Lately I've been rewatching a few episodes of The History Channel's Weird U.S. This is a show I can watch and rewatch and never get bored. One of the episodes was about a vacation spot/retirement destination for carnival workers, which is now more of a community. This place is Gibsonton, Florida and it has an interesting history. Here's the Weird U.S. visit to Gibsonton:
A further explanation can be found on the Weird U.S. web site: Gibsonton, Home of the Freaks
The part in that article about "The Lobster Boy" is enough to fuel the plot for an entire movie!
I came late to the Weird U.S. show, probably because I don't have cable. It was one of those fun shows I learned about on YouTube and then bought on DVD. If you haven't watched any of Weird U.S., I really recommend that you do! The tour guides, Mark Moran and Mark Sceurman, are so funny and are the kind of guys that would be fun to travel with. Unfortunately, not all of the Weird U.S. episodes are online. If you'd like to watch what is up, here's the Weird US YouTube channel:
Featured Weird U.S. Videos on YouTube
I managed to find my DVDs of the show on eBay and Amazon.
Back to the carnival worker's community. It's interesting to think about a place like this. It makes sense that those who were working in a sideshow would want to vacation with other people who would stand out in "regular" crowds. From the looks of things, the town isn't so packed anymore. Most of the people shown seemed nice and happy with their community, and the place seemed everyday in a lot of ways. So long as you stay out of that grumpy diner, Gibsonton looks like a cool town to visit!
I'm not sure if there are sideshow attractions that involve people anymore. The closest I've seen are those tents with a giant lizard inside. Some people say that the sideshows have just moved to reality TV. I think a lot of what was once considered "freakish" isn't all that shocking now.
I found a photo of one of these on the Riverview Antique Market web site: Sylvia
I assume she was marketed as "Sylvia, The Big-Footed Girl" or something along those lines. You can see what I mean about imagination being useful. Some of these posters were so wacky, that I have to wonder what was actually seen inside the tent!
I bet you can figure out what's going on here. I can only hope the presenters back in the day were as sweet and respectful as this man!
Has anyone seen an actual sideshow in person? Maybe these are still happening somewhere, and I'm just not aware of them.