Q:  Lee would you take a few moments to introduce yourself to our readers?

LK:  I'm the guy that may just teach you a thing or two about Show Biz...
 

Background and Family



Q: Let's start at the beginning, how did it all get started for you?

LK: One of my earliest childhood memories is of riding among Circus wagons bouncing along on the flatcars of the Show Train crossing the Alps. I was already a seasoned veteran, a cosmopolitan world traveler, and a working Showman at the age of three...

 

Q: You say one of your first memories was riding among Circus Wagons, and your were already a seasoned veteran, a cosmopolitan world traveler, and a working Showman at the age of three.  Would you give us more background of what your experiences were at that time of your life?

LK: A whirlwind of travel and adventure. An overdose of global culture. Gorging myself on strange languages and customs, at an endless smorgasbord of humanity. All still shell shocked and recovering from the greatest war on earth. A common denominator of wounded humanity stretching across Europe, desperately seeking to escape the bitter memories of a war that destroyed all fun. We brought fun. We were heroes arrived to save the day…

Q: All still shell shocked and recovering from the greatest war on earth. What did your family do during the war, did they perform, teach etc. and what effect did the war have on the circus?

LK: Conscripted to serve the war machine of the Nazis under occupation, they served the Allies in the underground. All between practice sessions at the school gymnasium...

Q:  We brought fun. We were heroes arrived to save the day…from your perspective what impact did your show have on the population. Was it healing, a diversion, etc.

LK: Postwar Europe was ragged. Circuses were immensely popular. People seemed happy at the shows...

Iron Curtain Circuses accomplished the same effect in the East...

Popular shows are always good for public morale...

Much of my knowledge of this era is gathered from stories told by my parents...

I actually remember things like riding my bicycle around the big top and unexpectedly finding my way blocked by a train of rolling cages, filled with snarling wild an
imals all pissed off about the bumpy ride from the train yard to the showgrounds. Some gilly was yelling at me in Polish. I managed to stop the brakeless two-wheeled contraption despite his best efforts to distract me. Without my ability to focus and get the job done, I could have easily ended up under the wheels like cat meat...

Q:  When did your family leave Europe and come to the United States?

LK: Late fifties I believe…

Q: What was the reason they came to America?

LK: Opportunity…

Q: Ah yes, America the land of opportunity. What was it that your parents were looking for and did they find it? IF so, is the opportunity still available today?

LK: They simply wished to prosper by entertaining others…

They met with enormous success…

Their grandkids all still participate in and own part of the family Circus…

The family now has more show than we can operate at any given moment…

We are offered more opportunities than we have time to fulfill…

There are greater opportunities in the world of entertainment than ever before…

Q:  At one time or the other most of us have thought we wanted to run off and join the circus. In your case you did.  What influence did your family have on you and did they encourage or warn you against working in the industry?

LK: I have never "run off and joined" anything...

Show business has always been my life. I grew up backstage at the finest shows around the world. I studied the art firsthand from an early age. My school day was scheduled around show times. My classroom doubled as a dressing room…

My parents were educated people, they both held degrees, my father was an instructor at a prestigious Circus School in Budapest. They both took Show Business very seriously. They encouraged me to study and learn, and warned me to distrust authority and convention...

To me, there is no "Industry," all of Show Biz is an interrelated field of study...

Q:  Show business has always been my life, I studied the art firsthand from an early age, my school day was scheduled around show times.  Would you explain what it was like to spend your days with the circus, and does it differ from the experience your children have today? 

LK: We were lousy with fun… A thrill-a-minute… Never-a-dull-ll-ll-moment… This is according to my troupe of offspring who are now poised on the springboard. Pretty well sums up what I remember. It must go with the route...

Nobody would believe the amount of misery one must endure to create all the fun...

My kids know precisely…

Q:  Have your children followed you into the business?

LK:  So far, every one of my kids has, at one time or another, traveled with a show, performed in the Circus, sold tickets, made a pitch, spun cotton candy, studied between shows, worked with wild animals, took part in hitching a truck to a trailer, loading props, and all the many things that go with Circus life, and they all perceive Show Business as insiders…

My eldest son is currently on the road, operating several family owned show productions at major entertainment events…


Q: Nobody would believe the amount of misery one must endure to create all the fun. Most of us have heard the term, You've got to pay your due, if you want to play the blues.  What dues does a showman have to pay? Why and how long?

