CHAPTER THREE
 

Pt 6

 

DEAN POTTER

 
Dean Potter began his carnival Side Show career as a half and half (a gaffed hermaphrodite) for Pete Hennen's Ten-In-One, and I am told he/she was quite beautiful. He later owned his own show which played successfully at the Big E (Canadian National Expo). He has framed numerous Grind Shows like Rose Marie -The Snake Girl (an illusion based on Spidora, but with a reptile's body), Bloody Mamma - a truly gigantic snake, and Barney - the Six-Legged Bull (see photo elsewhere).

 

 

 

Author Fred Olen Ray and his TERRORS OF THE AMAZON SHOW


FRED OLEN RAY


When I first decided to get into the Grind Show business I was uncertain as to what I really wanted to exhibit. I was extremely green and had little idea what this business was all about. Through the AB (Amusement Business - a weekly paper) I purchased a variety of taxidermied freak animals (our two-headed calf is amazing) from a man in Canada (who had advertised a shrunken human head - which I didn't get) with the idea of framing a HORRORS OF TOXIC WASTE show, but didn't feel like I had enough critters to actually make an acceptable show.


Being a filmmaker with access to some of the best special effects artists in Hollywood, I toyed with the idea of creating a mummified space alien and/or a gaffed devil baby (one with horns, a tail and cloven hooves for feet), and eventually had an impressive mummified Alligator man constructed by S.O.T.A. Effects
which has been featured in Jeff Murray's Mystery Museum to excellent response.

 

eI eventually settled on the idea of a jungle themed show called TERRORS OF THE AMAZON. I made my first trip ever to Gibtown (carny slang for Gibsonton, Florida - the undisputed carnival capital of the U.S., and retirement villa for many human oddities) where I joined up with my old show biz mentor, Doug Hobart, for the annual "Independent Showmens Convention" in February '92. There, after much looking, I found a Grind Show trailer for sale on the club's bulletin board.


The show belonged to Barbara Schaffer ("The World's Smallest Mother") and consisted of a 28 foot Southern Body trailer that opened out to 58 feet wide and 15 feet high. It slept four people, had a shower stall, and air conditioning in the living quarters, and she was asking a mere $1,500 for it. I quickly bought the show and had it towed, courtesy of my Side Show friend Malcom Geary over to the Fletcher's Show Painting in Gibsonton where he did a marvelous job of converting it into my Amazon museum.


I had collected different jungle relics like three shrunken heads, a pygmy mummy, a bog mummy, a taxidermied Giant Rat (this one actually a Nutria), a Jivarro Poison Flask, a handful of stuffed Piranhas, some 600 hundred year-old mummy dolls, a Brazilian Wildman footprint (which I made for $2.50 in my mother's backyard using my hand, some plaster and a little imagination - unfortunately in my haste I gave him six toes instead of five!), and some other weird things.


Rod Link, of the Link Carnival, insisted that something 'Alive' must be in the show in order for it to work, so I bought the two Giant Frogs and 'Baby', our python. I later increased our exhibits by purchasing some custom-made items manufactured by Mark Frierson, the banner painter, and the show ended up with about 17 bizarre jungle related attractions.
The hardships we encountered while operating the show on the road are painful to recount. The trailer needed extensive welding and fixing up, but thanks to my versatile step-father, Ray Butler, we got the show on the road in time to make our first date in April on Goodings Million Dollar Midway. We bought an RV (motorhome), but the carnival dings were too great and the boys working the museum resorted to living in the show trailer itself. We bought a one ton truck to pull the show and have experienced many automotive problems, flat tires, muddy lots and other complications while playing our first season, not to mention the horrendous state of the economy in this country. But still, as of this writing, we are out there playing on the Vivona brothers' route (Amusements of America, or Big A as some call it).


We like them. cts which has been featured in Jeff Murray's Mystery Museum to excellent response.

 

Our snake, Baby, died after being exposed to two other snakes of questionable health, and we had to purchase a new nine footer to replace her. This was hard in that my step-brother, George Butler, who operates the show, had become quite attached to her. The frogs are doing great and I'm thinking of framing up a new show here in California - the Alligator Man is still waiting patiently out in the laundry room to see some action and the freak animal collection is growing nicely!

 

All stories are copyrighted Fred Olen Ray and posted here with his express permission,

 

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