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Todd Robbins
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I just came across this on http://www.wordorigins.org/ It's a posting on the origin of the word geek:

"It is commonly touted that geek originally meant a sideshow performer who bites the heads off chickens or snakes. While this is a sense of the word, it is not the original one.

Geek is actually a very old word. It is a variant of geck, a term of Low German/Dutch origin that dates in English to 1511. It means a fool, simpleton, or dupe. Geck is even used by Shakespeare in Twelfth Night, V.i.:

Why haue you suffer'd me to be imprison'd. And made the most notorious gecke and gull That ere inuention plaid on?
The geek spelling is an American variation, even though Shakespeare uses the spelling geeke in Cymbeline V.iv., but this is probably just a misspelling. Geek first appears (outside the single Shakespearean usage) in 1876 America. American usage adds the connotation of offensive or undesirable to the original foolish and stupid sense. The Carnival sideshow sense appears in 1928."

I'm wondering where it appeared in 1928?
Dr_Stephen_Midnight
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Interestingly, children in parts of SW Ohio, around the 1960s-1970s, used the term 'geek' as an insult akin to 'jerk' or 'smart-aleck.'

Steve
Dr. Lao: "Do you know what wisdom is?"
Mike: "No."
Dr. Lao: "Wise answer."
DonDriver
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The young ones today call all sideshow working acts or any gaff tricks such as needle in arm,knife in arm,etc. "Geek Magic". Some older sideshow performers get offended at this.
Its just a sign of the times.Nothing stays the same.I just take it with a grain of salt and let it go.The young ones are going to call it Geek Magic no matter what us old guys think or tell them.
But it is the wrong term to use for a working act.
Don
Cholly, by golly!
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As a kid in SC, I used the word geek as a synonym for nerd. It was related more to lack of social status than lack of intelligence. Over the years certain words take on different meanings. My 16 year old nephew (with the mohawk) considers himself a "punk." That word can get you killed if you use it toward an ex-con!
Mystician
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Wallachia
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As long as we're talking about word origins of geek, nerd, etc.
You guys don't even want to know what a "dork" really is.
But look it up if you must.
I think I'd rather be called a geek anyday ;-)

:bat:
Just hanging out with the rest of my fellow dregs.
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Visit http://www.bizarremagic.net
drwilson
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Interestingly, in Shakespeare, a "punk" is a prostitute. Gives new meaning to the phrase "punk rock," eh?

Yours,

Paul
Clifford the Red
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Of course in the real world, Geeks are billionaires. So there ya go.
"The universe is full of magical things, waiting for our wits to grow sharper." Eden Philpotts
thegreatnippulini
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Hey all. I have heard this many times over and have a little extra info to share. Red Stuart and I hang out every week after work, cutting up jackpots, brainstorming on new ideas and old for new sideshow acts, etc. One day I brought up the subject of geeks to him, this past summer.
Well, Red Stuart has explained to me an extreme variation of "geek". The term "glomming geek" is what he refers to as a seriously depraved act that has been since made illegal due to animal rights activists. He explains (and I don't mean to offend, I am merely repeating what I have been told... I hope nobody is eating right now): He would be in the tent, usually as a blow off. Inside the tent would be a small pig, dog or other animal. He would chase down the animal, pick it up with his mouth, then would tear a chunk of flesh from the animals' soft underbelly. Then he would release the animal, allowing it run around the tent with its' entrails falling out, tripping over its' own intestines, trailing blood all over the place, etc. Red would again pick up the animal (with his teeth), begin to chew out the entrails and spew the contents onto any audience member who seemed appalled at the display (which would be just about everybody). Red explained that the show wouldn't be considered a success unless many people would vomit, faint, or run out of the tent after witnessing this act.
Red told me about this (while at a diner, no less) as if he was explaining how to perform an oil change. The man is a fountain of sideshow knowledge, yet this jackpot is one that I am glad will never be performed again. The reason he told me this story is because I mentioned to him that (from my understanding) geeking was considered the lowest form of sideshow entertainers. He retorted that it was the top of the line act in his day, and went on to explain what a glomming geek does.
I hope this hasn't ruined anyones day.