LK: Constant and never ending. And that's just the privilege...

Forget retirement...

No health and dental plan either...

Q:   "I wasn't born a freak. I became one. Not a freak of nature, I was a cultured freak." Could you give me some background about this statement, and how it has affected your life?

LK: What people commonly refer to as "freaks of nature" are merely abnormalities created by genetic or other factors, What I refer to as, "a cultured freak", is an abnormality created by social and cultural conditions...

Freaks usually tend to regard themselves as quite normal, and others as being different We all feel more comfortable around people with whom we share something in common, I am most comfortable in the company of Showpeople, a group which society considers freakish at best...

Q: Showpeople a group which society considers freakish at best. Why do you say that and what are some of the reasons?

LK:  The front pages of the supermarket tabloids feature scandals, mass murderers, the morbidly obese, Bigfoot and Elvis sightings, Royalty, Freaks, and of course, Showpeople…

Q:  I know with your children you have had 3 generations in the industry, What has been the biggest challenges working with your family and why?

LK: Working with one's family is the way God intended for society to be. The finest cultures and greatest civilizations in human history have been family centered. Primitive cultures have always been all about the family...

I truly admire the Amish, they live in an iconoclastic society much like Showpeople...

The biggest threat to the family is now government and the school system. Both force feed values to people which serve the agenda of the system and stifle both creativity and individualism...

To homogenize, is essentially to destroy...

The educational system now consists largely of people who don't understand the material, checking to see if others who can't understand it, are able to repeat portions of it verbatim...

The purpose of education today seems to be to program people to be manageable, when it fails, the task falls to the incarceration industry...

Q: To homogenize, is essentially to destroy. I have given this a lot of thought, are these a few of the things you mean, to make the same, to make uniform, to make politically correct, to make manageable and to destroy all of what makes us all individuals. How do you feel this has affected today's culture and what are your thoughts about what the future holds for us?



LK: Mass media and communication have created a lemming like society of mindless imitation, which suppresses originality and individuality. People thirst for spontaneity and unpredictability. Adventure is what they're looking for. People don't want to watch a film, they want to live it…

Q:  To incarcerate, to take away freedom if one does not comply. Throughout history this has been something that human kind has been faced with. How has that affected your family and do you feel that because we haven't learned from the past we are destined to repeat it?

LK: I meant simply that every prison cell contains an example of school and family failure…

Q:  Let's step back in your history, how has what happened to your parents affected your feeling about the government and its effect on individual and the family in today's world?

LK: I am not anti-government. I like good roads and good schools. I just wish that they'd deliver…

 

Sideshows & Show Business



Q: What are some of the shows you've framed for yourself and others?

LK: I have created many different Show productions for both the Circus and the Sideshow, and I cannot recall ever having created a complete Show for anyone other than for myself or my family these projects are too large for most individuals to conceive. I have occasionally sold surplus equipment or supplied components to other Showmen, but I can't remember ever framing a complete Show for anyone...

Q:  I'm a little confused. It's my understanding that you have sold shows in the past including the Smallest Horse and the Biggest Pig show?

LK: The Little Horse Show that pioneered the center of the midway "Barn Design" was lost as collateral in a disastrous business transaction intended to finance a Circus tour…


I never got to operate The Giant Pig Show on the antique Chevrolet farm truck. It was an incomplete prop when it was sacrificed in order to acquire capital due to financial losses in the overall operation…

Q:  What shows have you framed for your family and how is it working with your brother Pete?

LK: Half a hundred show productions all sacrificed to Chaos on the field of battle...

I have a list somewhere...

Pete hates to work nearly as much as I do, so consequently, when we get together we never work...

Q: What is your favorite?

LK: Without exception it is always the current project...

Q:  Looking back on your past sideshows/ grindshows, which one are you most proud of and why?

LK: I am proudest of the bally work I did on my dad's ten-in-one back in the seventies…

Q: I know you have had a few shows out on the road over the last few seasons, What are your current projects and what are some of your plans for the next few season?

LK:  I am trying to re-mortgage the farm in order to finance the framing of a girl show, and I'm hoping to avoid eating up all the profits!

Q: A girl show, is your plan to frame a old style girl show, how do you think a girl show will sell today with the openness and sexual mind sets. And why?

