performing Arts Organization whose performers create joy, wonder, and laughter for hospitalized children nationwide.”


For more information on Rose’s Royal Midgets!

Coming in November – Check out this site to preorder the book!


Categories
Cinema Clown Comedy Film History Interview Video

TV Interview with Peter Sellars – 1980

One of the funniest, if not the funniest comedic actor of all time being interviewed on network TV by Gene Shalit in 1980. So much fun watching him change accents and talk about his career.

He is best remembered for his role of inept French police Inspector ‘Jacques Clouseau’ in the “Pink Panther” series of films (1964 to 1982). The last of that series, “Trail of the Pink Panther” (1982) was made after his death, using film clips and unseen footage from his earlier “Pink Panther” movies. Born Richard Henry Sellers in Southsea, Hampshire, England, his parents worked in an acting company run by his grandmother. During World War II, he enlisted in the British Army, where he met future actors Spike Milligan, Harry Secombe, and Michael Bentine. Following the war, he set up a review in London, which was a combination of music and impressions (he played the drums), which led to his doing impressions on BBC television’s “The Goon Show.” Moving rapidly into a series of British comedy films during the mid-1950s, he quickly caught widespread audience appeal, and each successful role led to more and better films. Following British comic tradition of doing multiple roles in the same play, he was adept at performing multiple roles in his movies, including his hilarious “The Mouse that Roared” (1959) (playing three different parts), the black comedy, “Dr. Strangelove” (1964), (playing an pragmatic RAF officer, a wimpy United States President and a weird German scientist), and “The Prisoner of Zenda” (1979) (playing the roles of Rudolf IV, Rudolf V, and Syd Frewin). In 1959, he won the British equivalent of an Oscar for his role of ‘Fred Kite’, a labor leader in “I’m All Right, Now,” (1959), and in 1979 he was nominated for a Best Actor Oscar for his role of ‘Chance Gardiner’ in his film, “Being There” (1979). He was married four times, to Ann Howe (1951 to 1961), to actress Britt Ekland (1964 to 1968), to Miranda Quarry (1970 to 1974), and to actress Lynn Frederick (1977 to his death in 1980).

Britt Ekland and Peter Sellers. Married 1964 to 1968.

July 24, 1980: Pink Panther actor and former Goon Show star Peter Sellers.

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Categories
Coney Island Coney Island USA Exhibit History Interview Performing Arts Photography Sideshow Video Women

Gibsonton, Florida & Other Sideshow & Carnival Videos

Some wonderful videos here for those that enjoy ‘sideshows’ & ‘carnivals’.

An excerpt from History Channel’s Weird US series focusing on the American’s sideshow. Featuring a wonderful interview with Ward Hall. From 2007.

A walkthrough of the Gibsonton, Florida sideshow town museum. Originally broadcast on Travel Channel.

A Carnival Museum! | The International Independent Showman’s Museum | Riverview, FL – Shot by ‘ViewfromTheCheapSeats‘.


From the wilds of Coney Island, some history here in a few videos to whet your appetite for sideshow!

Coney Island Sideshow and Amusement Park – New York City History 1940

Shot in 2009 but this amazing Sideshow Venue – Coney Island USA – is still very wonderful – (once the Covid-19 issue is over the ‘Sideshow by the Seashore‘ will resume!

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Categories
Comedy Interview Performing Arts Puppetry Vaudevisuals Interview Video Women

Vaudevisuals interview with Kate Brehm – ‘Toy Theater Workshop’


MAKING MAGIC WITH TOY THEATER


Let’s start off with this question! What is Toy Theater?

Well..here is a link to the explanation by the World Encylopedia of Puppetry Arts.

Looks like so much fun! Here are the details for those interested.

Sun & Thurs from 6:30-8:30 pm – Aug 6th, 9th, 13th, 16th, 20th, 23rd ‘Over Zoom!’ – $150 – Limited to 8 students. 

