Monday, May 02, 2011

Franco Kossa, founder of the Sideshow Gathering, is dead

UPDATE, 5/3/2011:  Funeral services for Franco Kossa will be Saturday, May 7 at Snowdon Funeral Home in Shavertown, PA. Friends may call from 2-4pm with the service following at 4pm at Snowdon. The full announcement will be in Thursday's papers.

UPDATE 2, 5/3/2011: This is from Thrill Kill Jill, via Michael Kattner:

Dear Friends,

With a heavy heart we deliver this sad news.

Franco Kossa a.k.a. Franco Zoob died on Monday May 2, 2011.

The Viewing will be held this Saturday May 7, from 2pm-4pm. Followed immediately by the Service at 4pm to be held at:

Snowdon Funeral Home
10 Machell Avenue, Dallas, PA 18612-1611
140 N. Main St., Shavertown (across from Burger King)
(570) 675-3333

Franco is the founder of The Sideshow Gathering which takes place along with the Inkin' The Valley Tattoo Convention in Wilkes-Barre, PA.

Franco's friends and family plan to continue the Sideshow Gathering and the tattoo convention this year as a memorial to Franco. This year will be the 10th Annual Sideshow Gathering and will continue as scheduled the first weekend in November.

Franco's body is being cremated and he will continue to be with us at the Gathering.

Franco leaves behind his wife Kim, and countless friends from the tattoo and sideshow communities.

He will be missed dearly by all who knew him.

Cards and Flowers can be sent directly to the funeral home.

Please pass this along to anyone you believe would like to know.

UPDATE 3, 5/5/2011: Franco's obituary has been published.

Frank ‘Franco’ S. Kossa
May 2, 2011

Frank “Franco” S. Kossa, 45, of Sugarloaf Township, died suddenly Monday, May 2, 2011, in the Hazleton General Hospital.

Born in Pierce County, Washington, Frank was a son of the late Joann Falvo Kossa and Frank J. Kossa, Wilkes-Barre.

He was a graduate of Bishop Hoban High School, Wilkes-Barre, and Luzerne County Community College, Nanticoke.

Frank was a member of Boy Scouts of America, and he was proud to attain the rank of Eagle Scout.

He was the founder of Zoob Productions, former owner of The Game Studio, co-founder of Inkin’ the Valley Tattoo Convention, founder of its SideShow Gathering, and owner of Marc’s Tattooing and Body Piercing, Luzerne County.

Surviving, in addition to his father, are his wife, the former Kim Hogans, Sugarloaf Township; brother, Rick A. Kossa, currently serving in the U.S. Navy in Afghanistan; and beloved pets, Max, Fester, Spanky and Thomas.

Funeral Services will be held at 4 p.m. Saturday from the Harold C. Snowdon Funeral Home Inc., 140 N. Main St., Shavertown. The Rev. James A. Wert will officiate. Interment will be made at the convenience of the family. Friends may call from 2 p.m. until the time of services Saturday at the funeral home.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to Hazleton Animal Shelter, 101 N. Poplar St., Hazleton, PA 18201.

I received word tonight that Franco Kossa, co-owner of Marc's Tattooing, the driving force behind the annual Inkin' the Valley Tattoo Convention and Sideshow Gathering, and the man responsible for bringing the greatest collection of creative and performing artists to Wilkes-Barre each year, has died.

Franco Kossa (center) is surprised to receive one of the first annual "You're Amazing!" awards, given to those who have
 gone above and beyond to make the Inkin' the Valley Tattoo Convention and Sideshow Gathering a success.

I'm still trying to process this, still full of selfish thoughts as to how his death will affect me.  I never spoke to Franco much, just a few nods and grunts in passing, but we did connect online, first on MySpace and then on Facebook.  (I think I might have actually given Franco my entire "Sideshow contacts" list of friends when he was just getting started on Facebook.) I now regret not going to the Spring Fling Tattoo & Arts Gathering at the beginning of April, one last chance to bump into him and nod and grunt.

As you can see from the photo above, Franco was not a large man. But he was a giant.  I know almost nothing about the world of tattoo art, so I can say nothing about that side of things, but I know in the Sideshow world he brought together the greatest collection of acts ever gathered under one roof, an ever-changing lineup of performers who had the opportunity to meet and gather, see and be seen.  For the performers it was a chance to gather and meet friends and fellow performers from all over the country, to show off acts and maybe pick up a few things from other performers, to learn from the veterans and teach the up-and-comers, to swap stories (or "cut up jackpots," in sideshow parlance) or to just hang out in the scenic beauty of the Wyoming Valley each Fall.  For fans like me it was a ridiculously fantastic deal to see all these performers and all these performances stretched out over three days for one amazingly low price.  The service he provided to the performing arts* community and to Northeastern Pennsylvania was simply unbelievable.

And now he's gone.  I hope he knew how grateful we all were to him for everything he did.  And I hope we can carry on his legacy and continue to gather together the performers he loved so much.


Weekender Interview with Inkin' the Valley promoter Franco Kossa 8/30/2006
Not just a side dish The Weekender, Northeast PA, 10/27/2009
Inkin' the Valley and Sideshow Gathering a perfect pairing The Weekender, Northeast PA, 11/2/2010

*The technically correct term here is "variety arts," I have just been reminded.


Anonymous said...

I did make it to the Spring Fling and when I entered, Franco shook my hand and from his conversation, I gathered he thought I was you. I guess all us guys with cameras looked alike.

I did get a chance to spend a little time talking with Franco at that event in April and got to know him a little better. I'm glad I did because I would have regretted doing so having not taken the opportunity so many times at past Gatherings.

He will be missed and every show from now on will have a huge empty spot. Mitchell Klein

red.stuart said...