A carnival operator: one who runs the rides, the games, the sideshows, and the ticket booths in America's signature travelling carnivals.
I’m talking about the greatest show no longer on earth. The end of an age. The last of the carnies. The carny life. Perhaps you’ve seen that movie with Gary Busey and Jodie Foster. Maybe you saw that simpsons episode where Homer and Bart become Carnies. Maybe you hate your parents and want to run away somewhere and make a fast buck.
Maybe you didn’t know that the carny is a dying species soon to be extinct from this earth.
First off, know that, in the past, running away to join the circus was only the last recourse to the most desperate. Today, not even the most desperate really consider the carnival as a viable option.
In the fifties, the carnival was the haven of the two-bit grafter. The con man. A completely unskilled, (yet convincing) man could make a decent bit of change working the crowds at a carnival.
Sometime in the seventies and eighties, the carnival became a refuge for the drug addicts and the mentally unbalanced (not that it wasn’t before, just more so).
Today you’re more often to see a new immigrant as your carnival operator. (There have been some pretty strict crackdowns on drug use lately which weeded out the old time pros).
The art is dying. The language is being forgotten. The culture is all but extinct. (not that it was worth keeping) Even when not in a recession, the carnival was going by the wayside as newer, more modern forms of entertainment take precedence.
You still want to join? You want adventure? You want to impress your friends? Okay, that’s fine, don’t let me stop you, but here are some things you should know before you take the plunge.
Kizzarney, the carny language
You’re going to want a splattering of kizzarney, the carnie language. It’s mostly a dead tongue, but if you can impress the boss with a bit, it’ll go a long way.
The internet is full of comprehensive listings of all carny slang. But here’s a quick run through.
Perhaps you’ve heard the kids these days saying things like, "yo dawg, for shizzle." Or “that’s the shiznit.” In other words, putting an iz between words. This was recently popularized amongst the youth through hip hop culture, but it originated in the old carnival days. It was a kind of pig latin code that carnies would use so the police would have no idea what they were talking about.
Besides this, you could fill a dictionary with all the carny slang out there. And, actually, a lot of carny words have entered popular English usage.
To ‘cop’ a feel, comes from the carny slang ‘cop’ meaning to take via subterfuge. It came from the time when Carnies could get away with arranging their tables at just the right height and, inviting over the pretty ones, they subtely rubbed against their breasts.
Mark, meaning a target to exploit, came from the old days as well. When a gullible or wealthy patron entered the carnival, carnies would mark their back with a little chalk, letting the others know to focus their attentions onto that particular person. .
The many words for gullible townsfolk, such as: "rube, hayseed, townie," have also all entered our everyday vernacular.
Examples of Kizzarney:
Carny: Hey greenie, do you see how I just scored a sawback off that rube?
(Translation: Hello new employee, if you were paying attention, you will have noticed that using my experienced skills, I managed to obtain ten American dollars from that carnival patron)
Carny: That mooch is copping up all my flash.
(Translation: That surprisingly skilled carnival patron is winning a disproportionately large portion of the prizes I have set out for him in my game of skill).
The facts about being a carnie
It’s low pay and its long hours. You’ll be working from the very early morning to the very late night. And it’ll be worse if it’s a set-up or tear-down day. That’s even more work.
Your friends might be impressed that you worked as a carnie for the summer, but employers will not. They know the stigma that is applied to most people in the carnival trade.
Drugs are everywhere. Do you remember where I said the carnie is a conman, a drug-addict and a new immigrant? You're probably going to meet all three and spend large portions of your time with them if you become a carny. You better be prepared to befriend and work alongside them.
The atmosphere is both dog-eat-dog and friends-stick together. It’s a bipolar atmosphere where your coworkers will be the best friends one day, and the next, grift you for whatever they can get. You always have to be careful of infighting.
Your job isn't secure. The carnival does not get near as much work as it used to. If your carnival begins to fall on hard times, the "greenies" are going to be the first to go.
Do I recommend it?