To sign up send an email to imnotlost.ny@gmail.com

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Categories
Bindlestiff Family Cirkus Cabaret Comedy Coney Island Film History Interview Performing Arts Sideshow Tent Show Video Women

Traveling Sideshow: Shocked and Amazed – The Film

Wonder through the carnival grounds to the sideshow and feast your eyes on the amazing curious people that perform for your entertainment.

 

~ Jeff Krulik on Traveling Sideshow-Shocked and Amazed ~

I trace it all back to buying a paperback of Very Special People on a 7th-grade
field trip. On the bus back to school, my classmates and I sat mesmerized by the
human oddities within. Or maybe it was an animal freak show under a tent at the
neighborhood carnival one year, with the five-legged cows and pickled pig
fetuses on display. My Dad even collected stamps that were known as freaks, or
oddities, that were just mechanical mistakes, and I of course followed suit at my
junior stamp club. So maybe there’s something in my DNA that drew me to the
Shocked and Amazed book series as a customer at Atomic Books in Baltimore,
where I soon after made the acquaintance of one James Taylor since I felt
confident we’d speak the same lingo.
At this time in the mid-90s I was also winging it as a freelance producer after a
multi-year stint on staff at Discovery Channel; I had wanted to get my hands dirty
making TV documentaries instead of watching other people have all the fun (or
misery), so I dove headfirst into the world of independent production, successful
or otherwise. Cut to 1999 when James’ American Dime Museum opened up right
next door to Atomic Books, and I showed up with my new camera to record what
was unfolding. About this time, a benevolent friend (and the man who came up
with Shark Week for Discovery Channel) became head of programming for
Travel Channel, and I pitched the idea of taking “Shocked and Amazed” from the
printed word to the TV screen. It worked. And a TV gig was born, modeled after
my lifelong interest and partnering with James’ brand. It should have just been
called “Shocked and Amazed!” but because Travel Channel was commissioning
it the full name became “Traveling Sideshow: Shocked and Amazed!”
Fine. We could live with that title compromise because here was a chance to go
as far and as wide as we could on the subject of freaks and circus sideshows,
hoping it could turn into a multi-part series. We shot glorious amounts of footage
from road trips to the Sideshow Gathering in Wilkes Barre, to Manhattan and
Brooklyn and Gibsonton, Florida. I kept thinking what we don’t use here will be
for parts 2, 3, etc.
Any production features many peaks and valleys and this one was no exception.
Many of the high points are right on the screen, and additionally, I had enough
foresight to save copies of all the footage. Most TV works-for-hire require all
source material turned over, and I obliged. But not before making copies of
everything, hence my ability to preserve Ward Hall’s roast at Inkin the
Valley/Sideshow Gathering in 2002, as well as his tangential connection to the
Rolling Stones, both of which I have posted on YouTube.
But there were some disappointments too, including our very first ambitious
crew shoot, a four-hour drive to Bloomsburg PA Fair to see the California Hell

Drivers, ruined by torrential rain. Or even more heartbreaking, my production
assistant unable to rendezvous with Presto the Magician to reunite him with his
Hubert’s Freak Museum colleague Hovey Burgess. Oh what could have been.
And of course, the whole thing was shelved right after production because Travel
Channel went in another direction (word had it that some hi-level suit took
offense at the “Jim Rose Twisted Tour” series already being aired). Nothing
personal but that’s showbiz. Our program eventually aired a few years later on a
digital channel so obscure I can’t even recall by name, but I since took to sharing
it online via YouTube, Vimeo, etc. which is how it continues to find new audiences
today.
There are a few people that need special mention, and I couldn’t have done this
without them. My “with it and for it” coproducer Adam Eisenberg who turned over
the bedroom in his house for an edit suite. And to the dear departed Kathleen
Kotcher
, James’ publishing partner who was such an asset to the production, as
well as the preservation of sideshow history.
My thanks and good wishes and I hope you enjoy Shocked and Amazed!

