Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Tales From the Road

After landing in Bedford, PA and being introduced to the rest of the crew, the time has come to finally open the show to the public and learn first hand how a grind show operates.

July 24, 2005 - Debut show in Bedford, PA

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.

July 28, 2005 Breakfast at Denny’s makes strange dreams

There were definitely some weird images in my head last night, but once scene in particular that is still stuck. Not sure where I was, but saw Joslyn and Bill [decked out in their finest, as always] chatting with Jon. Now that I sit here and recall the dream, I believe they had come to see me perform…or something like that. At first glance, my dream mind had mistaken Jon for Brian Setzer. *hahaha* It must have been the flashy outfit—tight red leather pants, black shirt half unbuttoned and all the silver jewelry. The last time we saw each other, his hair was pretty short and face had been shaven clean. However, in the dream, his dirty blond locks were tamed into a stellar pompadour, accented by perfectly trimmed chops.

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.

July 29, 2005 Week in revue

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.

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