Stories from the 1981 Tennessee State Fair
By Spalding Gray




September 25. At breakfast Randy told me how the youngest Perlow boy got drunk and went off to a late-night carnival auction and bought a suit of armor for $300 and now the whole family was trying to get the money back Pierre came over to apologize for punching the Plexiglas. He said, "Gee, I just don't know what came over me." I said, "Don't worry about it. ... I'm in show business myself, and I know you were in character." Then Maurice came over, a little despondent, and said, "Three of our rabbits were stolen last night. Probably someone was hungry. You've got to lock up everything on the fairgound or it gets stolen." Then he said, "I've decided to go to Sarasota. I've thought it over, what everyone said about the geek show last night, and I've decided to go to Sarasota, Florida, and open my own church where I perform burials at sea. I'm going to call it "Feed-A-Fish," and take the bodies out beyond the twelve-mile limit and put them in a bag and weight them, perform a ceremony, and give them a proper sea burial. I think we can get something going down there."

All the carnies were pulling out of Nashville because they weren't making any money. They were going to Tulsa. They said, "If we don't make any money at the fair in Tulsa, then we'll go fishing." It didn't matter; they all had trailers and could stop anywhere. Randy and I decided to head back to New York. We said good-bye to our only friends, the geeks. I said, "Pierre, Maurice, Ellen, I'll come down and visit you in Sarasota." Maurice said, "You do that, but if you die first, send your body down. We'll give it a proper sea burial."


Photograph Inside the "blow," Nashville, Tennessee 1981 by Randal Levenson



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