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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Believe it or not... » » Origin of mark (6 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

gregg webb
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The term "mark" as in so and so is a mark, in carnival parlance, comes from a time when someone who was part of the crew would walk around the midway and actually make a chalk mark on the back of someone determined to be slightly inebriated and also who had money, so when they should arrive at one of the "games", the operator of the game would see the mark and know that this person has been pre-approved to be concentrated on. They even used to address the person as Mark. If the person would say "My name isn't Mark" the operator would say something like "I could have sworn you were Mark", or something similar. Don't spend a lot of time around carnivals, but a little time won't hurt your understanding of the "games". Carnivals, Festivals, Feasts, etc.
These terms from the art of deception have entered our popular culture from movies and TV, but the origins go way back. Razzle-Dazzle for example, is a term from the midway. Don't forget the side-shows. The old wooden "Blade Box" wasn't an illusion in the sense we think, but they'd put the girl in the box and then push in the wooden "blades" and of course it seemed like it isn't possible, but you could pay extra to go up on stage and look in to see how the girl had contorted herself to make it possible.
rossmacrae
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Not so much how the girl had contorted herself - you were led to believe that she might be naked.
ringmaster
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After you've pulled a dress out of the opening in the top.
At the Indeana State Fair we had a large group of patched bikers and OLs, They were clean, sober and enjoyed the show. When John Bradshaw did the blade box pitch, they all stood back and watched, finally the leader went up, (we were dinging a quarter),he looked in to the box and started roaring with laughter. He then came down and said OK everybody go up and look. Nobody moved at first, until he said "I said go up" everybody fell in line and donated 25 cents to our research fund.
One of the last living 10-in-one performers. I wanted to be in show business the worst way, and that was it.
gregg webb
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Where I saw it she was also the stripper, so a good assumption. I didn't work on any carnivals but went and hung around to watch and listen. In Manhattan there was a group, Tommy Laird, and the mouse pitch, Lady Estelleen the sword swallower, Guy Mosley the juggler, that's all I can remember. This was in Times Square before they cleaned it up (some). I never got out to Coney Island when Al Flosso was there.
gregg webb
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See, you guys know the jargon. That seems to me like it would be valuable to filmmakers and authors (novelists). You guys could put out a book on the language of carneys, or is it a dialect?
rossmacrae
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Quote:
On Sep 20, 2021, gregg webb wrote:
See, you guys know the jargon. That seems to me like it would be valuable to filmmakers and authors (novelists). You guys could put out a book on the language of carneys, or is it a dialect?


See my lingo dictionary at http://goodmagic.com/carny/index.htm
rossmacrae
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Blade Box — An act in which the performer (usually a woman) lies in a box while steel blades are pushed through it, apparently a traditional "cutting a woman in half" illusion, until the "blowoff" is announced: "Sheila is going to step behind the curtain for a moment and remove her costume. We are not doing this to be lewd or crude, but this feat requires her to twist and contort her body so severely that she cannot perform it while hampered by even this small item of clothing (here, honey, just hand out that costume and I'll fold it up nice for you) and now that she has prepared herself, she will recline in the cabinet and (opening the curtain as Sheila, lying in the cabinet, waves her arm to the crowd) I'm going to close the lid. Notice that the lid has openings for 13 steel blades (the crowd also notices even more openings they will get to peer through). Now I am not going to cut this beautiful young lady, because as I insert each blade she is bending, twisting and contorting her body in and around every one of these blades of steel, just like a snake, just like a rubber band, she can bend her body as these blades threaten to sever the most delicate parts of her body. (Pause for a look down into the box.) And now, I'm going to give the real men in the audience a chance to come up on stage and see for themselves! Sheila invites each and every one of you up here to see how she does it. You're going to see how her amazing body can twist around these razor-sharp blades, you're going to see the texture of her skin! But you should know that this lovely and talented little beauty receives no pay for displaying herself to your eyes in this fashion. Sheila feels that exposing her act and her body this way is worth one dollar, because she is paid only through your curiosity and your generosity. Now if I can get you all to line up at the foot of the stairs, just hand your dollar to the man at the foot of the steps and come up and see this beautiful little girl in the state she is in now, unashamed and waiting for you to view her." Of course, when you paid your dollar and looked into the box, the girl (who had so conspicuously handed out her garments) was wearing a tight bathing suit, and that's all that was promised: she's not wearing the costume you first saw her in. The tip was moved through the area so fast they hardly had a moment to figure out that they hadn't seen a nude girl, even though they had seen the "magic secret" of how she was contorted around the blades. A classic "blowoff" feature.
ringmaster
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Peter Lorre,in the movie "M" was marked with an "M" chalked on his back. It didn't mean mark.
One of the last living 10-in-one performers. I wanted to be in show business the worst way, and that was it.
rossmacrae
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Peter Lorre in "M" - the M was for "morder" - murderer
gregg webb
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Was there a real sideshow at Coney Island? I know Al Flosso worked out there, but I've heard there were more acts.
gregg webb
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Rossmacrae - I started reading the lingo dictionary. It is a terrific piece of work.
Harley Newman
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Coney Island has a long and varied history, most of which involves entertainment. Sideshows have been a staple there, whether single-Os or 10-in-ones. They have been stand-alone or part of larger enterprises. Currently, Sideshows By The Seashore operates there.
“You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus” -Mark Twain

www.bladewalker.com
gregg webb
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What acts do they have. I saw a bearded woman on the train. Does she work there?
Harley Newman
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I'm not sure who's working there right now. They have a regular calendar of events. Here's a link to their website:

https://www.coneyisland.com/about-coney-island-usa
“You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus” -Mark Twain

www.bladewalker.com
gregg webb
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Thank you.
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