Categories
Canada Sideshow Women

Vaudevisuals Bookshelf ~ ‘Canadian Carnival Freaks…’

Canadian Carnival Freaks and the Extraordinary Body by Jane Nichols book cover

Canadian Carnival Freaks and the Extraordinary Body, 1900-1970s

by Jane Nicholas

“This book represents the first in-depth scholarly examination of the freak show in Canada, an institution with deep roots in our popular consciousness. Jane Nicholas has produced a significant addition to our understanding of the history of Canadian entertainment, attitudes towards children, and the social construction of able-bodiedness.”

Keith Walden, Department of History, Trent University

“In Canadian Carnival Freaks and the Extraordinary Body, 1900−1970s, Jane Nicholas seamlessly weaves together multiple histories: the history of the body, of children and childhood, of the working class family, of the cultural and social history of the carnival and the ‘freak show,’ among a number of others. Meticulously researched and sensitively argued, Nicholas adds immeasurably to our understanding of the central role that marginalized Canadians, particularly those with embodied differences, played in shaping broader ideas of normalcy, social acceptability, productive work, and cultural consumption.”

Mona Gleason, Department of Educational Studies, University of British Columbia

“Working backwards from the last CNE ‘freak show’ in 1973, Nicholas demonstrates the workings of state and business that made the shows fundamental to a burgeoning modern popular culture − hence consumer culture. She positions the freak show as integral to a ‘modern exhibitionary complex’ focused on the body as spectacle, an innovative approach to the power relations inherent in race, gender, and class, as well as the lesser discussed, but nonetheless critical, categories of age and ability. In this provocative and exciting book, above all a welcome addition to the growing historiography on disability, the author adds much to understandings of the ‘normal’ body as historically contingent, socially defined, and culturally performed.”

Cynthia Comacchio, Department of History, Wilfrid Laurier University

“Original, careful research combined with insightful analysis makes this book an important contribution to our understanding of popular culture and human variation.”

Robert Bogdan, Distinguished Professor Emeritus, Syracuse University

CNE Midway 1920 City of Toronto

AN EXCERPT

# # # # #

Categories
Bindlestiff Open Stage Variety Show Comedy Dance Dixon Place Juggling Magic Performing Arts Sideshow Women

Bindlestiff Open Stage Variety Show – Quarantine Edition – June 15th, 2020

Standing in front of the historic Wonder Wheel at Coney Island Keith introduces the show’s performers.

Dominque Rabideau performed a lovely skilled hat juggling act.

From the wilds of the UK Jon Udry performed a wonderful ‘juggling/striptease’ routine and then a charming teacup and teabag juggling routine.

Ermiyas Muluken performed a feat of balance and then juggled clubs while being 4 levels up on a rolla-bolla.

The performers in this show would usually be on stage getting a nice salary for their act but due to the ‘shut down’ they are here for your entertainment. Please consider donating at the options listed above!

Drew Nugent played a song on the piano and performed with the cute little teacup and mouthpiece. (A unique instrument for sure!)

Magic Brian and Tyler Fyre perform the ‘human blockhead‘ routine together online!

Brian and Tyler play some ‘technical wizardry’ in their act!

They proceeded to take the ‘blockhead’ once step further using an electric drill!

Keith attempts the ‘exquisite failure’ routine with the apple and knife. Watch next week because he ‘failed’ this time again. (this time he had his shoes on!)

Stephanie Monseu talks to the audience about ‘giving a hand’ in making the show better!

Kelsey Strauch performs her delightfully funny ‘long arms’ dance routine.

David Darwin requested a volunteer (virtually) and had her projected on his wooden wall pretending to be ‘walking dead’ and threw his knives at the wooden wall. Wild!

In this segment of “Ask Hovey”, Hovey Burgess tells the history of the ‘Wild West Show‘ and how it began with the plainsman “Buffalo Bill Cody“.

Salih Mahammed performed a very skilled juggling act with some props.

Stephanie Morphett-Tepp (Flying Brain) performs a traditional hair hanging act.

The performers take the ‘virtual’ curtain call.

Watch the show next Monday at 7:30pm – Different Acts Every Week!

# # # # #

Categories
Performing Arts Sideshow Vaudevisuals Bookshelf Women

Vaudevisuals Bookshelf – “The Phantom Twin” a Children’s Graphic Novel by Lisa Brown

A formerly conjoined twin in a carnival sideshow feel the pang of cut ties!


A young woman is haunted by the ghost of her conjoined twin, in Lisa Brown’s The Phantom Twin, a sweetly spooky graphic novel set in a turn-of-the-century sideshow.

