PRINCESS ZAMBORA MEETS LEROY
by Lee Kolozsy
There was a deafening crash, the wail
of a siren, the strident ringing of an alarm bell, the staccato
popping of gunfire, and the crowd panicked. Parents were
trampling their young, grown men were running like track stars,
women screaming, children crying, THE GORILLA WAS LOOSE!!.
Again. Another day at the State Fair.
Alice Cooper’s School’s Out playin'
on the Matter horn, the 70’s were alive. The canned pitch with the
voice of Peter G. Hennen was whining away, "THE APE GIRL, THE APE
GIRL, SHE’S ALIVE, SO MUCH
ALIVE...THAT ONLY THE BRAVE ARE INVITED"
The tape would run while we did the
show inside the dark green 40 by 60 Leaf push-pole top. "THE APE
GIRL WOULD BE LOCKED IN A SOLID STEEL CAGE FOR YOUR PROTECTION,
AND UNDER BRIGHT LIGHTS YOU’LL SEE THE CHANGE BEGIN, HER FOREHEAD
WILL BEGIN TO RECEDE, HER EYEBROWS PROTRUDE, FANGS WILL BEGIN TO
EMERGE, AND HER CLOTHES WILL APPEAR TO FALL AWAY FROM HER
BODY...BUT I DON’T THINK YOU’LL BE NOTICING HER EMBARRASSMENT,
WHAT YOU WILL BE NOTICING IS THE HAIR GROWING ON HER ENTIRE
BODY...THE LONG STRAGGLY HAIR OF A GORILLA OR APE...THIS SHOW WILL
SCARE THE YELL RIGHT OUT OF YOU!!!"
Through the means of a clever
illusion, an attractive (as possible) young lady, costumed as a
jungle goddess, would appear to transform into a horrible, ugly,
(as possible) GORILLA. The fearsome primate would then charge the
crowd, breaking free of the cage and scattering the terrified
natives onto the midway where they would shuck and jive for a
while and compare notes. "You skayed ?" "I din be skayed!" "You
not skayed! Den whu-for you run lak de po-lease be chasin' you!"
It appeared that our mission was to bring art and culture to the
The scare at the end of the
performance not only cleared the tent, but also attracted a lot of
attention and would start the tip for the next bally. It also led
to some unforeseen complications.
Enter Leroy. A picture postcard
perfect weather day, blue skies, 80 degrees, and not yet noon. The
Zyclon was running like a Motown assembly line, load after load of
screamers. The ape show banners flapping gently, all was well with
the world. I had just braced myself with a pleasant buzz, in the
cage with the gorilla and his girlfriend, the ape girl, both of
whom had equally low standards of morals and hygiene, and,
enjoying the unfoul air, I was headed for the bally platform to
engage in some deception on behalf of the syndicate. This is when
things deviated from biz as usual. "WATCH THE DOORWAY, HERE SHE
COMES, WE'RE GOING TO BRING OUT THE APE GIRL. CHAIN HER UP GOOD,
BOYS, AND DRAG HER OUT HERE. THE WILD APE GIRL FROM NAIROBI.
WATCH…WATCH…WATCH" And as I’m building a tip an elderly black
woman was tapping on my foot with an umbrella. (most certainly a
pessimist, there was not a cloud in the sky, nor rain in the
forecast) She was saying, "My Leroy, dat go-rilla dun got my
Leroy, go see bout my Leroy." I remembered her from the previous
bally, she was the hoodoo. She was the wrench in the gearbox.
When I had had the crowd spellbound
with my eloquent hyperbole, at the optimum moment, precisely at
the fever pitch of excitement, I would turn the tip. Jam 'em.
Two ticket sellers goin' flyin' elbows. All they could handle. But
for the hoodoo. She was in front of the box closest to the
entrance, the strong one. S L O W L Y counting out pennies while
arguing with four foot three Leroy dressed like Shaft. "I ain't
goin' in day, you kin go but I’z stayin heah." One legged Sally
the walk-away-artist was desperately working around her, trying to
keep the tip moving, she was reaching over and around the
immovable hoodoo couple knowing full
well that all was lost if the play slowed. Neezix on the cheesump,
duke’er, mizove the leezine! It was no good, she wasn’t moving,
Sally glared at me like you’re tellin' me!
Soon the hoodoo was back. Tapping on
my foot with an umbrella. My buzz was disappearing fast. There was
no getting around it, I was gonna blow the tip. This woman was
impeding the smooth flow of the soft-con I was trying to lay down.
She had to be dealt with. No outside man, no patch, looked like
it was up to me. I sighed and put down the mike. "Lady, the
gorilla didn’t get your Leroy. He probably got lost in the
confusion and went down the midway, I suggest you go to the fair
paging booth and have him paged." She got quite angry, virtually
incoherent, and grumbled her way down the midway. I went back to
the grind. No sooner had I built another tip and started to make
my pitch, and here comes the hoodoo with two state cops. Here we
go again. Put down the microphone "sir, this lady claims her
husband was attacked by your animal." One badge had her by the end
of the bannerline, another was interrogating me at the bally
platform. "Officer the show ends with everyone being scared out
of the tent by the guy in the gorilla suit, he took off down the
midway, we scare the public, we don’t damage them." The cop looked
skeptical and said, "You don’t mind if we look around in the
tent, do you?" What could I say, next thing you know I’m in the
top with two uniforms poking around the empty dark interior of the
tent with flashlights. No sign of Leroy, but I could hear his
grieving widow wailing on the midway. "Dat go-rilla dun et mah
Leroy, it dun grind up his bones, he be daid fo sure."
My thoughts were centered on the smell
of reefer coming from the cage. Man, here we go. My buzz had
completely left, I was sure things were going downhill fast.
That’s when I heard it. A voice. A very deep voice. Coming from
nowhere. Coming from everywhere. Now I knew the top was empty.
This was spooky! A deep voice from nowhere saying…"Whey dat mother
f*#%ing go-rilla at! Yoou got dat mother f*#%er locked up?"
Downright baffling, I mean the top was empty, we had checked
everywhere, even the state fuzz looked spooked, one had his hand
on his holster. I felt a little lightheaded, so I backed up to the
centerpole and leaned on it. That’s when I felt it move. I looked
up. There in the shadows, at the top…was Leroy, clinging to the
pole like a monkey, his back against the canvas, at the very top
of the peak.
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