Thursday, September 30, 2010
Decadence & Deviance is now on Word Press!!!
Monday, September 27, 2010
[Originally written 10.28.02]
We should have been doing the horror show this afternoon, but a whole lot of rain came by to cancel those plans. Jon has been passed the fuck out on some drug since I arrived, and I am kind of afraid to disturb him. Instead, I just helped myself to a bit of weed and have a little too much time to think.
All I can do is mull over the things that I want to do.
Trying to generate interest for the remainder of our shows via the Internet hasn’t led to much response. Is the population of this state. Or perhaps it's just that no one cares?
The more I try, the more I am disappointed. Then that thought occurs to me: Have I been cast out?
You know what? I fucking hope so.
This is the reason I want to do sideshow more than anything. Freaks. Oddities. Mistakes. Nature's cruel jokes. They had many names and many faces. They had physical abnormalities that made people stare in horror, wonder and curiosity. They were given jobs in the sideshow, people paid to see them.
While I can't say for sure that I know every sideshow treated their freaks well, I do believe it.
In a society where people would rather shun them, lock them up in a mental hospital away from the ignorant stares of others, these 'freaks' were taken in and given a home. The sideshow has virtually died out, but people are at least trying to keep this tradition alive. There are new acts, more bizarre than ever before. In an age where one can do whatever one wants with their body, there are new idols to look up to. People who chose to make themselves out of the ordinary.
The desire to join those ranks just grows and grows. To perform for the masses. To entertain. To bring shock and wonder to all who see me. With great pleasure, I will modify my body all I want, and you will all turn your little heads to stare. While you are ordinary and blend in with the rest of the useless flesh, I will stand out, because I can.
This is something that is in my blood, because I was born with sawdust in my veins. There is confidence in the fact that I can succeed, because I know all the ins and outs of show business. What to do and what not to do on stage, as presence is very important. It's all about being seen and heard to draw a crowd. If you entertain just one person, you have accomplished something.
Doing these horror shows here in South Jersey have only fueled my desire. So what if it’s just the two of us? To be quite honest, I would rather work with someone I can trust…even if he is passed out right now.
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Levi was awestruck as he silently observed her run a bristle brush through luxurious blonde curls that tumbled around her shoulders, lips humming along with the record she listened to. There was nothing his imagination could concoct that would have been able to compare to the radiant beauty who was still unaware of his presence. The light that danced on the mirror reflected off her porcelain face, the features of which could be the envy of even the most skilled artisan who would certainly fail at every attempt to capture them. Her intense green and gold eyes were framed by feathery blonde lashes, the shadows of which rested on each of her full cheeks, and those soft pink lips which had kissed the python moved in unison with the words that crackled on the phonograph. The speech perfectly planned in his head refused to be vocalized as he found his tongue to be frozen in his mouth, but he knew it was rude to just stand there staring at her with a lustful desire that made him no better than those hungry wolves who were still hooting and hollering outside.
"Excuse me," Levi managed to say after forcing the nervousness down his throat, and he dared to take a few steps towards her.
She turned around and surprise immediately seized her, hands clutching the robe so that her legs were swallowed by the red silk. "What are you doing back here?" she angrily demanded.
"Please do not be alarmed," he replied, maintaining his distance. "I was so captivated by your performance that I—"
"Thought you could have me?" she interrupted with an accusing glare. "You and every other man out there who believes I am some fantasy come true."
"No, you have it all wrong!" he protested. "My intention was not to come back here for…for a proposition." The words had tasted bitter, but Levi certainly wanted her to believe that he much different from those other men."
"Give me one good reason why I should not have Samson crush the life out of you," she said, moving towards the largest of the boxes and placing her hand on the lid. "He will not eat you, of course. Just squeeze the air from your lungs and break the bones in your body."
