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Circus Coney Island USA Mask Performing Arts Puppetry Sideshow Tap Dance Variety Arts Video Women

The Seashore Variety Hour at Coney Island USA – August 1st, 2019

Steeplechase’s own ‘Funny Face’ (Brendan Schweda) the first to take the stage and introduce the show.

San Francisco based ‘chair stacking balance’ performer MeeZee hosted the evening with Coney Island based sword swallowing, aerialist Wendy Blades.

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Featuring the other talents of Koo Koo The Bird Girl, Jelly the Clown and Rasutin’s Marionettes.

Koo Koo The Bird Girl started the show off with her wonderful eccentric act.

Koo Koo performed blind folded in an aerial hoop and was wonderful.

The Seashore Variety Hour had their clown act too! Jelly The Clown.

Jelly the Clown couldn’t seem to keep his red clown nose on so he nailed in to his skull.

Then Wendy Blades got dressed in a straight jacket (with the assistance of MeeZee) and escaped!

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MeeZee introduced Matt Scott Rasputin and his charming sideshow marionettes.

The finesse of Matt Scott Rasputin’s control over these puppets was wonderful. Here is the sword swallower wetting the sword before it goes down the hatch.

The ‘tap dancing dandy’ was amazing in how he kept the beat with his music and tap shoes.

Wendy Blades swallowed the sword as MeeZee watches in astonishment.

MeeZee performs one of his ‘impossible’ hand balancing feats on the stacked chairs.

Wendy closed the show with a ‘fast’ aerial rope spinning act.

For more information on The Seashore Variety Hour visit their site here!

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Categories
Comedy Magic Performing Arts Photography Sideshow Story Teller Video Women

Tribute to Johnny Fox – Feb 1st @The Slipper Room

 

JOHNNY FOX

11/13/53 – 12/17/17 R.I.P.

A Master Sword Swallower/Magician/Street Performer/Busker/Person

The Slipper Room was set up with a lovely projection of Johnny Fox and one lit candle.

Slipper Room’s James Habacker set the mood for the evening with a story of his first meeting with Johnny Fox.

Thomas M. Cote

Joe Coleman

Lady Aye

Tomas Kubinek

Jelly Boy the Clown

Toby Logue

Adam Cardone

Terre Roche, formerly of the band The Roches.

Thanks to Norman Blake for supplying these wonderful photographs

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~And here is the video excerpt from that night’s speakers~

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And here are some videos of Johnny Fox!

CLICK HERE TO VISIT THE FRREAKATORIUM

Disclaimer: If anyone present at this event is not mentioned here I apologize as I didn’t know everyone!

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Categories
Magic Performing Arts Photography Physical Theater Sideshow Variety Arts Vaudevisuals Interview

Vaudevisuals interview with Cardone – Tribute to Johnny Fox

Cardone came over yesterday to tell me about the upcoming Tribute he is planning and producing with Slipper Room’s James Habacker.

A Tribute to our friend Johnny Fox

John Robert Fox (November 13, 1953 – December 17, 2017) 

~ A Celebration of the Life of Johnny Fox ~

Thursday, Feb. 1st 7:00 pm @The Slipper Room

John Robert Fox (November 13, 1953 – December 17, 2017) 

Click here for more information on this great event!

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Interview with Johnny Fox posted on Radio Vaudeville (from Busker Hall of Fame)

Johnny Fox performing the ‘tongue skewer’.

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.
For more of these great stories go here!  Busker Hall of Fame
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More Johnny Fox

Johnny Fox at his ‘Freakatorium’ located in the Lower East Side. Open from 1999 to 2005. 

From Wikipedia:

In June 1999, Fox opened the FreakatoriumEl 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!

Categories
Performing Arts Photography Sideshow Variety Arts

‘Friends of Johnny’ – A Benefit for Johnny Fox – June 22, 2017

 

Johnny Fox would like to see you at this event!

TICKETS HERE

CHESAPEAKE ARTS CENTER

194 Hammonds Lane, Brooklyn Park, MD 21225

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Categories
Photography Sideshow Vaudevisuals Interview Video

Harley Newman – ‘Extreme Stunt Master’ – An interview

Harley NewmanVaudevisuals interview in 2 parts with Harley Newman.

