SSW: What brought you to the “Big Circus Sideshow“

 

JOSH:  I answered an ad placed by the Curator on Sideshow World‘s web site. I had just finished my Ren fair season and thought I could fill in some time…Unfortunately, for the Ren Fairs I stayed here!

 

SSW: How old were you when you joined the BCS?

 

JOSH: Mmm…twenty-three.

SSW: Out of all the many career choices you could have chosen, what would lead a young man of your age to want to work on the sideshow?

 

JOSH: Well, there was a warrant out on me, my parents were raggin on me to get a job, my girlfriend was knocked-up, my dog ran away and my tab with the local...Hey wait a minute, this isn’t going on the internet is it? LOL!

 

SSW: Sure, A lot of folks think that's why someone would run away and join the show.

But those who are "with-it" (or in the know) understand the real reasons.

 

It's in the Blood!!!!!!!!!!!

 

JOSH: Seriously, I was just trying to fill in time between Ren Fairs. With all the talk of sideshows dying, I thought now would be a good time to experience the sideshow first hand before it was too late. Plus, I thought it would be a adventure and I could possibly make some new contacts. I learned the sideshow isn’t dying. There are still ambitious showmen who are willing to sacrifice and take calculated risks.

 

SSW: How long have you been with the BCS?

 

JOSH: I first signed on in…February of ‘06

 

 

 

SSW: What was your first impression of the Curator (Owner of the BCS)?

 

JOSH: He was wearing a cool cowboy hat! (Curator was wearing his dads hat) And he made me feel right at home. I thought…hey this might be OK.

 

SSW: I heard you considered teaming up with the “World of Wonders” before you

decided to join the BCS. Could you tell us a little about that?

 

JOSH: There was also an ad for WOW on SSW. However, the Curator called back first.

 

SSW: You said the Curator called first. What if Mr. Hall had called first, do you believe you would still be with WOW?

 

JOSH: Umm…I’m not sure. However, I can tell you this, if I signed with WOW, I’d have finished the season ...I’m no quitter!

 

SSW: What are your duties on the BCS?

 

 

JOSH: Everything! When I first arrived the Curator threw me in a truck with a trailer and said “DRIVE”. I had never pulled a trailer before. As I learned, he threw more and more responsibilities my way…from taking care of the animals, to setting up and tearing down the show. I work the ballys , sell tickets, fix and fabricate, and have even been the “patch“ (person who squares beefs) for disgruntled patrons. But the first thing he taught me was….never finger the boss!

 

SSW: You have done a lot of traveling since signing on with the BCS. Where have your travels taken you?

 

JOSH: From Morriston Fl. to Texas, as far north as Wisconsin, as far west as Utah and as far south as Miami. Of course, there were all those place in between.

SSW: How has your idea of what a sideshow is changed since you first started working on the BCS?

 

JOSH: I really didn’t know what to expect. I thought it would be a adventure and I’d be able to polish my routines. Although I knew it would be hard work, I had no idea it would be as much as it is! The show consumes most of my time. Even when we are not open the animals need to be cared for, the trucks need to be serviced and checked, and banners need to be touched up or repaired. And heaven forbid the Curator needs cigarettes or coffee. I also thought I would be performing a lot more. I soon found out performing was the least of my duties. The ticket box and animal care comes first.


SSW: What was the first sideshow you remember seeing?

 

JOSH: I believe it was John Strong’s show at the Tankeverde swap meet in Tucson…I was 10 at the time.

 

SSW: Is that when you became interested in sideshows?

 

JOSH: Yes, the banners, raised my curiosity so I begged my parents for a buck to go in. Even though the banners didn’t match the attractions I was hooked.

 

SSW: Are any of you family involved in outdoor entertainment? Have they been supportive of your sideshow work?

 

JOSH: No, none are in the entertainment field. My Parents are very supportive, in fact they both ordered BCS bowling shirts. Also my cousin Lloyd travels with the show when he’s on summer break from college.

 

SSW: How many months a year are you on the road?

 

JOSH: Almost eleven months.

 

SSW: That a long season. What is the best part of being on the road?

 

JOSH: The people you meet, and their stories. 

 

SSW: And the worst?

 

JOSH: Driving thru Montana and North Dakota…long and boring!

 

SSW: What do you do in your spare time…if you have any?
 

JOSH: I paint banners and  buy guitars at pawn shops that I fix up and resell a few towns down the road for extra money.

 

SSW: Who are some of the people you have met on the road and how have they influenced you?
 

JOSH: Ward and Chris…showed me age isn’t a factor if your hearts in it.

 

John Robinson…encouraged me to “Keep the Candle Burning”

 

Jimmy Hall…keeps me humble by reminding me I’m a idiot, yet pushes me to do better.


Frank Rooney…great for stories and history of the old days.

 

Rick West…helps critique my ideas and encourages me.

 

Dutch the Clown…taught me plate-spinning and where the good titty bars are in S.E. Wisconsin.


Jeff and Cheryl from Funny Farm…supportive and enthusiastic.


Mephisto…taught me how a true Pro should operate when doing a act.