Levi recalled the numerous times that he had wound up in the snake pit as a special attraction at the sideshow, having to survive amongst a dozen or more mean-spirited and ill-tempered serpents who could have easily dispatched him from the earth if they had so desired. Studying the expression on her face,he wondered if the threat held any validity, or if she was just protecting herself with a bluff. Either way, his desire to gain her trust outweighed any fear that he may have had. There was no mistaking she held immense power, where every bit of her confident composure commanded respect, which Levi would easily give. Perhaps allowing her to be in command of the situation would ease the tension that she seemed to be filled with, though her certainly could not place blame for being protective of herself.
"I can offer you so much more than that," Levi finally said with a smile as he cautiously approached her, trying to keep his eyes trained on her despite their tendency to shift and avoid the light.
She examined him carefully, taking note of the high quality fabric that composed his suit, as well as the coordinating and equally well-crafted shoes. Only a select few could afford to dress as a gentleman, and he was certainly not there to exchange money for a sexual favor. In fact, she was growing rather curious of what he did have in mind.
"My name is Levi," he continued, extending his hand.
A smile crept onto her lips as she accepted the gesture and replied, "Evette."
Levi boldly placed a kiss on the back of her hand, taking in the sweet scent of her skin. "A pleasure to make your acquaintance, madame."
"Evette laughed as her cheeks flushed. "You are quite the charmer."
"I have to ask how such a lovely young lady winds up in a place like this," he remarked.
"There is always a reason the girls wind up here," she said, slipping out of his grasp and sitting on the edge of the bed, the hem of the robe fluttering to give him a glimpse of her inked leg. "They do it for the money; the attention they get from the men that come here looking to satisfy their most deviant urges. I have no interest in either."
"Then why are you here wasting your talent on those dogs?"
"Well, unfortunately not everyone shares that opinion," Evette replied as she laughed again, causing her curls to bounce slightly. "Many people believe me to be some sort of witch for being able to handle these magnificent serpents the way I do. You think that I would be allowed to dance in a theater amongst the elite who have trained for years to perfect their movements?"
"While I see your point, what you do is art compared to those tramps," Levi said, taking a few steps toward her. "Evette, I am certain that you would rather be appreciated."
"Of course…but there are not many who express the feeling."
He watched as the lid of the largest box was pushed open and a long pink forked tongue flicked the air. An enormous head three times the size of Levi’s hand peered at him with intense pink eyes. The albino snake was without the high yellow markings of the other one that Evette had been wrapped in earlier. It stared straight at him, carefully poised in mid air as though it would strike if he made one wrong move, but Levi did not back away.
“He will not bite you,” Evette assured. “He is just taking in your scent.”
“I know that,” Levi confidently replied, the palm of his hand upturned. “He is very beautiful.”
“I prevented them from being turned into fancy accessories for the rich, as albinos are rare and their skin is considered to be highly valuable,” she explained, disappearing behind an ornately carved black wooden dressing screen.
Levi smiled when Samson settled onto his hand, their eyes locking. “Yes, I am just like you,” he whispered in Cajun, “but we can keep that between us.”
The snake seemed to turn its head in understanding before slinking back into the box, never breaking its gaze from him.
“They are much more than pretty skin,” Evette continued as she re-emerged, layers of cream-colored chiffon flowing down to the floor, a white lace shawl wrapped around her tattooed shoulders, obscuring them from fully being viewed. "I have a bond with each snake, and they all have different personalities. One must learn that in order to properly handle them."
"Well I admire your courage for taking on that challenge," Levi remarked, wrapping an arm around her waist. "One must wonder if that extends to other things."
"Oh?" An eyebrow raised as she struggled to get a good look at his face, which seemed conveniently hidden beneath shadows cast by the brim of his hat. "Did you have something in mind, Levi?" She smoothed the lapel of his jacket, desperate to know if he was as handsome as he was suave.
