Archive for the History of FSD Category

15 Years of FreakShow Deluxe

Posted in History of FSD, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 30, 2016 by freakshowdeluxe

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It’s been 15 years since FreakShow Deluxe really got started. What a long, strange road it has been!

Since the early days of FSD – just two guys and a handful of stunts, entertaining the queue of a haunted attraction in Ohio – to opening our own venue in Hollywood, expanding our numbers and talent of performers, getting awards & accolades, producing shows all over the country (as well as taking some of our performers worldwide), having multiple shows performing simultaneously in various cities while we are on the road…

Just so much great stuff!

Today is October 30, 2016 – and we have been getting lots of pings from our Facebook’s Timehop all day (as it has ALL month long). Some of those pings from this month include:

  • FSD on the stage of the OC Marketplace’s annual Halloween event (with Reverend Tommy Gunn as the Grand Marshal of the Hearse Procession) in 2011.
  • The time FSD drove INTO a hurricane to perform at an event in Florida!
  • Five years of performing at Hollywood’s Magic Castle’s Halloween Week – the first show of its kind and one of the first non-member/non-magic groups ever to perform there. What an honor! PLUS we got to hang out with Marilyn Manson, Bono, Neil Patrick Harris, The Scorpions, and many more famous folks!
  • Our pictures showing up in the LA Weekly and OC Weekly papers for our shows and events.
  • The Black Hills Tattoo Show – in Deadwood, SD!
  • We’ve been at amusement parks: Carowinds, Kings Dominion, Cedar Fair, Elitch Gardens, Frontier City, plus FSD’s Kitty Karloff was at Knott’s Scary Farm.
  • Getting hired by Maroon 5 to perform two years in a row at their Halloween bash at the Hollywood Forever cemetery!
  • That time we were at the Virginia State Fair

There has just been SO much we have done in the past 15 years! The list above is just a tiny segment of things from this month — it does not include everything…

We have introduced the LA Skeleton Crew, the Voodoo Krewe, and the Coffin Crew. We are co-executive producers of The Southern Sideshow Hootenanny. Our own line of coffee, cigars and, soon, hot sauce (from Hella Hot Hot Sauce). Whew!

All this year, your FSD is going to be doing a LOT of celebrating. Honestly, we have just been SO busy, it’s been hard to add more things. Hope you will come along for the ride!

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See, it’s true. Reverend Tommy Gunn was Grand Marshal of the Hearse Procession. There’s just no living with him now – he’s NEVER come down from this high.

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This Business We Call Show (part 1)

Posted in Behind the Scenes at FSD, History of FSD with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on April 29, 2016 by freakshowdeluxe
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photo by Lornography at Coney Island USA

So I, your Right Reverend Tommy Gunn, have been writing a book in addition to presenting at conferences and the like — but a lot of that has been on hold as your FreakShow Deluxe worked to reboot itself once again.

“What?! AGAIN!?,” I hear you crying out there upon reading that last sentence.

Yes.

Look – the last big restructuring really came back in 2004, after I moved your FSD from where it started in Ohio to Hollywood, where we opened The Empire Amusement Hall. That really was a while ago… I need to create “Examining 10 years of FreakShow Deluxe (part 6),” but in the meantime you can read this to catch up: Examining 10 years of FreakShow Deluxe (part 5)

The company has hit a time now where a fair amount of our family who has been with us has been doing this for going on 10 years (if not more). But their lives are NOT the same!! Things change – people change – life changes… and with those changes, some of our folks need to focus on other things besides your FSD, and we want them to have the opportunity to do so. Additionally, there have been some additions to our family – and it is time for them to move to the forefront.

So, with all the retirements going on (our company members switching to OG (aka Oh Gee!) Status, and some new patched members coming to the forefront, AND a restructuring of the company, along with creation of several new divisions within your FSD (namely, The Skeleton Crew, The Koffin Krewe, and The Voodoo Krewe). There is a lot of work to do. A lot of thinking – and then writing – then thinking again… plus a new executive staff to work things out with, too.
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The Koffin Krewe Logo
is being created now

 

It is the process that is the hard part. The analogy I used to explain it to someone yesterday  was that I am effectively building a motorcycle. From the ground up. And, even though I have built motorcycles before – this one is to be an improvement on the last one I built.

