Way back machine: Carnival strippers

Sunday, February 6, 2022 6:28 PM
There was a time when the carnival sideshows featured "freaks" such as tall or short people, Siamese twins, bearded ladies, etc. They also featured strippers! The first stripper I saw nude was at a carnival side show when I was 12.... changed my life forever. Anyone old enough to recall the days when carnivals, at least the side shows, were not as family-friendly as carnivals became in later years?

13 comments

I'm certainly old enough but I have no recollection of ever even going to a carnival. I was born and grew up in Los Angeles County. I do remember county fairs and festivals but no strippers. The closest that I can remember was back in 1959 when I was still in high school. My girl friend belonged to a dance group that did ballet and chorus line dancing. Even did the Miss Universe Pageant. I drove her and 2 of her co dancers to Bakersfield to do a TV presentation for the upcoming Kern County Fair.
shadowcat
2 years ago
I am likely not old enough to have enjoyed a carnival freak show. It’s too bad, as that stuff is interesting to me. When I was a kid, I always remember going through Times Square with my dad, and seeing the placards outside of the porn shops. It was so intriguing to read about the stuff that was supposed to go on inside!
Cashman1234
2 years ago
In the early sixties when I was a child the Indiana state fair would have freaks like the alligator boy, Siamese twins or bearded lady. It's now no longer considered ok to gawk at people like that. A lot of things that were considered normal back then, e.g. racial segregation, are no longer around. The past is a different country.
docsavage
2 years ago
I remember the county fair with rides and a freak show and a tent with strippers. A barker would stand outside the stripper tent and entice the crowd with some salacious patter about the lewd sights inside. Then he would bring out a couple of the girls and make suggestive comments about them. I was not old enough to enter the stripper tent, but I sure wanted to. By the time I was 18, I had gone away to college, and so the carnival strippers remain an unfulfilled dream.
jackslash
2 years ago
I remember the freak show at the Ringling Bros. circus at the old Madison Square Garden, acts like the bearded lady, midgets, a tattooed man, a sword and fire swallower. and even a Siamese Twins act, I even remember a few travelling carnivals out east on Ling Island mostly at the old Mitchell Air Force Base, before they built, Nassau Community College, and Roosevelt Field, with a few freak shows on their midways, along with games to win junk prizes but I don't remember any strippers being involved.
twentyfive
2 years ago
I remember those. Fortunately by the time I was to go in they were no longer. I am pretty sure it would have scarred me for life.
gobstopper007
2 years ago
Wow - I hadn’t really thought of this in years. Thanks for reminding me. I remember a traveling carnival came to a big empty grass field in our shore town one summer. It smelled like fresh cut grass and weeds. I remember it being a really hot and humid night and the barker standing on a platform with an impossibly sexy woman (to my 12 year old mind) in high heels and a sexy little outfit. I got as close as I could and stared at her legs and ass in fascination. She was really toned and fit and probably some kind of acrobat. It probably combined with a few other experiences to cement my fascination and love for fit women with sexy legs and high heels. I think they had some side shows and “lewd show” type tents, but I was too young and broke (and probably intimidated and scared I’d get in trouble) to go inside. Early 70s.
Studme53
2 years ago
A friend of mine told me he use to go to these shows back in the 1970s. [view link]
ilbbaicnl
2 years ago
I think the concept of carnival strippers was the basis for the music video for 'Wagon Wheel'. There are carnival rides and a tent that says "Exotic Ladies". Then there are half naked women dancing. [view link]
sinclair
2 years ago
If not mistaken, Ringling Brothers bought out a number of competing circuses and cleaned up the acts to make it more family friendly. Ringling still retained the side shows which had a separate admission from the Big Top, three ring circus. Some of the side shows featured novelty acts (mostly albinos, Siamese twins, etc.) A few featured exotic dancers.
Electronman
2 years ago
The carnival dancers are what inspired Anton LaVey to start his Church of Satan. He started as a carnival organ player. He saw these guys drooling over the dancing girls on Saturday night. And then on Sunday morning he would see them at the revival service at the other end of the carnival, with the wife and children, and where he also played the organ. He saw how hypocritical religion is! [view link] SJG TJ Street [view link] M Davis Bitches Brew 1970 [view link] Herbie Hancock Maiden Voyage (Full Album) [view link] Dion — Runaround Sue [view link] Dion - The Wanderer - 1961 [view link] [view link]
san_jose_guy
2 years ago
I remember seeing a tent decorated with drawings of busty ladies in barely-there string bikinis on the midway of our local county fair (rural MN) in the late 70s or early 80s. I was too young then, and they had disappeared by the time I was old enough to partake...
Ferdinx
2 years ago
!!!!! SJG
san_jose_guy
2 years ago
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