The billboard read,
"The largest carnival in the world."
I remember as a kid going to the Carnival. A small rinky-dink of an operation that hit town once a year. A big tent, a few rides, a few booths, stuffed animals and candy floss everywhere. If I remember correctly it was set-up in one corner of a shopping mall's parking lot.
What interested me the most, over the rides, like the Roller Coaster and the Octopus with it's long tentacles or the Tea Cup that would spin you around until you got sick, over the single Tiger that paced back and forth in an 8X20 cage, over all the gambling booths and shooting ranges, the hustle bustle, the screams of laughter and terror, it was the House of Horrors and the Freak Shows that interested me the most.
There is something about a Freak Show that fascinates me, I couldn't wait to get inside and for the show to begin. The man at the gate standing behind a podium was yelling for everyone walking by to: "Step right in and see sights that no man should be forced to look at." Signs and posters of the Fat Lady, weighing in at over six hundred pounds, standing beside a Sperm whale and her skinny husband a mire fifty pounds. Bob, the man with no arms or legs. Mr. Elastic, the man who could stretch his skin beyond what is considered normal. The sword swallowers, the midgets and dwarfs. Oh and the giants, the tattooed lady donning a beard, the fleas and a real show stopper, the man/woman with both male and female genitalia, what kind of creature was that? Oh, that fascinated me. What about the woman that ate the heads off live rats? I was shocked but couldn't look away, I almost started to cry. They even had their own version of the Elephant Man, a man who looked just like Joesph Merrick himself, the Elephant Man. I was sure it was him.
I remember my heart beating, the excitement growing, as the man lifted the flap of the tent for me to enter. It was just a big tent with a small stage and closed curtains. There were no chairs to sit, everyone had to stand and watch.
Curtains were drawn as each Freak was presented. People would gasp looking at the poor sole up on stage standing proud in a disease riddled or a grotesquely disfigured body. Some people laughed. A lady upfront fainted, two others screamed. They screamed again when the Snake man poked his tattooed face from under the curtain, then screamed again when he stuck his forked tongue out at them.
You can't see these Freak Shows in Canada or the United States anymore, people's views have changed since then, the Freak Show has been outlawed. It was considered to cruel so the government censors decided we shouldn't see them.
This hasn't put an end to the Freak Show though, now you can turn on your TV and see these same Freaks. See how they live, in real time. Does "Little People" ring any bells? How about the British television show, Extraordinary People? Jackass the movie, that was a Freak Show wasn't it?
Hasn't everyone seen the Plastic Woman, Joan Rivers in the Fashion Police, doing the red carpet? Same thing!
So, if you still want to see a Freak Show in person, the same old shows of yesteryear, with their live jaw dropping acts and dare devil feats, you'll have to go to another country. Yes, there are places left where the Freak Show is still alive and thriving.
Unfortunately, they also have live Dancing Bears. I draw the line here.
Yes, Freak Shows should be banned.