The Southern Sideshow Hootenanny

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Created in 2014, with it’s inaugural run in 2015, The Southern Sideshow Hootenanny is the only large-scale gathering of sideshow performers, producers, and fans currently happening in the Southern United States. It takes place every year in late winter in the great city of New Orleans to offer our Northern brethren a break from dark, frigid days, as well as to give performers a chance to brush up on their skills and dust off and polish acts before the start of touring season.

This year we are honoring a legend among Showmen: Ward Hall
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q6VX2GMU-Ik

The goals of The Southern Sideshow Hootenanny are:
*to celebrate the great American art form of sideshow
*to foster growth in the community and among individual performers through workshops, panels, peer review, and one-on-one consultations with some of the top performers and producers
*to educate the general public about sideshow, it’s history, and traditions
*to have a damn good time with some of the most entertaining folks you’ll ever meet!

You can find information on the Hootenanny here (and purchase tickets for shows & panels):

https://www.facebook.com/events/430707263791312/?active_tab=discussion

You can catch Captain Steele in the Southern Sideshow Hootenanny Show ‘N Tell Show:

https://www.facebook.com/events/1303475619666395/?active_tab=about

Watch Captain & Maybelle in the Southern Sideshow Hootenanny Troupe Night Show:

https://www.facebook.com/events/907468939373406/

See y’all there!!!

Pittsburgh Tattoo Expo 2017

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BALLER INC., SARAH MILLER, AND EXPOSED TEMPTATIONS TATTOO
proudly present… the Bleed Black & Gold Tattoo Expo, located at:

Station Square Sheraton,
300 W. Station Square Dr., Pittsburgh, PA, 15219

Simply the best the industry has to offer by the best in the industry. The Bleed Black and Gold Pittsburgh Tattoo Expo only invites the best, most reputable American companies to provide our artist and local tattoo community with the best products available today. These companies are owned by Americans and their profits are invested and spent in America. They believe in small business and the art of tattooing, so we believe and put our support in them!

This Expo is invite only and will be wall-to-wall filled with the world’s finest Tattoo Artists. We truly Bleed Black and Gold, showcasing amazing local and international talent!

Catch LIVE shows from Captain & Maybelle all weekend! Show times are…

Friday, 2/17 (5-6PM)

Saturday, 2/18 (2-3:30PM) and (7-8PM)

Sunday, 2/19 (1-2PM)

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For more information:  http://www.pittsburghtattooexpo.com

 

Days of the Dead: Atlanta

15774956_1295133047191712_3402528465691170697_oMeet the stars of STRANGER THINGS, THE EXORCIST, FRIDAY THE 13th, NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET, and many more at DAYS OF THE DEAD, Feb 3-5 @ the Sheraton Atlanta, for three days of celebrity guests, film screenings, special events, memorabilia vendors, parties, and MORE!

We will be here ALL weekend!  Make sure you stop by our booth and pick up some merchandise!  You might even catch a LIVE demonstration!  Saturday, 2/4, is a non-stop, action packed day and we are offering every opportunity to catch us in action! 

Captain & Maybelle host the “Sideshow in Horror” Panel at 2PM!

Captain Steele is a Guest Judge for That Damn Tattoo Contest, beginning at 5PM!

Get yourself gussied up in your finest (or not so fine) 80’s threads!  Captain & Maybelle kick off the 80’s Slasher Prom, with a full, live & UNCENSORED show, beginning at 11PM!


Tickets on sale NOW at http://www.daysofthedead.net/atlanta

Captain Steele is a Featured Exhibit at the Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Odditorium in St. Augustine, FL

 

Next time you’re in the nation’s “oldest city”, St. Augustine, FL, head on over to the Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Odditorium!  RBION always provides an interesting experience and you are certain to leave with a little more knowledge of, well, odd things!

Captain has been entertaining with RBION annually for World Sword Swallower’s Day, every year dating back to 2009!  We have entertained at Odditoriums in Orlando, Gatlinburg, St. Augustine and Myrtle Beach.  Each Odditorium has a different structure and layout, making each it’s own unique adventure.