Yes and No. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Remind me to tell you about the time a pregnant thirty something black woman flashed me from the back seat of my car. If you're looking for a career like none other, the carnie life is for you. If you're looking to make money and be a successful person in your life at some point. It's probably best to stay away and find a more upwardly mobile job.
Sarah Winter on May 08, 2014:
You might be interested in my book, The Secret History of Carnival Talk, which is all about the origins and evolution of "kizzarny" (which has a thousand different names). I learned it from my grandparents, who travelled with a carnival in the 30's, and the book talks a little about my personal history with the language, as well as showcasing my grandfather's old carnival photos. Check it out at http://carnivaltalk.wordpress.com.
robin marks on October 17, 2013:
you are a loogan. in seven months ive made 30000 my end.your a sucker
Shelly OB on October 05, 2013:
This has been absolutely fascinating. Having just been to a very small fair in our town, I again wondered about the lives of Carnies. I have since I was a kid. It's not a life I think I could endure. And not even CLOSE to a job for someone not looking to work hard. And yet a family of sorts it appears. I spent 20 years in the US Navy, moving; new people, new places, different kinds of jobs. And we, too, were somewhat of a family. A lot of times I wondered what drew carnies to that life? Where do they come from? It must be like most things. Sometimes pretty cool and sometimes not.
RudeJude on August 24, 2013:
What's the secret to the beer bottle game where you push it up using a split fork? Thanks.
garreed on July 27, 2013:
I was born into a carny family in 1943. My parents were already experienced carnies, having gotten into the business out of desperation to make a living during the Great Depression. My father built a "mechanical Show" consisting of small puppets that moved to act out scenes. They were driven by hidden mechanisms, electric motors that ran a shaft with unseen cams and levers that moved the puppets arms and heads and created other action. We traveled with different carnivals throughout the 1950s from southern Kansas to the Canadian border and as far west as Montana, Colorado and Wyoming. We spent a full summer in Midwestern Canada one year on their "B Circuit." I grew up being a ticket-taker, ticket-seller, ball boy in ball joints, and ride boy. The 1950s was a great time to be a carny. My parents retired in 1961 and we kids moved on. It was a unique life I'll never forget.
If any of you old-timers out there ever heard of Lawrence E. Reed of York, Nebraska and his mech shows known under various names such as "The Goofy Farm" and "The Little Red Barn" contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Amy on January 08, 2013:
I have worked for many shows but i belieeve i have found my spot, finally. I work for a smaller show now that is drug-free with weekly random drug tests. And we are like one big family. The owner of the show has instilled in all of us we ARE NOT CARNIES, but showmen. We have but one life so live it the way you want not the way others perceive you. Be free and do as you want. This life is great, and i wouldn't trade it for anything.
Paula Williams on October 24, 2012:
I will be a carny until the day I die- It is a great life- what doesn't kill you makes you stronger , right ? It is the hardest but best life there is...all the traveling, meeting new people, of course the partying...After all the carnival is Drugs, Sex and Rock and Roll- that is what it's all about- we are gypsies, tramps aqnd thieves just like Cher said.... God bless all my fellow carnies out there...I love you with all my heart and the faint of heart need not apply...
sally on October 05, 2012:
hello there yes miss be on theroad so much love that job so much
Amanda Kevins on August 31, 2012:
also, the drugs.. ive seen people who take drugs both inside and outside of the business. that's just life. just as many people do it who ARENT carnies. but there has been a huge crackdown on many places who had some shady characters, and i work for a company who is very strict about that kinda thing. we work with children all day, often at schools during the school year for family bbqs and such. many business execs go out and have drinks at lunchtime, or at meetings with clients or whatever. we can't even do that! so.. my teeth and veins and nostrils are all drug free, as are everybody else's that i work with. =]
Amanda Kevins on August 31, 2012:
" If you're looking to make money and be a successful person in your life at some point. "
this is kinda.. well very, offensive. ive made more money being a "carny" than sitting behind a desk, bartending, managerial positions, running my own company, etc. not all the carnivals are the same as what is stereotyped [especially the american carnivals are notorious for this kinda stereotype but other countries, not so much.]
