the Bucky Four-Eyes Cotillion

Monday, September 12, 2005

Step right up

Between the Tom Waits references in the last set of comments, and the talk of side shows and freaks, I couldn't have titled this post any differently.

All this freak show talk reminds me of the little carnival barker act I used to perform, for the amusement of my parents and any adults who happened to be in the vicinity. FR-eak!

For some background, I should say that my dad's hobby was stage magic, and he had an elaborate carnival-themed stage setup at one point, complete with giant boards that Tardist painted up for him with carnival cliches like Jo Jo the Dog-Faced Boy and the Exotic Dancers (shame on you, Dad) and the Balloon Escapist. He would do a carnival barker act and perform sleight of hand during the course of the rap. He had the red-and-white vest and straw skimmer hat, he had a cane with which to point at the signs as he spoke, he had it all, as far as this five-year-old ham was concerned. It wasn't long before little Bucky had Dad's straw hat on, Dad's vest on, and Dad's pointing cane bein' waved wildly 'round the room. It was an outfit that said nothing so much as: You will not get laid until you are at least 30, and even then, it's iffy.

Obviously, they should have started my therapy then. But instead, they encouraged my freakishness, fully allowing me access to the carnival setup and paraphernalia. My dad even taught me the barker's rap. I don't remember it word for word, but here's what I can remember:

Step right up, ladies and gentlemen, step right up...one thin dime, the tenth part of a dollar!
See Jo Jo the Dog-Faced Boy - he walks, he talks, he crawls on his belly like a reptile!
and then something about These tantalizing terpsichorians!

I really wish I remembed it all, but come on - I was five years old at the time. That was an awful lot of beers ago. What I do remember is that my carnival barker's voice sounded just like I was the bastard child of Howard Cosell and Fran Drescher. This act was my contribution to the first-grade talent show at Ferry Elementary School. That's right - in Grand Haven, you must train carefully to be a Ferry. Sorry, folks, there are no photos of which I am aware.

Oh, but I didn't just get trotted out at school. Oh, no. One particular night, my folks had some company over for dinner and drinks (in retrospect, the "drinks" part of it makes a lot more sense now). After dinner, during drinks (aha!), I was asked to don my barker's vestments and entertain the semi-tipsy gathering.

A chance to perform? Oh, fuck yeah! Little Bucky was only too happy to make like a monkey in front of anyone who would pay attention (some things do not change).

So, I launched into my little spiel, barkin' and cane pointin', and about the time I got to the phrase "these tantalizing terpsichorians" the cute surreality of it all was just too much to bear, and the company began to laugh out loud in delight.

Oh, I didn't take that in the right spirit, not one bit. I stopped short in my act. Laughing? At me? When I was not trying to elicit laughs? That would not do at all. A child does not realize that this is fond laughter, laughter that says "I'm gonna DIE from the preciousness!" To a child, to little Bucky anyway, this was being laughed AT. Since I clearly was not laughing, they could not be laughing WITH me. 'Twas an affront to my utter seriousness about this carnival barker shit. I reacted like a high-strung, temperamental little diva.

I bellowed, not in my Howard Cosell voice, "If y'all are gonna laugh, I'm NOT GONNA DO IT!" Then I took off my straw hat, sailed it across the room like it was an angry straw frisbee, and stomped out of the room. I was outraged that, after a stunned second of silence, the entire room broke into laughter. The company thought it was part of the act. Mom and Dad knew better, but let's face it - petulant, pissed-off little Bucky was probably pretty fuckin' hilarious.

I believe that was the end of my career as a carnival barker. But at least now I'm used to unintended laughter.

36 of you felt the overwhelming need to say somethin':

Blogger Mr. Bloggerific Himself said...

Awe darn it. They hadda go on and ruin it and we'll never get to the rest of the show.

Bad adults, BAD!

11:11 AM, September 12, 2005  
Blogger LadyBug said...

Cool site. You might be interested in freaks.

11:49 AM, September 12, 2005  
Blogger whfropera said...

i know, mr b - i was waiting for some great graphic denouement, complete with broken canes, limbs and paraphenalia.

12:01 PM, September 12, 2005  
Blogger Bucky Four-Eyes said...

Mr. B - they should have known how very sensitive the little artiste was. You know, when the little artiste wasn't fartin' at the dog or something.

LadyBug - he looks a lot like a rebound boyfriend I had once.

Opera gal - I had not yet perfected my skills at mayhem, self directed or otherwise.

12:56 PM, September 12, 2005  
Anonymous Suzanne said...