The fragrance of her hair—pinned back from her angelic face with a set of silver combs—traveled up his nose and sought to embed itself in the pleasure center of his brain. Even the soft touch of those slim fingers was enough to tempt lust into filling his body, as he had always been convinced his odd appearance would cause a woman to keep her distance. However, he reminded himself she was unaware of the fact that he was no ordinary man, or that had something in common with those snakes she so easily tamed. Would she have enough skill to do the same with him? His name had graced those lips that tempted to press against his as though she uttered a sinful prayer. There was something about her that felt irresistible, and there developed deep within him a craving to know how sweet her forbidden fruit was.
"As a matter of fact I do," he said, tenderly clasping her hand. "I can bring you to a world that is far removed from all of this, where your wildest dreams will come true, and you will be treated like a Queen…as any woman should be."
"That is mighty convincing, but what about my snakes?"
"There will be plenty of room for them as well, and I promise that no harm will ever come to them, or you." Levi paused to stroke her face, taking delight in discovering it was as soft as it looked. "I know that this is a lot to ask, but I want you to trust me."
"There are reasons I can think of not to," Evette replied, "but my instinct is much louder than those thoughts, and it has convinced me that I should."
"You will not be disappointed with your choice," Levi assured her.
"My trust is in your hands," Evette said, flashing him a smile. She took a moment to gently speak to the snakes before ushering Levi out of the room, locking the door behind them, the key secured to her wrist. She knotted the shawl to keep it from slipping off her shoulders and took his hand once again. "We should go out the back so that no ones sees us. If they think you are a client, they will ask for money."
Evette slowly led him down the hallway so that their exit was undetected, and fortunately the other girls were too busy to even notice as the pair quietly walked out, the humid evening air greeting them with a better smell than that sex-filled corridor. Levi took charge once they left the lounge, cutting down dark alleys to avoid any prying eyes that might have been interested in their departure (as he understood her concern). If things went his way, she would no longer have to worry about anyone trying to bring her harm. In fact, he was hoping to convince her that she did not need to be put on display as if she were a slab of meat for the pack of salivating men that fantasized about having her alone in bed. Instead her talent could be utilized to draw in the crowds, earning more than just nickels as she amazed them with her tantalizing snake charming—and it would definitely add something extra to both the bally and inside stage of the sideshow. He had no worries as to whether or not the Family would accept her with open arms, as he felt that she already belonged to his world.
The few lights that remained burning in the canvas tents scattered across an open field were the only indications that life existed amongst the silent grounds. Levi glanced at the carousel as the glass eyes of the wooden horses seemed to follow him, but it was only the drugs causing the usual hallucinations. Ignoring the sensations that tingled through his body, he held the flap of the sideshow tent open for Evette, a sly smile tugging at his lips as he watched her saunter past. She surveyed the surroundings with curiosity, holding fast to the shawl around her shoulders.
Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Following the usual morning relaxation period, it was right to work moving the stage we had assembled the other day, relocating it outside for the bally. There is a bigger and subsequently taller stage, which had to be taken inside for us to perform on. Then the props were moved inside and the banners were unloaded. Had the privilege of hanging them up with the Manager. Mab taught me the proper way to hoist them and tie down the ropes so the banners would not fall should a strong wind come by. It was a bit awkward at first, but I got the hang of it by the third banner. Tying slipknots is already becoming second nature. A small complication arose in the form of not having ties for some of the banners, missing pullies and ropes. Once that was sorted, I thought the rest of the job would go smoothly, but then the Manager accidentally cut himself with some scissors. Brock and Elvis were sent to assist me with the remaining banners, and the line appeared decent for my first time. The teaser had to be hung from the tent itself, and all free hands were on that.
It was rather annoying that the curious people walking by kept asking when we would be open. The Boss explained that the girls were having their showers and to come back later. Definitely admired how he handled the marks, and that is true showmanship.
Had been applying make-up whenever I had a spare moment, and was then told to do whatever I needed in order to be ready for the show.
Here I will state that I noticed the Deadhead girl did absolutely no work whatsoever. She walked around in the outfit the Manager bought [you know, so she can stand on stage and look cute], either with the dog or carrying a beverage. Now I see this as being a little unfair. The rest of us are sweating in order to get everything done, obviously being compensated for our services. She receives a smaller salary, but still it would not hurt for her to pitch in. This sort of behavior will certainly be noticed, both by those of us pulling our weight as well as the eyes that constantly make sure we are doing so.