 

 


Traveling Sideshow – Shocked and Amazed!

by James Taylor – May 2020

I can’t tell you when nor where I met Jeff Krulik, filmmaker to the real world, you know, the folks who seek the “other” showbiz, the other forms of education that come from discovering the strange, the bizarre, the weird, the odd and the unusual. All us oddballs. I’d known of Jeff for years c/o his cult classic, “Heavy Metal Parking Lot,” but no, I can’t say when nor where he and I first connected, but I can tell you what we talked about: We talked about sideshow. And “weirdness as entertainment,” to re-coin filmmaker Fred Olen Ray’s line.

And the topic of discussion between Krulik & me centered on the idea of a show that would air not as a single doc (which you’re about to watch) but as regular programming, airing weekly, a show that presented novelty & variety acts in all their glory, connecting all the talent across the broad spectrum of the “new” sideshow that was being ushered in at the beginning of this century. That was the idea, anyway, Jeff having crossed paths with my “Shocked and Amazed! On & Off the Midway,” still the world’s only journal devoted to the history of novelty & variety exhibition; ok: sideshow. And Krulik was ready to rock & roll.

Sadly, we – Krulik, Kathleen Kotcher (my late partner and this documentary’s co-producer), and I – watched the project go from a proposed series to, well, this hour-long doc. Which wasn’t aired for nearly two years after production wrapped. But that doesn’t diminish the product one iota. Not one jot. You see, still, “Traveling Sideshow – Shocked and Amazed!” is one of a damn tiny number of essential documentaries on this end of the showbiz, picking up on the business at that seminal moment when the business, about to explode into the mainstream, was starting to boil up, attracting more & more talent into this strangest – but oldest, historically – form of distraction. Of amusement. Of entertainment. And while we were (and remain) disappointed that our dream of a series didn’t pan out, there’s this visual record of not only what was but what is, since the business we all love – in its current iteration – was birthed, as much as, in front of Krulik’s cameras. And we should all thank him for that.


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Categories
Interview Magic

Al Flosso – An Antic Force, by Montague Chadbourne

Al Flosso – (Albert Levinson – Oct. 10, 1895 – May 13, 1976)

AL FLOSSO’S NAME is known to readers of the two-volume graphic novel by Jason Luttes who created a character solely upon the basis of a photograph and from of this magician’s colorful name. Readers of an earlier era of fiction writing recognized aspects of Al Flosso’s true nature in the character Flotto, in the pages of The Great Balsamo, the novel by show-biz author Maurice Zolotow. The true-life Al Flosso (1895- 1976) was as memorable a character as any created in fiction or prose.

A city native, he recalled crossing the Roeblings’ Bridge to get to downtown Manhattan and buy a ten cent pulp-paper booklet of magic to learn at home. Next, he ventured into New York City’s midtown tenderloin district where he purchased a ‘barber-pole’ production effect at Martinka’s Magic Emporium of which he would later – like Carter the Great and Harry Houdini before him = become the proprietor.

In his early “kid” days he associated himself with the legendary Max Malini (1873 – 1942) who, like Flosso, was a diminutive man with a striking oversize stage persona and an uncanny knack to captivate audiences through the sheer force of his personality.

Next came his yeoman stint at Coney Island where he performed his rendition of ‘The Miser’s Dream’ in an inspired act of sideshow flare; this performance was an unforgettable admixture of high magic technique and sidesplitting comedic bravado.

Of this work on his part showbiz legend Milton Berle dubbed Flosso, “The Coney Island Fakir,” this salutation became the sobriquet that stuck.

Professionally he also explored the worlds of traveling sideshow circuses and vaudeville circuits. including split weeks in New England towns. Back home in New York, he presided over Martinka’s Magic Emporium, welcoming visitors with his warm, self-effacing greeting, “So you’ve come to see the Little Man!”