I stopped by your site after reading a comment on JessicaRabbit's site . . . Nice site you have here and we're neigbors . . .

Suzanne

1:55 PM, September 12, 2005  
Blogger Mr. Bloggerific Himself said...

During the performance, did you blacken out your teeth and let your shirt tale poke through your fly to bring home the authenticity?

I think she's holding out on us OperaG.

(I started to type "OG" and realized that was the wrong genre.)(That's probably not the first time someone made that joke, but hey, I have no Red Hots today.)(

I really need some Red Hots.)

1:57 PM, September 12, 2005  
Blogger Bucky Four-Eyes said...

Suzanne - welcome to the Cotillion, and thanks! Am I just blind or do I not see your hometown on your site? Anyhoo, nice to hear from ya, neighbor. Do you ink for a shop 'round here?

Mr. B - at that age, I probably didn't have to blacken any teeth - I'm sure strategic front teeth were already missin' on their own! But I didn't think of the shirt tail through the fly trick. If I ever resurrect the act, I will take this into account.

2:41 PM, September 12, 2005  
Blogger Flying Mermaid said...

Waaaah! I wanna be in YOUR family! Sure, the masses fucked wichoo, but the folks was behind ya?

3:00 PM, September 12, 2005  
Blogger Bucky Four-Eyes said...

Emily - I come from a Catholic family. I'm sure my mom wouldn't be phased by another kid!

"Mom, meet your new daughter, Emily."
"Katy, why is my new daughter naked?"
"They don't wear clothes in the desert, Mom."

3:15 PM, September 12, 2005  
Blogger Squirl said...

I was wondering if you'd ever tell this story. You know, the company really felt bad after that. They didn't mean to hurt your feelings. As you said, they all thought it was part of the act. Someday, then, there's the Coquette Conquered.

3:39 PM, September 12, 2005  
Blogger Bucky Four-Eyes said...

Heh heh, Squirl. Yes, I will leave that one for you to tell.

Do you remember who the laughing company was that night? For some reason, I want to say it was Bob Michmerhuizen and his wife, but who knows if that's even close to right.

3:42 PM, September 12, 2005  
Blogger eclectic said...

Oh, the unbearable cuteness of Bucky! Yes, they had to laugh -- the precious factor was waaaaaayyy off the meter and might have killed them all if they didn't.

4:04 PM, September 12, 2005  
Blogger Bucky Four-Eyes said...

Eclectic - I always try to take kids seriously if I think they're serious, but man, how couldja not laugh? I don't know if it was the cuteness or if it was just too bizarre.
Can't get away with that shit now. Cuteness factor wore off somewhere around 25.

6:30 PM, September 12, 2005  
Blogger Kitty said...

lol - sad thing is - i can relate to this one :).

4 years old. my star search audition i had worked on day in, day out.

1 shoe through a stained glass window in the parlor due to incessant laughter.

i wish my parents woulda bought me a snazzy straw hat :(.

7:10 PM, September 12, 2005  
Blogger Bucky Four-Eyes said...

Kittay - I bow to the Master. You did the diva act way, way more hardcore than I did.
Did the laughin' stop at the moment of shoe-on-glass impact?

And please, please blog about this in detail, including your audition material. Pretty please with jizz on top?

8:02 PM, September 12, 2005  
Blogger whfropera said...

i need a hug - today has just managed to be an impossibly evil day - thanks for providing laughs today, BFE I really needed them. You were my official "pick me up" of the day.

8:05 PM, September 12, 2005  
Blogger Bucky Four-Eyes said...

Happy to be of assistance, Opera gal.

Are blog hugs blugs?

8:15 PM, September 12, 2005  
Blogger Kitty said...

The laughin' didn't stop until my tushy was done and raw :(.

8:27 PM, September 12, 2005  
Blogger Kitty said...

If blog hugs are blugs, then what are slugs?

8:28 PM, September 12, 2005  
Blogger Bucky Four-Eyes said...

Delicious sauteed.

8:31 PM, September 12, 2005  
Blogger Von Krankipantzen said...

WOW! Not many kids grow up in a carnival atmosphere. Even a make believe one. A lot makes sense now. Hm... Your dad sounds great.

8:59 PM, September 12, 2005  
Blogger Susie said...

Just when I think I couldn't blove you more. You show up with Jo-Jo the Dog-faced Boy. *sniff*

"It'll only cost you 50 cents to see
What life has done to those like you and me . . .
So let the sideshow begin, hurry hurry"

Stylistics, I think.

9:53 PM, September 12, 2005  
Blogger Squirl said...

