Category Archives: Side Show, Circus and Carnival

Posts that have to do with side show, circus and the traveling carnival

Can’t Make It to the Show?


We will be pitching my wonderful Amazing Miracle Oil at Pop Haydn in the 21st Century! and will have bottles on hand for sale.

If you can’t make it to our show because of great distance or infirmity, don’t worry!

You can still purchase the Amazing Miracle Oil online HERE

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Freakshow Deluxe Sizzle Reel


My dear friends from Freakshow Deluxe.

What a wonderful bunch of Freaks!

Kenny Raskin’s wonderful “My Old Friend”


This is from Kenny Raskin, who created this presentation:

“I created my piece (a version, filmed for Danish television, can be viewed on youtube) in 1981. Like any normal performer, I began putting it out there when I was gigging, but also at clown and mime festivals throughout the United States. So the great thing is, if it’s a good piece, people notice you. You get some good press and you build your reputation in the business. You might even get hired by Cirque du Soleil, which is what happened to me.

“The bad thing is, people begin to copy you, and when you are new in your profession, sometimes your authorship gets called into question. That is hurtful… It’s been a long time, and most people that came up in the clown world with me know the true story. I may not have been the first person to do a routine like this, but I didn’t see someone do one and then go out and create my own… My focus these days is more on teaching the craft, so my livelihood is not at issue here. But for those who I know saw my work and used it to create their own version — Tina Lenert, Sasha, Gayle LaJoye, Peter Shub, Jason McPherson — you are welcome…”

Mirin Dajo–the Amazing Human Pincushion


This video is not for the faint of heart. There are graphic images of swords and rapiers being pushed through a human body. It is truly amazing, but could be upsetting for some.

Mirin Dajo was a sideshow and stage performer in the 1940’s. He was by far the most amazing act of his kind that has ever been reported.

He’d stand bare-chested while his assistant would take fencing foils, and one by one, run him through–Dajo never flinched and never showed the slightest pain. He attributed this ability to his yogic training and faith in God.

The curious were invited to watch as closely as they liked, and to examine the blades even while they were stuck through him.

Dajo was invited to a medical center for tests.

Dajo’s assistant stuck a foil into his back–under doctors’ scrutiny, and then pressed it all the way through. The skin pushed outward on his chest and the foil finally broke through.

Dajo seemed well despite the event. With the foil stuck through him, Dajo walked to their X-ray lab, where they took shots verifying the foil did indeed pierce his abdomen all the way through, passing through and among major organs.

Mirin Dajo was born in 1912 as Arnold Gerrit Henskes. The first records of Dajo come from 1947 when he allowed an assistant to plunge a fencing foil right through his body at the Corso Theatre in Zurich.

The foil appeared to have pieced several vital organs, but Dajo was unharmed.

Mirin was forced to undergo many medical tests and to perform his act for baffled doctors. After x-ray tests were conducted, the legitimacy of his abilities was confirmed by the medical community. It could not be explained by any physician.

Mirin Dajo was a very religious man and some media outlets labeled him a “Messiah.”

His sideshow displays were often concluded with a lecture and a message of peace.

During his act he took to being impaled by three hollow skewers. He would then pump water through those skewers to become a human fountain.

On May 26, 1948, Mirin Dajo died from an aortic rupture.

He was not performing at the time, but his death could have resulted from previous acts.

More info here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mirin_Dajo

Heather Holliday Coney Island Sword Swallower


Great interview with lovely Heather Holliday, the Coney Island sword swallower:

The Horn Nut Scam


In the course of a tour de force round of stories and virtuoso performances of a number of entertaining pitches and ballys, Bobby Reynolds explains the Horn Nut Scam, a ruse he used as a child to sell worthless Chinese horn nuts as Chinese Water Lily bulbs.

The scam is evidently very old and has some interesting associated stories.

The nut looks like a water buffalo head, and the horns will float upwards when the nut is placed in water. A hole is drilled between the horns, and a gladiola flower is glued in place. Three or four of these are floated in a bowl of water.

Horn NutHorn Nut

Nancy Magill and I were delighted to participate in both of the Senior Pitchmen Reunions in Las Vegas. This is a gathering of pitchmen over sixty years old, people who sold medicine in the medicine shows, svengali decks in the carnival, puppets on the street corner, and kitchen gadgets, miracle cleaners, dusters and a million other items on television and now on the internet.

We videod four hours of interviews at the convention in 2009, and that became our DVD, “The Senior Pitchman’s Reunion, 2009” from School for Scoundrels (available at www.scoundrelsstore.com)

This video is from volume II, “The Senior Pitchman’s Reunion, 2010.” We should be releasing this volume in the next month or so.

— Pop Haydn

New Senior Pitchmen DVD


Here are Bobby Reynolds, S. David Walker and Wally Nash talking about the Medicine Show pitch at the 2nd annual Senior Pitchmen Reunion in Las Vegas in 2010.

Nancy Magill and I video-taped four hours of interviews at the first convention in 2009, and that became the Senior Pitchmen Reunion DVD available from www.scoundrelsstore.com

This clip is from the second annual convention DVD, the Senior Pitchmen Reunion 2010. We will be releasing this DVD in the next month or two.

Magill did all the camera work, and I did the editing and titles.

We want to thank Gene Haaheim for letting us be a part of both of these wonderful get-togethers and record them for posterity.

This is a convention of pitchmen–the guys who sell watches, puppets, svengali decks, flower bulbs, kitchen gadgets, miracle cleaners, knives and dusters on the street, in carnivals, in stores, on television and on the internet–all of them over 60 years old.

These are guys who spent a lifetime hustling, drawing a crowd, and pitching the product.

Pitchmen are not only a fascinating, unique and attractive life-style and sub-culture, they are a fountain of information on how to survive and prosper in this most basic of entreprenurial fields. But their knowledge is also helpful to magicians, salesmen, emcees and others who need to know how to draw and hold a crowd, how to control their thinking, and how to sell them a product.

Pop Haydn featured on Sideshow World:


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