Tuesday, August 29, 2006

I Got Answers!

She runs the tilt-a-whirl

Firstly, for some reason people are still posting handy piss-removal tips to the Urine Begone post even though that was a year ago. There appears to be a misunderstanding. I don't have urine stain issues, I really don't. I swear.

On a more edifying note, Country Mouse came through big time for me yesterday. Last week while writing about the Union Fair I pondered the lot of carnies:

"Going to the fair always gets me thinking about carnies. Last night I found myself thinking about how the whole thing works: do they lease the booths and rides and buy the prizes, darts, etc at a discounted rate from the fair-company like a gang of fried-dough sharecroppers? And where do all the Kid Rock-alikes stay when on the road? I imagine the more established carnies and carny management have their own RVs and campers (you see them scattered around the perimeter) but do junior carnies have to provide their own digs or does the midway operator own campers that serve as mobile dorms or bunkhouses? And what sort of vision of hell-on-earth would the interior of a single men's carnie dorm camper be?..."

CM happens to know an ex-carnie who gave her the skinny.

There are two types of carnies, "Rideys" and "Gameys". Rideys run the rides and Gameys run the midway booths. Rideys are bottom of the totem pole; back when CM's contact was in the game they made about $200 a week. They are responsible for assembling the rides and they have been known to consume a 30 pack of beer per head before doing so, so it is often a good idea to stay off the more rickety looking apparatus. Gameys either own or rent their midway games. Regardless, they pay the carnival operator rent per foot of frontage for each event. They buy their own prizes, balloons, etc. Gameys tend to make more money that Rideys. The work day for both groups is usually 8am to at least midnight.

As for domestic conditions, at the more wealthy carnival companies there are indeed bunkhouses: 18 wheeler trailers converted into single men's (mostly Rideys) dorms. Carnies used to wash at public showers (state park campgrounds, etc) but many municipalities have banned them as they have a tendency to cause trouble. The better carnival companies now have shower trucks. Gameys and management at these better companies usually sleep in RVs or their truck cabs. At the less salubrious carnival companies, Rideys will sleep under their rides and go without bathing for weeks.

I think I should rename this blog the Encyclopedia Weaseltannia, or at the very least Weaselpaedia.

3 comments:

RPS said...

I think I should rename this blog the Encyclopedia Weaseltannia, or at the very least Weaselpaedia.

This never occurred to me before, but the world definitely needs a Weaselpaedia. Not a mere name-changed blog, though, an entire new entity.

weasel said...

Ooooh. I like it.

faithfulcarniegirl said...

I think your friend has a very stereotypical veiw of carnies. She must have been a Gamey. On most shows the Ridey,s or ride jocks as they are called on our show are higher on the totem pole. They work harder for less money. They don't get paid commision as most jointys(Gameys). Ride jocks work 14 hour days lifting heavy, greasy steel. Jointy's carry wooden 2x4s. The heaviest thing they lift is a sledge hammer. As for cleanliness, these aren't the carnivals of 15 years ago. Today's shows have shower houses, some even have private showers for women. Shows today require workers to shower. On our show if your lack of cleanliness offends someone you get a warning. If you don't shower after the warning you get fined. Everyone on the show has a bed to sleep in. We have bunk-houses, campers and stock trucks partially converted to living quarters. Carnies work in some unusual conditions but we are not the socail outcasts everyone likes to assume.

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