After deciding that I simply could not force myself to take off work for the summer and travel with a bus full of twisted, entertaining, intelligent, run-about carnival performers - I decided to let my dog and my daughter travel with them instead. Actually, truth be known, Bryce Graves, the manager of the Bros. Grim Side Show wasn't actually asking me to tour with them. He was more interested in Faith my dog, I was just collateral I suppose, more or less the trainer if you will - although, I don't believe Faith has actually been trained to do much of anything - she's a true diva at times.
For the month of July and just barely into August, Laura and Faith traveled through about 13 states and performed in about 8 shows. I could stop and count: Seattle, Mountain View, Sacramento, DeVore, Phoenix, (would have been Denver), Albuquerque, Kansas City, and finally Dallas. How many is that? Yep - 8. Each show begins with great music, mysterious barkers (but Dylan calls himself a talker, claiming Barker tells people to "Come on down", where he tells people to "Step right up!" I liked that - except it's not actually BARKER that tells people to come down now is it, it's Johnny Eubanks I think. Nevertheless - back on track - Bro. Grim Side Show is a real live 1920's style carnival type side show with fantastic performers, music, misty fog, lights, illusions, magicians, dancers, snakes and well this year it included: Jack Ringca the elite and very very talented yo-yo master, William Darke - fire eater, illusionist, caller, and I think he did a gig where he may have used blades to cut a woman in half - he does that from time to time. It included Zamora the Torture King (Google that man!), Lady Diablo, she nearly sets herself on fire lighting a cigarette with a couple of power tools - she also swallows swords, coat hangers, and gets herself cut in half six times a day - on stage was Jackie, a multi-talented woman who from birth has been disabled, but that doesn't stop her from performing martial arts, standing on one hand, walking on her hands, and creating fun and havoc!
Also on the line up was a gorgeous burlesque dancer named Amy. She took the breath away from both men and women alike as she did her routine - colorful plumes, tiny outfits, big smiles on every member of the audience during her gig, let me tell you. But the act that stole my heart and got my attention every time was that of my little girl Laura. I don't think she was on stage more than a minute and a 1/2 each show, and she didn't do more than walk around with Faith and throw doggie biscuits at her pooch, allowing her walking and balance skills to be seen - however, you gotta know my little girl was doing something she had never been able to do before the tour, and that was to get up in front of people and just have fun. She's performed for years as a singer, and she's been in concert bands and such. She's been a cheerleader, in gymnastics, so it's not like she hasn't been seen - she's been seen. This time she was having a blast just fooling around with Faith and showing off the talents of a little dog that just happens to have two legs and a wagging smiling tongue. By far my favorite part of the show.
Of course, there were side shows to the side show. The barkers Ken and Dylan were handsome in their vests and dress clothes, dapper and keen wearing derbys. Crystal Firefly Lockhart was there just being as adorable as she always is. I didn't get to see her perform this show, as I think she was taking tickets. She and Faith are EXACTLY the same height, and Faith followed her around like - well, like a puppy! When Crystal would turn around suddenly she'd be faced with a nose in her mouth! I wish I had snapped the picture fast enough - it was just too adorable. Nichole with her 20 pound headdress and tiny corsetted outfit - made me believe a woman can do anything she wants in 5 inch heels! Stitch was there too. What the heck is a Stitch? I'm not sure - but she's gorgeous! I think she usually performs with the side show as a dancer, she has strategic holes and piercings placed around and on her beautiful body where she can be lifted by hooks - yes, I said hooks. I had to laugh when a woman asked me what William was doing in a picture she took from the internet - she pointed up at him on the stage and she said "Is this the same guy that puts a drill up his nose?" and she showed me a picture.
I sell insurance. I told Alex, the sparking power-tool woman that from the point of view of an insurance sales agent - she scared me. They all scare me. Zamora scares me the most. He puts spikes through his mouth and throat, he eats glass - so give me a little girl throwing dog biscuits at a two-legged dog...please!
On the bus, which was Jenevieve Cosner's bus (firstname.lastname@example.org) people were huddled around each other talking about their lives, not their acts - amazing lives these people lead - and from all over the country too. Literally coming together from every corner of our nation to be on this tour - I found that remarkable. They do this from time to time, and if it isn't this particular group, they'll find others - for instance, Laura and Faith, who are from Oklahoma, have left the tour, but Bryce is picking up another animal act in Missouri. Jackie hails from Idaho, Stitch from New Mexico, William from Florida, I think Crystal lives in Denver. I don't know where Jack is from - he's the most interesting man really, appearing shy and introverted - but he's actually quite capable of holding his own both in conversation and deed. They all are. I have to say of all the people in the world I've been blessed in meeting - side show performers (and that includes Stigmata - a very tattooed and body-barbed man of diverse talents and insights) have the ability to bend their minds over most matters - creating a circle of strength for themselves as well as they compadres - protection, as well as standing or belief. They simply are a different and beautiful people - - sometimes as fearless as their faces are tattooed to make you believe at times (Stigmata); and at times as vulnerable, open, honest, intellectual, and graceful to a fault.
It was both a pleasure and an honor to meet and speak with everyone on that tour - I know Laura loved each person as a true honorary member of the family. I thank you all for finding the time and the energy to love her as well. I do hope we can continue to be a part of the side show when we can - but if not, Laura (and Faith I'm sure) will have dreams and stories to last a lifetime. Laura rolls up in the passenger seat on the way home from Dallas last night, she drew in a deep solid breath and said "Mommy, I'm glad to be going home, but you know what, I learned about five years of life lessons in about four weeks' time - I can't be the same as I was before." The tour had its great ups and its great downs, but you know what - like any other great show, it went on.
Step right up!