either way, you shouldn't say that you can't be a successful PERSON if you're a carny. i am a walking example of such success
timzilla on August 12, 2012:
Hey Cat I want to know more. You're the real deal and I could read this stuff for hours. Email me if you get this: email@example.com
THE CAT on April 25, 2012:
FIRST, I AM AND WILL BE TILL THE DAY I TAKE MY LAST BREATH AND AS I WALK THRU THE GATES OF HEAVEN, I WILL HAVE DARTS IN ONE HAND AND A PRIZE OVER MY SHOULDER AND A BAG OF WEED IN MY POCKET.
AT 6 YRS OLD MY MENTALY CHALLANGED MOTHER TO ME TO THE "ALL IOWA FAIR"IN CEDARRAPIDS,IOWA AND I WAS SO HAPPY TO BE GOING TO THE "FAIR" AFTER GETTING THRU THE GATE,SHE NOTICED A SIGN, "HELP WANTED" SHE WENT AND ASKED THEM WHAT HELP THEY NEEDED, AND SHE WENT TO THE BACK WITH THEM AND THEY HAD HER PEALING THE POTATO'S,ONIONS, AND OTHER FIXIN'S FOR THE MAIN LINE. fAIRS WERE BIG BACK THEN.
SO I WENT OUT TO THE MIDWAY AND AS THEY SEEN ME HANGING OUT, THEY ASKED QUESTIONS, NOT BECAUSE OF THEMBEING PERV'S BUT THEY CARED ABOUT A KID WHO WAS RUNNING AROUND AT 6 YRSOLD ON THE MIDWAY.
I ENDED UP RUNNING "GO FER" FOR THEM RUNNING THE JOINTS AND RIDES,THEY DIDN'T HAVE TIME FOR A BREAK MUCH LESS GO BEHIND THE JOINT TO TAKE A PISS, WHEN I WOULD "GO" FOR THEM, I WOULD MORE THEN NOT GET TO KEEP THE CHANGE AND THEN,,SAD THAT MY MOM WORKED SO HARD FOR THAT SMALL MONEY, WHEN I MADE AS MUCH, ON THE MIDWAY HUSTLE.
39 years later I now have afew games I take to events for Cancer Kids, fund raisers, done some county fairs,churches, and EVEN TAKEN EVENTS FROM ANOTHER CARNIVAL IN THE AREA, BIG EVENTS, I HAVE JUST GAMES. NO FOOD,NO CANDY'S, NO RIDES.....I AM THE SHOW, AND MY PRIZES......
YES THERE IS DRUGS IF YOU WANT THEM, WE DON'T MAKE YOU TAKE THEM JUST LIKE YOU DON'T MAKE ME DRINK,(Sept 5th 1994)DRINKING AND POT HAS BEEN THE WAY IT IS FROM THE START. METH,CRACK,H, OR ANY OTHER, HARD DRUGS WILL GET YOU OUT AS QUICK AS YA CAME AND MOST LIKELY AN ASS WHOPPIN WHEN YA GO IF NOT JAIL, the way it REALLY is today.
There is more storys then I think you'll ever read in my book, because there are no TRUE books about the "HURRY UP AND WAIT", YA ALL KNOW THAT ONE.
LOCAL GIRLS ALWAYS TRYIN TO GET YA TO STAY, OR FOLLOW YA TO THE NEXT TOWN.
BUT WHAT THEY DON'T TELL YA IS "IF" YOU ARE RUNNING FROM THE LAW, ON MINOR CHARGES, IT'S THE BEST PLACE TO GO. TRAVEL THE COUNTRY.SEE PLACES THAT PEOPLE PAY BIG MONEY TO SPEND THE SAME TIME YOU DO. GOING TO THE BEACH,BARS, CLUBS, EATING AT PLACES, "BECAUSE YOU ARE A CARNIE" AND INVITES TO PEOPLE'S HOMES AND PARTIES.
