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Book Shelf Sideshow Vaudevisuals Bookshelf Women

Vaudevisuals Bookshelf – “Weird & Wonderful – The Dime Museum in America”

By Andrea Stulman Dennett

Dioramas and panoramas, freaks and magicians, waxworks and menageries, obscure relics, and stuffed animals–a dazzling assortment of curiosities attracted the gaze of the nineteenth-century spectator at the dime museum. This distinctly American phenomenon was unprecedented in both the diversity of its amusements and in its democratic appeal, with audiences traversing the boundaries of ethnicity, gender, and class. Andrea Stulman Dennett’s ‘Weird and Wonderful: The Dime Museum in America’ recaptures this ephemeral and scarcely documented institution of American culture from the margins of history.

Weird and Wonderful chronicles the evolution of the dime museum from its eighteenth-century inception as a “cabinet of curiosities” to its death at the hands of new amusement technologies in the early twentieth century. From big theaters that accommodated audiences of three thousand to meager converted storefronts exhibiting petrified wood and living anomalies, this study vividly reanimates the array of museums, exhibits, and performances that make up this entertainment institution. Tracing the scattered legacy of the dime museum from vaudeville theater to Ripley’s museum to the talk show spectacles of today, Dennett makes a significant contribution to the history of American popular entertainment.


REVIEWS

“The book should prove interesting to readers of American social history, and particularly enjoyable for museum and entertainment professionals.”

“This book was a great read and provided the information I was hoping to learn about nineteenth-century dime museums. All the information on the subject seems to be scattered about and often lacking. This book ties it together in a succinct yet informative text.”

“Weird and Wonderful is a well researched and very readable account of the (mostly) 19th-century phenomenon commonly known as dime museums. While they were themselves short-lived, the influence of dime museums extends far and wide throughout our culture – from Discovery Channel programming and blockbuster museum exhibits to freak show revivals and viral videos.”

To purchase this book go here!

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Categories
Cafe Istanbul History Sideshow Southern Sideshow Hootenanny Story Teller Video

James Taylor – “Spiel on the Peale” – A Talk given at The Southern Sideshow Hootenanny

 

In March of 2020, I gave a presentation – “First in Half the World – A Spiel on the Peale” – as the opening event for the USofA’s oldest sideshow convention, the Southern Sideshow Hootenanny in New Orleans. And its pitch ran something like this:

“During the War of 1812, during the siege of Ft. McHenry, there was another notable event besides the dawning of the “Star-Spangled Banner”: Under construction – the siege visible from its scaffolding – was the oldest purpose-built museum in the Western Hemisphere. The Peale Museum was the outgrowth of the Peale family’s exhibition franchise that spread across the Mid-Atlantic and typified virtually all the glories – and contradictions & conflicts – of the museum business even today. “America’s sideshow historian,” James Taylor, talks on the Peale’s history and legacy, one that highlights institutions from the Smithsonian to Ripley’s Believe It or Not! to dime museums and carnival midway shows.”

But that’s not all you’ll see here. Really, what spiel consists of only what’s advertised?


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Sideshow Tattoo Women Workshop

The Southern Sideshow Hootenanny!

March 6th thru the 9th @Cafe Istanbul, NOLA

James Taylor: First in Half the World (A Spiel on the Peale)

Kick off the 2020 Hoot with a brand new talk by James Taylor about the oldest museum in the country. “America’s sideshow historian,” James Taylor, talks on the Peale’s history and legacy, one that highlights institutions from the Smithsonian to Ripley’s Believe It or Not! to dime museums and carnival midway shows.

Friday – March 6th

6:00pm – James Taylor: First in Half the World (A Spiel on the Peale)
9:00pm (8:15pm VIP Pre Show) The Innovators Show hosted by The Monsters of Schlock

It’s the opening night of the 2020 Southern Sideshow Hootenanny! Come out for a night of innovative sideshow and variety entertainment.