This means the structure paperwork is, in this analogy, is the putting together of all the pieces. The framework, the wheels, the motor & pre-fabricated pieces, and then determining what the new pieces are that I need to manufacture myself. There’s a certain amount of time that I put things together – step away to look at it from a distance… maybe even walk away for a bit to think about what I am doing. Sometimes, I have to stop working on the new bike to bang out some parts or get some things going for jobs that are already on the books — things that have to be squared away before we reveal the new creation.

At this point, there is a sprocket I need that I have to create for a specific purpose. So I research a bit, but then I have to take raw material and then pound it into the configuration that I need to fit where it is supposed to and do the job it is meant for.

The process is time-consuming and difficult. Eventually, the planning portion has to stop and the bike moved into the next steps.

Now – here is where my competitive spirit comes in: at the same time I am working on this new bike, there are other bikes out there on the road. Some are pretty cool, some are pretty fast – some are copies of other bikes I built, and some are totally original – but other people are out there with their bikes… and I wish mine was out there, too. Especially because I know that my bike is going to be much better. Perhaps it will even be considered game-changing!

So, yes, I am a bit jealous of the bikes that are out on the road right now. Then I have to remind myself that the new bike will be game-changing, and even when it is, some people have different tastes, and maybe even like one of those other bikes over mine (even though, obviously, mine is superior). And then I get back to business.

Because it does not end with designing the bike, creating new parts, and initially putting it together. Oh no…

Once most of the designing and fabricating is done – then the whole thing has to be disassembled and sent off for paint, chrome, and/or powder coating… Which means it goes into someone else’s hands to do some of the work on it. The big question – will everything happen like it is supposed to during this stage? If something goes wrong – am I prepared for that and how to fix it?

Then, when all of the pieces have come back, the whole bike has to be reassembled (looking for all kinds of problems along the way), and this time extra things are added like the wiring. Does everything go back together like it is supposed to? Did I forget anything, or mis-measure anything? Do the layers of finishing (paint, chrome, sealer, etc.) add anything that now means things do not fit together like they are supposed to?

And, FINALLY, with it all together we get to fire it up and see what happens. Did it fire? How does it do on the test drive? There is going to be a break-in period on the motor. Some bolts are going to need to be tightened (maybe sprayed with some Lock-tite, if it seems they are going to be a problem), parts adjusted, lubed, sparked… you get the idea.

Now that it is broken in, NOW we get to ride it! Try and see how fast it will go. How tight it can take a corner. How cool does it really look and sound when it is moving… and when it is standing still.

Of course – now that it is done, I can see a few things I might like to change about it. That color is not really what I was thinking of – that chain is not exactly where I would like it to be – maybe I do not like that style taillight after all.

Soon, it is time to build the next bike…

Many thanks to Pat at Led Sled Customs for the insight into what it takes to build a bike. Led Sled has been a friend and sponsor of FSD since our companies started at the same time in 2001. Check out their amazing products at: http://www.ledsledcustoms.com
Also, do not try to build your own bike (or sideshow) from my analogy here… it won’t work.

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FreakShow Deluxe – DO NOT Try This At Home

The Past Couple Years In Review

Posted in Behind the Scenes at FSD, History of FSD with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 8, 2016 by freakshowdeluxe

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There have been QUITE a few things going on with your FreakShow Deluxe! So much so, in fact, that it has been VERY hard to keep up on this blog — but it is a new year, so new goals (like doing this blog)…

The last real posting about what we have been up to was back in January 2013, it appears… Shortly before the death of our good friend, and the filmmaker who shot the first FSD documentary, Andrew Copp, we posted about some great things that had been going on… Now it is time to talk about what has happened since then.

The biggest thing is that FreakShow Deluxe has continued to just POWER through shows in ALL kinds of places!!

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One of the biggest things we did was unveil the new skills of Grennan the Green Monster and Charlotte, La Pequeña Arañita, on the unsuspecting pubic. Grennan is still the World’s Youngest Professional Knife Thrower; and his target girl, Charlotte, is still The Bravest Little Girl In the World – being his target girl. They appeared on America’s Got Talent – where Howard Stern said it was genuinely something he had never seen before – and then they appeared on SuperKids in Germany. These appearances got them featured in magazines and newspapers all over the world.