LK: Yes, I plan to give it away, for the candy pitch...

And the satisfaction...

Q:  And the satisfaction, could you explain to the reader what you mean by the satisfaction?

LK: Same as the candy pitch, boys and girls, it's all so cotton candy good, fresh made and deelicious…

Q:  Is it because they were moneymakers or did they provide you with satisfaction?


LK: It has never been about the money I have never been obsessed with the accumulation of wealth I am not impressed with large amounts of money.  Any moron inheriting enough money can be a millionaire until it finally runs out...

Each show production was an experiment created to test a theory, It was all in the pursuit of a lifelong study of Showmanship. Both the art and the science of Showmanship is only dimly understood. Much of what exists today is simply primitive hit and miss shooting in the dark…

Some Masters of the Art have developed an instinctive grasp of it, but it is largely by conjecture. I wish to develop a knowledge based on scientific research and experimentation. Create and then establish, a curriculum which can be taught, and teach others to teach it, Then found a school, which, ideally, will produce great Showmen...

Civilization has evolved and now needs better entertainment The real entertainment is not in the watching of the show, but rather in the putting on of the show and making it good enough for people to come to, pay for, and sit through...

Interactive is the popular trend in entertainment now, things people can see and do. People want more fun. They want to be seen having fun...

The most interactive and coolest thing one can do is to put on a show. It commands attention It wins applause It excites envy It's got it all...

This requires training. It costs way more to be in the show, than to buy a ticket to watch the show, but it's way more fun, a greater experience, more real...

When everyone learns this, everyone is gonna wanna be a freak...

I believe that I have a bright future as the Ph.D. of Showmanship…

Q:  Both the art and the science of Showmanship is only dimly understood. Would you give us some insight into what you mean by dimly understood?

LK: If we fail to master the art and science of having fun, at least as well as we've perfected CPR, then we will all die of boredom…

Q: As an example of the thought process and research that goes into framing a show, would you take one of your popular grindshows and explain what went into it's design and why it works?

LK:  Only a lifetime spent learning about what people like and how to sell it to them…

I like to bring out original work. Something which can enter the field without opposition. This way I get a few years to recoup my investment before the copycats catch on and jump on the bandwagon…

Q:  You say it's never been about the money. I understand that from an artistic viewpoint but isn't a major element in judging the success of a sideshow/ grindshow its ability to draw large numbers of paying patrons? 

LK: Most Show Business ventures are intended to make money…

More Show Business ventures fail than thrive. Broadway sees more closed shows than long running hits. Hollywood has produced more films, which died at the box office, than blockbusters.


Circuses, overall, play to more chair backs than to straw houses…
In the Outdoor Entertainment Industry, it is a universally accepted fact that we make ninety percent of our money in ten percent of the time …


When, and only when, conditions are right, is it able to make a great deal of money. As with a rifle at the shooting gallery, there are more ways to miss than to hit the target…

I don't even want to get into how fast the costs eat up the profits…

Basically, you have to either love it or get away from it…

Q:  Can you explain more about mastering the art and science of having fun?

LK: I have developed a plan to crank it out like sausage...

I'm working on the marketing…

Q:  It costs way more to be in the show, what are some of the costs and risks of being in the show and Why?

LK:  At the worst death or prison...

At the best, all manner of headaches including hard work, discomfort, stress, financial instability, etc…

It's not just a job, it's not a career, it's not a profession, it's not a way of life…

I believe that it's a disease…

Q:  You say you believe it a disease other showfolks have told me it's in the blood, is there a cure, what would it be or do we even need a cure?

LK: I despair of a cure, and I now wish to infect as many as possible...

Q:  Civilization has evolved and now needs better entertainment, in today's world we are over stimulated, what was once wonder is now over looked for a temporary fix and then on the next fad.  Is the evolution in rediscovering the wonder and being amazed again? 
 

LK: Mass media entertainment has us over stimulated and under involved. Live entertainment is up close and personal, it fully absorbs one's interest. It is an adventure. It is real. Real is better than fake…

A great adventure always leaves you better than it found you…

In the audience, the spectator marvels at the act on stage…In the act, the actor marvels that it's working on the audience… Both are having fun…

 

Q: It sounds like you have enjoyed the fun, what is it that you have enjoyed

the most about being part of show business?

