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Topic: Same old, same old
Message: Posted by: mabjustmab (Aug 3, 2007 12:04PM)
Hi folks!
I have followed a trail of popcorn and stumbled upon this amazing resource. While diligently ignoring any actual work I have to do today, I spent entirely too much time reading stacks of old posts. it warms my heart to hear the words of Slim Price still echoing today.

there was one old post that stood out, about old sideshow acts that are seldom done these days. I looked through the lists, and some of the veteran performers (I won't call you old...ok, maybe just a little) touched on some great stuff that I had nearly forgotten. I would love to brush the (saw)dust off of one or two of the classic vintage pieces and work them into my repertoire.

but seeing how so few people do them these days, what's the best way to learn and develop these "new" skills?

Thanks and I look forward to joining in on more conversations!

Message: Posted by: DonDriver (Aug 3, 2007 12:22PM)
How did you miss this post


and contact Todd to sign up


Message: Posted by: rossmacrae (Aug 3, 2007 12:32PM)
DonDriver's tellin' the truth.
Message: Posted by: mabjustmab (Aug 3, 2007 12:45PM)
On 2007-08-03 13:22, DonDriver wrote:
How did you miss this post


hmm, maybe the finger in my eye? er...

actually, I know about Todd's school. I guess I was asking about some of the more obscure acts and Illusions, like Electra and Girl-to-gorilla.

I have a fondness for the vintage.
Message: Posted by: DonDriver (Aug 3, 2007 12:54PM)
Try this link


Message: Posted by: mabjustmab (Aug 3, 2007 01:10PM)
This is wonderful! Thank you! I found several of the old school bits I was looking for and few that I had forgotten!

have you ever used any of these plans? do you know if they are easy to understand? I have one old book but it was written in the 1920's and some of the language is a little difficult to interpret.

I really appreciate this like though.

thanks again!

Message: Posted by: DonDriver (Aug 3, 2007 01:34PM)
Paul Osborne is well know as having very good plans.I have had several over the years and must say I have always found then easy to understand.

You're most welcome.

Hope this helped,
Message: Posted by: Harley Newman (Aug 3, 2007 01:34PM)
Some of the acts are taught by Todd at Coney Island, or by me in my barn. But there are indeed a lot of other acts.

Some, if you ask around, you'll find people who know them. Some will teach you, some won't. Other acts, you just have to figure out for yourself.
Message: Posted by: mabjustmab (Aug 3, 2007 01:51PM)
Hi Harley!

actually, I wanted to attend your 3 day last june, but did not have the time and it conflicted with a prior engagement.

I currently have in my act Glass Walking, StraitJacket Escape, blockhead, fire eating, bed of nails. I am very interested in studying the 100ft rope escape from you. I saw that you offer that and was very excited.

I started learning sword swallowing from an old circus buddy, but quickly realized that I am quite happy with having my gag reflex intact. just wasn't my thing. and out of respect for the the lady who taught me glasswalking (charron henning) I am not so keen on learning the blade ladder.

the 3 next things on my list are Electra, 100ft rope escape, and girl to gorilla. Stilt walking is very high up on my list, but that's more circus than sideshow and might have to wait a little bit longer.
Message: Posted by: jeremysweiss (Aug 3, 2007 02:04PM)
The Girl-to-Gorilla principle "classically" can be found through Brill's plans (as can Electra). I prefer not to use Brill's verions of Electra. 100 ft rope escape, well there a Dixie Dooley escape DVD.

There is a lot of information out there. The fun part really is discovering it for yourself and doing the research, calling up people and talking to them about what they know and piecing the mystery together yourself.
Message: Posted by: Harley Newman (Aug 3, 2007 02:58PM)
I might be able to find someone else who'd like an escapes class. We should take details to PMs.

It's easy to say one thing is circus, and another sideshow. The only line between them, is an artificial one. Elements of each have appeared in the other, for as long as...well, long. I like the word "variety" much better.

The question is not so much which acts one does, but how one does them.
Message: Posted by: drwilson (Aug 3, 2007 03:22PM)
When I first read this, I thought you were talking about the stuff that [i]nobody[/i] is doing anymore, like the Mystic Hand Fortune Teller illusion, the fortune-telling parrot, or rag paintings. Of course, as soon as I post this, you will see replies that a street performer somewhere is doing all three of these.

But you should of course listen to Harley's words. He is responsible for unleashing some serious strangeness on the world, both through his own act and his liberating influence on others.


Message: Posted by: mota (Aug 3, 2007 05:44PM)
What are rag paintings?

