Tallon Crawford - Bat Boy -
When did you
first become interested in the sideshow?
Ah, it was the year I went out with
How old were you when you went out on
I was twenty-seven.
What year was that?
2001, no it was 2002 maybe, Ya! 2002.
Did you ever have an opportunity to see
one of Jeffís shows before you joined
No, he doesn't like doing the fairs on
the West Coast. The area where we live
isn't the best for the sideshow
How did you meet Jeff Murray?
Jeff's son was with one of my friends.
They had a baby together so his
granddaughter is my friendsí daughter.
She was living there so I just started
talking with Jeff and he asked me to go
out with him.
What was it that caught your interest
when Jeff asked you to do the show?
thought the travel would be great and it
was going to be pretty good money. I
needed to get out of town. I was getting
into a little trouble and wanted to get
out of Dodge you know! I really had a
good time and learned a lot. It was good
for me to be out there.
What was it about you that Jeff thought
would work for his show?
A: I think he just saw an
opportunity so we ran with it. I don't
know. He was getting bored with the West
Coast (you know) and the things he was
doing there. He just wanted to do
something different and we both saw an
Q: What was the inspiration
for the Bat Boy Show? Was it your idea?
A: We were all just sitting
around trying to think of what character
I could be. It was my friend that made
the suggestion and said why don't you
just be Bat Boy? I said all right.
Q: Did you have tattoos at
the time and do you think it may have
had something to do with her suggestion?
A: Ya! I had been getting
tattoos for a long time. It may have
inspired her idea for the Bat Boy
your first spot and why did Jeff pick
We came through Peoria, Illinois first.
We were trying to make some money on the
way out to New
So our first stop was in Peoria here in
Peoria was your first spot. What was the
turnout like and how did people react to
It was a really bad fair. They lost on
that spot. It was in a bad area and
nobody came to the fair because it got
rained out. But
it was good for me
because it kind of got me eased into
things. It was my first time and
most of the
people liked me. In fact most of them
came back time after time.
So Peoria was the very first time you
appeared. How did you feel about being
on that show?
It was odd, but it was all right. I'm
not used to, like dealing with a lot
of people. You know like, pretty much a
customer service basis. I was in the
spotlight and it was kind of strange for
me to be there.
How long was it before you started to
It was just a couple of days, then
things became easier for me.
Can you give me some idea of what the
show was like?
It was a Single O with a banner line. We
had a tape bally and we changed it a few
times. When we
out it was kind of outrageous so we
softened it a little.
Do you remember what the first bally
The first one started out about my
parents being missionaries down in South
America. They got attacked by a large
bat while my mom was pregnant with me.
After I was born she got sick and died,
but I was born with a lot of bat traits,
you know. The attack was what started
the metamorphosis. It was like the old
ballyís, you know, the elephant manís
mother being scared. I think that was
kind of what a lot of the others were
like. Their motherís were scared by some
kind of animal.
You mentioned that you had to change
that bally a few times. What changes
did you make and why?
People nowadays aren't as naÔve. They
didn't believe that spiel and we got
tired of them telling us about it. So we
softened it a little and made it more
believable. The changes made it sound
like it could almost be real.
What were the changes you made to make
it more believable?
Well, when I was a baby I got bit by a
bat while I was living in the desert in
Nevada. I got sick, then my features
started to change and all that, you
know. People started saying woo, well
maybe, just maybe that might have
After you left Illinois where was the
show headed? Was New England your next
Ya, but we broke down in New York.
Jeff's motor home, you know, the engine
blew out. They had to sleep
their Blazer and I stayed in my pop-up
trailer. It was in Hamburg, New York
close to the Erie fair. We tried to get
a spot on the Erie fair but it was all
booked. It was ready to happen within
the next two days. We were stuck there
for like a week so we were just looking
for a fair to do and try to make some
money. So we found one in Rochester,
New York. We did the fair there and we
actually did pretty good.
While you were working that fair did you
come across any other Single O's or
Not too many. We had one with the
shortest lady and she was the only human
show. We did have some animals.
in Peoria they had a Sideshow at that
fair. It was Ward Hallís World of
Wonders. Ward was there with Molotov
and all of them. It was really cool for
them to be at my first show. They gave
me the heads up and so on. Other than
that they were the only ones.