 

And other show guys like Pete and Lee Koloszy, John Strong, Gatorman, Matt and Felicity, 999 eyes, and many, many more that made me feel apart of the Sideshow Community.

 

SSW: Tell us about the sideshow acts you can perform?

 

JOSH: When I was fourteen I taught myself to juggle, then I learned rolla-bola, fire eating, blockhead, bed-o-nails, glass walk, sword ladder, all the standards except sword swallowing, it never interested me. I worked Ren fairs, corporate gatherings, and two birthday parties…wherever I could find work.

 

SSW: Are you working on any new acts?

 

JOSH: Since I’ve been with the BCS I learned unicycle (Jimmy Hall) and I am currently learning western rope spinning.

SSW: Where do you see your future in sideshow…showman, performer, or both?


JOSH:  Showman first, because a showman can do it all. However, I still enjoy performing. By being a showman I can control my own destiny and not be limited to the aspect called applause.  

 

SSW: We keep hearing that sideshows on the midway are on their last leg. What is your take on this situation?

 

JOSH:  All I can say, every town I have been in the last two years has had a big tented sideshow!

 

SSW: I understand you paint banners…who are some of the banner painters you have studied?

 

JOSH:  The Curator gave/loaned me the book “Freaks, Geeks and strange Girls” I really enjoy the different styles of Fred Johnson, and Snap Wyatt, Jack Cripe.


SSW: Who is your favorite banner painter?

 

JOSH: I enjoy looking at all banner painter’s work and I like aspects of all of them…but I’d have to say Jim Hand is a favorite of mine because I know him personally and have spent many hours watching him paint and listening to his volumes of show stories. Jim is one of top show letterers. And when it comes to telling show stories he’s second to none. He has also given me invaluable banner painting tips.
 

SSW: Banners …vinyl or canvas?

 

JOSH: Vinyl, canvas would be better for re-sale, but I’m on a budget and I need longevity.


SSW: Do you have a jackpot or two you would like to share with us?

 

JOSH: Last year at Manitowoc County Fair, Rick West who was playing the same spot heard we were going to re-pickle some of the jars and suggested we all get photos with the 2-headed baby before we put him back in the jar. Thinking it was good idea, the Curator called his brother who lives 50 miles away and works in the medical field to bring over some scrubs and a stethoscope when he visited. So that morning, we all were taking turns putting on the scrubs and getting our pictures taken on the outside bally while the show was open! While Rick was posing, Lloyd said to me, “This is SO wrong!” But when I asked him, “Are you going to get your picture taken with the punk?” Lloyd immediately replied “Well, yea!” 

 

Want to hear another one?  

 

This year in Salt Lake, I had hooked up Meph’s wireless mike to the inside sound system for when he was performing.  Later that night we were out in front of the show and Meph was telling me stories about all the hot babes he scored in the ’70’s. Well, out runs the Curator, and asked if Meph could turn off his mike so the paying public didn’t have to hear how great the ‘70‘s were. “Listen, we run a family show!”

 

SSW: What advise would you have for other young punks (new comer/young person) just starting out?

                                                    

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

JOSH: Keep your eyes and ears open and your mouth shut! Hang around old-timers as much as you can. These old guys are itching to tell you stories and give you valuable information and all you have to do is be interested and give them a ear. 

 

SSW: Is there anyone you would like to thank?

 

JOSH: The Curator for giving me a job and challenging and pushing me to the to be the best I can, all while being supportive. And to the countless show bums and operators who have rolled out the tattered red carpet and accepted me into their world as a peer.

 

SSW: Do you have a parting shot you would like to leave us with?

 

JOSH: GTFM…“Get the F-ing money!”

 

I would like to thank Josh for taking the time to do this interview for Sideshow World.

 

Rick West Sideshow World

 

Josh's interview is terrific, because he tells it like it is!  The hard work, long jumps, equipment maintenance and all the rest that goes with being a sideshow showman.

 

I certainly admire Josh.  He has ambition, works and practices to accomplish his goals.  Many people talk of their ambitions to do something, but then aren't willing to put in the hard work and sacrifice that is necessary to achieve a goal.  That's what separates ambition and just wishful thinking, Josh is a person to watch, for he has the ability and determination to succeed at whatever he wants to do. I predict Josh will do great things. A man who is a credit to the industry.

 

Josh, I'm glad Jim answered you first for you got the right place at the right time.  Thank you Jim for being the great manager and fine person you are.  Josh, keep up the good work, your future will be glorious........

 

With best wishes,

Ward Hall

 

Header Artwork

John Robinson copyright © 2007 all rights reserved

 

Photographs

 Courtesy of Rick West copyright © 2007 all rights reserved

1   Big  Circus Sideshow

3   Josh refreshing one of the BCSs banners

4   Josh standing at the entrance of the BCS

5   Josh reading on his unicycle

6   Josh juggling on his unicycle

8   Josh working on banner

9   Josh with 2 headed baby

11 Josh Bladzik

 

Courtesy of Shawnee Robinson copyright © 2007 all rights reserved

2 Josh and Jim Z  Utah State Fair 2007

Courtesy of John Robinson copyright © 2007 all rights reserved

7   Josh and Meph kicking back

10 Josh with one of his banners

 

 


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