Ralph was a great old guy. He had been around and played every kind of venue imaginable. He did have a long time relationship with the bottle, but when he put on his white tux jacket, he was the epitome of class.
Ralph had a bunch of holiday shows scheduled. These were family events thrown by various groups such as the Rotary Club and the Elks.
This was Ralph's deal. If I accompanied him to these events, stood in the back of the room in a clown costume and made balloon animals for all the kids, he would teach me some sideshow acts. We started this right after Thanksgiving and the last show was shortly before New Year's Day.
I hung in there. At the end of these weeks, with sometimes five or six shows a week, Ralph said to me, "I didn't think you would last a week, but trouped on through. Okay, here's how you eat fire."
So, that is how it started. But what really gave me entree to the world of the sideshow is that I was interested in more than just the skills. I asked Ralph where he learned to eat fire and hammer a nail into his nose. And I wanted to know where he had done it, what shows he had played and what his experiences were. This appreciation of his personal history showed respect. He opened up to me and then introduced me to other old timers. I treated them the same way and this brought me a wealth of information and knowledge.
This respectful approach has served me well through the years and is something that I try to continue.
So, I started learn. But the questions was, what can I perform these skills?
To be continued...