I thought it out and decided that 2017 needs a great start. So, I am reposting this great interview with ‘master stuntman’ and wonderful person Harley Newman. I caught up with him at the Ripley’s Believe It Not! Museum in Times Square, NYC during the World Sword Swallowers Day. Great fun!



‘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 2 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.
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To visit Harley Newman’s website go here!

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Categories
Aerial Acts American Circus Circus Comedy Juggling Magic Performing Arts Photography Puppetry Sideshow Ventriliquist

Excerpt from Tim O’Brien’s book “Ward Hall – King of the Sideshow”

WARD HALL – The Official Biography by Tim O’Brien

I attended the ‘launch party‘ for this book at the ‘Morbid Anatomy Museum‘.

I ask Tim if he would be so kind to share some of the wonderful text with my readers. He agreed!

Ward Hall biography by Tim O'Brien

Ward Hall — King of the Sideshow
“Ward Hall – King of the Sideshow!” is the first-ever biography of the man who has helped shape the American Circus Sideshow into what it has become today.
Ward has worked with monkey girls, half-people, fat men, sword swallowers, fire eaters, giants, colossal snakes, huge rats and diminutive horses. In addition to owning dozens of sideshow and circuses during his long career, Ward has written four books, four musical stage productions, has appeared in seven movies, and more than 100 videos and TV specials, performed at Madison Square Garden and Lincoln Center in New York City and has sung at Carnegie Hall.
Ward has the memory of an elephant, the exagerative dialogue of a Ginsu Knife salesman and a sequined wardrobe that would have made Liberace turn his head.
Ward Hall joined his first circus in 1944 when he was a 14-year-old kid living in Colorado. A year later, as a 15 year old 10th grade dropout, he ran away for good, joining the Dailey Bros. Circus. He never looked back. By 16 he was performing in a sideshow and by age 21, he owned a sideshow!
***
It was spring 1946, Ward was 15, and he was prepared, or at least he thought he was, when a Billboard ad caught his attention. Dailey Bros. Circus was looking for a magician and fire eater. He didn’t know how to do either very well. He didn’t tell them he was only 15, and he didn’t have a plan. He just knew he had to join the show at that time. Ward responded to Milt Robbins asking for the job, and soon a telegram arrived that read:
Salary OK.
Show opens April 1. Join anytime.
Winter Quarters, Gonzales, Texas.
– Milt Robbins, Show Manager
Ward daringly told his father that he was going to leave and take the job with the circus. His father didn’t argue, telling Ward that he would get the circus out of his system and be “back in two weeks.” Ward laughs. “They are still waiting for me.”
Using what he had left of his last paycheck from the part-time job he had on the railroad to buy a $51.50 bus ticket, he caught up with Dailey Bros., still at its winter quarters in Central Texas. He borrowed his uncle’s steamer trunk, packed it with his one suit, a few other pieces of clothing and a small collection of homemade magic tricks. The day he climbed off the bus in Gonzales, Ward recalls thinking that at that point, he “was beginning the second part of my life. On that momentous day, my childhood ended.” It was March 27, 1946 – 116 days before his 16th birthday.
Anxious to get on with his life, he arrived in Gonzales more than two weeks early. Instead of the circus bosses sending him home, he was put to task on several small projects. He slept in a small shed along with sideshow equipment that would be traveling with the show that year. Ward’s pay was $30 a week with cookhouse privileges, which meant he could eat at the official circus cookhouse and share a berth on Car 79 of the circus train when the show hit the road.
While new to the circus itself, he had a pretty good idea of what to expect before he stepped off that bus, having been reading news and stories about the big top in Billboard for years.
It didn’t take Ward long to be noticed on the lot, but not necessarily in an endearing way. On his second day, he decided to further educate himself on fire eating, having never truly learned the skill. In his letter to Robbins, Ward claimed he could eat fire, so he thought he had better learn as soon as possible. On his first attempt he badly scorched his lips, turned around in pain, kicked over the fuel can and caught the shed on fire. Needless to say, a good eye was kept on this aggressive but polite newcomer to the business from that point on. Ward moved into the men’s dormitory where he spent only a few nights. “Having been a loner all my life, I was not knowledgeable on how men act after drinking large quantities of alcohol, so I discovered an abandoned circus wagon which became my living quarters until we moved onto the train.”
***
In August 1973, while playing in Indianapolis, Ward appeared in a television special called On Location: Alan King at the Indiana State Fair. Alan King kept asking very basic and non- informed questions and it was obvious to Ward that King didn’t quite understand, or like, the sideshow business. “I can’t imagine why anyone would pay 50-cents to see this stuff,” the comedian told Ward, referring to the sideshow acts. Taken aback, Ward retorted, “I can’t imagine someone paying $5 to go to a nightclub to see your act.” King bragged, “They pay $15.” To which Ward responded: “That’s actually worse!” The network edited out that exchange, but the edited segment effectively showed that freak shows “provide honorable livelihoods for handicapped men and women who otherwise might be unemployable.”
***
With the life that Ward Hall has led, it seems impossible that one single event would stand out to him as the best. What’s even more improbable is that event had nothing to do with a sideshow.
On April 22, 1994, Ward was the singing master of ceremonies at Carnegie Hall for Circus Blues, a show that was part of The Carnegie Hall Folk Festival. Stephen Holden, a reviewer with the New York Times, attended the show and wrote of Ward. “Wearing a sequined top hat and tails, Ward Hall, a former lion tamer and pitchman, presided over the program of old-time circus musicians, like Ralph Edwards leading a big top version of This is Your Life. Ward sang three numbers with the orchestra to get the show under way. “Hi, Neighbor!,” “There’ll Be Some Changes Made,” and “When You’re Smiling.” Among the musical guests on the same bill were Blind Willy, Guitar Gabriel (Robert Lewis Jones), Diamond Tooth Mary and Willa Mae Buckner.
“I have said it many, many times that singing at Carnegie Hall in New York City was the highlight of my life,” said Ward. “It’s the one singular thing that I have enjoyed most, and being a part of that program is one of my proudest moments.” Surprisingly, not too many people who know of Ward and his sideshow prowess know that the Carnegie Hall event took place, said Ward. “I don’t usually tell people that I sang at Carnegie Hall. It is so unbelievable that this sideshow bum would have been top billed in a program at Carnegie – with great reviews the
following day.”
***
Ward celebrates 70 years of working in the weird, wacky and wild world of the sideshow in 2014. Now 84 years old, he doesn’t travel often with his show and he has passed the baton on to a younger generation who are now his partners. But he checks in daily and occasionally surprises them all by showing up in his red, sequined jacket, taking the microphone as he immediately starts attracting the curious to the front of the tent. There is only one person silver throated kind of the carnival talkers who could do that, Ward Hall.
__________
Tim R. O’Brien is the author of Ward Hall — King of the Sideshow!, available wherever books are sold and online at Amazon.com and Casaflamingo.com.