Later on, he performed on television and Catskill resorts with cyclonic vigor. His friends in the worlds of theater and magic were a legend, from Houdini to Dunninger to the youngest aspirants of his beloved art of magic. Like his father-in-law, Professor Louis Krieger, Flosso busked for the sidewalk gamins of the Bowery and for the members of New York Society’s “Four Hundred”.

He was engaged to improve Ambassador Joseph Kennedy’s manual dexterity as part of physical rehabilitation when Mr. Kennedy was at the Rusk Institute.

Unlike the broken character in Mr. Lutters fictional ‘Jar of Fools’, the true Al Flosso was a sober, and ever-alert, participant in the human condition until his last days, captivating all comers with his signature styles of magic, mirth, and mystery. Until his death in 1976, Al Flosso regaled audiences with his antic force, a quality very akin to the ‘Rough Theater,” as described in Peter Brook in his seminal text, The Empty Space. This theatrical genre acts as a cultural antidote to those denatured commercial amusements flooding the mass society which Brook designated “The Deadly Theater.” Flosso, the antic force to behold, was, indeed, the quintessence of the lively theater which is always integral to the lively arts.

 

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Categories
Circus Amok Comedy Coney Island USA Interview Performing Arts Rock & Roll Sideshow Vaudevisuals Interview Video Women

Vaudevisuals interview with Jennifer Miller

Dick Zigun’s rock-opera ‘Bloody Brains in a Jukebox‘ is being directed by none other than Circus Amok’s own Jennifer Miller. I sat down with her at Coney Island USA and ask about the upcoming show and her directing of it.

Bloody Brains in a JukeBox is a rock opera, with a libretto by Dick D. Zigun, music by Nikos Brisco, and direction by Circus Amok’s Ethyl Eichelberger Award-winning Jennifer Miller. In this sung-through and psychedelic sci-fi satire, characters resembling Sidney Poitier, Audrey Hepburn, Jackie Coogan, and Jayne Mansfield tussle with a talking, flying, brain-eating Wurlitzer Model 1100 jukebox – with results as mind-blowing and out there as anything you’ve ever seen at the sideshow.

Composer Nikos Brisco checking the score for “Bloody Brains in the Jukebox”.
Some props and multi-media projections during rehearsal.

For more information/tickets click here!

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Categories
Comedy Coney Island USA Interview Performing Arts Photography Puppetry Story Teller

Vaudevisuals interview with Poncili Creacions – ‘Bending Endinning’

I had a great time interviewing Efrain del Hierro of Poncili Creacion from Puerto Rico. His wild object creations are so much fun and he enjoys the work as you can tell from the constant ‘glow’ on his face. Watch this great interview and then come see Efrain and brother Pablo put on a ‘spectacle’ like you probably have never seen before!

One of the Poncili Creacion objects.
A Poncili Creacion photographed on location in Puerto Rico.

From the Press Release:

In Bending Endinning… Poncili Ceación will humbly try by any means–with aggressive energy & unorthodox techniques–to remove from the human minds of the audience the belief that not everything is possible. Prepare yourself to be touched, challenged & surprised while they perform open-mind surgery on your preconditioned brain.

Using large-scale transformative sculpture, raw magic & visceral energy, Poncili Ceación plunges us into a whimsical nightmare to contemplate the beauty of nothingness all around & within us. This is one ride that you won’t escape unscathed.

This one-of-a-kind night of unconventional puppetry will also feature a cardboard invasion by Brooklyn’s own BOXCUTTER COLLECTIVE! Core members Sam Wilson, Jason Hicks, Tom Cunningham & Joe Therrien are part of an extended family that includes Puppeteers, Painters, Performers, Builders, Educators, Workers, Union Organizers, & Mischief Makers. They make cultural work for the revolution from garbage & bad jokes. Their aim is to take down the rotten empire one cardboard puppet show at a time.

For more information/tickets

Producer Brendan and Poncili’s own Efrain del Hierro at Vaudevisuals headquarters in Brooklyn, NY. after the interview.

