observation from visitors to the 2009 Florida State
I love the
Do you have
The World's Biggest Pig and will let me see it for only
fifty cents? SWEET!
demonstrating the Sham-Wow ("YOU KNOW GERMANS ALWAYS
MAKE GOOD STUFF") for a crowd of disinterested tourists?
running a ride that is clearly missing a support strut
and making audible grinding noises as it goes around?
Just let me
finish my steak-on-a-stick and I will be right with you.
happily spend six hours in a day wandering around under
the Florida sun, managing to burn even the part in my
hair, getting my feet run over by people in scooters and
divesting myself of cash for things on sticks.
best? Oh man, the best are the Sideshows.
my husband and I are at the state fair, and in between a
spray-paint artist and a woman selling personality
analysis based on handwriting we see a large red tent.
On the front, on a platform, is a man in a pinstriped
suit and red snakeskin shoes. I am ecstatic over those
shoes. Those shoes make me happy in the way the laughter
of children might do for others.
The tent is
festooned with all the very best in sideshow poster
attractions. GORILLA GIRL -- SEE HER CHANGE BEFORE YOUR
EYES! DR FRANKENSTEIN -- SEE THE ACT BANNED IN THREE
COUNTRIES! SPIDERELLA -- HALF WOMAN, HALF SPIDER, SHE
WILL SPEAK TO YOU!
yeah. Who do I give my money to?
be the man onstage swallowing the broadsword next to the
fire-eating elderly midget.
So we pay
our two dollars and eagerly head inside with all the
other tired, sweaty looky-loos. While we wait for the
show to start, I spend some time chatting with one of
the performers, and ask where she got her awesome boots
and leather corset. I love all forms of showbiz and
spectacle, and the shows like this that revel in their
own cheesiness are particularly near-and-dear to me. The
people are always cheerful, clever, and into whatever
weirdness they're doing, absolutely fascinating to talk
begins, and we are treated to the CHINESE TORTURE BOX
which we will put our lovely assistant in and then stick
with no less than FOURTEEN REAL STEEL BLADES. The
master-of-ceremonies has gravity defying hair that I
like to imagine is held in place with snake oil.
"THE BACK IS
FAKE THIS IS SUCH A RIP-OFF."
comes from the back of the meager crowd, but I can't
immediately place it's origin. The 'Hubs (that is, my
husband), looks around, annoyed; having worked for just
such a travelling carnival for a year during his teens,
he has a soft spot for performers like this.
continues, and this time we meet SPIDERELLA, HALF WOMAN,
HALF SPIDER who was found living UNDER A ROCK BEHIND
PARIS HILTON'S HOME and -- "SHE'S JUST STICKING HER HEAD
THROUGH A HOLE OVER A FAKE SPIDER BODY THIS IS SUCH A
the tent falls mostly silent. Someone laughs derisively.
The decrier is a leathery looking woman in a belly-top
clutching the arm of her perpetually embarrassed looking
husband. Her head is wreathed in cigarette smoke as she
stubs out the one she's been smoking and immediately
angry now. I paid my two dollars to be good and amused
by these fine folks who know very well how corny their
act is. It's not exactly breaking the bank here, and
you're free to leave at any time. (I couldn't if I want,
I'm still hypnotized by those AWESOME SHOES OH MY GOD I
But it's not
my place to say anything, and the announcer chooses not
to address her as we continue on to DR FRANKENSTEIN
whose act is SO DANGEROUS AND UNSETTLING we half to pay
an extra dollar to ABSOLVE THEM OF ANY EMOTIONAL TRAUMA
WE MIGHT INCUR if we wish to watch it, and baby, I've
got my dollar right here, lay it on me!
SUCH --" arises from the back of the crowd again, but
doesn't get the chance to finish.
my husband says in his special, carrying fog-horn voice
that silences all other noise. "IS IT A RIP-OFF? OH MY
GOD, PLEASE, WE'RE DYING TO KNOW. IT'S SO AWESOME THAT
YOU'RE SUCH A COMPLETE BITCH THAT YOU'RE WILLING TO RUIN
THE EXPERIENCE OF OTHER PEOPLE TO LET US KNOW WHAT A
RIP-OFF THIS IS."
woman can respond, my husband spins to hers and
continues. "HEY BUDDY, I JUST WANTED TO SAY IT'S SO COOL
HOW YOUR WIFE IS COMFORTABLE BEING A MISERABLE BITCH TO
COMPLETE STRANGERS. MY WIFE WOULD NEVER DO THAT. DO YOU
WANT TO TRADE? MINE CAN MAKE LASAGNA."
surprised that the couple leaves without incident,
because usually their type loves conflict. But no.
Amidst the sudden, startled laughter and applause of
both audience and cast, they quickly take their leave,
heads down, unwilling to meet our gazes.
We paid our
dollar and got to see Dr Frankenstein, who was an
elderly man in a kilt and let me come up close to watch
while he pushed a hat-pin through his neck, which
admittedly may be more due to the amusing squealing
noises I made then my husband's chivalry.
please. It's two dollars. You expect a certain level of
fakery. Do not ruin the event for others who may be
perfectly happy to be fooled/unburdened of monetary
concerns. Just like nobody cares how high you are or how
drunk you were, nobody cares what a rip off you think
this side-show is.
Do us all a
favor and just take your leave the next time you don't
enjoy something, because we won't miss you.
- I'm a fan!!!!!
to know better, young enough to do it again.