Yours,
TGN
The Great Nippulini: body piercer, Guinness World Record holder, blacksmith and man with The World's Strongest Nipples! Does the WORLD care? We shall see...
http://www.greatnippulini.com
MetalBender
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I look at it this way, those of us who do sideshow stunts could be considered geeks, and here's my reasoning. As someone stated earlier geek, in the vernacular, refers to someone who lacks social status. Many of us routinley hammer nails into our face, eat glass, swallow sharp objects, place fire in our mouths, regurgitate things for fun and profit, and many other...uh... stunts I guess you'd call it. Many of my friends, and I do use the term loosley here, become slightly standoffish when I hammer a nail through a deck of cards and into my face. They become even more standoffish when I take a bite out of a champagne flute. They usually start dissavowing any prior knowledge of who I am when I spit a shot of everclear through a lit flame causing a fire ball. I am perhaps the one lacking social status, thus taking the vernacular definition and applying it to myself through these stunts. Why do the younger ones like myself (under thirty) call it geek magic? Because laymen around us cannot concieve of these feats as being possible without some sort of otherworldly powers. To everyone I know the ability to hammer a nail into my face does not have to do with how the human body is engineered but it is magic. Noone should be able to eat glass or breathe fire, it must be magic, is the thought of most lay people. I could sit each person I perform for down, on an individual basis, and explain the ins and outs of everything I do in the sideshow category shwoing them that with practice they could do everything I can, or I could let them think it was magic. I'll let them think it's magic, and when they ask what kind, I'll cough up a billiard ball, pull the nail out of my face, and say proudly, geek magic my friends, geek magic.
"Magic up close and personal, the way is should be."

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thegreatnippulini
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Its a serious misnomer to consider ancient knowledge of the human body pertaining to sideshow stunts as anything called "magic". Magic implies illusionary trickery, hucksters, and an entertaining way to lie to the public. Sideshow is the exact opposite. When I lift a 55 pound anvil with my nipples, when I tow a 2,000 pound car with my nipples, there is NO magic, no tricks, and definitely no illusions. The magic lies in the presentation and how I handle a crowd. If what you are doing is REAL, the audience should know it and not be lied to. The term "geek" is what it is and belongs on the midway. That's just my 2 cents.

TGN
The Great Nippulini: body piercer, Guinness World Record holder, blacksmith and man with The World's Strongest Nipples! Does the WORLD care? We shall see...
http://www.greatnippulini.com
Cholly, by golly!
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I agree with you, Nip. Magic is about illusions, about fooling the audience. Though some classic sideshows featured illusions, the best stuff (fire-eating, sword-swallowing,human blockhead,etc...)is real. Real fire, real swords, real nipples.
MetalBender
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I know it's real stuff, you know it's real stuff, but think about things from a lay man's point of view. The kind of stuff we do is not supposed to be possible. It is supposed to be outside the realm of reality. I don't mean to demean anything we do. But if a lay man sees what we do what are they supposed to think? To them it's magic, plain and simple, no other possible explanation.
"Magic up close and personal, the way is should be."

http://www.DelusionMasters.com
Clifford the Red
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Well they can either think its magic or think you are completely nuts and they give you the benefit of the doubt. Little do they know...
"The universe is full of magical things, waiting for our wits to grow sharper." Eden Philpotts
Spider Jerusalem
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Magic is an incorrect term in any context, what we, as performers, are producing is either a physical feat, lifting weights, sword swallowing, breathing fire etc. or an illusion, a form of trickery that through sleight of hand, distraction or preperation beforehand. It's a niggling distinction but as a pagan I feel it's a necsessary one. Now I know that religeous belief is not the point of this forum but it can lead to all sorts of misconceptions that can lead to embarressment or offence.
Harley Newman
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Our forerunners all did sleight of hand, stuntwork, and ventriloquism, and some of them had major religions based on them. In this age of specialization, we have to break it down into mutually exclusive fields, with specialized terminology, to keep away the ignorant.

All I know is, if somebody wants to base a religion on me, I don't want to be killed off, before I can make up a lot of pithy sayings.
“You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus” -Mark Twain

www.bladewalker.com
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