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Categories
Auction History Interview Magic Photography Posters Potter & Potter Auction Variety Arts Vaudevisuals Interview

Vaudevisuals Interview with Gabe Fajuri – Potter & Potter Auctions

I have been following this company’s auctions for quite some time. Always something for the circus, sideshow, magic, collector. I wanted to find out how this auction house got started so I contacted the owner Gabe Fajuri. He was very cooperative in giving me the following interview.

btw…the upcoming auction has many wonderful items for consideration!

1. Can you tell us the source of most of the items being auctioned in the upcoming auction?
~ ~ ~
 
A large portion of the auction was consigned by the widow of Giovanni Pasqua, known as “Roxy,” to his colleagues in the magic field. Roxy was a performer, lecturer, and dealer in antiquarian books, prints, and related objects in the fields of magic and its allied arts. He lived in Italy.
* * *
 
2. The Potter & Potter company has numerous auctions annually. Would you say that most of them are ‘magic’ or ‘circus’ related items?
~ ~ ~ 
 
About half of our sales are magic related, maybe a bit less. It’s what we are known for, but we deal in objects in many other categories, including rare books, vintage posters, photographs and autographs, vintage advertising, coin-operated machines, comic books and movie memorabilia, and other unusual collectibles.
* * *
 
3. What is the history of Potter & Potter auction company?
~ ~ ~
 
The business started on my coffee table about twelve years ago. We started the business by offering just a single collection – but what a collection! Jay Marshall was a legendary performer, who worked on the Ed Sullivan show over a dozen times, and had an illustrious career as an entertainer (mostly performing as a magician and ventriloquist). He was also a very serious collector of antique magic memorabilia and books, and virtually everything else he could get his hands on, trash and treasure alike. Jay owned something like 250,000 books, and the best of them were magic and showbiz related. After conducting four auctions of material from his collection, we were most definitely on the map in the auction world.
* * *
 
4. Are you a magic collector (or magician?) and has this fascination been the original impetus for Potter & Potter Auction?
~ ~ ~
 
Yes, I’ve been collecting magic and interested in its history since about the age of 13, which is what led to my interest in the field in the first place. While in college, I helped pay my way through school by selling magic collectibles on eBay. In a way, I was training for a job I never knew I was going to have (being an auctioneer). I was primarily selling items on consignment at that time, which is exactly how we do things today. I continue to be a huge fan of magic and its history, and yes, I’m still a collector.
* * *
 
5. Is Potter & Potter the only company to auction off magic collectibles? Is it the company that hosts most auctions of these items nationally?
~ ~ ~
 
We are not the only company that auctions magic memorabilia, but we are certainly the largest and best-known. Other companies conduct regular online auctions of magic collectibles, and occasionally a few of the big players in the auction field offer significant objects or collections.
* * *
 
Thank You, Gabe. I appreciate the insight into your company’s origins.
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For information and to peruse the Winter Magic Auction catalog click HERE!

Winter Magic Auction – Dec. 14, 2019

Featuring selections from the collection of Giovanni Pasqua – aka Roxy – our Winter sale features rare conjuring books from the sixteenth century to the present day. Complementing the books from Roxy’s collection will be an assortment of collectible props, Houdiniana, and choice posters.

Catalogs ship approximately three weeks before the auction. Previews will be held in our gallery December 12—13, 10—5 pm

Auction Highlights include:

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Categories
Coney Island Coney Island USA Culture Project Exhibit Film History Interview Photography

Interview with Dick Zigun – Sideshow Hall of Fame

When you visit Coney Island USA you have an odd feeling you have stepped into another time. This ‘not-for-profit’ corporation is dedicated to ‘popular entertainment’ and like the rest of Coney Island, it means fun and excitement.

Dick Zigun is the founder of this wonderful oasis and has created a “Sideshow Hall of Fame” for all of us that are a ‘little different’.

Here he explains it all for you in this Vaudevisuals interview.

Become a member of Coney Island USA!

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