Additionally, wee produced a couple monthly variety shows: Cap’n Jonny’s Whiz Bang and Ilumen-Naughty in Dayton, Ohio – which brought in some GREAT talent from all over – AND continued to produce one-offs in Los Angeles! We were also a big part of regular shows, like Tales From the Strypt and Circus Maximus in Southern California, a series of shows in Japan, and plenty more.

FreakShow Deluxe was featured as a major part of Kirk Von Hammett’s Fear FestEVIL! We drew a lot of attention to it and opened a lot of people’s eyes as to what was possible. Additionally, Reverend Tommy Gunn presented a paper about sideshow (and did a little show) at the Popular Culture Association’s conference at the Marriott in New Orleans. FSD was part of the New Orleans Fringe Festival and this year’s expanded Razor’s Edge Festival in New Orleans, too.

Being at The Gathering of the Juggalos got a great picture featured on Rolling Stone’s website (see more FSD pics from the Gathering here: http://www.drivenbyboredom.com/2015/07/29/freakshow-deluxe-gotj/ )

Plus there were all our great shows at these awesome places listed here
(* indicates we returned at least once, if not more):

  • The Harem – Dayton, OH*
  • Gilly’s – Dayton, OH*
  • The Ostrich Festival – Chandler, AZ*
  • The Brimstone Breakout – Long Beach, CA
  • Maritime Tattoo Festival – Halifax, NS, Canada*
  • Tommy’s Tattoo Convention – Hartford, CT
  • Coney Island’s Sideshow by the Seashore – Brooklyn, NY*
  • Texas Showdown Festival – El Paso, TX*
  • Full Throttle Saloon – Sturgis, SD*
  • Riverfront Fair – Owensboro, KY
  • Star Lounge – Shibuya Tokyo, Japan*
  • Throttle Fest – Kansas City, MO
  • Delta Fair & Music Festival – Memphis, TN*
  • The Joint – Little Rock, AR*
  • State Fair of Virginia – Doswell, VA
  • Civil War Days – Hartford, CT
  • Georgia State Fair – Atlanta, GA*
  • Frontier City – Oklahoma City, OK*
  • The AllWays Lounge – New Orleans, LA*
  • DiPiazza’s – Long Beach, CA
  • Etti – Shizuaka-shi, Shizuoka, Japan
  • California Institute of Abnormal Arts – North Hollywood, CA*
  • Fresno Tattoo Expo – Fresno, CA*
  • High Desert Tattoo Expo – Lancaster, CA
  • PT’s Showclub – Portland, ME
  • Elitch Gardens – Denver, CO
  • Scandals Bar – Virginia Beach, VA
  • Cafe Istanbul – New Orleans, LA
  • Full Circle Bar – Fresno, CA
  • Siberia – New Orleans
  • Little Darlings – Oklahoma City, OK*
  • RockBar Theater – San Jose, CA
  • Therapy Cafe – Dayton, OH*
  • Pioneer Event Center – Lancaster, CA
  • The Banana Ball at The Docs Inn – Silvis, IL
  • Gathering of the Juggalos – Thornville, OH
  • The Penthouse Club – St. Louis, MO
  • Byrdie’s Cafe – New Orleans, LA
  • The Pony – Starkville, MS

Looking at this list makes us all kind of tired, seeing how much we have done in the past three years. We went through most of our calendars to come up with it. Plus all the press, clippings, videos and more. SO MUCH STUFF!

But for 2016? THERE IS SO MUCH COMING ON DECK!!! It will have to be a whole other post…

Time for a Brand New Year of Freakiness!

Posted in Behind the Scenes at FSD, History of FSD with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 13, 2013 by freakshowdeluxe

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Your FreakShow Deluxe is ramping things up for an interesting year in 2013.

Wait… isn’t there the fablied Chinese curse? “May you live in interesting times.” Uh oh.

Too late now. We are in 2013, rebirthed, and ready to go…

Of course, as with any rebirth, there has been some pain involved.

