Melvin Burkhart

The Man, the Magician, the Anatomical Wonder & Much More!


A Sound Tribute Part 4


by Richard Mullin

The rare recording from which this transcription came was made in 1973 at Slim Kelley’s “Museum of Natural Mistakes” on the Strates’ midway. This transcript is dedicated to showman Melvin Burkhart (1907-2001)

Carnival midway showman Ward Hall said of him: “Melvin was a great guy.  I never heard him say a bad word about anyone and I never heard anyone ever say a bad word of him.  A remarkable, wonderful way to go through life.”


Now folks, I Want to Thank You for Paying Attention to my Nonsense....


“Now folks, I want to thank you for paying attention to my nonsense.  Remember, our show consists mainly of freaks of nature and odysseys of life.  I’m not really a magician.  I’m one of the freaks or acts that appeared at the Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Odditorium.  I was the M.C. – you know what the M.C. is – the mental case!  I make a good one and I can prove it. 


Now Ripley cartooned and called me the Human Blockhead or The Painless Wonder. The reason why he called me the Human Blockhead is because I stick a perfectly ordinary household item Dddaa! into my head and I’m going to drop dead. 


I said that the other night, and some young lady looked up at me and said, ‘Never mind the ice pick, just drop dead!’ I didn’t do it.


Now if you faint easily, please, do not watch this.  Sometimes people think it’s real. Others faint easily at the sight of bbaalluudd!  AhHehHaaHaa! 

That’s a very dirty laugh. 


I’ll have it dry-cleaned. (He inserts the ice pick into his right nostril


Look! …or don’t look as the case may be. (He pushes the ice pick farther until only the handle is seen extending from his nose) HehHaaHeeHee! 


It feels good after it quits hurting.  Of course you know that must have slid right up in my head, unless it’s made of rubber (on that word he throws the ice pick down so that it sticks in the stage) …hard rubber! 


Got a hammer?


Wanna go for a drive?


I’ll drive you all the way home – head first. 


 I have… {He searches in his pocket.}


I have…  I have been pocket-picketed! Ah…

here it is! (The following sentence is spoken rhythmically while he taps on the hammer

with the spike. The clink of metal on metal is clearly heard.)


I’ve  got a ten cent spike, a fifty cent hammer and a no sense head


!  I’ll drive this spike in my head. 


Do you want to drive it? 


You got a driver’s license?


You got one! Well, drive off you bloodthirsty thing.  I was only fooling. 


I wouldn’t let anybody drive a spike that large in my head. That is silly!


Well, it is!  But if I can make you think that it looks like I do, that’s a pretty good trick, and I’m pretty good at tricks.


That’s a real spike, this is a real hammer… this is a real head. Watch! {We hear the first few taps, but he winces and stops.} Ddaa! I’ll do it anyway.


All you have to do is get a good start then you pound like he… he… the devil! {More taps follow, but this time he stops with the spike lodged halfway in!}


Whoo! Hit a bone! {He looks over the crowd, making sure they see the spike} What do you expect from a bone head? 


 You might as well look, young lady, you paid for it. 


No, I’m not going to bleed.  I guarantee if I bleed any blood, it’ll be red! {More taps and the spike is all the way in, the top is right against his nose.}


Now once you get it in there, it’s really very simple. 


All you have to do is be simple enough to do it.  And I’m just the guy who can do it too. 


And you know… young lady is that hurting you?  That’s an awful face you’ve been making. You’re not going to faint, are you?  Do you feel pale?  You can just blame it all on me. You know, this is good for a cold in the head, sinus problems, sour throat… ah… sore throat. 


I’m so glad to see that nobody has fainted -- yet. 


We had a fellow and a girl faint here.  Any of you fellows faint, we’ll revive you. 


Any of you girls faint, I’ll fall for you! Of course, I’m looking for a blonde.  I’m tired of squeezing blackheads!


Do you know anybody who might be a human blockhead and not even know it?


There’s an easy way that you can find out. 


Get you a hammer. 


Get you a spike. 


Pound it into your head. 


If it doesn’t kill you, you’re a human blockhead. {He uses the claw end of the hammer to pull out the spike. It falls to the platform with a metallic jangle.}



Now that shows you what some people will do to keep out of work – a hard way to make an easy living.”


To be continued


Images, Shocked and Amazed Volume 3 1996 Cover by Mark Frierson.

Melvin Burkhurt, Human Black Head, header from Richard Mullin's Tribute.


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