Wednesday, October 10, 2007

It's getting close.

The Sideshow Gathering is an annual assembly of some great folks. A Parliament of Peculiar and Puzzling Physical Phenomena and Prodigies!

To put it simply, I can't wait. This is the first time since the Gathering started that I'm able to go. I'm more excited about the drive up there, I'm hitching a ride with Bob Blackmar and John Bradshaw. They are two people in the community that I look up too.

There will be amazing things to see, talk about and live at this year's Gathering.

If you can make it, I urge you to go... it will be an experience well worth having. You'll get to meet great artists, visual and performance alike. Can you imagine what it is like to hang out with people that on a day to day basis, swallow swords, eat fire and glass and discuss pickled punks, mummies and strait jackets in everyday conversation?

I can and it's gonna be great!


Friday, October 5, 2007

The Sideshow Gathering.



This Halloween season, this small town in northeastern Pennsylvania will once again become the world's center of weirdness when the 14th Annual Inkin' The Valley tattoo convention and Sideshow Gathering 2007 roll into town. From November 2nd through 4th, the strange, the unusual and the freakish will take center stage.

Showmen from across the country will congregate to celebrate the giddy thrills and forbidden mysteries of the circus and carnival sideshow. Over the weekend, these carnies will swap lies (or "cut up jackpots", as they say), swallow swords, eat razor blades, walk on broken glass, and invite the public to watch.

Past years at the Sideshow Gathering have witnessed world records broken, and even a carnie marriage ceremony on stage. This year's event promises to be just as unusual.Attractions at Sideshow Gathering 2007 will include: New York's Bindlestiff Family Cirkus; Col. Hunsley's Freaks & Oddities; Zamora, the Torture King; Washington DC's Swami Yomahmi and The Cheeky Monkey Sideshow; Disgraceland Family Freakshow; Natasha Veruschka, Queen of Swords; the old-timey medicine show that is Dr. Wilson's Memory Elixir; Denver's Crispy Family Carnival; Bizarro; and master of ceremonies Aye Jaye.

Vendors will also be on hand to display unusual items such as freakshow memorabilia and original artwork.

Concurrent with the 14th Annual Inkin' the Valley tattoo convention at Wilkes-Barre's The Woodlands Inn & Resort, Sideshow Gathering 2007 begins at 3:00 P.M. on Friday, November 2nd, with live sideshow performances starting at 5:00 P.M. and continuing until midnight. Performances will resume from 3:00 to 6:00 P.M. and 10:00 P.M. to midnight on Saturday, with a special after-hours auction of sideshow memorabilia. On Sunday, there will be an awards breakfast and encore performances from 1:00 to 4:00 P.M.

Tickets for the entire weekend of events are only $13 per person and provide entry to both the Sideshow Gathering and Inkin' the Valley. For more information, please visit

"The Side Show Gathering is a must for all aficionados of human oddities and performers of the strange and weird! Today's performers of the unusual entertain and amaze. Yesterday's 'greats' share past history and experiences with newcomers. It's a three-day adventure like no other I know." --Walt Hudson in Circus ReportGenerations of Americans once stood in line on their local fairgrounds to stare at human freaks and strange feats under a canvas tent.

Every big circus had a sideshow full of odd attractions, and dime museums flourished in every city. The golden days of the sideshow are long gone, but for this dedicated group of fans and performers the tradition is still very much alive. The Sideshow Gathering is a treat for the audience, but for performers it is also an opportunity to connect with fellow acts. "The Sideshow Gathering is the Switzerland of this illegitimate entertainment," says Keith Nelson, co-founder of the Bindlestiff Family Cirkus. "It provides a neutral ground for some of the most entertaining egos to gather. It is the only place on Earth where you will get tired of watching someone nail a spike directly into their head." Stephon Walker, whose alter-ego Swami Yomahmi will be performing at the Sideshow Gathering for the first time this year, says, "From the old pros to the new up-and-comers, the Gathering, well, gathers the most incredible group of carnies, new-vaudevillians, natural wonders, working acts, showmen, historians, artists and enthusiasts that you could ever hope to meet in one place. It's all real. It's all alive. And it's all at the Sideshow Gathering."

When asked what makes the Sideshow Gathering different from any other convention, Kathleen Kotcher (editor of the journal James Taylor's Shocked & Amazed! On and Off the Midway - which will debut its ninth volume at the Sideshow Gathering) said, "It is Christmas, your birthday and your first kiss all rolled up into one great weekend! The Sideshow Gathering is the greatest gathering of freaks (and the folks who love them) in the history of entertainment.

If you're a fan of the odd, bizarre and unusual - or if you just plain love a good time - the Sideshow Gathering is the place to be!"Franco Kossa, founder and organizer of the event, feels that the Sideshow Gathering is vital to keeping the tradition alive. "This is a tough business, and the sideshow world is a tight-knit community. The Gathering gives these folks a place to get together, cut up jackpots, show off a bit, and refresh their spirits. Not just anybody can go out there day after day pounding spikes into their face or letting people staple dollar bills to them. As they say in the business, it's a hard way to make an easy living!"

I'll be there!

Will you?

Brett Loudermilk

Tuesday, October 2, 2007


Off Topic, and unrelated to sideshow...

Today I came face to face with my West Virginia roots. I went junkin' with my grandfather.

I knew about junkin' before today, usually hillbillies (I'm allowed to say that since I am in fact, a hillbilly descendant) go around and steal copper and brass off of houses, air conditioners, cars, etc. Some even make a career out of it, they go up and down the riverbanks and take the cars and other junk, haul it to the recycling center to receive payment.

So as far as I knew junkin' was a mostly illegal job. I was corrected today, as I found myself atop a metaphorical gold mine. My grandfather and I were taking an early morning walk up a mountain today, we stumbled across an old man cleaning out his fathers house in order to move into it. He had a huge amount of scrap metal and plumbing fixtures, he asked if we wanted it... Of course my grandfather (ex-con man) jumped on the opportunity. Ol' Gramps asked the man if he could give us a ride home so that he could get his truck in order to haul everything away.

The whole way down the mountain my grandfather was smiling ear to ear...he knew what he was doing. We got home, got in the pickup and headed back up the mountain.

It took about twenty minutes to put everything in the bed of the truck. Next thing you know we are drive back down the mountain, my grandfather laughing all the way.

We arrived at the recycling center, and the man could barely wait to park the car before he jumped out to get one of the scale operators. We had to wait about thirty minutes before the recycling guys were done sorting out the steel from the copper and the brass.

As my grandfather puts it:
"Hot damn! Well buddy, that was time well spent right there!"

We earned close to seven hundred clams...

Hillbillies know how to live.

Now I do too!