Isabel and Jane are the Extraordinary Peabody Sisters, conjoined twins in a traveling carnival freak show―until an ambitious surgeon tries to separate them and fails, causing Jane’s death.

Isabel has lost an arm and a leg but gained a ghostly companion: Her dead twin is now her phantom limb. Haunted, altered, and alone for the first time, can Isabel build a new life that’s truly her own?


Interview with the author Lisa Brown

Q: The Phantom Twin is about sisterhood, loss, and identity. How do you think young adults will relate to Isabel’s story?

A: I think that all those elements resonate in just about every human’s life; family, death, and loneliness. I know that they resonate with me. As for young adults, they’re in the middle of an enormous identity shift from childhood to adulthood. It’s an evolution that sometimes feels like a loss, other times an achievement. It’s really a bit of both.

Q: The setting of The Phantom Twin is very unique. Why did you choose it?

A: I’ve always been enamored of carnivals. They perch on the edge of wholesome and seedy: innocent fun on the outside and perhaps more sinister behind the curtain. The lives of the sideshow performers themselves were also a muddle of contradictions: beauty and talent, exploitation and bigotry, and, for some, success and happiness. In the end, it’s complicated, and I am drawn to what is complicated.


About the Author

Lisa Brown is a New York Times bestselling illustrator, author, and cartoonist. Her work includes a slew of illustrated books including Goldfish Ghost by Lemony Snicket; The Airport Book; Picture the Dead with Adele Griffin; and Mummy Cat by Marcus Ewert. For adults, Long Story Short is a collection of comic strips about classic novels. She lives in San Francisco and teaches in the illustration department of the California College of Art.


“Reviews”

“In the tradition of Ransom Riggs’s Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children and Katherine Dunn’s Geek Love, Lisa Brown’s The Phantom Twin explores the behind-the-scenes lives of performers in an old-timey circus sideshow, tapping into our fascination―and on some level identification―with these obvious ‘outsiders.'” New York Times

“Skating the line of unsettling and adorable, Brown’s trademark tidy artwork and straightforward, emotional text will make readers wrestle with what it means to be a ‘freak.’ Step right up.” ―Daniel Kraus, New York Times–bestselling coauthor of The Shape of Water

“Lovely. A fascinating and heartfelt tale of two sisters, beautifully told, beautifully drawn.” ―Ransom Riggs, #1 New York Times–bestselling author of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

# # # # #

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.


# # # # #

Categories
Aerial Acts Bindlestiff Open Stage Variety Show Circus Comedy Dixon Place Juggling Magic Performing Arts Sideshow Video Women

Bindlestiff Open Stage Variety Show – Quarantine Edition – May 18th, 2020

Host Keith Nelson introduces the acts of tonight’s show.

Magic man Torkova performs two different amazing feats. One with multiplying candles and the second producing two bowls of oranges.

Erin Stephens performs a very skilled juggling set in a beautiful studio setting.

Patrick Garner performs a ‘tribute’ to Senior Wences ‘one-handed’ ventriloquism act

Stephanie Monseu models the ‘Top Chatter’ banner awarded to Angleo Iodice.

Presenting a show has many costs. To help defray these please see the above methods for donating to this cause. Bindlestiff Family Cirkus is a ‘not-for-profit’ 501(c)3 organization.

Fernanda Sumano performed a high energy hula-hoop act that allowed us to follow her through the house she was performing into the street and then the roof!

Wilfredo sang a lovely song for the viewers which included the ever-present “I”.

Keith Nelson introduces the ‘Ask Hovey’ segment of the show.

Circus historian/performer/author Hovey Burgess talks about the Hagenbeck & Wallace Circus train wreck of 1918.

Justin Weber performs his amazingly wonderful Yoyo act with colored light projections.

Keith Nelson catches all six spoons and keeps all 6 plates spinning!

Alisa Mae performs a ‘satirical’ aerial act with rolls of toilet paper.

Host Keith introduces the last act. The Kalvan Family!

The Kalvan Family had all the right moves and everyone had great skills!

The online Virtual curtain call for all the performers from the show. (and tech crew!)

Come back next Monday for another great Bindlestiff Open Stage Quarantine Edition Variety Show!


# # # # #

Categories
Photography Sideshow Southern Sideshow Hootenanny Women

Reggie at The Southern Sideshow Hootenanny – FLASHBACK!