Also curious about the fortune telling effects...right now I have a fortune telling cat but all he predicts are nap time and meal time.
Message: Posted by: drwilson (Aug 3, 2007 06:43PM)
Here's a great old thread:


For rag pictures, the artist arranges scraps of cloth of different colors to make pictures.

The fortune telling parrot rides the shoulder of the operator who has a tray like a cigarette girl. There is a shot glass on the tray and a bunch of fortune cards. When someone tosses a quarter in the shot glass, the parrot climbs down and picks out a fortune for them (this is Todd's story).

The Mystic Hand is an illusion of a hand floating in midair that holds a vial with a fortune in it. For a price, the mark gets the little slip of paper in the vial. The illusion is described in the Thayer catalog sheets book. Again, according to Todd, there was a mystic hand joint at Coney Island in the old days.

For the record, I wouldn't be able to resist either one of the fortune games. You can call me Mark.


Message: Posted by: thegreatnippulini (Aug 3, 2007 07:17PM)
I remember from the old Slims DG a thread about smoke paintings. Sounds like it could belong here.
Message: Posted by: mota (Aug 3, 2007 09:58PM)
Thank you Dr. Wilson!
Message: Posted by: Doug Higley (Aug 3, 2007 11:16PM)
Saw the rag paintings many times as a kid. Uses Felt and some of them were fabulous when completed.

The Fortune Telling Parrot was my personal favorite...use to see it all the time in Times Square and occasionally near Macy's when the tip was in full bloom. (Holidays)

Currently Dana Daniels would be a source for getting one trained maybe and certainly Kramian can get one in working condition.

I'm currently working up a new idea of a ONE MINUTE Artist...a complete intricate Picture in One Minute or less...that like the Rag Painter, comes together at the last moment from seemingly randome elements. Once I get the first one figured out then it will be easier to come up with about Nine of them that can be done for about 3 seperate 5 minute acts.

Once I get this down and organized, I'll probably release it with my Xmosis Effect...using an extremely Heavy Chain allowing the act to melt SLOWLY through Steel before their eyes. You'll be able to put this stunner together for under $15 rather than fork out hundreds for a lesser effect. Take those two 'acts' and combine with the Traps-A-Monte-Mental I came up with and you have a completely original Act. But that's all down the road a piece. I'll try and get it all done before I croak. :)

I really love this stuff too mab. Welcome to the Café.
Message: Posted by: fettucinibrother (Aug 4, 2007 08:40AM)
On 2007-08-03 15:58, Harley Newman wrote:
It's easy to say one thing is circus, and another sideshow. The only line between them, is an artificial one. Elements of each have appeared in the other, for as long as...well, long. I like the word "variety" much better.

Well put Harley...
I love the use of the word "Variety" to describe what we all do.
"Hello", by the way. Not sure if you remember me/us. It's 1/2 of The Fettucini Brothers here... It has been a long while since our paths have crossed... I remember meeting/hanging out with you back in the days when we used to ply the waters of the NACA and APCA college showcase/convention market back in the late 80's/early 90's (when it was very fruitful). Hope that all is well with you.
Alfredo Fettucini aka Steve
Message: Posted by: mabjustmab (Aug 4, 2007 09:05AM)
Dr wilson, that's exactly the thread the started me down this rabbit hole :)

everyone has had great info and it's getting the ball rolling on some "muahahaha" ideas.

Thanks again!

and Harley, message incoming.

Message: Posted by: mota (Aug 4, 2007 09:22AM)
Doug, I think that might be a very popular product.
Message: Posted by: Doug Higley (Aug 4, 2007 11:21AM)
The Xmosis Effect part is killer and can be home made with easily accessable stuff for under $15. At least I did. :) I might release it seperately like I did the Daring Spring Trap notes. If someone put this together and sold the effect they would get a few hundred bucks I'm sure. Just haven't had the freakin' time to type it all up proper yet. Like the Trap...I took an older Illusion idea which was not really playable everywhere because of some torture and other grisly aspects and changed it around (ALOT) so it can play anywhere and be a signature with a scientific angle if you want one. I like it a lot better than the traps idea and it sure is cheaper to do but as effective! Is that tease enough? haha. The traps became Abbott's #1 seller of all time when I released the routine and I think this is even better. Only thing really stopping the release is typing and I can't find a piece of paper that has the source of a certain aspect that is key to it being successful. Meh. I have too many boxes of those little pieces of paper haha. But I'll put a hustle on it if there is interest. Wll probably sell the Notes for ten bucks for the first 25 sets. Stay tuned.

