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Freaks, Geeks & Strange Girls: Sideshow Banners of the Great


ISBN 10: 0945367155 / ISBN 13: 9780945367154
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About the Book

Bibliographic Details

Title: Freaks, Geeks & Strange Girls: Sideshow ...

Publication Date: 1995

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition: Like New

Dust Jacket Condition: Dust Jacket Included

Edition: 1st Edition.


STONE, LISA (ED.). Freaks, Geeks & Strange Girls: Sideshow Banners of the Great American Midway. Hardy Marks, (1995). 168 pp., hdcvr 1st printing, near fine in near fine d.j.175.00. Bookseller Inventory # 51315

About this title:

Book ratings provided by GoodReads:
4.17 avg rating
(48 ratings)

Synopsis: Sideshow banners and freak show culture of the American carnival.

Review: Sideshows sprung up alongside traveling circuses across the United States in the mid 19th Century after the railway system linked both coasts, and they fully flourished in rural areas after the turn of the century. With their inexpensive promises of lurid delights, fantastic feats, and horrific "monstrosities," they were part magic show, part raunchy B-movie, and part wunderkammer, all in one. The barker and music might draw a customer close, but a well-executed banner might make or break an act. Firms sprang up across the country to handle demand, and the works are often astounding and lurid combinations of text and image. These works stand as one of the more fascinating cross-pollinations of illustration, signage and self-taught / vernacular art in American history. They’re also very un-PC and strangely beautiful. As with all modern advertising, the promise of the images rarely lived up to their accompanying pitches; the "Alligator Girl" just suffered from a dreadful skin condition, while the "Feejee Mermaid" was, you guessed it, not really a mermaid. The accompanying essays are all terse, fascinating, and tackle different aspects of the sideshow arts, the color illustrations plentiful and crisp. Even the most casual fan of tattooing knows that having Don "Ed" Hardy write an essay is a major coup. In the introductory essay, Lisa Stone and Randy Johnson rightly connect the lurid works to creations by margin-walking artists such as Ed Paschke, Karl Wirsum, and Joel-Peter Witkin. The photos of banners on location, as they looked back in the day, are especially interesting. While not the first or most definitive sampling of this work, it is easily the best. --Mike McGonigal

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