Hair Growing Routine

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.

More music...

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 the Humanatone."

More music...

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.

Photograph

This haunting 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 [2004]. They will be paired with the work of Salvador Dali.

 

 


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