This year FreakShow Deluxe was once again a part of the Full Throttle Saloon (for both Bike Week AND the TruTV series) – plus their big event in Kansas City, KS, Maroon 5‘s epic Halloween party at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery, Halloween week at the infamous Magic Castle in Hollywood, CA, fairs & festivals with our good friends at Universal Fairs (including the Ostrich Festival, Delta Fair & Music Festival, AND their new venture: the State Fair of Virginia), Texas Tattoo Showdown in El Paso, TX, the Sideshow Gathering in Wilkes-Barre, PA, Hell City Tattoo Show (this time in Killumbus, OH), OC Market Place‘s Trick-r-Treat Halloween event, PLUS we did plenty of stuff at PT Showclubs, Diamond Cabaret, and other great clubs all over the U.S.!

If those weren’t enough, we did GREAT shows for the Frontier City Amusement Park in Oklahoma City, OK, Melbourne Freak Show in Melbourne, FL, kicked as at The Joint in Little Rock, AR, appeared at the Steampunk Saloon in Altadena, CA, returned to (and did our last show at) Washington DC’s Red Palace, made it into Canada for the Maritime Tattoo Festival in Halifax, NS, helped out the folks with The Devil’s Carnival, PLUS some great private events and local club parties all over the U.S.!

We had our great sponsor LUCKY 13 APPAREL, did good stuff with Rebel TV Radio (including their awesome Misfit Sideshow Cabaret shows), worked with WE ARE THE FALLEN, and had our people appearing on ALL kinds of television shows — one of the best being Grennan the Green Monster’s appearance on Nickelodeon’s FIGURE IT OUT, for which he received national attention.

It wasn’t easy, though… a couple of our core members have stepped away or taken a break — to move, or get married, start a new relationship, or whatever the case might be… but FFSDFSDF (Forever FreakShow Deluxe FreakShow Deluxe Forever). They are still in our hearts and on our minds.

We also lost some of our Associate members – moving on after figuring out for themselves that they were not up to our challenge, or getting the boot for lying about who and what they are. We may be a lot – but liars we are not and do not put up with. We are the professionals. The amazing ones. It takes more than the average bear to be one of us — one of the 1% of sideshows.

And 2013 is already looking amazing!! We have some GREAT new performers and Associates we will be working with!!

We look forward to returning to visit with our friends  — and making some new ones — so stay tuned to find out all the fun stuff we are going to be up to!!

Examining 10 years of FreakShow Deluxe (part 5)

Posted in Behind the Scenes at FSD, History of FSD on September 19, 2011 by freakshowdeluxe

So the date arrived to move to Los Angeles.

After much discussion, arguing and the like, Reverend Tommy Gunn was ready to head to Los Angeles. Deciding to accompany him were Miss Malice Aforethought, Phil, Dirty Jonny Grinder, and Grinder’s girlfriend. The Wolf decided to remain in Ohio and there was no dissuading him.

Before they headed out, the Rev and Wolf had a heart to heart conversation about the future of FSD. They decided to set things up so that the Wolf could continue to use the FreakShow Deluxe name and logo in Ohio while the rest of the cast did the same in California  – effectively setting “East Coast” and “West Coast” versions of the show. The Wolf would take responsibility  for all aspects of his show (including insurance, marketing, website and all that stuff) while the Rev. would keep doing what he had been.

Then – all loaded up – everyone hit the road! Phil, Johnny and his girlfriend headed out in the big truck and a car first to do a little sight-seeing on the way. The Rev and Miss Malice headed out a few days later in their two vehicles with the plan to meet up with the rest of the group on the way.

But on the road somewhere between Dayton, Ohio and Los Angeles, California – everything went awry.

It is still not entirely clear exactly what happened. Miscommunications, misunderstanding, rapidly rising fuel prices, vehicle problems, the stress of travel and ego/personality issues all led to an argument. That first argument led to more arguments. So before they even arrived in California, the two groups of traveler were no longer speaking to each other.

Upon arriving in the Riverside, CA area, Phil and Jonny decided that was far enough. They stopped at a storage place and unloaded the truck. The Rev. and Malice arrived just in time to get their things off the truck – and it was the last time any of them spoke for quite a while.

It was a dark time for your FreakShow Deluxe.

