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T-RAY
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What's everyone's favorite gaff/show that they ever saw? Of course, mine is the first time I saw a 2 headed calf in a NC mountains mystery house. Also the first time I went up those stairs to see the Headless Woman!!!! I just died laughing!!!! I went through a place in Florida that had more pickled things than I've ever seen since. I would also like to know about any cool historical gaffs that drew a lot of attention in the past. Thanks
Doug Higley
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Mine of course every time I finish one! Smile

But seriously, actually it was a Giant I had in my big musuem. He was phenominal. Built by Nelson Supply around the turn of the former century. OLAF The Giant was their masterpiece. I've seen a few Nelson's over the years and this was beyond them all. He even had the original banner still with him. Don't know where he is these days...maybe Oregon or Washington State. Where ever he is, he's still fooling Scientists and Doctors like he did when I had him. At 9 1/2 feet tall and made of numerous actual 'parts' (bones and sinew etc) he stretched out in his masive glass covered coffin like a King. And he was.

Olaf had been exhibited at the Seattle World's Fair to great acclaim. The guy that owned him when I exhibited him in the museum refused to believe Olaf was a gaff...even after I showed him his picture in the old Nelson Catalog. T-Ray...you want to see a gaff...find Olaf!

He was owned (while at the World's fair) by a character who had created the Doc Jones Fantastic Museum...he was sold for an absolute FORTUNE...the guy who bought him bought the entire Doc Jones collection just to get him. Magnificent. (Much of Doc Jones stuff was in my museum on loan.)

The other gaffs I have enjoyed over the years were the primitive, rather inept, but oh so charming attempts by Homer Tate.

I've not been a big fan of taxidermy gaffs for whatever reason...mainly there are too many REAL animal freaks available.

I like the 'unkown impossible' stuff. (Maybe you can tell)

I take great comfort and pleasure on knowing that my gaffs are the only ones many these days have ever seen...and don't even know it. It's good to be the Phantom!

Higley
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T-RAY
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I like the impossible stuff also Doug!!! The feeling I got as a kid was the best.....I love seeing that look on people's faces. Doug, what other historical gaffs blew people away? I had heard about the Cardiff giant, but not the Olaf. Some of the old Tate stuff looks like people would have just walked away mad (I did just recently see a picture of a real mummified body that looked almost like a Tate!!).
thegreatnippulini
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About a couple years ago I worked with Jack Constantines show. He had some of the worst I've seen. His chupacabra was a mannaequin in a box with hay thrown over it, so most people couldn't figure it out. The mannaquin had some neat effects on its face, but not too convincing. Then there was the mysterious woodland creature. I think he called it a pygmy deer. It had a baby deers body with fox legs and who knows what else. Then there was the live animal show. We had a sheep with two lambs. The ewe was shorn normally except under her throat. After a while, the unshorn portion hung down looking real bad. Eventually it was gaffed to look like an extra leg. Those days were fun.
The Great Nippulini: body piercer, Guinness World Record holder, blacksmith and man with The World's Strongest Nipples! Does the WORLD care? We shall see...
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Doug Higley
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Hahaha...hay Nips...I think that Chupacabra that Jack Constantine had was the 1st one I ever made! Look on my site and see if you recognize the face. ( http://grindshow.com/GrindShow/A_Midway_First.html ) It would be the one labeled "The 1st Sideshow Chupacabra Ever!) I don't remember it as that unconvincing but Lord knows what it had been through by the time you saw it! At least it had some "neat effects on it's face" left! hahaha. When I first made it, Jack took it to Puerto Rico as a single-o...had a nice banner made for it and had it on a riser in a cage (so he told me)...anyway it was a disaster date for him...there was a HUGE rain storm (hurricane?)...the show was set up BEHIND a massive ride (and nobody could see it) and not only were the crowds light, there was a murder or two on the midway which scared more people away. Jack is a character (ain't we all)...haven't talked to him in years. Ah, the good old days.
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Harley Newman
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Hey Nipps!

