Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Side Show Saturday

North Hollywood, California
After visiting Carlotta's Passion in Eagle Rock, we zoomed over to North Hollywood, passing the famous neon lit Circus Liquor sign. The California Institute of Abnormal Arts on Burbank Boulevard, just east of Lankershim was holding a minstrel show with marionettes on Saturday night. Well, we couldn't pass up that opportunity. One of my friend's daughters was involved in the production, so that's how we found out about this unusual event.
These notes are excerpted from the show program:

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"The minstrel show in 19th century America was the most popular form of entertainment. These types of shows were not originally intended to be quite so insulting to southern blacks as we are led to believe today. Today, the minstrel show is widely regarded as an embarrassment, a symbol of a bleak time in American history in which African-Americans were unkindly stereotyped and ridiculed by narrow-minded and racist whites.... The classic era of the minstrel show still has the power to enchant an audience just like it did in the days before and just after the Civil War, and if we can suspend our modern politically correct point of view, we can see that there is a great deal of still relevant humor and timeless tunefulness in this lost form of entertainment."

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Seeing marionettes portray singers and dancers took the sting out of the non-p.c. event. It was tuneful and fun. The theater for this event, the CIA, is really interesting. There are a number of painted backdrops like the types you would see in circus and carnival sideshows.

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I couldn't stop taking photos of the ALLIGATOR WOMAN, PUMPKIN BOY and various other artsy decorations around the place. The gates of the theater are painted with a huge CLOWN face. From Clown Liquor to Clown theater....what an evening!

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At 8:23 PM PDT, Blogger Elizabeth Metz said...

Believe it or not, there's a thriving business for those sideshow banner painters still left in the world -- there aren't many of 'em, evidently.

(My husband's a sideshow performer, so we've been dying to get to LA to see the Center. :>)

At 12:51 PM PDT, Blogger Laurie Ann said...

Clowns are scary, but I think I dated Pumpkin boy.

At 11:54 AM PDT, Blogger LadyLinoleum said...

Pumpkin boy needs to come and live at my house. Seamus O'Lantern needs a playmate.


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