Last year, in 2015, the St. Augustine location (the FIRST Odditorium in the world) began construction on a new exhibit entitled “How’d They Do That?”.  It features contortionists, long-necked women, human blockheads, sword swallowers and MORE!  We were thrilled when asked if they may include Captain!  We submitted photos, x-rays and videos and turned the selection over to the RBION crew.  As you can see, they did a great job!  So next time you’re around those parts, take a look for yourself!

And if you take a photo of yourself with any of his photos, email the image to me at mrsmaybelle@yahoo.com and I’ll send you a FREE shirt and sticker package!  I’ll also add you to our “Friends” page here on our site!  Then ask yourself… what can I do that’s unbelievable?!

So you want to be a Sword Swallower?

So you want to be a sword swallower, huh? You think you have what it takes. You are ready for a life of SHOCK and AMAZEMENT. Your friends will think you’re cool and you could be THE next big reality star. Sounds pretty great, huh?

Ever since a young girl was shown on television shoving a coat hanger down her throat, I have been getting a few emails a week from individuals asking me to either give advice or teach them the ways of sword swallowing. The crazy thing is, 75%+ are teenage girls who have never even seen a live sword swallower.

As of today, I have never taught anyone the art of sword swallowing. Well, exceptMaybelle on a few occasions, but it didn’t take very long before she decided it wasn’t for her. I guess my reasoning has a lot to do with my other career, body piercing. That’s right. I have been a professional bodypiercer for over 20 years. That being said, I have worked in a tattoo shop for 20 years. That industry lives by a different code than most. People are brought into the business generally through apprenticeship or as a shop grunt, doing whatever is told of them in hopes of getting their foot in the door of a very tight-knit community. Once you brought someone in the industry, you were held responsible by the remainder of the community for their actions. So people were very reluctant to let just anyone in. Of course, times have changed in that industry. However,

Single Sword Swallow, Bahamas, 2014

Single Sword Swallow, Bahamas, 2014

my thought process has not.

I am still able to help someone out who is thinking about the life of a sword swallowing sideshow performer. The first thing I ask is “Are you willing to die for it?” Sword swallowing is one of the most dangerous stunts to perform and even very skilled sword swallowers get hurt and, quite possibly, killed. You must know that going into it.

Also, sword swallowing is just a tool in the toolbox. How do you plan on using that tool? Do you want to be a street performer, stage performer, clown, motivational speaker, or magician? You see, there is a lot more to being an entertainer than just the physical ability to do a stunt. People ask me what the hardest thing I do on stage is, and I always say “talking on the microphone”. Carrying a show is by far the hardest thing I do. If you just get up there and swallow a sword, you are just another episode of Jackass. People have all seen someone do something dangerous for the shock and entertainment of others. Now, what are you going to do to get them to stay around, tip or maybe even hire you for your skill?

So here is my advice. Find out what you want to do and work on that first. See what it feels like to be on stage, book shows, sleep in cars, bomb on stage, get destroyed by a heckler, spend your last dollar to get to a gig and show up to an empty venue, deal with a drunk club owner to get your pay, break down on the side of a road while your fans are awaiting your arrival… I could go on for hours. Then see if it is for you.

It takes a lot more than swallowing swords to be a success. It takes an entire toolbox full of stunts along with the ability to sell it to others. It takes writing a routine (not stealing one on YouTube from another entertainer) and performing it enough to perfect delivery, timing and to make it yours. Once you have done that, then talk to someone about teaching you their craft. Go to one of the few Sideshow Schools in the country and prove you are worthy of walking the path so many great entertainers have paved. Bring something positive to the industry. Don’t be another half-assed performer giving others a bad name. And remember …be humble.

The Balance of Work & Play

As we draw near to the finish of October, Halloween season, I turn reflective.

We’ve gone to the Myrtle Beach “Ripley’s Believe It or Not!” to perform 12 shows in 2 days.  Exhausted, but managed to walk on the beach at midnight (while beautiful, I have to say that sand fleas SUCK), tossed some brews and whiskey back at The Bowery, and had one of the silliest evening walks ever.  We even ran into an old friend, Ted, on the beach of all places.

