My Day With The Big Circus Sideshow


Hello, eveybody. Here's an account of my day at The Big Circus Sideshow, if you're interested. Up here in Montana opportunities to see something like this are pretty rare and I know some of you folks reading this have probably never made it out to see an honest to goodness sideshow.

In real life I am a nursing student and with one semester to go until I get my RN I've been exploring options for once I get out in the real world. (Options that do not always include medicine.) So, I've been asking around different freak shows about what employment is like. That's how I initially got in touch with The Curator of the Unusual, Mr. Jim Zajicek. We talked a bit via The Café' and I hopped at the invitation to come check out his show while it was on its way through Montana.

I pulled into The Montana State Fair, given a warm welcome by Mr. Zajicek, given a tour of his show and the many oddities it contains, and introduced to the animal attractions. (If you ever get a chance to, go see it!) Afterwards I was introduced to the staff, all very nice people.

I admit to some trepidation; before that day I had never met another fire-eater besides my teacher. (Kinda few and far between up here.) I was glad to learn that I fit right in and held my own, skill-wise. I was even given some wonderful pointers on sword swallowing by Richard, a performer who's routine involved swallowing a sword and juggling with it down his throat (and a fire act, too boot.)

The stories had to have been the best part; I hung out next to the ticket booth most of the day just talking with whichever staff member happened to be there. One of the guys, Racetrack, seemed like he'd been doing this literally forever. (It was later confirmed to me that yes, he had in fact been doing this for an eternity.) And he had the stories to prove it...

After wandering the fair for a bit and ingesting some wonderful/horrible carnival food I came back to the sideshow and was given a backstage tour; the trailers (beautiful), the portable shower, the equipment (including handmade automatic stake drivers and pullers), the staff's living quarters... Mr. Zajicek was adamant that I see how his staff lived like normal people and not like stereotypical drugged up carnies, crashed under trailers and living day to day by fleecing spectators.

As evening wore on I was invited to grab my torches and play around for a while. Jay, a “cagey” magician by nature even offered me a chance to take the stage, do my fire routine, and make a couple of pitches. I sold a grand total of one books, woohoo!

Anyway, it was a lot of fun and I was made to feel very at home. Heck, half of the reason why I am writing this is because I did not know what to expect and I wager a fair share of you don't know, either. Time and time again, people “warned” me of nasty, sleazy, drugged up freaks living like animals...

Instead, all I met were genuinely nice, interesting, and impressive human beings.

So thanks guys, it was an experience and a half; I hope I'm lucky enough to end up in a troupe like yours.



Eric the Excellent


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