Was the pygmy deer a gaff, or real? There IS a critter called a Kantjil, which is actually the smallest in the antelope family, and lives in such places as Sumatra and parts of Southeast Asia. There's a huge body of folk tales about it, some wonderful stories. AKA Mousedeer.
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Doug Higley
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"Is that a Mousedeer in your pocket?"...she said.
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T-RAY
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Who has the best gaff show out now and from the past? Single-o or full museum show..........
thegreatnippulini
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It might have been the same chup. Yours looks way better than what I remember seeing. And the pygmy deer was definitely gaffed, the taxidermy showed everything. Mousedeer, heh heh. I like the deermouse better!
The Great Nippulini: body piercer, Guinness World Record holder, blacksmith and man with The World's Strongest Nipples! Does the WORLD care? We shall see...
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Doug Higley
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Single-O: Currently Kondini in the UK has a show that will break ALL records of ALL time (your just gonna have to wate to hear about it) and there is a Magician on this board (California) who has a private Curiosity Cabinet of 'things' that he uses to get big ticket extra $ when he books his shows...also there is another Café member who is currently at a Rodeo set up doing very well with a Single-O...when it comes to Gaffs we got it covered. In the past, lets say the 90's I had the Lost Pygmy Tribe Of The Amazon Show...Fred Olan Ray had a show featuring My stuff and Frierson's...Frierson and Murray had their Mystery Museum Show...prior to that Bobby Reynold's had his Arabian Giantess and other shows out...Ward Hall had a bunch of 'stuff'...look T-Ray...it's a very small group...and every time you ask, the same answers will come up...Gaff Grindshows pretty much died DEAD untill I started pumping them up again years ago and putting MANY shows out there on the road with my plan and zibits. Mark was doing banners and his gaffs. Same fingers are in most of the pies...that's just the way it is. There have been a couple of small and short lived spurts and a couple of wannabees but for long term bein' 'with it' since the late 70's anyway it's been me and Frierson building the gaffs, my output far exceeding anyone else since Tate...and of course the showmen Reymolds, Murray and Hall and Constantine and the many Guys & 1 Gal I have taught and got fired up, many of whom are still out there doing Flea Markets and fairs etc. My Zibits have toured the world with major Legit museum shows..Marks have been in the Tabloids numerous times and on TV. Mine have been on TV in Movies so has Marks. So when it comes to Gaffs...we are it...and mark seems to have slowed down to a near stop in providing shows. So that leaves me supplying the shows...and a few wannabees who sell to the public.

You want Grind Show History? You're talkin' to it. You want Side Show Knowledge, History and experience? SanScan is the man. Performance? Harley Newman, Todd Robbins, Nips & Kondini. You have the oportunity here on the Café to learn all there is to know...phenominal ain't it. The actual people you read about in books and see on TV...right here to answer your questions....focus...deliniate...donate to the Café!


The biggest Gaff Show Tour & Coup EVER is about to be pulled off...we're just gonna have to wait a bit for the news. Smile

Higley

By the way...get Joe Nickell's book Secrets Of The Side Shows.
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Freak Prodigy
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You couldn't have said it better my friend.

Have you found out why Mark is slowing down? I can't get hold of him. (never responds to e-mail)

heh...nice plug at the end there...I just finished reading that book for the third d@mn time. It's the best ever written on the subject.


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Doug Higley
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Well the thing is that info on the gaffs is sparce...guess why? IT WAS SECRET!!!
Not many knew where this stuff was coming from...till the internet anyway.
The only place I used to put any info was in Circus Report...a very 'insider' paper at the time owned by the late GREAT Don Marcks. (His magnificent Miniature Circus can be seen at Playland Not At The Beach in El Cerito, when it finaly gets open for real...huge job putting it all together for many years.) Anyway...I did my first gaff in about 1971 or 72 but on a very limited very private basis. Mark told me the other day he got in it about 1980, the same time I started to do it for real and not just playing around. There was another guy who is just a wisp of a legend, Pond Lilly Bill (deceased if he was real other wise if not real, I know who started the story) who made a few things and there's a guy who likes to make things mostly for himself but sells occasionally (Baltimore) and doesn't let anybody know that he made them.

The greatest of all time in my estimation was the Nelson Supply Company. Late 1800's (?)-Early 1900's. So throuout recent history, in terms of being prolific...there was Nelson...Tate...Higley...Frierson...who had any output to speak of. I'm sure there must have been a couple of others but the sources were pretty much secrets or just dabblers.

As to why Mark has slowed down...yeah I know why but it's not for me to say in total...I think some of it had to do with just getting fed up with not being recognized as an artist, which he certainly is to a high degree...of all the banner painters, there might be better illustrators but none have the Primitive Power of a Frierson, IMO. Also I think he got caught up in trying to compete with the wannabees in their arena rather than in the disappearing 'insider' arena we both had worked in to service. The difference in the wannabees is they come and go and lack the passion and sense of history both Mark and I have for the art. I know that bugs him no end.
Me, I just ignore them and stand the ground I helped pioneer for the 21st Century! (I am Duck Dodgers? Smile )

At the same time, I took a different approach and decided to develop my own arena of nurturing folks who had the desire to be showman but didn't know how. I figured if the shows were going away and the real showman were getting out of it (except a few die hards) I had better find out why it was happening and how it could change...and develop my own clientele and not just sell gaffs but at least attempt to make them successful at a game everyone else said was dead as a doornail. Well, I proved that to be WRONG thankfully by taking a new approach. The public is/was always there for the biz, they just needed a new presentation to fit the times. Once the internet came around coincidently, (or not) the other shows were on the wane, but I was able to reach new folks with the photos and at least let them know stuff was available they didn't know existed. But on a limited basis...don't want too many folks in on the gaff and I slowed down to a trickle...Word spread amongst performers and others who had the urge and occasionally I'd make something and get a show out on the road and then a couple of years ago (I lose track) the Magic Café opened up a major door in the performers area for me and since magicians had always been my main stay, I was able to reach the guys that really were my customers all along in a bigger way.