 

LK: The travel, it never gets old…

Q: What do you like least? and Why?

LK: The travel gets old, with endless miles of driving, you never ever really get there, 'cause almost as soon as you're there, it's time to go somewhere else…

Q: Any Regrets? If so what, if no why?

LK:  I wish I had paid more attention, I can't seem to remember everything I think I know…

 

The Punk


 
Q:  I have heard rumored, that at some point along the road you acquired Lew Dufour’s two-headed punk that was displayed at the 1933 Chicago’s “Century of Progress”. Could you tell us about acquiring it and your interest in the piece?    (Lee, if this is an area you would not like to discuss in the interview I understand. Are the facts correct in the question?)
 

LK:
 I've always been a bit of a horse trader, but this was entirely accidental, or coincidental, possibly fate...

I purchased a show trailer for back storage charges from a Showman's winter quarters in Gibtown. The owner had passed away in a rest home in Tampa. I used to visit him occasionally. You know, one of those places for the indigent, with the stench of public housing permeating the building to it's foundations. Urine soaked hallways of doom leading to cubicle sized waiting rooms for the crematory. I dropped off Billboards and cut up jackpots and picked old Doc's brain. I was one of three people who visited him...

I came in off the road one November, and in my mailbox was a letter informing me that Doc had made his last show. An earlier letter from him included the title to the trailer. I still have it . It was an open title, it had never been transacted. It has the signature of Lou Dufour at the bottom. The trailer was filled with all manner of Show Biz artifacts. I really had no idea what the contents were. It took weeks to mine through it all. I was surprised to find the punk in there...

 

Present & Future



Q: How would you like other showmen to remember you? Why?

LK:  As a good capable Showman. I've heard one or two say I'm probably capable of anything…

Q:  I have read that Bobby Reynolds wanted "Screw you, I got your dollar" put on his tombstone. What would you like inscribed on yours?

LK: Nothing quite yet…

Maybe…

"Finally…Top Billing"…
"At liberty, contact my agent"…
"Who booked this stiff?"…
"Held over by popular demand"…
"Return engagement Planned"…
"Out booking new territory"…

Regardless of what goes on the marquee, if I can't play heaven, I'll do my best to pack the house in hell…

Q:  Would you share with us what changes you have witnessed during your lifetime in the outdoor entertainment business?

LK:  It's getting so big it's scary…

SSW: It might be interesting to see an expanded answer to this question.)

LK:
More people are alive today than at any time in human history. If one were able to take persons from different cultures, at different times in history, and do a side by side comparison, one would undoubtedly find that there exist far more similarities than differences...

This simply means that people haven't really changed. The numbers have...

They still love the Circus. Just as the Romans did. They still love the Theatre. Just as the Greeks did. The Midway is the new Circus. Cash is the new applause. The masses have spoken...


Q:  What are your plans for the future?

LK: To ride the waves of sweeping change in the coming revolution in the lively arts, like Elvis driving into town in a solid gold Rolls Royce…

Q: There seems to be a lot in the media about sideshows today, What do you think is in the future for sideshows?  Why?

LK:  A renewed interest, due largely to the staleness of popular culture today…

Q:  What other interests do you have?

LK:   Writing, Photography, Art, Music, Staying Alive…

Q: You've given many newcomers to the business advice about how to make more money by improving the front, advertising, etc. in a business that has been known for its secretive nature, this is unusual to say the least?  Why?

LK: A poor show is bad for everyone…


       A Great Show is Great for everyone…

 

Interviewed by John Robinson & Rick West

 


        


  

1. Header by JR Robinson

 

Photographs courtesy of Lee Kolozsy

   2. Lee Kolozsy back stage

   3. Lee's Parents doing a casting act

   4. A young Lee with the convicts

   5. Cirko Productions

   6. The Giant Pig Show on the antique Chevrolet farm truck<<Selection in Document>>

   7. Headless Woman Show at Lollapalooza 96

   8. SSW news, by JR Robinson - Photograph  Kolozsy's teeterboard acrobatics

   9. Pickled Punks

  10. Head Stone by JR Robinson

 

 


Each month we will try and interview a new performer for the site.  Because of the logistics of it face to face interviews are tough to come by.  A good percentage of the interviews we will be doing will be via e-mail or telephone.  If you are interested in being interviewed for the site drop us a line.

 

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