Featuring:
Betsy Propane
Nathan McScary


Jared Janssen
Emma D’Lemma


Dante El Dante Dante
Janie Slash


Lunival Lousion
Chatty TheMime
Salem

Saturday – March 7th
11:00 m – 5:00pm Workshops
9:00pm (8:15pm VIP Pre Show) The All-Stars and Living Legends Show hosted by Reggie Bügmüncher

Showcasing some of the best and brightest in sideshow and hosted by the one and only Reggie Bügmüncher!!
Featuring:
Jack Dagger
Juliette Electrique


Thom Wall


Sansa Asylum


Louie Foxx
Sam Aquatic
Kali von Wunderkammer

Plus our Lifetime Achievement Award Presentations at Kathleen Kotcher and Rob Huston.

VIP Pre Show by Lunatic Fringe Sideshow

VIP Seating for the VIP only pre-show at 8pm
GA Doors at 8:45pm
Show starts at 9:00pm

Sunday – March 8th

11:00am – 1:00pm – Networking and Awards Brunch
1:30pm – 4:00pm – Get your act videotaped!
4:30pm – Dick Zigun Special Talk

Dick Zigun, Mayor of Coney Island, joins us to talk about how Coney keeps sideshow ALIVE! and infecting the rest of the country with a love for the strange and unusual.


7:00pm (6:15 pm VIP Pre Show) Troupe Night

VIP showcase Performances by: Geoff With A G & Skabz The Clown

Main Show Performances by:
Cheeky Monkey Sideshow
The Brides Pixiegrit Circus Sideshow
The Stolen Stitches


10:00pm Hoot Afterparty Location TBD

– TICKETS and MORE INFORMATION –

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Categories
American Circus Circus Clown Comedy Dance Exhibit Juggling Magic Performing Arts Photography Sideshow Tent Show Variety Arts

SHOWHISTORY.COM – A Unique Image Archive

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This is the mast head for SHOWHISTORY.COM website. A very unique place for those interested in odd, unique and offbeat memorabilia.

Here is a comment by the website manager:

“Membership is $25 a year and allows you access to all of the materials, photos, letterheads, etc.– including multi-page items, such as the largest collection of sideshow pitchbooks ever gathered together– currently 65 scanned and online, and more than 60 more to be added.  Currently we have about 1200 images online and plan on adding about 2000 more items per year until the growing collection has been fully digitized.”
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“The origin of this undertaking emerged in casual conversation outside The Sarasota Showman’s Club one February evening sometime in 2001. The Showhistory.com website first debuted on February 11, 2002.  The plan then, as now, was to engage in the enormous task of listing every novelty, variety, sideshow and freakshow performer who ever crossed the lot, creaked the boards of dime museum or bally, saw sun glint in the eyes of an audience in some small town, waiting for the sound of nickels and dimes clacking into a metal box.”
 
“Finally expanding to more than a thousand pages of material and hundreds of images, the site was unfortunately mainly inactive after 2006.”
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“In October 2014 the site was redesigned and relaunched in a slightly different form– as an online image archive available on a subscription basis.  While now you must pay to access the full contents of the site, including our expanding archive of online images (over 1000 at launch), we plan on preserving and re-introducing all of the earlier material, and presenting a large quantity of free-access material.”
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ShowHistory.com plans on eventually making available online for members all of the 11,000-plus item archive of photos, pitchcards, handbills and ephemera in the area of sideshow, novelty and variety, vaudeville, burlesque, dime museums, carnivals, and outdoor show business in general.  The earliest item in the collection dates from 1609, and the archive continues to expand to include items from present-day performers and exhibits.”
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Showhistory.com wishes to chronicle the lost, fading and future scene on the fringes of the American amusement business– in biography, history, photographs, and whatever else we can find.  Collect the stories before they disappear, push and pull together the conflicting sources in books and memoribilia so that they can coexist in one place.”
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In the next post I have ready to go up I have ‘borrowed’ some text from Showhistory.com to help illustrate the life of Clarence Dale.
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Hope you have the inclination to JOIN…it is certainly worth the fee and it helps support the work they are doing on the site.
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