I had known Bradley for many years. Ever since he returned from his studies with master mime Etienne Decroux in Paris. We stayed in touch and spoke on the phone periodically during the last few years. He was living near Washington DC. I was producing/shooting some video interviews for my blog post on Jack Adams. Bradley was in NY visiting the APAP conference and came over for the interviews that are posted here.
A wonderful person and charming performer. R.I.P. Bradley Fields.
. Bradley as the ‘barker’ in the Broadway show ‘Barnum’ that Opened in 1980.
Bradley spent a few years as an assistant to magician Jack Adams. Here is an interview I did with Bradley about his time with Jack.
Bradley Fields at the APAP convention promoting all his shows.
Apart from a handful of exotic–and almost completely unreliable–tales surrounding his life, Richard Potter is almost unknown today. Two hundred years ago, however, he was the most popular entertainer in America–the first showman, in fact, to win truly nationwide fame. Working as a magician and ventriloquist, he personified for an entire generation what a popular performer was and made an invaluable contribution to establishing popular entertainment as a major part of American life. His story is all the more remarkable in that Richard Potter was also a black man.
This was an era when few African Americans became highly successful, much less famous. As the son of a slave, Potter was fortunate to have opportunities at all. At home in Boston, he was widely recognized as black, but elsewhere in America audiences entertained themselves with romantic speculations about his “Hindu” ancestry (a perception encouraged by his act and costumes).
Richard Potter’s (1783 – 1835) performances were enjoyed by an enormous public, but his life off stage has always remained hidden and unknown. Now, for the first time, John A. Hodgson tells the remarkable, compelling–and ultimately heartbreaking–story of Potter’s life, a tale of professional success and celebrity counterbalanced by a racial vulnerability in an increasingly hostile world. It is a story of race relations, too, and of remarkable, highly influential black gentlemanliness and respectability: as the unsung precursor of Frederick Douglass, Richard Potter demonstrated to an entire generation of Americans that a black man, no less than a white man, could exemplify the best qualities of humanity. The apparently trivial “popular entertainment” status of his work has long blinded historians to his significance and even to his presence. Now, at last, we can recognize him as a seminal figure in American history.
Inscription: In memory of RICHARD POTTER The Celebrated VENTRILOQUIST who died Sept. 20th, 1835, Aged 52 years.
This podcast is called Stories from the Pitch for a reason, and this particular interview exemplifies this title more than most because Johnny Fox is a natural when it comes to telling stories. His life and his career have been filled with so many chapters, in fact, the stories came fast and furious.
The striking thing about Johnny’s stories is that they mix his experience with those from his mentors in a way that weaves a greater picture of how this Storyteller, Magician, Sword Swallower evolved into a well-established entertainer who’s been on the circuit since the 70’s.
Guy Collins sat down with Johnny in his 1957 GMC vintage bus at the 2015 Maryland Renaissance Festival to discuss how he got started, who he was taught by and to touch on the sometimes uncomfortable topic of material that’s been appropriated from him over the years. The names, places, and events all helping to capture a slice of history from the Busking World.
Johnny Fox at his ‘Freakatorium’ located in the Lower East Side. Open from 1999 to 2005.
In June 1999, Fox opened the Freakatorium, El Museo Loco, a museum of sideshow curiosities, on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. In the face of low numbers of visitors and rising rent, the museum was closed in January 2005. Fox was partly inspired to open the museum by his childhood visits to Hubert’s Museum and Flea Circus in Times Square. His collection of oddities includes narwhal tusks, an elephant’s-foot liquor chest, a two-headed turtle, a vest owned by General Tom Thumb, and the glass eye of Sammy Davis, Jr.
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Hope to see you all at The Slipper Room on Thursday to Celebrate Johnny Fox!
ALBERT CADABRA: The Great Deceiver is a professional, award-winning, comedy sideshow magician who delivers powerful, amazing and devilishly wild magic. Albert pushes and twists the boundaries of the art of magic with unique performances including; eating razor blades and a 3’-long balloon, hammering 6” spikes into his face, electrocuting himself with 2,000 volts of electricity and turning his assistant into a gorilla. He makes people and animals appear and vanish at will and escapes from chains, shackles, locked crates and straight jackets—all with the flair, style, class and great sense of humor you would expect from this seasoned, professional magician.
Watch him perform acts of the Strange, the Odd and the Bizarre LIVE at Ripley's Believe It or Not in Times Square every EVERY Wed-Sun at the bottom of every hour (that's 1:30, 2:30 3:30 etct) 234 42nd Street, Times Square NYC (7th & 8th ave)