Vintage Photography on Protrega Paper
Museum Quality Silver Prints from the portfolio of Andrew Yale
Charlestown, West Virginia, 1985

Black and white silver print, 6x9 on 8x10 paper
Available copies:3
Price: $300.00 USD
John Trower was a veteran carnie when I ran into him at the West Virginia State fair in 1983. With his wife and another old time showman, he was running an archaic sideshow whose huge, hand painted banners first caught my attention.
   The three of them did it all - juggling, sword swallowing, fire eating, knife throwing as well as setting up and striking the tents and equipment.
   They performed a few other carnival sideshow standards, like the Bed of Nails, and at each stop in their route would hire a high school kid to be Volterra, The Electric Queen, who sat  through multiple faux electrocutions nightly, in an ornate Chair of Death.

    The whole show - banners, tents and props - packed onto the top of the old school bus camper they traveled in.
    While some of their show involved trickery, at least one stunt- swallowing a lit, neon sword - demands unwavering attention. More then one carnie has died when the hot neon tube accidentally touched the esophagus, adhering to it. John performed this act about 20 times the night I photographed him at the Charlestown County Fair.

Charlestown, West Virginia