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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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Aerial Acts Bindlestiff Open Stage Variety Show Comedy Coney Island Dance Juggling Women

Bindlestiff Open Stage Variety Show – Quarantine Edition – May 25th, 2020

Host Keith Nelson introduces the show and the evenings acts.

Jan Damm and his family performed a fun vaudeville act for the viewers.

Chris Delgado performed on the ‘wheel’ in the street before the camera.

Rich Potter performed with his hand puppet as he escaped from his closet quarantine.

Kira DiPietrantonio did contortion and juggled in the most amazing ways.

Lou Johnson manipulated the hoops in a very unique way.

Hovey Burgess answered a question about his love of the circus.

The Dutch juggler Niels Duinker showed the viewers his new home (barn) and juggled some rings, cups, balls, and cows.

Keith Nelson attempts to conquer another old vaudeville trick. He succeeds in doing half of it right!

Leonid the Magnificent paraded around the grounds hula-hooping and dancing up a storm.

Reggie Bugmuncher performed a classic sideshow “eye hooks” act by lifting up a fishbowl with hooks attached to her eyelids.

Candice Storley performed a lovely aerial act in the flying hoop.


The cast takes the Zoom curtain call online!

Keith wishes the Coney Island amusement ride WONDER WHEEL a 100th Birthday!

Tune in next week for another great show!

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Magic Performing Arts Sideshow Variety Arts Video

Vaudevisuals Interview with Albert Cadabra – Sideshow performer, magician…

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)

Originally appeared on:
https://vaudevisuals.com

For more information on Albert Cadabra:
http://www.albertcadabra.com/

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Magic Performing Arts Photography Sideshow Variety Arts Ventriliquist Video

Vaudevisuals Interview with Magician “Cardone”.

Originally posted in June 2012!

Cardone was someone I had heard about through my friends in the magic community. I had met him briefly at several events but never saw him perform.

I wanted to speak with him about his work in magic and what inspired him to ‘get into’ magic.

He had accomplished quite a bit in this world and besides performing as a magician, he also performs in a rock band.

He has written a book “The Haunted House Magic Show” (illustrated by fellow magician Stuart Palm).

Here is the interview I did with him at my home in Brooklyn.

Here is a link to his blog and here is a link to his website.

The promotional postcard for his show THE SPOOK SHOW at Canal Park Playhouse.

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The Clown Un_Mask – Chris Allison

Chris Allison poses for The Clown Un_Mask portraitChris Allison in the my studio hallway.

Chris Allison performing his “Coney Island Chris” sideshow performer.

Eating a light bulb some times has it’s consequences. ‘Coney Island Chris’ performing in a village comedy club.

To see ‘Coney Island Chris’ perform his unique act on “America’s Got Talent” go here!

To see a video interview with Chris go here!

Here is a link to Chris Allison’s children show site.

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Clown Magic Performing Arts Photography Sideshow Variety Arts Video

Harley Newman – “Extreme stunt master”

Harley Newman - World's Best SideshowPhotograph from Harley Newman’s Website

I attended the ‘7th Annual ‘World Sword Swallower Day‘ at Ripley’s Believe It or Not in Times Square on Satuday.

There I met up with Harley Newman and did an interview about his work, career and ideas on sideshow performing.

‘Extreme Stunt Master’ – That is what Harley Newman has been called. After 40 years performing stunts and sideshow acts all over the world he talks about his work, beginnings and what it takes to do what it is that he does.
The Two Part interview is an in depth look at an individual who performs world class stunts and discusses them and their impact on the culture we live in.
Part 2 is about the difference he sees between himself and others who would like to do what he does. Describing the heritage of his sword and then swallowing it for the camera.
Intelligent and funny as well.

Video Interview by Jim Moore
https://vaudevisuals.com

Anyone interested in learning the ‘forgotten’ skills of the side show performer can take classes with Harley.

Check his website for more information.