Forbidden Zone

by Rob

 

I was about nine years old and Mom had already conditioned the rules - you're not allowed into the sideshow. Needless to say, on that overcast day in the summer at the Jersey shore, I coughed up my dollar and entered the forbidden zone.

There weren't but 5 or six of us at the 10am show. I remember not believing I was on the inside. For many summers before, all I could do was fantasize over the posters on the outside. Now I was here...and breaking the rules.

We stood within inches of the first stage. The first act was elastic man. Wow. I could see the pores on his flesh we were so close. He contorted through all the standards and I was amazed at him crawling through a barrel after having bent himself in two. The stage light dimmed and we were directed to turn 90 degrees to the next stage platform where the lights had begun to rise. A beautiful woman, the enchantress, spoke seductively and mesmerized me and the huge serpent around her neck.

Into another room and its elastic man again, but as a sword swallower. I didn't expect him to be the same person. He cautioned on the danger of swallowing in a hoarse and gravelling voice. I recall tuning him out and focusing on the electric chair behind him. I imagined it was used to bring death to some before it was brought here to the show. Electro was no other than the same fellow. His tall, lean frame was in a way frightening. He demonstrated some electric effects on the enchantress who I suppose we weren't to believe was the same woman.


The last act I remember was on the way out. It was a narrow, dim lit aisle that had a few small closed and draped 'rooms', maybe just 8 square feet. The closed rooms I believe were acts that weren't in town. In one open and thinly lighted room there sat a figure. As we gathered within inches she began to speak. In a monotone, practiced speech she described herself as the bearded lady. Her whiskers were indeed a beard and I was thinking it was a man, pretending. Her voice was husky, but gentle. It really had me confused. And then it happened. She proved it. Her house dress blouse was slowly undraped to reveal her hairy chest - complete with the very first set of real breasts I had ever seen. My heart pounded and I remember thinking - this is why I wasn't allowed in here.

I hit the daylight and never told a soul. Since that day, I have been to many a show and many an act, but that was the most memorable. I never looked at breasts the same way again.

 

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