I INVENTED SIDESHOW TOUR: Tales from the Road 2

banner by Nathan Halley

When we last left our intrepid members of FreakShow Deluxe on the 2010 I INVENTED SIDESHOW TOUR, sponsored by Lucky 13 Apparel, they had just finished up some rainy performances at the Ozark Mountain Fair, and were preparing to head to the Lakewood Theater in Dallas, TX.

Yeah – there was a fun time.

Hannah Bel and the Amazing Christopher, led by the Reverend Tommy Gunn arrived at the theater, spent eight (8) hours setting up and preparing for the show – only to have the venue owner pull the plug a few minutes before showtime! Apparently, the promoter had failed to actually do what he was supposed to – preshow sales were non-existent and, despite the crowds lining up, the venue owner was not going to open the door until he was paid.

If you are an aspiring promoter, here is a note from FreakShow Deluxe to you:  You have to have all your payout money beforehand! Do not expect to use the money from the gate. If you contract in FreakShow Deluxe, you will pay us everything we are due. If you do not make the gate, expect you will be turning out your pockets for every bit of cash you have on you – and understand we WILL get the rest of what we are owed by you. One way or another.

Our advice to basically everyone else:  Never trust a promoter named Jason. Think you know a promoter named Jason who is legit? Let us be the judge of that.

So, tired and sore, FreakShow Deluxe limped to its secret lair to rest up for the next leg of the tour. Originally, the month of August was pretty busy – but, in a sign of the current economic downturn, most of those gigs had canceled. Except one very important one.

FreakShow Deluxe had been invited to perform at the world-famous HELL CITY Tattoo Festival in Phoenix, AZ! This would mark FSD‘s first foray in the tattoo festival – and what a mark it would be!

Vincent Wolf, Kitty Karloff and Reverend Tommy Gunn arrived ready to party with the hip cats and cool kittens at HELL CITY. Originally, we were supposed to be joined by Murrugun the Mystic, but illness grounded him in parts unknown. We were the headlining act on the main stage after girl boxing and a great band – so your intrepid FreakShow Deluxe cast was ready to go on their big show (also simulcast over the Hell City website) and make the crowd rock!

And, with only a few tiny mic problems (ascerbated, undoubtably, by the Reverend’s constant inciting of the crowd), make the crowd rock is exactly what we did. The nearly capacity crowd stayed glued to their spots, entertained and amused by the FSD crew’s antics onstage. And this was not just an ordinary crowd – these are some of the best tattoo artists and piercers in the country – AND their fans! So to keep the attention of people who really have seen everything before really meant a lot to us.

In fact, afterwards, HELL CITY’s two main guys, Durb and Tony, told the us that the show was by far one of the most entertaining and fun shows they have ever booked. They enjoyed it so much, in fact, that they immediately booked your favorite troupe of sideshow misfits, cabaret cuties & burlesque beauties for the next HELL CITY show in Columbus, Ohio! Dates to be announced…

So the rest of the evening, the we hung out at the pool with all the attendees, chatting and having fun. Only finding out later that the party was technically “illegal,” since Arizona has recently passed some sort of “don’t party by the pool” law. Cue Judas Priest song, “Breaking the Law”… Now.

Now it is September, and the busy part of the season was starting — and there were plenty of hiccups to make sure it started off right:

First, Hannah Bel and the Amazing Chris, still worn out from the fairs, begged off the next leg of the tour to rest up. Fair enough! Second, Murrugun the Mystic, still suffering from illness, dropped off the next scheduled dates as well.

Replacements were found, so Amy Amnesia, William Draven and the returning Miss Malice prepared to return to the road with their first stop a return to the Delta Fair & Music Festival in Memphis, TN. Unfortunately, in a third hiccup, Reverend Tommy Gunn could not do the first couple of days of the Delta Fair because he had already been booked to appear at the Fair at New Boston in Springfield, OH – so something had to be done.

After some discussion, we decided to add 13-year-old wiz kid and the world’s youngest professional magician, Kaleb Kane, to the bill. He has worked with FSD before, so we were prepared with some special things we wanted him to do. With straight jacket escape races against Amy and William, as well as a myriad of card tricks, sleight-of-hand and other illusions, Kaleb drew in quite a crowd throughout the weekend.