Show time was very unorganized, as none were certain who was supposed to go one first and how we would rotate. The schedule was hectic, between going up and down on the main stage, then out to the bally stage. The crowds were not that enthused, though we tried our best to get them involved. Most of the response was pretty weak, but some grossed-out reactions were all I needed to hear. It is somewhat disheartening to see how many people stop on the midway for the bally versus the amount that actually filter in.
Managed to get glass stuck in my foot twice and had to stop jumping after that. Lifting the snare drum with my ears seemed to go over well, as did the Bed of Nails. Need to expand the patter so that the set is not as short. Would also like to add a couple of acts, and perhaps get in the Blow-Off [doing the Insectivore] to make some extra scratch. While I am supposed to be selling jewelry, that has yet to actually happen.
The night was over before we knew it. Even though we were tired and hungry, we stuck around to hear what the Boss thought. All suggestions were taken seriously, and there really was not much criticism—to our relief. Considering this was only the opening night, it went fairly well. The more we do it, the more natural it will become, and pretty soon we won’t even think about what we are doing.
My stomach had been empty all day, so headed out to town and went for Denny’s—just like back home. This one was fairly large and really nice, complete with rolling chairs. Ate until I was full and returned with a few leftovers, relieved to get some sleep. A storm rolled in some time during the early morning hours, quite loud and very fierce, but it helped cool things down a bit, even if it is still humid.
Next thing I know, the two of us are climbing into his Mercury. Being tired, I ask him to “turn the colors off” [whatever that means]. Jon pushes a button on the dashboard, and then we are driving through a landscape that could be right out of Sin City, the sky red and black above.
This is what I get for eating the Country Scramble Bowl at Denny’s around midnight before heading to bed. It is a bit ironic that the dream included the three people I had wanted to see before I left. There is a good reason I did not get that chance, but someone should tell my subconscious that. Wonder what other odd dreams I can come up with.
Anyone who is blissfully ignorant to believe that show business [no matter what field] is some sort of glamorous fairytale, should be repeatedly stabbed in the head with a sharp implement. Being up on stage in front of a gaping crowd is certainly a great rush, fantastic beyond description and exactly the reason I wanted to do this. However, as it has already been documented, there is a lot of physical labor involved. When the weather was bad earlier this week, we had to grind out our shows in order to get as many people [or paying customers I should say] as possible to come in. The constant demand for performance is rough, but that does not stop me from getting up on stage with a wide smile and do what I do best. Have learned a great deal, including how to tie down a tent in preparation for inclement weather, even if it did only rain for about ten minutes or less.
Of course no Family is complete without drama or bullshit, though I tend to stay far away from both as best I can. Will voice my opinion at appropriate moments, particularly with the Boss, who is wise to everything. He can smell bullshit from a mile away and before it even hits the ground. He is a highly intelligent man with a killer witty attitude, and to me that is what makes him so great. He is willing to give anyone a chance but does not hesitate to put them in their place should they try to pull a fast one. As the saying goes, you cannot bullshit a bullshitter.
An example of that is Elvis being excuse from the outfit. Kind of a shame since he was a decent worker, and the first person I met who could actually speak Carny. He even helped Spirit [this goat that refused to use its front legs] to stand up without falling over. However, he tried to feed the Boss some story about being offered a job by his grandfather. The Boss does not appreciate being lied to [he knew the story was just made up], so he told Elvis to pack up and move along.