AND THEN............WEST OF "WEST PALM BEACH,FLORIDA, WHERE THE CRACK HAS ATE THE TOWN UP SO BAD, AND THE DRUG DEALERS ARE THE ONLY ONE'S WHO SHOWED UP, OR IN MO, WHERE THE RODEO OVER 4TH OF JULY I GROSSED 12 DOLLARS,WHY? BECAUSE THEY MOVED EVERYTHING ELSE UP IN THE DOWNTOWN OF TOWN ABOUT 5 MILES FROM THE CARNIVAL,PEOPLE DIDN'T WALK, THEN PLAYING THE MEDOWLANDS 18 DAYS AND DOING $47,000 WAS REAL NICE.
SEEING THE "PATCH" BEING PAID, THE "DINGS" ALL OF IT, WE MOVE A "CITY" EVERY WEEK 2 DURRING STATE FAIR SEASON.
CARNIE SAYS AT CHURCH ONE SUNDAY, " I KNOW I'M GOING TO HEAVEN."
PREACHER REPLY'S, " NOW JUST HOW DO YOU KNOW THAT, YOUR JUST A CARNIE, AND WE ALL KNOW WHAT YOUR PEOPLE ARE LIKE?"
THE CARNIE SAYS," WELL YA SEE PREACHER MAN, GOD KNOWS WHEN WE GET THERE, WE'LL ONLY BE THERE 7 TO 10 DAYS AND THEN IT'S PAPER SACKS AND TIRE TRACKS AND WE'RE OFF TO THE NEXT STOP."
THE ONE OTHER THING I WOULD ADD ABOUT US "CARNIE'S", THEY HAVE NEVER DISCRIMINATED ANYONE,EVER. THEY TAKE YOU FOR WHO AND WHAT YOU ARE, (NO CHILD RAPERS,IF THEY KNOW THEY'RE GONE)PEOPLE WHO ARE EXTREEMLY BIG,FOR WHAT EVER REASON,TO OLD FOR A REGULAR JOB,MAY BE MISSING ARMS,LEGS OR WHAT EVER DEFORMATY, THEY HELPPED THESE PEOPLE MAKE A LIFE AND BE A PART OF YOUR WORLD.
THIS POSTER MOST LIKELY DID ONE SEASON,IF THAT. WE DO NOT ACT THE WAY THIS PERSON SAYS, SOME DO, BUT THE REST OF US LOVE WHAT WE DO, AND THAT IS MAKE CHILDREN HAPPY,PERIOD, WE ARE MOST CHILD LIKE AT HEART, I WILL NEVER GET OLD BECAUSE OF THIS BIZ, MY BODY WILL GIVE UP BEFORE I DO.
EVERY YEAR, I GO TO OUR LOCAL YOUTH GROUP HOMES AND IF THE KIDS DON'T GO HOME FOR CHRISTMAS, FOR WHAT EVER REASON, I MAKE SURE THERE IS A GIFT,A BIG ASS BAG OF HANDMADE COOKIES,CANDY,DIPPED PRETZILS, AND MORE, TWICE I HAVE SENT THEM ALL TO THE HARLEM GLOBE TROTTERS,2008,2010. US "CARNIE'S DO SHIT YA ALL DON'T EVEN HAVE A CLUE ABOUT.
EVER GO FILL YOUR CARS UP AND HAVE A $250.00 FILL UP? HOW ABOUT $5,000 DOLLAR FILL UP? THESE GAMES AND RIDES,FOOD DON'T JUST "POP" UP IN YOUR TOWN. LETTING YOU EXCAPE IF FOR JUST ONE DAY,A WEEKEND,STATE FAIR OR JUST WHILE I AM ENTERTAINING YOU AS YOU PLAY JUST MY GAME, WE ARE ENTERTAINERS.
LET ME SHOW YOU THIS WAY.
I GO AND WORK FROM 8 AM ON FRIDAY,SET UP MY GAMES, AND WORK TILL 12 AM=MIDNIGHT,
THEN ON SATURDAY WE OPEN AT 11AM AND WORK TILL 12AM MIDNIGHT
SUNDAY OPENING NOON OR 1PM DUE TO THE CHURCH WE'RE AT HAS OUTDOOR SERVICE, RUN TILL 6PM
TOTAL INCOME FOR THIS EVENT WAS JUST OVER $2,500.
