|I LOVE carnivals!|
All the giant roller coaster ride parks and theme parks can fall in the ocean for all I care. Give me a field full of rickety rides operated by high runaways, deep fried everything, 4-H Club exhibits, elbow to elbow townfolk, demolition derby and a banner covered tent of freak show exhibits any and every day!
Don't remember exactly where this fair was when I caught it, but did meet Grady Stiles Jr, "Lobster Boy", who apparently quite a dick in real life, or at least that's what his wife and stepson claimed after they killed him a few years later (his life story, the book "Lobster Boy", has 18 used copies for 1 cent each on Amazon if you're interested). Adjacent to his tent was fat lady Suzy Farmer. For a buck or two extra I purchased signed cards from both of them. On the back of Suzy's she also wrote, "Best Wishes From Suzy Farmer Age 36 4'6' Shoes 3D". This must have been around 1987 because I found a newspaper article from the Maryland Fredrick Post by Michael Enright published while the two performers were on tour * (the * means look below for the story).
But the highlight for me was the Snake Woman (for you historians, not 100% sure that the interior shots are from the same show), a classic trick done with mirrors where you'd look down into the display to see a real living carnies head that appeared to be attached to a large faux boa constrictor body. A handpainted sign proclaimed "No Photography" but I wish I had tipped someone $5 (or just snapped away anyhow) to preserve the moment. The Snake Woman, guessing by the unshaved chin, was a man, and his sad sack slack expression and unfocused eyes made on think he was picked because he was so hung over, or still so smashed, that sitting there with an ill fitting brown wig was all he was capable of that morning. Tomorrow it might be someone else.
Oh, back when the sideshow was seedy fun!
fyi- If you enjoy these secrets, there's more- MUCH more!