Yesterday, Little Miss Priss [that Deadhead chick that does not want to help with any of the physical work, yet wants attention for being up on the bally stage and in the electric chair] put up a big stink about her wardrobe. She had left the clothes our Manager bought in the bathroom and apparently someone stole it. The Boss gave her a few other costumes to try on, and she wound up in a blue bathing suit with white sequined stripes. Not even halfway into the show, she got off stage, changed and left for the night. Well, the rest of us had to pick up her slack, which meant being on the bally stage and in the Blow-Off. Somehow I am chosen to sit in the electric chair, and definitely got shocked on my ass. Her beef was composed of the claim that her [quite small] boobs were popping out, and guys were pointing and laughing because her cooch was showing. She even tried to use the old “I have my period” excuse. The Boss was not pleased, having some words for her and the boyfriend.
Today she is in a neon orange bikini [a thong no less], with a black shawl tied around her waist. So far there are no complaints, and I suspect that she was just trying to get more free clothes because she was unhappy with the previous selection. A pink leopard print shirt, pink shorts and black fishnets are too revealing, but a thong bikini is totally fine? Oh, and apparently she has completely forgotten about that time of the month. On a more humorous note, when inquiry was posed as to why she did not help set up [or assist with any manual labor at all], she claimed both the Boss and Manager said she did not have to. Sure...that is why two nights ago, the Manager remarked that he should not allow her to leave right after the show is finished, because she can assist us in lowering the banners at night. The Boss also mentioned earlier that Miss Priss, her boyfriend and the brother would be useful in tearing down. It amuses me when people convince themselves that they can lie and no one will know.
Last night, the Boss came over while I was dining on a bowl of Coco Pebbles and bestowed a great compliment. “I just wanted to tell you that out of all the people here, you’re the only one[s] with your shit together.” It was something I appreciated very much, as I am here to perform and get a lasting experience out of everything. People can point, laugh and say whatever stupid shit they want, because I will be making a profit off them.
There has been other things going on as well, but would rather not go into much detail. However, we were concerned when our fearless leader—the Manager that is—was taken to the hospital early this morning. The stress must have gotten to him. The good news is that he is doing well and will return in a few days.
The rest of us are pretty much running the show at the moment, minus the Blow-Off. Sold a few pieces of jewelry here and there to make extra scratch. Money is spent on food, gas and washing clothes at the laundromat. We are allowed to ask for a cash advance on our salary if needed, since we will not get paid until Tuesday. Seems like a long time to wait, so I might do that tomorrow.
Right now the pitch on the bally stage is bombing. It’s just not the same without the Manager. It’s a lot harder to give a good one to get the people to come in. Later on, I am going to practice sword swallowing, which would be awesome to add in the show.
Have shows to do, so I will end this for the moment.
Friday, August 27, 2010
The first time I ever saw someone down a sword was at Coney Island, and of course I was instantly intrigued. While I could wrap my head around most of the other acts, there was something undeniably sensual about sword swallowing. Understanding that there was no trick to the feat, my curiosity of how one was able to accomplish it grew each time I returned to Sideshows By the Seashore and watched Tyler Fyre stick that blade into his throat. In 2002, I had the opportunity to attend the Coney Island Sideshow School and finally learn the secret behind sword swallowing, which I am not going to share. What I will say, however, is that practicing with a wire coat hanger was one of the most unpleasant things I have experienced, but I was certainly determined to emulate the act that had caught my attention.
There are a few gag reflexes one must over come in order to safely pass an object into the throat, down the esophagus, where it will rest some where in the depths of the stomach. Doing this right results in an overwhelming amount of applause from an audience. Doing this wrong can [and has] lead to serious injury, or even death. This is due to the fact that the object is passing several vital organs, including the heart and lungs. Suffice to say that ones life is literally on the line each time the act is performed. It took about a month of practice with the wire coat hanger to get it all the way into my stomach, and I must say that it was certainly a proud moment.
However, I could not legitimately call myself a sword swallower and present the act with this crude implement. So it was that I abandoned the practice, though I did purchase a sword in 2005 at an indoor flea market in New Jersey. A fellow performer suggested that I make some changes to it in order for it to be presentable on stage. For whatever reason, I was slightly nervous about actually making an attempt to swallow the sword, and so it sat in storage for a couple more years. The motivation to return to practice came from continuing to watch others flawlessly perform the act, because I knew I had the ability to do the same if I tried hard enough.