In the meantime, the Reverend, dressed in historical costuming appropriate to the post-Revolutionary War period – including a turban, wowed audiences at the annual Fair at New Boston in the Cheapside Theater space, sharing the stage with his former mentor, Dr. Balthazar, who was there with his medicine show. Demonstrating the amazing feats of the sadhus and fakirs of Asia, the Far East, and India (India, India), “The Professor Thompson S. Gunn” cracked whips, breathed fire, lay on a bed of nails and pounded 6-inch steel spikes into his skull in front of captivated family audiences. He even got a “vomiting ovation” from an overwhelmed audience member.

But at the end of the weekend, the Reverend got back down to Memphis as quickly as he could – not eschewing a visit with Kaleb and his family as the two crossed paths in the hills of Kentucky. Once back in Memphis with the FSD crew, we spent as much time as possible visiting the sites when not performing in the tent we shared with the Rhinestone Roper, Dan Mink, and his crew. We also renewed our friendship with the amazing Imperial Knights and the folks at Green Monkey Body Jewelry.

In fact, Thomas, the guy who runs Green Monkey, had come across some special old sideshow memorabilia his Great-Grandfather had in a trunk from his days on the road since the last time he saw us which he presented with great aplomb. The Knights hung out with us whenever they could. And lots of people we saw last year at the Delta Fair came to see the show wearing the t-shirts they got last year and buying some of FSD‘s new merchandise. Many of them brought us beautiful gifts and spent some time with us. THANK YOU MEMPHIS!

Many ask: did FreakShow Deluxe go to visit Graceland? WELL, DUH! Of course we did!! With Derek, one of the Imperial Knights, we set out for Elvis’s private mansion and took in the whole tour experience: the house, the car museum and the planes. It may sound silly, but we all agreed it is an awe-inspiring place – that Elvis, even in his popularity, was humble and giving and a decent guy. That underneath the image that so many make fun and lampoon, was a real person – a family man, and a VERY talented individual. Taking Care of Business in a Flash, baby!

While we had a great time – we also worked really hard, too! By the end of the run, we were more tired than we expected, and had to immediately head to the next venue: PTs Showclub in St. Louis. FSD worked last October at a PTs in Denver, CO – and had such a great time with them, they had recommended us to all their other company shops. So while we were thrilled to do it – we were already feeling worn out. We needed help.

Luckily, Kitty Karloff arrived to save the day! With her feline grace and lovely curves, she was a sight for sore eyes as she arrived at the St. Louis airport. But the question remained: Would this club like us? Would the people of St. Louis come out and see us?? What if they didn’t like us?!?!

So imagine our surprise and elation when we arrived in East St. Louis to PTs Showclub, guess what we found? This GREAT sign at their front entrance!

Pretty cool. huh?

What a great staff! What a great place! What cool people! We had SUCH a wonderful time there, we honestly did not want to leave. Honestly. We did three 20-minute shows a night for a week – each one featuring different stunts and plenty of excitement as we brought the lovely ladies of PTs Showclub Sport up on the stage to help us out every show. AND we stayed at a local casino – so there was nightly slot machine playing and buffets… so we ate well, too. Of course, we wanted to sightsee, too, so there was a visit up to the top of the Gateway Arch (they put you in these tiny claustrophobia-breeding capsules to take you up to the top… it was wacky jamming all 5 of us into one to get to the top).

Apparently, in East St. Louis, there is no law. Sure, there IS… but it seems to fall in this teeny-tiny no-man’s land where they can get away with serving alcohol 24/7 and the dancers could go to levels one usually does not see. No complaints, mind you – but it did come as a surprise. Next to PTs Showclub Sport is its sister club, the Hustler Club – which boasts a private club area with a 5-star restaurant. One of the great managers of PTs, Rich, took us over for lunch one day and it was AMAZING! Even now, we are all trying to figure out an excuse to go back and hang out.

So, exhausted after working so hard, we actually had to gird up our loins in preparation for things to REALLY start getting busy! But before we could do that — FreakShow Deluxe had to go up to put the smack down in Troy, OH.

Stay tuned to find out what happened!

 

 

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