Woodside Amusement Park

Part 2

 

by Walt Hudson

 

The sideshow at Woodside Park was housed in a building that once had been a walkthrough fun house.

 

The mirrors that distorted one's image still lined the wall on one side of the building. Our stage extended across one end of the room and there was a large backstage area. The "marks" stood in front of the platform and watched each act perform.

 

The ten-in-one was a "drop in" or temporary spot for many of the acts who planned to join a traveling carnival sideshow but were waiting for the fair season to begin and had a few weeks to fill. It was like playing a still date to them. They joined our show with the understanding it was for a limited time only.

 

The manager did not care about the large turnover in personnel because many people returned to the park several times during the summer and new attractions meant repeat business.

 

The show was office owned and belonged to the park. The manager was hired and he, in turn, hired the acts and ran the show. We were paid by the park each Friday and were paid for the entire week even when it rained and attendance was poor. This was better than working a carnival where our pay was pro-rated. If we worked we got paid; if it rained or we were traveling between shows we did not get paid.

 

We opened Memorial Day with the following lineup: Susie - The Elephant Skinned Girl, Virginia Dakota - The Lady Who Smoked Cigarettes Through Her Eyes, Yvonne - The Midget Stripper, The Animal Hypnotizer (Me), A Lecture on the Oriental Wax Man (again by me), and Billy Ryan with large magic and illusions. The fire eater did not show up and the manager wanted me to do the fire eating but I told him I didn't know how. I did, but I was already doing enough in the show with my two acts, in addition to emceeing a part of the show. There was a blade box "ding" that Billy's assistant worked.

 

We were permitted to pitch items but we had to pay the manager a "kick back" for the privilege.

 

All of us went home each night after the show except Yvonne the midget, who lived with her husband Hans in their trailer which was parked out in back of our show. Susie also stayed on the park grounds in her trailer.

 

The spiel I used for my Animal Hypnotizer act went something like this: "For years, scientists have been baffled by the fact that some of the larger snakes have the ability to hypnotize their prey before killing them. (This was a complete lie!)

"The boa constrictor merely stares at the bird or small animal, who freezes in its tracks and then the boa devours the defenseless little creature. The men of science have no explanation for this strange phenomenon.

 

"Humans have been hypnotizing one another for as long as we have recorded history. Literature is full of lurid tales of how hypnotism was used for evil purposes.

 

"Today we read about hypnotism being used to cure certain ills and its positive effect on the human personality. Although the medical profession calls hypnotists fakes and fraudulent, they cannot deny that hypnosis does aid some people. I predict that in the near future the hypnotist will be looked upon as a respectable practitioner and not just as an entertainer. (My prediction came true in 1958 when the American Medical Association accepted hypnotism as an alternative method of treatment.)

 

"So, while some animals may hypnotize others, and humans may hypnotize each other, I have been gifted with the ability to hypnotize animals! I know of no other human who has this ability. It is rather amazing when we consider that complete concentration is required of the subject being placed in the trance. Do animals have the power of concentration? You will have to decide for yourselves as you watch me perform this afternoon. First, I shall attempt to hypnotize a fowl."

 

I reached into the cage housing a dove and the bird hopped up on my extended finger. I brought out the fluttering bird and walked forward to the edge of the platform.

 

"Now, watch!" I stared into the dove's eyes and picked the dove off my finger with my other hand. I smoothed out the bird's wings and as I turned it over and placed it back down on my open hand the bird became stiff. Its head flopped back over the edge of my palm. Its legs stuck up in the air and it appeared dead.

 

"Now I will let you all see the bird close up. But, please do not touch it. As you can see, the dove is in a trance and will remain that way as long as I desire. It is completely in my control."

 

The "marks" looked at the bird and at each other. They were convinced I had hypnotized the bird. After all had a chance to see the bird close up I snapped my fingers and turned the bird over. It came to life and started flapping its wings. The "marks" applauded as I returned the bird to its cage.

 

"Thank you. And now I will hypnotize this rabbit and pass down among you so you can see the rabbit is also in a trance."

I took the rabbit out of its cage and I turned the bunny over on its back and placed it on a small tray. After a few hypnotic passes the bunny also became stiff as a board. Its legs stuck up in the air. I picked up the tray and went down to the front of the stage and sat down with my legs hanging over the edge. I held the tray on my lap and invited the "marks" to step up close to view the sleeping rabbit. They could see there was nothing attached to the rabbit to hold it down. I invited them to yell, clap their hands, whistle and to make as much noise as they wanted but they would not be able to wake the bunny before I gave it a command to awaken. After a minute or two I counted to Three and the rabbit awoke. They were amazed and they applauded. After I had returned the rabbit to its cage, I continued on with my next act.

 

"And now, if you will all step down to this end of the stage, I will show you one of the most bizarre things you have ever seen. I'll remove this cloth and you will be shocked! Please move down a little closer. That's it. I want everyone close up to see this strange oddity."

 

 

The group moved closer and I pulled off the sheet covering the wax figure of an oriental man. I had purchased the figure the summer before at Coney Island, from the owner of a wax museum. It was just an old figure which had been lying around for years. It had a hole in its back so I was able to buy it cheap. The only unusual thing about it was that it was an entire figure and not just a body form with a wax head and hands, as are most figures found in wax museums. This was the figure of a nude man and complete in every detail, including genitalia.

 

The manager of the show made me cover the man with a loin cloth since this was a family show and he didn't want any wise remarks from the teenagers or complaints from the adults. So I covered the figure. But, I must admit I often loosened the loin cloth a bit so it did not fit too tightly.

 

There was nothing really unusual about the wax figure other than it was so detailed in every way. It had eye lashes, fingernails, fine hair implanted on the fingers and legs. The hair on the head was implanted so that it looked like it was growing out of the scalp. It was how I made the presentation that made the whole act rather strange.

 

"This wax figure is an exact duplicate or reproduction of the Japanese artist who created it. His name was Aiko Yamesheta and he used photographs of his body parts and modeled himself in front of mirrors to create this figure.

 

"Then, when the figure was completed he removed all his own hair, one strand at a time, and implanted the hair, on the sculpture body. The eye brows, the eye lashes, the hair on and under his arms ... even the pubic hair has all been taken from his body."

 

I paused for a moment for that statement to sink in and then I continued the spiel.

 

"He removed his own fingernails and toenails and placed them on this figure which he created in his own image. All this took about forty-nine years to complete. Yes, you may step up closer to get a good look at this wax man. We want you to tell your friends about this attraction. It will be here all summer but when we close our show in September, we shall return it to the .Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. Those of you who wish a photo of this strange phenomenon may purchase one for ten cents."

 

My spiel was completed and our manager stepped up and took over the stage and introduced the next act.

 

(To Be Continued)

                              

 

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