by Mark Osterman
The first medicine show
pitch, for Lenape Liquid, from a typical pitch man's
tripes-and-keister set up near the stage. "It doesn't actually
grow hair, but shrinks the scalp making the hair move closer
together giving the same effect..." and other benefits, etc.
The hair growing machine (Capillerator)
routine. This was a large machine mounted on a wheeled base
with a removable dome and a plunger in the base. We put funny
goggles used for sunbathing on the person. The dome, when on
the head of a volunteer, deposited a wig of natural brown hair
standing up on the head. The wig had an elastic band that was
stretched inside the dome and fitted onto sliding metal
fingers. When the dome was set on the head, the wig released
and was set firmly upon the head and felt to the volunteer
like interior brim of the machine. When the dome was lifted
(after pushing a plunger down and making lots of smoke, made
from baby powder, emit from the dome) the volunteer had the
wig on his head but didn't know it.
The second pitch, for
Kazoos or Humanatone Nose Flutes: "If you have a nose and a
mouth and a working knowledge of how to use them, you can play
Trick shooting including
the bullet catching trick and shooting two targets from my
hands by splitting a bullet in two.
The invitation to the first
person to come up to the stage to buy Lenape Liquid to get the
target which we would autograph...then sales.
We had several other
routines: rain making, phrenology etc.
image of the Capillerator (a hair-growing machine) is an
ambrotype, an image on glass made using a technique from the
1850s. Mark Osterman writes: "This is a series of images
influenced by the medicine show days. This new series will be
on exhibit at my Gallery (Howard Greenberg Gallery) in New
York City this February . They will be paired with the
work of Salvador Dali.