The Reverend and Miss Malice got a place in Hollywood and began settling in.
Jonny Grinder and his girlfriend made arrangements to live in Long Beach. Then pursued their own interests.
Phil, not happy with how things were turning out and feeling homesick, returned to Dayton within a week.

Now it was just the Rev. and Malice trying to make things work. This was proving to be difficult as the big-name theater company job the Rev. was supposed to take upon his arrival dried up – leaving him with no employment. Also the Rev’s friend that the entire FSD crew was supposed to stay with was having some personal issues. So long before they were ready to, the Rev. and Malice had to find a place.

Luckily, your Reverend can’t be kept down!

Not to mention, he is pretty resourceful, too. The two found and set up in a little apartment in the Little Armenia area of Hollywood, the Rev. got some temp work which quickly led to a full-time job at a prestigious entertainment law firm in Beverly Hills, and things got to some semblence of “normal.” Now all he had to do was get FreakShow Deluxe up and running.

It took a few weeks – but luckily there is this thing called THE INTERNET! With that, some social networking (it was MySpace, back in the day – along with Tribe), and a few personal connection from when he lived in SoCal before, that got on track too. His online posts offering his services as a “fire-breathing minister” garnered some attention, which led to an offer to host and perform at a show at the Sacred Fools Theater (The F.L.E.A. Show).

The show at Sacred Fools is a key turning point for FreakShow Deluxe for several reasons: Not only did it give Los Angeles and Hollywood a chance to see the Reverend Tommy Gunn in action for the first time (since he was the lead singer of the short-lived band Not Now I’m Naked), but it gave plenty of folks who had only conversed with the Rev online (MySpace, again) a chance to meet him in person.

Miss Malice and the Reverend met Vincent Wolf, the Devil’s Plaything and Mr. Marcus for the very first time that night, among many others. Also Vincent Wolf & the Devil’s Plaything also met for the first time – and would begin dating soon after. Meeting these folks was the genesis for a new beginning for your FreakShow Deluxe – and it led to the creation of the Empire Amusement Hall – which would help catapult FSD into the national spotlight.

How 9/11 Was Responsible for Creating FreakShow Deluxe

Posted in Behind the Scenes at FSD, History of FSD on September 19, 2011 by freakshowdeluxe

** This entry is directly from FreakShow Deluxe’s founder & president, the Reverend Tommy Gunn.

On September 11, 2011 – the tenth anniversary of the tragedy of the terrorist attacks on the United States – I was listening to coverage on NPR and doing a bit of reflecting myself, when I suddenly had a realization. A connection I had never made before. One might call it an epiphany of sorts.

The terrorists are responsible for the creation of the FreakShow Deluxe.

I am not trying to be funny, or make a joke out of this. Here is what happened:

On September 11, 2001, I was in the production offices for the theatre company I had just recently joined as Director of Marketing and Public Relations. The former Director, Scott, was scheduled to fly in from his home in Manhattan in that day to finish going over things with me.

When we got the call to turn on the television, and saw that the first tower had been struck, I remember thinking, “It has to be an accident. No way someone would do that on purpose.”

Then we watched in horror as, on the live feed, the second plane deliberately crashed into the second tower.

Shock washed over the staff as we watched the television. It wasn’t long before onscreen voices were saying this was bigger than a simple accident. Within moments, we were all scrambling for telephones.

In addition to Scott and his wife living in Manhattan not far from the Twin Towers, we had other friends and colleagues in New York. Unfortunately, we quickly discovered phone calls were pretty useless.

Scott was supposed to be flying in – was he okay? Was one of those planes his? We just had NO idea…

Then I noticed his icon on the Instant Messenger. Sending a quick note – I got the reply back right away, Scott and his wife were okay. He had just been getting ready to leave for the airport when the first plane hit the tower. New Yorkers were being told to stay home and that all travel was being shut down, including the airport.

They could see the devastation from their apartment, and it was awful.

Relieved they were safe, the office spent the rest of the day with the television on, watching the footage of the plane crashing into the Tower replayed over and over again. And it sparked a discussion.

In just a few weeks, our company was to open the annual Haunted Trail fundraiser. With the devastation and horror of what happened – was it really a good idea to open? Would blood-covered victims, screams in the darkness, and maniacs in the woods coupled with all the fire and smoke (common for the outdoor attraction) just be in bad taste after what happened?