DO THE MATH=$100.00 AN HOUR? NOT BAD, BUT HERE'S ANOTHER...
1 DAY EVENT=FUND RAISER=K-9 FOR COPPS
$800.00 PLUS FOR 6 HOURS FROM START TO FINISH, DONATED HALF TO THEM AND REST TO PAY HELP AND STOCK LOSS TO YOU THE PLAYER
MY POINT IS, IF I AM MAKING AS MUCH MONEY AS THE BAND IN YOUR BAR, HOW CAN YOU NOT CALL ME ENTERTAINMENT, JUST LIKE, OR BETTER THEN THE BAND? YOU CAN'T.
DO YOU KNOW WHAT YOU GET IT YOU PUT 32 CARNIE'S IN A ROOM?
A FULL SET OF TEETH.ROTFLMAO, YES WE HAVE THEM PROBLEMS, BUT NOT ALL FROM DRUGS, A lot OF MT.DUE, NOT BRUSHING DUE TO LIMITED TIME AWAY FROM THE JOINT, DON'T WANT TO MISS THE MOOCH AND TONIGHT'S DINNER AT A LOCAL REST WHERE A LOCAL PERSON IS WORKING, RIGHT?
LOOK I GOT TO GO, BUT NICE TRY AND IF ANYONE ELSE WANTS TO HEAR MORE THEN LET ME KNOW AND I'LL TELL YA ALL SUM MORE ABOUT WHAT IT'S REALLY LIKE FROM A TO Z, I LIVE IT EVERY DAY AND IT IS WHO I AM AS I WAS BACK THEN, JUST A BIT MORE WISER, THANK YOU FOR READING, CUZ I JUST BE A KIZARNIE, THE CAT, THE ONE AND ONLY, ""STILL GOT THAT KEY""
allyssa on March 19, 2012:
1st of all kevin c. ill like to shoot u on site! Asshole!!
..people just don't wake up in the morning nd say.."oh heyy! i wanna b a carnie today" na! that's not how it works..some people actually enjoy making people smile and having family time! & some people feel like they have no options or just said fuck everything else nd do something new..maybe they wanted to get away..smoke a joint nd maybe a beer..fall back n relax..listening to the music.
nd yes..some carnies are dirty..they choose to be that way. BUT NOT every person is..personally i take showers everyday.yes i seen carnies the wear the same shit for a couple days nd yeah the cold water may suck. but for all the clean carnies out there..[congrats on not living the dirty life] lol
u say carnies are low lifes?? [sure maybe some are] but there carnies with degrees n etc. maybe a lot better nd smarter then u..but they just choose to do something different.
for me.. well, im thinking about joining again. the rooms are small..u don't pay rent.. its not like im living there for the rest of my life..its just something else to put on an application nd make a little extra cash. but i can honestly say.. being a carnie..does have drama..which i hate! but for some reason i look beyond that nd enjoy myself n laugh about it. i think its kinda fun actually.
kevin c on February 16, 2012:
Carneys are filthy dirty low lifes and should all be shot when seen on site. Hopefully in the face so no one has to look at there dirty faces anymore.
Gizzot Thizza Fizzix on February 10, 2012:
XXX, I'm not sure where you are from, but in the US there are shows that own most of the rides and some joints and food. Then the show books owners that have their own rides, food, and games onto the show for whatever spot they are playing. There is also what they call an independent which isn't part of the show that book people from the outside as well. There are very few shows that don't book outside owners. There is also what they call the X. That is where the show only books in only one of a certain game and the owner that has the X has that only game, food, ride, etc...
taz on February 06, 2012:
what does it mean when someone accuses you off being a carny, when you've never worked at the fair. when i was 21, i met a girl in australia at a party. i dropped a few pills, smoked some weed and was pretty much the life and soul of the party the whole night. later in the night when everyone had settled down, she yelled out "fuckin carnies", everyone looked at me, then the dealer went and hid is drugs. ever since that night i feel like i have been cursed by the devil. has anyone out there ever felt the presence of the devil around the fairgrounds??? i used to hang out at them all the time when i was growing up in england.