You have mentioned that the World of
Wonders Sideshow was on the midway when
you played Peoria. Who did you meet
while the show was there and what was
your experience with them?
I met little Pete and you know Bruce the
big guy, he wasnít very talkative, but
mostly I hung out with Molotov and
Felicity. While I was in Alabama to
catch up with my girl friend Wardís show
was there, so I did get the opportunity
to do the electric chair for him. That
was their last spot for the season so I
did it a couple of times. It was kind
What was the best experience you had
while you worked the show?
think meeting all of the people. Some
places were just really accepting and
cool. One town, it was Rochester, New
Hampshire, it was like the best town
because everyone was like, I became an
idol. I couldn't even go around town
without people stopping me, like a
celebrity almost. I went to the local
high school and went to the lunchroom
and met all the kids. They were
like ďYAY! There is Bat Boy.Ē It was
like King Papa came in or something like
Thereís a Weekly Tabloid that claims to
have a Bat Boy. While you were on the
road did you have any problems with
people telling you that you weren't the
real Bat Boy or at least not the one in
that Weekly Tabloid?
few people asked me if the Bat Boy in
the paper was me. I told them no he is a
fake and that I am the real one. They
were like Ya, OK....
What were some things that you didn't
like about being on the road and why?
Some people thought I was
being held against my will. They would
say, (you know how in the old days
people thought that they would hold
people with disabilities against their
will and made to do things.) I would
tell them I'm not being held against my
will. I'm making more money than you
are probably. They would ask me if I
was sure I was all right? It got old,
so after a while me and Jeff just told
them it was my business that I owned the
Sideshow and they worked for me. They
would say oh I guess that's OK.
would tell them to leave me alone. I'm
the one who is doing this. That was
about all. No one really hassled me or
anything like that. I became friends
with a lot of the people on the lot.
They loved me and would tell me that if
anything happened to just whistle. You
know how on the carnivals we build those
little communities. I became tight with
everybody and no one messed with our
tent or trailers or anything.
How large was your top? Was it a pit
think it was a ten by ten. Yes it was a
pit show. It had three walls around it
and the other side had just two bars. I
would just slip through the bars, and go
into the area where I was exhibiting and
sit in my chair.
When people came into the show, what
kind of reaction did you get? Were many
of them shocked at your appearance?
Not really, but the way we had it set
up, some of the people thought it was
just fake, a gaff, that it was just
something in a little glass jar or they
were going to be duped or something.
The way it was set up on the
it looked like I was kneeling down ready
to jump at somebody, but I was just
sitting in my chair. They would come
around the corner, saying like Ya, Ya
it's going to be this or that. Then
they would see me and some of them would
jump or fall down, I guess I surprised
What kind of costume did you wear for
just dressed in black with a collared
shirt. I only had the one pitch card and
it shows a little of how I dressed.
You sold your own pitch cards on the
inside. Did you get to keep all of the
money you made on the sale your cards?
split the money with Jeff
half and half.
Did you work a percentage on the show
No, I was paid a flat weekly rate. He
just paid me $500.00 a week. I also made
about $150.00 or $200.00 dollars on the
pitch at each fair.
What would you say your overall
experience was that season and would you
like to go on the road again?
really had a good experience. I would
love to go back on the road, but I have
a baby now so I need to take care of
her. Maybe when she gets older I could
go back out on the road. But Ya, I would
like to do that.
Were you able to work the show for the
whole season? There were some rumors
going around that you left the show
No I didnít leave early. I worked the
whole season with Jeff and we finished
up our season in Topsfield, Mass.
understand you met a young lady on the
road and fell in love. Could you share a
little about how and where you met her?
Yes, I met her in Marshfield, Mass. It
was the first spot on the New England
route. She and one of her friendís were
walking around the fair. They saw my
show and said what the heck is Bat Boy?
Neither one of them had enough money to
get in the show, so Jeff just let them
come in. We started hanging out for the
rest of the show. Now we have a baby.
After you and your girlfriend met what
kind of experiences did you have
We went separate ways for a
while. She went through Michigan and
Alabama and I stayed out in New England.