Sure, we would lose the money, went the argument, but better that than incur the wrath and bad will of the people.

I argued for the Haunt, with the belief that people would need some relief from what was going on – and that classic entertainment like it would help. We could play down some things and play up others with the hope not to offend. Marketing would be a huge factor in this goal. Plus we had just a horrible season and needed the money.

In the end, it was decided we couldn’t do without the money.

So it became my responsibility to market the crap out of it – which is exactly what I did. In fact, I ended up bringing in enough business that it was too much. Crowds came in such numbers that they often had to stand in line to get into the Haunt for up to two (2) hours AFTER purchasing their tickets!

I was right. People needed some respite from the real horrors of life, and the fake “horror” of the Haunt.  Unfortunately, they also needed some respite from the HUGE lines – or they were going to riot and tear the place up.

Reaching out to my contacts and friends, including filmmaker Andy Copp and horror show host Dr. Creep, I began experimenting with ways to entertain the crowd while they waited. A big screen featured snippets of horror movies (compiled by Copp), there were live interactions with the cult figure of Dr. Creep and an hourly “electrocution show” with an automated prop. Then, finally one night – inspiration came…

Pulling up some skills I had picked up over time working theatre, I built a small bed of nails and some simple torches, and began entertaining the crowd eating and breathing fire and laying on the bed of nails and inviting people in line to come stand on top of me. Within the evening, one of the “scares” told me he had some skills and I invited him to help me out.

By the end of the run, we had started coming up with other acts and getting some ideas of what we could do for the next year. And from that simple beginning – FreakShow Deluxe would be born!

And with it an idea: that despite how difficult things may be, it is possible to overcome and carry on.

It is one of the foremost ideas behind your FreakShow Deluxe. That pain is only temporary. And while the scars may remain – it cannot keep you down unless you let it. The world continues to turn. Life continues to go on. And you need to be there with it every step of the way, living each precious moment to its fullest.

It is amazing what the human body AND the spirit can endure, can suffer, and yet still carry on. To heal and repair itself. To face even MORE challenges and still keep its spirit intact — brave and unwilling to give up.

I am proud to continue this idea with every FreakShow Deluxe show.

 

From this point, if you are interested, you can read more about the history of this company in other posts on this blog!

July 24 is a BIG Day for FreakShow Deluxe

Posted in History of FSD, Upcoming FSD Events on July 24, 2011 by freakshowdeluxe

So today, July 24, 2011, is a big day for FreakShow Deluxe.

Of course, just about EVERY day is a big day for FreakShow Deluxe – so why should this be any different? Well…

Today, once again, MULTIPLE FreakShow Deluxe troupes are out on the road and simultaneously performing. A troupe featuring the great Vincent Wolf, the sly Jonny Panic, master of the macabre William Draven and the one & only Zachary Strange is appearing at our sponsor, Lucky 13 Apparel‘s 20th anniversary celebration, THE TIKI HIGHWAY! Come to Don the Beach Combers in Huntington Beach to see car shows, live tiki carvings, Tiki Farm’s special room, burlesque performers, live music AND your FreakShow Deluxe, plus a lot more — and get a “free” 13 tattoo! How awesome is THAT?!

Did we also mention it is ABSOLUTELY FREE?!!!!!!!

Also – Lucky 13 has looked through our images and chosen something special to make a limited edition Lucky 13 FreakShow Deluxe t-shirt!! Men’s AND Women’s styles available! All kinds of sizes! COME GET ONE!

The whole thing starts at 12 noon, and goes until 7pm. Tell your friends —  http://www.facebook.com/pages/Tiki-Highway/174452062602742?sk=wall

Then also, today, come to the KANSAS CITY FRINGE FESTIVAL in Kansas City, MO to check out Brother Daniel the Demented, Justin Tune, the Green Monster AND your Reverend Tommy Gunn in a matinee performance at the Gem Theatre at 2:00 pm. They only have one more show after this – and that is Thursday at 6:30pm.

The shows have been VERY well received – so if you are in the area, you need to come and check it out. Tickets are ONLY $5

http://www.kcfringe.org/2011/artist.php?ID=124

The Halloween Season is coming, folks — and there is a LOT more coming. So stay tuned!