(Click on each photo above to view Exclusive Interviews)

By: Sarah L. Myers

Filmed at Coney Island, April 7, 2007

All video and photographs by Dan Gendelman

The Mermaid Parade is supposedly the best weekend at Coney Island. The weather is warmer, the crowds larger, Nathan's is packed, and the smell of salt mixes with equal parts asphalt as part of one of Coney Island's most revered traditions. The second largest event is the opening weekend at Sideshows by the Seashore. After months spent in hibernation, the cast and crew return to clean up from last year, buy new beer, safety-test the chainsaws and polish the swords in preparation of entertaining a brand new audience. Thirsty spent one of the last slow days at the sideshow with its entire cast: Serpentina, Donnie Vomit, Insectavora, Heather Holiday, Scott Baker, and director/founder Dick Zigun. Step right up! The classic 10-in-1 show runs weekends, now through Labor Day at Coney Island.




If you're ever caught under the tent, it might be a good idea to know what you're talking about. A lot has changed in the sideshow world since the Golden Age in the late 1800s. Some things, however, have stayed the same. Below is a brief glossary of some classic sideshow lingo.

Talker: Not the "barker," as it is often confused with. As Scott Baker says, "dogs bark." The talker is the figure out on the platform attracting the crowds and bringing in the audience. Sometimes the talker will perform a trick or two of their own to draw interest, or bring a member of the sideshow up to the platform to attract even more curious folk to the show.

Geek: Though this term is now interchangeable with dork or nerd, its real meaning is steeped in circus culture. A geek, or a 'glomming geek,' is a sideshow performer who bites the heads off chickens or other animals.

Midway: The area most often strolled about in the circus. These outside strips in the carnival are the main areas between the entrance and the big top. This is where you find the concession stands, ticket boxes, the Ferris Wheel (or the Wonder Wheel at Coney Island), and shoot-and-win games.

Single-O: A sideshow with only one attraction, such as the Bearded Lady or Fire Eater.

10-in-1: Like the sideshow at Coney Island, a 10-in-1 features 10 acts in one show. These could include the Electric Woman, a contortionist, a sword swallower, etc.

Tip: The crowd that gathers in front of the talkers platform outside the sideshow.

Turning the tip: The act of getting the outside crowd to purchase tickets and go inside for the show.







Search Thirsty for:

© Stay Thirsty Media, Inc. 2006 - 2007
All Rights Reserved

Privacy Policy | Terms of Use | Terms of Sale | Site Map