In 2006, while living in West Philadelphia, I was struck with the inspiration to attempt swallowing the sword. At that time I was friends with Barry Silver [notable master magician and fellow sideshow performer] who had learned several skills from the legendary Red Stuart. It was with their assistance that I worked up the courage to finally stick that sword in my throat. After about half an hour of practice, for the first time ever, I felt the steel blade slip down into my stomach. That swell of pride returned, only this time, I had truly become a sword swallower. Barry was the first person I called to share the good news, and I wound up replicating the feat for him and a few other friends.
Four years later, and I am still happily performing the act for a wide variety of audiences. Much inspiration has been drawn from Red Stuart, who is the world's oldest living sword swallower, and also holds several Guinness Book World Records. It is said that he has swallowed over 50 sword simultaneously, and I have personally seen him down broad swords and even a Ford model A car axle at the Palace of Wonders. Truly he deserves much recognition, and I can only hope to achieve even a fraction of his greatness.
That was also the same evening I shared the stage with Red Stuart and a few other sword swallowers to participate in a group swallow. In other words, we all stood in a line and swallowed our swords in simultaneous fashion. While I have only been a part of two group swallows, I must say that it was quite an honor to be on stage with performers I had the utmost respect for as we all slid solid steel into our stomachs.
Photo: David Schmidt
In recognition of my accomplishment as sword swallower, I decided to get a tattoo that would very obviously state my profession. This was something that did not take much thought, as I had wanted to celebrate my 26th birthday with a new piece of ink anyway. The design was partially inspired by one of my own swords, and I took a long train ride up to New Jersey just to obtain the piece. While I was definitely slightly nervous, most of that feeling subsided the moment that stencil was placed on my neck. About an hour or so later, I looked at the permanent artwork and smiled. Two days later, I performed at a New Year's Eve event at a warehouse in Brooklyn, even though my neck was slightly stiff.
The highlight of my somewhat short career as a sword swallower came in January of 2009, when I met Thomas Blackthorne. He is most well known for swallowing a jackhammer, and also holds several Guinness Book titles. It just so happened that he was passing through town with a sword that he had made, in an attempt to get as many people as possible to swallow it. Barry Silver and myself accompanied him to the steps of the Art Museum, where we were photographed and videotaped downing that very cold steel blade. The best comparison I can give, is if one were to accidentally swallow a whole ice pop. However, I must say that it was the finest sword I have ever had the pleasure of sliding into my stomach. A few months ago, I learned that the record was officially recognized, with my name being recorded in the book for posterity, and literally is engraved into that steel sword.
There are approximately 100 people world wide who can swallow a sword, and only a handful of those are women. While I am not the youngest, tallest or even can swallow the most, I am still very proud of my unusual ability. It is definitely my favorite act to perform, and never ceases to get a reaction from the audience. My main goal is to continue sharing it with as many people as possible, teaching a bit of history along the way, and some day setting a new record. As it has been said many times in this business, certainly this is a hard way to make an easy living, but I would not trade the experience for anything in the world.
For more information about sword swallowing, please visit the following sites:
Sword Swallowing To The Hilt
Sword Swallowers Association International
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
In addition, there will be a benefit concert in Philadelphia on August 28th. Proceeds will put towards their legal fees and whatnot. According to Farmageddon-Records, any extra funds might possible go towards an organization helping sexually abused victims. Over all, it is important to remember that your actions will always have consequences, so it is wise to think carefully about this. Lies do nothing but cause harm, and in this case, have pretty much impacted the lives of two innocent men.
Entertainment for the evening will be provided by Nate Hancock, American Speedway, the Goddamn Gallows [minus Baby G] and yours truly swallowing swords. There will also be a 50/50 raffle, and possibly some other great surprises. Supporting the scene always helps it grow, so scrape those pennies together and come out to show some love.