Ricky Interview
(Circus Sideshows of Ricky's)

Swordswallowers. Fire-breathers. Human Blockheads. Snake Charmers.
They use to be a staple on midways at State Fairs throughout the U.S. Then about 20 years, it all stopped.
But, with the retro-movement that seems to be in vogue these days-----sideshows are back.
We caught up with one such sideshow-----Circus Sideshows of Ricky’s-----at the New York State Fair, in Syracuse, New York.
Sideshows owner Ricky spoke with us about his business.

Q – Ricky, what’s your background? How did you get involved with this business?
A – I was born into it.

Q – In other words, your mother and father were in sideshows?
A – My mother.

Q – What did she do?
A – She worked ticket boxes for other sideshows.

Q – For the James E. Strates Shows?
A – No, no, no. Way back in the old days. Helen Travers.

Q – Years ago, they might’ve referred to your show as a “Freak Show” or a “Human Oddity Show”. But, none of those descriptions seem to fit your show. So, what would you call the performers in your show?
A – Well, it’s still being called that because that’s what people identify with. Medicine came along way since then, like the Thalimide babies. So, there’s not as many people being born with abnormalities in this country as compared to maybe India. India has quite a few people being born with abnormalities.

Q – Obviously, you don’t have those kind of people in your show.
A – I would love to have ‘em, but, this country provides welfare, and medicare for ‘em so they don’t have to work like they did in the older days.

Q – The people in your show, seem quite young to me. How is it that they get interested in this type of work?
A – Well, I guess from the things they see in concerts, on t.v. It’s another venue of performing. Instead of being in a rock ‘n’ roll show this is just what they chose to do.

Q – Do they come to you? Do you solicit them? How does that work?
A – Everybody usually finds me.

Q – Do you travel the Fair circuit? Next week the Strates Shows head to South Carolina. Will you follow them?
A – Yes. There’s a good possibility.

Q – How did you hook up with Strates?
A – We contacted them.

Q – How many months are you working the circuit?
A – With this show about 3 months.

Q – What happens after that?
A – Everybody goes back to their regular jobs and regular lives. Since the way they appear up here with their hairstyles and spikes, they’re not able to get a higher paying job. A lot of ‘em are stock boys or clerks, or maybe work in a mall selling you know what not or whatever.

Q – You’re from Pennsylvania?
A – Yes.

Q – Would that be where the majority of the performers come from?
A – No. All over.

Q – Can you grow this show? Can you take it to bigger venues?
A – I’d like to, I love this show. I love doing this. The people love it. It’s just getting so expensive to run it. Expenses are kind of outweighing the profit. I don’t know what we’re going to do.

Q – You travel by what?
A – Trucks. Yeah, we pay a truck driver to move our trailers.

Q – When you’re in town, are you staying somewhere on the grounds here?
A – Motels.

Q – That’s a lot of money.
A – Yeah. You really have to shop for a good price. The profit margin is just dropping so dramatically, we don’t know how much longer we can keep going. Everything is going up. People just don’t have the extra money. It’s hurtin’ everybody in this industry. Expenses go up but peoples’ wages don’t.

Q – Could you have a stationery location for this show?
A – We’re looking into that. We’d like to. It’s another option.

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