One of those not-so-politically-correct pieces of culture I miss from the 20th Century is the sideshow, which had pretty much disappeared from carnivals by the time I was old enough to see one. Sure, the circus still had jugglers and the occasional fire-eater, but I always felt there was something special about that one tent at the carnival where mystery, mysticism and danger thrived.
I’m happy to say that this sense of adventure still lives on in the Midwest, thanks to the Blue Monkey Sideshow at the Indiana State Fair.
We were welcomed with great fanfare by emcee Krembo, who pumped us up for the show and introduced the first act.
Zja’Dega, aka “The Rubberman,” first wowed audiences by twisting his wrist 360 degrees, then 720 degrees, then a whopping 1080 degrees!
Next, El Goucho (who looked suspiciously like Krembo in a sombrero) flirted with all the ladies in the audience while showing off his expert skills with a whip. I was sitting close to the stage and I have to admit, it was pretty thrilling.
At this point, Krembo told the audience about the Sideshow’s deep roots in Indiana. Tongue-in-cheek, the emcee warned parents, “This is what will happen if your children don’t pass ISTEP.”
Finally, we were introduced to Swami B’Mon, mystic of the East who walked on glass just for our amusement (“Don’t try these things at home… go to a friend’s house!”). He also did a handstand on the shards and used the pile of glass as a pillow while a lovely, but slightly intimidated young lady from the audience stood on his head.
The Sideshow is playing 5 shows a day (3, 4:30, 6, 7:30 and 9 p.m.) until the end of the Fair and we were assured by the performers that every show throughout the day has a different act. Knife throwing, juggling and sword swallowing are also on the menu. The show is free with Fair admission and it was the most fun I had all day. You can go to www.indianastatefair.com or www.bluemonkeysideshow.com for more details.