We’ve gone to the Gatlinburg “Ripley’s Believe It or Not!” to perform 18 shows in 3 days.  Thrilling and so pumped we had a blast!  Walked alongside the river to the Mysterious Mansion and finally went through this haunt!  Enjoyed a nice dinner at a cabin on a mountain. After 5 years, I finally summoned the courage to ride the Ski-Lift, walked through a beautiful aquarium and marveled at the sharks, and had some interesting mountain pit stops to enjoy the changing color of the leaves.

We’ve gone to Atlanta’s Hot Air Balloon Festival, Owl-o-Ween, to perform 5 shows in 2 days.  Enjoyed the massive crowds and the event was a truly beautiful weekend filled with the Fall Spirit!  Saw many friends enjoying their families and the weather and caught up with fellow entertainers between shows.

I suppose what resonates with me after this reflection is the balance between work and play.  We bust our tails traveling for shows.  So much goes into packing props, costumes and ourselves.  Then there’s the household to mind while we’re gone.  The hound goes to the kennel, the children have destinations, lock this, unplug that, leave those lights on.  It can be overwhelming.  But, we do it all together.  People often ask how it is that we don’t kill each other, always together.  The answer is simply… goals.  We have the same goals.  We want to enjoy this life we have. So, we do.

The show is a reward.  I relish eliciting laughter from folks.  Captain prefers to shock the audience.  We both draw different experiences at the end of the day.  But, always remember to work and play.

Zamora, The Torture King

The first time Captain saw Zamora perform live was back in the 90’s.  During the infamous Lollapalooza Tour.  It was inspiration incarnate.  Fast forward to 1999.  Spartanburg, SC.  The Torture King and Slymenstra Hymen were touring with their “Girly Freak Show” and Captain (well, Chris Steele way back then) was afforded the opportunity of a lifetime.  He was given the microphone and proceeded to dominate the audience.  At the time, it was not sideshow he was delivering, but body suspension.  Should you be interested in reading how he evolved into the entertainer he is today, scroll on down and read that blog.  But I digress.

As the last 15 years have passed, we have had numerous opportunities to share the stage with Zamora.  Not only performing alongside him, but watching him at many independent appearances.  He is always captivating and I am enthralled watching him manipulate the audience’s emotions and fears.  The first time I recall seeing him live was at the Masquerade with the incredible touring sideshow, Hellzapoppin Revue.  I was blown away at his delivery and his charismatic personality.

Zamora 2 lo res

Of course, we would see him multiple times in the media over the years, be it in print or on television, astounding folks with his “mind over matter” mentality.  You may have seen him on Ripley’s Believe It or Not!, on the Discovery Channel, or perhaps on Stan Lee’s “Superhumans” as  the Pain-Proof Man.   We would again see him perform at the infamous Clermont Lounge in Atlanta.  That evening, we invited the entire touring cast to our place for showers, laundry washing and some off-the-bus-relaxation time.  It was then I got to know the more personal side of Tim Cridland.  If I admired him as an entertainer before, my admiration grew enormously that evening.

As time progressed, we would share the stage again at The Five Spot in Atlanta.  This was just a few years back, and then he decided to up and move overseas. So, it was much to my delight that Captain forwarded an email to me from Tim, about a month ago, letting us know he was traveling back to the US and would like to partner up for a show.  It happens to be that we deliver our full “Southern Fried Sideshow” on the first Thursday of every month at the Laughing Skull Lounge, Atlanta’s premier comedy club.  It worked out for us that he will be our featured guest performer for our March 6th show.

It’s funny, how years can span between different events in your life, and you never know how friendships will evolve.  I suppose that’s to be said with anything really, health, family ties, jobs, etc. I guess it’s the fan girl in me that prompted this blog.  I once only admired Zamora from a far, and now I have the privilege of sharing a stage with him.  Dream big and make it happen.