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I Was the Star of a Freak Show!

Comedy, life, work, You Can't Make This Shit Up!

I’m sure that one of the first questions you may have is how in the world I have become the success I am today. Come on, I know that question is burning a whole right into your brain this minute, as we speak!  Well, I’ll admit, I’m glad you asked, and I am more than happy to share………

You will be impressed to know that I am probably one of the only people you will ever meet who started their working career as the star of a freak show…..

It goes WAY back, to when I was about 12 years old.  I walked into the Kane County Fair, in St. Charles Illinois, ready to have a day exploring.  Soon after I walked through the gate, a 9th grader I only knew by name, walked up to me and said, “How would you like a job?  I have a chance at a job at the fair, but I need one other person to work with me.  You’ll make $25.00 a day!”

Holy Shit, that was like Bill Gates type of money to me nearly 50 years ago (Putting that down on paper just made me hyperventilate.  How the hell was my first paid gig nearly 50 years ago?  Am I REALLY that fucking old????)  Needless to say, I was MORE than interested to put this kind of cash into my pocket, so I said that, of course, I’d be interested. . At that time, my weekly allowance was 50 cents.

With that, said older-and-wiser 9th grader walked me down to the end of the aisle/row/tarmack WHATEVER it is you call the end of one of the big street thingys at the fair, and straight ahead was a booth, the size of a large trailer, which boasted on the side, “Tora, The Headless Woman, The Body Beautiful.”  Jeanine looked at me and said, “What do you think?  You’ll be Tora!”

I’m smarter than I look girls! I said, “Oh no, I’m not cutting my head off, even for $25.00 a day!”  See, I’m not just all good looks, I’ve got a small bit of brain up there!

Jeanine went on to explain that I didn’t REALLY have to cut my head off, and took me inside for a little tour of the innards of the freak show booth.  It turns out that “Tora” sits in a chair, behind what appears to be a cylinder coming out of her neck, and there are tubes of fake blood which appear to be pumping in and out of her body. Now Jeanine, being older, wiser and the first one to explore this whole situation, had determined I would be Tora, while she was “the nurse.”  Perhaps it was because the front “observatory” room of the trailer was not air conditioned, and the nurse just had to make a brief appearance to check on the “Patient” every time we had a paid patron.

Meanwhile, she could sit in the air conditioned back room and stay cool.  That may have been why she chose that job.  Or, perhaps it was because both of us were to don outfits provided by our carny-guy boss, and God knows if and/or when either outfit had ever been washed…….  Her outfit was a nurses “uniform” of white cotton.  Mine, a leotard, to show off my “body beautiful.” It’s amazing I didn’t contract some sort of venereal disease from that damned filthy rag!

Patti Phillips as The Body Beautiful, The Headless Woman

Easy to see from this picture why they chose me for the “body beautiful” – don’t you think? Quite the hair do and glammed up outfit!

I had to call my mom for permission to do this job, so of course, she had to come on down to the fair, and then proceeded to hang out each and every day of the run of the fair, to make sure the carnies didn’t kidnap me and carry me off to parts unknown.

Let me tell you something, ladies.  When you start out at the tender age of 12 spending your lunch hour with the likes of the other freak show stars, such as the bearded lady, and the guys who owned the freak shows and ran the rides, you get QUITE the education in life! I can assure you, there are things that I learned, which you, most likely STILL know nothing about…