Doc Wilson: Get ahold of me about that Floating Hand Fortune thingy..very Interested in the details!!!!
Message: Posted by: mota (Aug 5, 2007 09:24AM)
This would be ready when Doug?

Another idea would be to take a tip monkey and instead of handing out pics he could hand out fortunes.
Message: Posted by: Starrpower (Aug 5, 2007 09:37AM)
Mab, I've got an electra and I'm performing it this summer. PM me with any ?'s
Message: Posted by: Doug Higley (Aug 5, 2007 11:10AM)
Hi Craig...I'll try and get the Xmosis Effect ready by next month IF I can find that darn piece of paper!

You have a monkey? Does anybody have a monkey these days?
Message: Posted by: mota (Aug 6, 2007 08:10AM)
I met a couple on the road a bit back doing the tip monkey. They had two monkeys so if one was ill they had a back up. One of their parents had done the tip monkey for their main living.

I asked about the monkeys getting mean...they used spider monkeys and said it wasn't a problem. They told me you couldn't play a monkey until it was at least four years old. If you tried to pull their teeth before that they just grew back. For safety reasons you can't use a monkey with teeth.

The monkey I met liked marshmellows but I couldn't feed him any until the end of the day. If he got his marshmellows early in the day he wouldn't work all day.

For a quarter the monkey would give you five or tip his hat. For a buck he would give you a picture of himself. For five bucks you could have your pic taken with him.

I did fall in love with the furry stinker.
Message: Posted by: thegreatnippulini (Aug 6, 2007 08:38AM)
I was in a bar a while back and they had a pianist playing, he had a tip monkey. IT was neat until the monkey came up to the bar and dunked his nuts in my drink. I shooed him away and order a new drink. As soon as the bartender poured it an set it down, the monkey ran up and dunked his balls in my drink again! So, I go to the pianist and asked him "Do you know your monkey is dipping his balls in my drink?" to which the pianist replied "Never heard that one, but if you hum a few bars I'll fake it"
Message: Posted by: Doug Higley (Aug 6, 2007 11:10AM)
Actually the Piano Player said: "Sure...come here and dunk your nuts in my Tip jar and I'll play it for you..."
Message: Posted by: Starrpower (Aug 6, 2007 12:01PM)
I think Jim & Jan Williamson are still running their "Jocko and the J's" show based out of Iowa. Last time I talked to them they had two monkeys. Apparently, Jocko was the wrong kind of primate and could become agressive, so he only does "non contact" tricks like climbing poles and such. They had a second monkey who would get the tips. It's nice to have responsible, safety-conscious people running those things.

Jim and Jan are really great people, and if anyone wants to know about performing with monkeys I'm sure theyd be happy to talk to you.
Message: Posted by: Doug Higley (Aug 6, 2007 02:06PM)
Before anyone gets worked up about pulling Monkey's Teeth for the sake of an act...it is many times done for the sake of the other animals in the troup.

Not just small variety acts either...big time and wildlife conscious Sea World does it too...to Piranha. Not exactly Primate level...but it does save the other fish in the habitat. :)
Message: Posted by: drwilson (Aug 7, 2007 09:56AM)
In response to Doug's question about the Mystic Hand, see Todd's reply here:


You can find the Mystic Hand in the Thayer Catalog Sheets book, vol 1, p 86 as "The Temple of Buddha." There is an open cabinet with a cylindrical gold column down the middle (to hide the m*****s). From a hole in the center of the column, a woman's hand holds a vial. The mark signs a slip of paper, it is placed in the vial that the hand holds, and returned with a fortune. In the write-up, the fortune appears by a chemical method, but it is easy to see how Out To Lunch or some other spirit writing principle might be used.


Message: Posted by: mabjustmab (Aug 9, 2007 11:15AM)
Hey Paul!

I really love that Mystic Hand idea. and it's giving me ideas for a new bit...hmmm...

thank you for the links.

Message: Posted by: Gemeanii (Aug 14, 2007 08:03PM)

Hope the foot is doing well. As for Electra, I have some ways that we could collaborate on if you like. I'm building a setup for my act this fall, and two is not twice as hard. As for Girl to gorilla, I've helped in building up a couple of them a few years back, even did most of the control electronics to automate a very complex one. I'm in Gaithersburg during the week and near Waldorf on weekends where most of my projects are working... PM or give a call...

In the mean time, try pulling a balloon through your nose. ;>) (JK)