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Ward Hall 'talking' at Rock ShopA recent photograph of Ward Hall doing his pitch.

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Categories
Amercian Vaudeville Theatre Cornelia Street Cafe Performing Arts Sideshow

Lady Aye – A Little Bit of Sideshow – A Vaudephone Presentation

Vaudephone is a co-production of Vaudevisuals.com and the American Vaudeville Theatre/Travalanche

https://vaudevisuals.com
http://travsd.wordress.com

Recorded at Cornelia Street Cafe on Feb. 26th, 2013
For more information on Lady Aye visit her website here:

Categories
Circus Performing Arts Photography Sideshow Variety Arts Video

7th Annual World Sword Swallower Day- Ripley’s Believe It or Not, Times Square. NYC

On February 25th, 2012 there was a gathering of 14 sword swallowers from the local tri-state area at Ripley’s Believe It or Not in Times Square, NYC.

Every year Ripley’s puts together this event at ALL of it’s Museums around the World.

Here is a video of that event that happened at Times Sqaure.

 

In Times Square, NYC there was a special gathering of 14 Sword Swallowers who were attending the 7th Annual World Sword Swallower’s Day at Ripley’s Believe It or Not.
Held every year at all the Ripley’s World Wide on this day they all swallow their swords together at the same time.
Here is a video of that event. The Sword Swallowers present in NY were as follows:
Keith Nelson
Riley Schillaci
Harley Newman
Kryssy Kocktail
Liye Shelden Zou
Natasha Veruscka
Tony Gangi
Jim Stilianos
Kyle Mertz
The Lady Aye
Roderick Russell
Fred Kahl – The Great Fredini
David Darwin

Video shot and edited by Jim Moore
©2012 Jim Moore
https://vaudevisuals.com

Categories
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.