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Lee Darrow
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Chicago, IL USA
3588 Posts

Profile of Lee Darrow
I have recently been contacted by a film maker to do a spot in a new independent production film about the old grind shows back around the turn of the 19th/20th century.

The character is a midway pitch-type magician, doing the cups & balls on a folding table on the midway as a distraction for another character, who is doing the dip of the marks.

I need comments/information sources on this kind of performer, including costuming (they want to stay away from tails, top hat and cape as this is a cheap-o tent show kind of scene) and hairstyle as well as the kinds of pitch they might make to draw the tip.

Any help would be appreciated.

Lee Darrow, C.Ht.
<BR>"Because NICE Matters!"
Dr. Hoodwink
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New user
Eastern NC
42 Posts

Profile of Dr. Hoodwink
I'm no scholar, but I'm a great fan of turn-of-the-century sideshow-type entertainment. So much so that I'm patterning my magic/sideshow act on the concept and trying to integrate the basic image into my Vaudeville/circus troupe's overall look. My costume consists of black slacks, black boots, vest (waistcoat), frock coat and either a headscarf or, yes, my Brian Dube top hat.

Probably my favorite source is a book by J.W. Stencell. I just got off work, am extremely fried from dealing with a frantic book-buying public and ineffectual management, and am not on top of my mental game. As such, I simply can not remember the dang book's title and I'm not at my magical tower of might wherein is contained my library. A Google search under "Stencell" and "Girl Show" (title of another book of his) should get you a hit. Also, the book is readily available through most bookstores. I work at a large-chain bookseller and that's how I got my copy.

The book covers American sideshows from throughout American history and is liberally endowed with photos and paintings. Overall, it's a wonderful read. His book Girl Show is also great and not necessarily as titillating as the lay public may think.

Wrong period, but if you look carefully at your local B&N, they may have a couple of copies of a book of Edward Kelty's photography. He took photos of circus and sideshow folk during the 1920s and 1930s. There are several pics of actual sideshow troupes.

For a more authoritative opinion, check out Slim's Sideshow website (I forget the addy). It's a great place to read posts by various and nefarious underworld showfolk.

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Veteran user
San Tan Valley, AZ
343 Posts

Profile of docdazzal
Hi Lee...

May I take this opportunity to reach out from across the time and space that separate us and extend to you a firm hand of greeting and warm wishes.

A medicine show is a turn of the century (old fashioned magic show)...I have a lot of fun with it. As for your may want a fast talker, been around and done it all type of persona.

For your may get some good ideas from from Wild West Mercantile, out of Phoenix, AZ. I do all my costume shopping there...they specialize in late 1800 to early 1900 authentic clothing.

Wild West Mercantile
5637 N 19th Ave
Phoenix, AZ 85016

Good luck with your shoot...continued success.

Best Regards,
Doc Dazzal
Dazzal's Entertainment Co., Inc.
Dr. Dan
Psychic & Paranormal Entertainment
Lee Darrow
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Chicago, IL USA
3588 Posts

Profile of Lee Darrow
Thanks to both Doc's for the input.

I am dealing with costuming through the production company—they called me last night for measurements, etc. so they have the costume issue covered. I just hope they have it right.

As to patter, I have a feeling there is this nasty thing called a script that I'm going to have to deal with. :sigh:

But I appreciate the input. Their initial contact with me gave me a different impression about what they had in mind.

Let's hope they don't screw things up too badly. I'll post title and release dates when they become available.

It's indy-prod (independent production), so I am not expecting to go to Cannes or the Academy's next year on this thing! Heck, I doubt if it'll make Sundance, frankly.

But who knows? Look at what happened with the Blair Glitch—er, um, Witch!

Kind regards and thanks again.

Lee Darrow, C.Ht.
<BR>"Because NICE Matters!"
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