Eight Annual Sideshow Gathering: A Review

 

By Walt Hudson

 

The eighth annual Gathering was hosted by Frank Kossa in Wilkes Barre PA Nov. 6-8.
Among the many acts presented were sword swallowing, blade box, glass eating and
walking, escapes, illusions, bug eating, pin cushion, sword ladder, snakes, nail board,
block head, whips, body bending and body stapling. No fire acts were permitted by the
hotel.


With the large number of performers coming from many parts of the country there was a
great duplication of stunts. However just when we "old timers" thought we've seen "it
all" a new-comer develops a new twist on an old standard. This creativity keeps our
business alive.


There are many things I shall remember from this years gathering.


The smooth introductions of Tyler Frye who is a master Master of Ceremonies. Thrill Kill
Jill is his sexy and beguiling partner. Their knife throwing and the "gal in the balloon"
acts were real crowd pleasers.


I appreciated the comic relief provided by the two outrageous comics Side Show Chris
and Swami Yomahmi. Thanks for keeping this art form alive.


The terrific trio, Reggie Bugmuncher, Danny Borneo and Martin Ling [The Olde City
Sideshow] presented their 40 minute spot silently - that's correct- not a spoken word but
with great background music that accentuated the action.


Crispy brought along two acts seldom seen. Mace the strongman and lovely Roxanne
who added spice with her grinder and body bender acts.


Sideshow favorite Tim Cridland shocked with his intense act as Zamora the torture king.
By the way, if you haven't read his book Circus of the Scars/get a copy. It is one of the
best on the current sideshow scene.


The creative team of Knotty Bits returned with their new comedy snake act. Most snake
acts are of the sensuous charmer type. Gwyd the Unusual and Silver Frye have come up
with a comedy twist using an eight foot python! Sylver also presented her balancing act
performed while standing on three long stemmed wine glasses. Beautiful! Both the act
and the gal!


Colorful Chris McDaniel received a standing ovation for his "Western Arts Act" which
featured gun slinging, whips and lassos. This wonderful, warm personality also sang
western favorites.


John Shaw entertained with his popular magic and provided the excellent sound system
used throughout the three days.


Professor Sprocket [John Spitzer] demonstrated how to pitch the fish girl. It was a
surprising lesson for some of the new-comers.


Steve Hyde and Melaine presented the double escape. Melaine was in a strait jacket and
locked inside a canvas bag. She escaped both in record time.


Harley Newman wowed them with his four spiked nail board. He is unbelievable.
Professor Fountain revived the old Chapeau act and Jim Stillano did his colorful juggling
act.


Diane Falk, Jim Mundie, James Taylor, Al Stencil, Pete Genovese, Stan Mayre, Rod Houston,
Professor Ouch, Bob Blackmar and Walt Hudson shared sideshow history.

 

Dick Johnson and Doc Wilson [Paul Szauter] received well earned awards for their contributions to the
sideshow arts. Both also performed admirable acts.
Toni Lee exhibited her beautiful side show banners.


Col. Hunsley shared his freak animal show and Tyler Frye his Drug Abuse blow off attraction.


One of the highlights of the convention was the "group blockhead" stunt where 20
performers all took the stage at the same time and presented their versions of the stunt
while being photographed.


Great memories! See you down the road!

 

All photographs by Christine Perry copyright 2009 all rights reserved

1- Prof. Sprocket and Walt Hudson

2- Reggie Bugmucher


 


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