Circus and Carnival Ballyhoo lifts the curtain on carnivals in America. Here is the history of the North American side show at circuses and carnivals, along with the stories of freaks and other side show acts in other venues such as dime museums, store front shows, in vaudeville, on movie theatre stages — and even at touring whale shows. This follow-up to Seeing is Believing (ECW, 2002) tells the story of the carnival in words and pictures.
The book follows the development of the circus side show with interviews and stories from side show workers that explain the role of freaks, working acts, managers, and talkers — and explores how important grift was to circuses and how it became located inside the side show.
From circus transportation to highlights of the construction of the big top, to Lentini the three-legged man, Siamese twins, and the folks with an extra body growing right out of them, Stencell gives us an incredible and very real perspective on the circus in words and photos.
A. W. Stencell (born of normal parents) owned and operated his own circus for nineteen years. Always an avid collector, he has found thousands of photos and illustrations of circuses, and interviewed hundreds of ex-carnival people. He lives in Toronto.
Published: August 2010
Dimensions: 10 x 8 in.
“A former circus owner chronicles the colourful history of sideshows. Full of photos from the author’s private collection and evocative slang such as ‘grifters’ and ‘lot lice,’ the book links exhibitions of freaks and curiosities past to today’s Body Worlds science shows and reality-TV contests involving the ingestion of bugs.” — Globe and Mail