Yes, it was the Michmerhuizens. Ten cents, one thin dime, the tenth paht of a dollah!

10:00 PM, September 12, 2005  
Blogger Susie said...

No, not Stylistics. Blue Magic. This is distressing, because I don't remember Blue Magic, and I thought I remembered everyone.

I remember a big-footed lady in a sideshow. The barker kept saying, "She's never worn shoes in her en-tire life! See what happens when a woman NEVER wears shoes!" I wasn't allowed to see, but I sure did want to.

10:02 PM, September 12, 2005  
Blogger Bucky Four-Eyes said...

Kranki - Dad was a pretty cool guy, very encouraging of our creativity. I don't even hold it against him that he told me Goldilocks and the Three Bears totally wrong and I believed him for years.

Squirl - man, I can't believe I remembered that correctly. I still don't remember who was over the night I got drunk and threw my bonnet down, though.

Susie - I've worn lots of shoes and my feet are scary. What would the barker's excuse for me be?

10:40 PM, September 12, 2005  
Blogger whfropera said...

Tom Waits also uses Jo-Jo The Dog-Faced Boy In "The Black Rider".

:)
the references just don't stop.

10:53 PM, September 12, 2005  
Blogger Bucky Four-Eyes said...

Opera gal - you know, I should know that, I own it, but...

*whispering*I've only listened to it a couple of times. I don't really like the Black Rider. *whispering off*

Is that blasphemy? I don't care for Alice either. I like a lot of his experimental stuff, but his theatrical music leaves me a little cold.

But, Tom - you're still a musical demigod!

11:01 PM, September 12, 2005  
Blogger Squirl said...

I don't remember what was up that night that you threw down your bonnet either. Was that also the night that you said "bye-bye light"?

9:44 AM, September 13, 2005  
Blogger Nilbo said...

That's right, you too can be the proud owner of the quality goes in before the name goes on ...

Ahh, Tom Waits. Could there have been a better choice to end the Red Cross telethon than "I Wish I Was In New Orleans ..."

10:10 AM, September 13, 2005  
Blogger Bucky Four-Eyes said...

Squirl - yup, same night. Drunk 3 year old. What could be cuter? Call CPS, right away!

Nilbo - I can't say I haven't thought that song a lot in the last couple of weeks.
Gives you an erection that wins the election!
Change your short! Change your life!
Change your life...
Change into a 9-year-old Hindu boy, get rid of your wife...

10:31 AM, September 13, 2005  
Blogger Bone Machine said...

As soon as my optical orbs spotted the mention of Mr. Waits, you had my undivided attention.

I never thought I'd have the chance to see him live, but indeed I did in 1999 (Chicago Theater 8/27/99) and it remains the best show I've seen at this stage of life. He took the stage by walking down the aisle from the back of the theater doing the Black Rider intro/carnival barker bit through a bull horn. I get all weepy thinking about that wonderful night.

3:52 PM, September 13, 2005  
Blogger Bone Machine said...

and yeah, it was from Tom's bad ass '92 album that I swiped the Bone Machine deal. He hasn't sued yet.

3:53 PM, September 13, 2005  
Blogger whfropera said...

i have a DJ promo only Cd that is an hour-long interview he did for radio stations all about Bone Machine called "I dont wanna grow up"
when i lived in San Diego my theater buds took me to the bar he got his start in...i was such a dorkette.

6:57 PM, September 13, 2005  
Blogger whfropera said...

that would have been in 1990 that I was in San Diego.

7:00 PM, September 13, 2005  
Blogger Bucky Four-Eyes said...

Bone Machine - Aaaah, wish I'd just tromped to Chicago or Toronto - that was Get Behind the Mule, right?
*sigh*
I saw him tour for Blue Valentines and for Franks Wild Years. So I can't bitch too much.
Were you ever on the Raindogs listserv?

Opera gal - I'm jealous! Oh, I'd make somebody take me, even if I went now. I will always be a dorkette.

7:16 PM, September 13, 2005  
Blogger Bone Machine said...

I think I was on that Rain Dogs thing briefly, but I'm not sure what the hell happened.

That Chicago show was indeed the tour for Mule Variations. As luck would have it, I was already planning to be in the Chicago area for (Cheap) Trick Fest 3 and we went to Tom's second show in Chicago. I didn't discover him until the Bone Machine disc crossed my path and I'd pretty much figured that I would never see him live since he wasn't doing much touring for a while.

(and I never really got into The Black Rider much. I haven't given the Alice and Blood Money discs a lot of play either. I'm not sure what the hell was going on there.)

10:32 PM, September 13, 2005  

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