After we got together in Alabama,
we got tattoos together. After we got
our tattoos we were driving back to the
fair grounds and came upon this five-car
pile up. She got out of our car and
started to help to save other people
that had been in the accident.
No one from EMS had arrived.
There were just the people that were
involved in the accident. They were all
over the place. Many were hurt and one
guy was dead.
As we were trying to help, more
cars were piling into the accident. It
was late at night and on the bend of the
I was standing there and a tire
came off of one of the cars and came
rolling past me almost hitting me.
It was kind of scary!
Was she working one of the shows at the
When she came to see me, she was working
on a tiger training show. It's an
educational show where they inform the
public about tigers and the importance
of saving them. It's a tiger refuge.
People could take pictures with tiger
cubs and other stuff like that. After
the season was over I went down to
Alabama to hang out with her. Her
season was almost over. She only had two
more fairs. At the end of her run, we
met a guy that ran a reptile show and he
gave me a little job. We traveled with
him for a couple more fairs. Then we
went to Puerto Rico with that show but
we had to come back early because the
show was doing very badly. It was a bad
fair season out there so we left because
the guy wasn't making any money. When
we got back we found out she was
pregnant. We went to Chicago, that's
where her familyís from. I didn't want
to go back
California. I'm from Fresno. That's
right by where Jeff lives. So we stayed
want to ask you again what was the
strangest thing that happened while you
The Strangest thing!
Well, we were on a very tight tour, so
not too much, you know only the Carny
stuff, like staying up too late and
getting drunk and getting in fights,
things like that.
Not sure if
this is strange, but Steven Tyler came
through my show. He is the guy from
You know he is from Marshfield,
Mass. He came through the show with his
son and daughters. When he came in, it
brought in about fifty kids that had
been following him around. I said thatís
cool you can come in anytime. Everybody
had to pay to get in.
When he came in and everyone
followed him we made a lot of money.
What did Steven Tyler have to say to
He shook my hand and said nice tattoos.
Where did you get them? I was like out
in California. He said thatís where I
got mine. It looked like he was getting
harassed by all of the kids that were
following him around.
What kind of security did he have while
he was in your show?
He had a couple of really big bouncers
Before you entered show business, did
you ever want to work in the Sideshow?
No, I had never even seen a Sideshow
before. I always had an interest in
doing things strange, because of my
uniqueness, you know, I always thought I
might be able to profit off of it or
maybe I could exhibit myself.
What did your family think of you
working in the Sideshow Industry?
Most of my family didnít know what I was
getting myself into. My grandmother knew
because she was from New England and had
seen sideshows. She would say, I
remember back in those days when I had
seen Lobster Boy. She is from Boston.
She was the only one that knew anything
about it. The rest of my family had no
idea. As long as we lived in Fresno
there has never been a Sideshow. They
were all born and raised there. They
were like what are you doing? I told
them I was just getting tired of the
same old routine and that
needed to do something different.
Since you have worked in the Sideshow
Industry, what have you learned about
the history of the Sideshow and how has
it helped you in understanding show
have been reading a couple of books that
Jeff had given me. My whole house is
covered in Sideshow Memorabilia. I think
Sideshows are cool. I have been to the
fair here since I have been off the
show. Ziock had his museum show at the
fair with a two faced cow, Chupacabra,
Cyclops and a lot of other stuff. He
told me that he has heard of you. The
Chupacabra he had looked like a deer
butt. I said to Roxiey you know that
looks just like a deer butt. I think it
was. He had some other cool stuff like
an albino and a two head turtle that
were both alive.
Do you have any plans on going back out
on the road? If so, would you frame your
No, not right away. It would be cool to
frame my own show, but you know with the
baby to take care I canít do anything
like that right now. Itís hard when you
have a family.
So what are your plans for your
Just to be Dad for a while, maybe when
sheís older I could go out for a summer.
There are a lot of fairs here in the
summer. Last year we were like vendors
and sold novelties at the fairs. We
worked five of the fairs around here. We
did the Italian fair down town and made
some pretty good money.
Is there anything you would like to say
to the folks in the show world, family
Yes, It was the funniest time of my life
and I hope everyone is having fun and
making a lot of money.
Photographs courtesy of Harmur Shows,
Mark Frierson and Tallon Crawford
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