~ Performing at The Southern Sideshow Hootenanny ~

Reggie is an American entertainer based in Los Angeles, California. She is ½ of Philadelphia’s Olde City Sideshow and has been performing in a sideshow for over a decade. As a solo performer, she travels the country working everything from midway to nightclubs and variety shows. Reggie is one of the few women in the world performing several unique acts such as the anatomical wonder act and riding a motorcycle in a high wire thrill show. She has appeared on The Gong Show, Americas Got Talent, been featured in stories by news outlets from Fox to NPR and in books and magazines on Tattoos and Sideshow. She has opened up for Primus, suspended for Jane’s Addiction, performed for Ripley’s Believe it or Not, and at Tattoo Conventions across the globe.  She is committed to community building in the sideshow arts.

# # # # #

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?


NOTE:

You will be requested to enter your name and email address 3 minutes into the video. The email address will be added to the Southern Sideshow Hootenanny mailing list. It will not be sold or given to other entities!


# # # # #

Categories
The Slipper Room

The Slipper Room – needs your help!

The Slipper Room is a New York institution. A House of Variety!

The Slipper Room is facing serious financial difficulties.

I did a wonderful interview with producer James Habacker in 2016. I am posting it here for your viewing. In the meantime, I have put a link below the video to the GoFundMe campaign that is currently set up to help them make it back in one piece! Please Help!

HELP THE SLIPPER ROOM!

The Slipper Room – No Place Like it!

In the meantime, you can watch some of the ‘exile’ shows here!

# # # # #

 

Categories
Bindlestiff Open Stage Variety Show Comedy Dixon Place Juggling Magic Music Performing Arts Physical Theater Women

Bindlestiff Open Stage Variety Show – Quarantine Edition – April 13, 2020

The second week of The Bindlestiff Open Stage Variety Show – Quarantine Edition was so much fun. Now we get to see all this great talent every Monday instead of waiting for a whole month. Of course, I miss the LIVE performance at Dixon Place but in the meantime, this is so special! Screengrabs are certainly not a good replacement for good quality camera files but we have to live with what we have at the moment. Here goes week #2!

Keith Nelson opened the show with his ‘Chinese yoyo‘ act. Here is the wonderful top spinning meditation. How long could you look at a top spinning?

Book Kennison juggled with a ceiling secured camera so the viewers had a curious angle to view his juggling routine. Original music and unique viewing angle.

Filling in for another act Michael Rosman performs a rather complicated stunt. Lighting a gasoline-soaked marshmallow that’s sitting on his shoe with his flaming ukelele and then kicking the marshmallow up to be caught by the Nutella spread on a graham cracker he is holding in his mouth. It all worked out well! Thanks for that Michael!

Tyler West is one of my favorite performers. He always gives his show 100% no matter what. Tonight he performed a ‘pantomime’ with an Eric Satie soundtrack. It was surreal and lovely. Great skills mixed with emotion and joy.

Cardone performed a wonderful array of great card manipulations. A master card trick magician (among other great magic skills) and ventriloquist.

Rachel Hipszer balanced on her hands (did an amazing one-arm planche) and many other amazingly beautiful acrobatic skills.

Keith Nelson never stops amazing me with all of his skills. Always learning new routines and doing them so wonderfully. Here he balances 4 delicate glasses on a 3 layer pyramid.

Pinch and Squeal (Jason and Danielle Tilk) performed a lovely duet singing and playing the banjolele (cross between a ukulele and banjo) and accordion.

Paprika Leaverton performed some lovely hat tricks and magic for the viewers.

Coney Island Chris (Chris Alison) stunned the viewers with his strange ‘eating glass’ stunt. Chewing on a GE light bulb and swallowing the glass particles was both strange and funny. He claims to have learned his skills in a ‘How-to internet Sideshow course’.

The entire production of The Bindlestiff Open Stage Variety Show – Quarantine Edition depends on donations from the fans viewing the show. Here are the methods you can use to help make this wonderful tradition continue weekly during this quarantined time!

If YOU want to participate as a PERFORMER in this show contact Keith at the email address above. Always open to new acts from all over the world!

Elizabeth Munn performed a hysterical romp singing and dancing in her narrow hallway. Performing upside down on a chinning bar and all the time keeping up her song.

Here is Elizabeth in the last moments of her song!

Thanks to all of the folks that made this wonderful show possible!


Next Monday at 7:30pm! The show must go on no matter what!

# # # # #

Categories
Photography

Virtual Vaudeville – Live Entertainment Online

Tomorrow at 4pm on Instagram – Virtual Vaudeville8 All-Star ActsNon Stop Entertainment4pm to 10pm @phonographdjmac


# # # # #