This was the ninth annual Sideshow Gathering, held in conjunction with the seventeenth annual Inkin' the Valley Tattoo Convention. I have only been going for the past four years, but this was by far the biggest and possibly the best Gathering I have been to so far! Just measured in terms of cameras alone, both professional (thanks to the publicity efforts of James Mundie) and amateur, this may have also been the best-documented Gathering ever!
So much happened, I don't know if I'll be able to tell it all. I may have gone a bit overboard with my 1,894 photos, though to be fair a few of those are probably imperfect in one way or another.
Everything was amazing and wonderful. Even the bugs and glitches simply added to the authenticity of the overall experience. But two individuals stood out and made the weekend that much more perfect.
I had never heard of Freakshow Deluxe before, but was delighted to see the leaders of the troupe, the Reverend Tommy Gunn and Miss Malice Aforethought, make their debut at the Sideshow Gathering as one of the first acts this weekend. They were accompanied by their two young children, the four (or is he five?) year old Green Monster and his two-year old sister, both of whom got in on the act.
These two stole the show the entire weekend: watching Thrill Kill Jill fuss over them, watching them interact with Lil' Miss Firefly, and especially watching them watch all the acts in wide-eyed fascination from just offstage or from the floor in front of the stage.
When living legend Harley Newman took the stage he immediately ordered the assembled audience to move their chairs into a circle with an opening in the middle of the room. He then selected seven volunteers from the audience to wrap him in Saran Wrap so that his only source of air was a snorkel held in his mouth - and then had a cork placed in the snorkel, cutting off his air until he could free himself from the hundreds of yards of polyethelene wrap.
One of those volunteers was the Reverend Tommy Gunn, in civilian clothes and enjoying the Gathering along with the rest of us. As chance would have it, his son The Green Monster wound up sitting next to me. As Harley struggled with the airtight cocoon well beyond the point that brain damage should have set in, I leaned over to the little boy and said, "Your daddy helped kill that man." He looked up at me, beaming, and said "I know! I saw!"
If only we all could have had such a childhood!