Friday, June 8, 2012

Phoenix AZ / Phoenix Center for the Arts

 The day starts out in Tucson with Coconutz in his natural habitat, under the bus. The parts came in to replace the breaks. The temperature is topping out at 103.
 Once we are on our way I start writing some postcards. We have a handful of people that helped raise the money for the bus. We are sending them postcards from the road to show our appreciation. 
 Its a quick trick up to Phoenix. The venue is much larger than the art space we played before. A community theater that our show fills quite well.
The dressing rooms were quite large and even had showers. It was good to be able to shave in a real bathroom before the show started. 
Great friends showed up for the show. John Archer here was the blockhead in the first sideshow that I worked in. He came with an entire crew of old friends. Unfortunately we were not able to catch up very long. We have a seven hour drive to LA the next day.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Tucson AZ / Surly Wench

 Another six hours to Tucson. I love the landscape out here. The Temperature is topping out around 100 degrees but it is staying cool in the state room of the bus.
 Out on I10 is the Thing? I first saw The Thing? when I was working the Pima county fair four years ago. I cannot pass without paying homage.
 Just a buck for unknown wonders? I know this game.
 One of the antique cars leading up to The Thing?
 Heather and Manny are horrified at first glance of The Thing?
 While driving into town we have some major break problems.  Immediately Coconutz goes to work fixing it in the heat. 
Ended up going to dinner with friends Donnavan and Edwin. Had a liverwurst and onion sandwich. I have never had liverwurst and will try anything once.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Drive Day to El Paso

It's 12 hours to Tucson and Scraps only has a learners permit so I have to sit in the front the entire way.

The skies in east Texas are amazing. We take a minute at a rest stop.

Scraps takes a break from driving.

This is Manny. Its his first time taking in that Texas air.

Anna informed me that Venus is in transit across the sun. The sunset was spectacular from the cab of the  bus.

We pitstop in El Paso for burgers and a movie. Able to look down on the lights of Mexico.

San Angelo, Texas / Dead Horse

The morning started out in a WalMart outside of Austin. Coconutz found a fridge at a Goodwill that we thought could replace the one in the back. We took the door of so it could fit through the hallway. Unfortunately it was to large to fit in the cabinet so it went back out. Maybe down the line we will have a new fridge in the back. We drove on to San Angelo

One of the things that I always remember from living in Texas was the fire ants. It seems like every crack in the earth is alive with these little monsters. So busy and persistent. 

I believe this was my third time back to the Dead Horse. It seemed like it was going to be a small show but once we started it filled quickly. Sets went well. Had to silence one very drunk little girl when she questioned if my moustache is real. 

Jeremy showed up. He was passing through between jumps with the Ringling Brothers Circus. Had a few drinks with him after the show. 

Monday, June 4, 2012


We stopped off in Dallas for showers and coffee at Coconuts house. He had the sweetest Australian Shepard named Ausie. Soon we made it down to Austin to the ND club. Second time in this venue. Went out for a drink or two with Lizardman and Heather to start the night. The waitress at the bar was upset. She wanted to make it out to the show but the evening waitress was MIA and she was going to miss it. She insisted on shots. Her name was Cheri and she was very sweet.

Show started a little late but we had a great opening act. Mistress Stephanie and Her Melodic Cat. The show was sweaty and made many acts tough. Nate Widener showed up and I was able to give him a tour of the bus. Oh and Cheri made it out to the show! The audience as very kind as one man paid $100 just to look in the blade box.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

I make my living hammering nails into my head.

It wasn’t always nails. I have had things such as ice picks, spoons, screwdrivers, power tools and switchblade knives up in there over the years. But I always come back to the nails. Right now it is a sixty penny six inch spike. I tap it into my nostril and it slides to the back of the skull and it stops short of hitting my spine. This leaves an inch and a half of the nail still exposed for the audience to see. As I run through my related jokes and observations I tilt my head up and down, side to side. On a good day the audiences eyes lock onto that nail as if a ball at a tennis match.

The initial shock of seeing a grown man doing something any child would be smart enough not to do can vary from person to person and crowd to crowd. And there have been many crowds. In the summers it is at the Sideshows By The Seashore theater in Coney Island. The audiences are tourist and New York families looking to experience some Coney Island tradition. The evenings are in bars and clubs in Manhattan alongside burlesque dancers, comedians and magicians. In the winter traveling across the states with a Vaudeville Review jumping from town to town with my trusty hammer and nail. I have hammered nails in front of college classrooms, office Christmas parties, Bar Mitzvas and deep cable television shows. I once even found myself officiating a wedding under the Brooklyn Bridge. The bride and groom took there rings hanging from the nail in my nose. The reactions are always the same.

First there are the people who are delighted to see something strange and odd. They may have heard about such a stunt being performed by the Fakirs of India or by performers of the past. They could have read about it in the books that romanticize the tent shows of the old carnivals or circuses. Some may have even seen an explanation of the stunt on TV . Now they are seeing it live. They laugh with anticipation and excitement as the nail is tapped into place. Their minds race back and forth with conflicting arguments. They convince themselves that it can’t be real, but it must be real, but it can’t! When I take the back end of the claw hammer and drag the nail from my face they are cheering and hollering before the nail hit’s the floor.

Then there are the curious but disturbed. These are the folks that watch the act from between there fingers. The ladies squeeze up against their men. The men grimace and watch out of the corner of their eyes. They squeal and give out nervous laughs. They don’t want to watch but they will. These are the people I can have fun with. I break the patter and try to comfort them in a calm soothing voice. “Trust me, its not hurting you.”. This rarely works. They twist and laugh, there reaction becomes the show. Sometimes I get closer and demonstrate how I can make the tip of the nail twitch and jump at will. Sometimes I even convince them to pull the nail from my face. They hold it with thumb and forefinger at arms length. They may be slightly repulsed but very entertained.

There are also the fainters. Not a common occurrence but always a memorable experience. It is always the larger men who pass out. The gentleman’s body goes limp, his eyes roll back into his head and he slumps into his seat. This is usually followed by the lady he is with screaming with confusion and fear. I have learned from experience and resist the urge to jump into the audience and help revive. The first thing that you see when you come to should not be me with nail in head shaking you awake. The men always say that it was too hot, have a glass of water and continue with the show.

Then there are the disgusted, not the fun I-don’t-want-to-watch-but-I-have-to! Disgusted but a specific kind that just shuts down. They stare to the ground stone faced. Some will turn around completely if the have the opportunity. They show no emotion except for great concentration of ignoring what is going on. They do not like it and they never will. I leave these people alone. Maybe I can get a laugh out of them with the next act when I stick my tongue in a mousetrap.

I have learned many stunts in my years as a professional performer. Swallowed swords in the streets of Times Square and warmed up a room eating fire. I got a great workout from juggling a chainsaw and had indigestion from eating too many light bulbs. I spent a summer hanging from my ankles escaping from a straitjacket and learned a few jokes along the way. But when I am looking for something that is going to stick with the audience nothing beats the old hammer and nail.