Mark took the eBay route...but he may be coming around Smile I hope. We have never been competitors...more like brothers who get a kick out of each others attemps to entertain and amuse. I have said for years (in jest to him) that he made lousy gaffs and great banners and I made lousy banners and great gaffs...but the truth is we do completely different things and approach gaffs differently as well...on banners..when I need banners for my own shows, even though I could have painted them easily, I went to Mark to get the best I could get. There are so called banner painters croping up in that 'other' arena that paint pure crap and I know it bugs him that much of the public who buy's them can't tell the difference...same with my stuff...but hey, they come and go and till I croak, I'm standing ground and knockin' 'em out of the park.

I just got this PM from an Anon Café member who has a 'Higley Zibit...if you still ask does it work? read this ...

"...was out last evening (a St. Pat's day street thing that a number of local pubs sponsored). The street is totally pedestrian, no vehicle traffic. The promoters let a number of vendors set-up for nothing but promising to abide by the “rules”.

Up went the E-Z up and in TWO HOURS I had turned a little over $300.00. I charged a buck a head or a buck for a couple. I did let a couple of kids (12 –14 year olds) in for free (they are our future). Not a big turn for the two hours, the people were more interesting in drinking green beer and scoring with scantily clad colleens! Still not bad for an evening of visiting with people!"

It works...nothing has changed but the presentation. Smile


Higley
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drwilson
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This is all gold, keep typing Doug!

Yours,

Paul
T-RAY
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Great stuff Doug.....it is a desolate midway out there.....I'm sick of people saying it's dead, but like you said, you have to stand your ground or get buried under it. What other great single-o's have made it? I've been trying to think of new directions, but I know there are tons of ideas that have already worked and have been almost forgotten.
Doug Higley
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Like I told you in a couple of PMs...you need to read the How-To to get my answers so they make sense...it has all you need to know...I'd love to just send it to you...BUT I'm a stickler for keeping my word and I gave that word to those who are using the plan NOT to just give it away.

I'm not trying to sell info, I make weird stuff not publish e-books to make money...but rules is rules...and there are a bunch of folks who are making their living off my info and I have to be fair to them only to pass it on to those who are actually getting in the game and can follow the directions.

In my plan...it doesn't matter WHAT you show it's HOW you show it. It is what you show in only one aspect...If you plan to show a Two Headed Baby or some such and go for the bottom feeders loose change...this isn't for you. There's nothing wrong with showing a Two Headed Baby...some of my best freinds have 2 headed Babys! But there is a HUGE portion of the population that will not pay a nickel to see one. So why lose all their loose change for the few who will? And I mean Two Headed Baby generically...as in any gross or over the top freak out lose your lunch exhibit. That's not what I found works anymore to get EVERYBODY to give you a glance.

The idea is to attract EVERYBODY or at least make them curious, not turn them off.

The hard fact is my simple small show can sit right next to a huge elaborate show and go doller for doller in the win column...with out the expence or heartaches.

It is being done right now...this minute that way...I just got off the phone with one of our Café guys who is nailing to the wall it as we speak. With him is THE #1 pitchman on the planet who is mightly impressed with how things are going and having his ancient eyeballs opened on how things CAN work these days.

So anyway...if you want a big museum collection then you have all the hundreds of years of history to read up on and a few of the old timers still at it to brain pick from.

Maybe, like me, T-Ray, you need to do it your way and figure out the ins and outs and kick all our asses...that would be cool!

Bottom line is the WHAT doesn't count a hill of beans if you have the HOW.

Higley
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T-RAY
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What other crazy gaffs have ya'll seen?
handa
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I've been trying to find the right words for this, but the best exhibits are actually the ones I HAVEN'T SEEN.

Growing up, I wasn't permitted to attend little carnivals beyond church fairs, only remember one circus (Syria Shrine in a Civic Auditorium), and was limited to farmers' markets and gift shops as far as roadside attractions went. There are a couple of notable exceptions (Dinosaur Land in Virgina comes to mind), but I remember coming home from Niagara Falls to find out that my parents kept me away from Clifton Hill and the best things to see while visiting. I didn't even know that all of the wax museums, etc. existed on that visit!

So the banners and billboards that I saw on our drives to larger, more "legitimate" destinations fueled my imagination and they were the "greatest things ever" only because I never actually saw them.

Now that I have my own time and money at my disposal, I do my best to visit these places myself as well as collect oddities for my own closet!

Chris
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