XXX on February 03, 2012:
I don't think your article is quite accurate, They have terrible reputations yes, but not all of them are like that, Some are actually very cool individuals the same as most people in society. If you call them con-artists you obviously have been sucked into spending money with us at some point or another, so jokes on y'all. I was shocked when i first started i wasn't fully aware this community exhisted. The quality and the types of "carnies" also depend on the country.ever country, Australia, USA, and the european countries all do it differently, USA carnivals are run by major companies, meaning they run every single ride and game in there. As in most other countries the Rides and Games are more owned by individuals, Passed down by generations to generations. etc. It depends what country you are in.NOT ALL ARE DRUGGIES, that's some bogust shit. They have probably tried it at some point or another, but in no way they are druggies.
And you can't really criticise a company or a group of people that make more money in just one weekend then any "normal" person would make in a month.
Sophie Dobs on February 03, 2012:
You have it spot on about what the atmosphere of working as a carny is like. the only thing i don't agree with is the pay, i get paid very well for what i do, and i enjoy it, never being in the same place for a period of time, it keeps the job interesting
ghost panda on November 14, 2011:
Me and my friend are both 13 years old in a year we will have are working papers we had a silly idea to runaway and be carnies but as time went on we became more serious about it.... any tips?
alyssa on November 04, 2011:
i want to be a carnie but i don't know how old you need to be to apply
snakeyes on April 27, 2011:
Goood Job, I was a carney for 25 years. I don't regret a year of it, either. I have s shit load of memories and stories to tell. I could write a book about the life in the 80's and the life is rough and definitely not for amateurs.
Christoff on April 09, 2011:
Okay i can tell you this cause i am a carnie If you have not noticed the carnies now adays HAVE to pass drug tests and background checks, the only bad thing we might do is party all night, the carnie language is nothing like that anymore we either speak our home language or english. and the carnivals will not end for about 25 more years. in the last month my show has had 250 appacations
sarah on February 15, 2011:
ive been working at carnivals since i was 13 and yes they can be a very bad place. my dad owns it so i have to work from about five in the morning to about midnight maybe depending on the day and fest we are working at. he doesn't pay me but uses me for free labor. but the pay can be very well depending on who you know. my dad pays under the table and for traveling time which is usually not included for many other carnival owners. there is a lot of drugs and unfortunatly i do them and have been doing them for many years. as far as all of the people who work at carnivals most are not all imigrants with green cards although i do know a lot who are. pay for anyone who works with me would be 8/hourly 10/ hourly for any drive time. and all drugies do not do drugs, many do and now have the stereotype that all of them do. most carnival owners i know do drug tests and as long as there not doing meth, cocaine, or any heavy drugs they are fine. i mean who doesn't like a little weed once in a while when you have to put up with thousands of screaming little brats everyday of your life. but drugs are strictly forbiden while working. i mean you cant seriously blame carnis for being mean when they have no sleep in them, when it is time for you to sleep you have to go to a bunk house with 3 other people who are partying, and deal with nasty little kids. as far as there hygiene yeah ill admitt it many carnis don't get the chance to shower that often and are really gross. for every couple of bunk houses there will be one shower so there usually isn't enough time for everyone to shower and when you do they are disgusting. well idk what else to talk about but yea being a carni is great i luv it and will never stop...
... on October 26, 2010:
With it, not offence but you not helping your case any by cussing, and misspelling things.
catnip on October 21, 2010:
Can you tell us about the crazy lady who flashed you?
nelehjr on October 21, 2010:
Thanks. I'm doing this for a class project. It sounds a little like wanting to become a pirate. Hollywood glamourized them, when you actully are one it sucks...But its still kinda cool...
There is one born every minute on August 29, 2010:
To all thinking about it: Don't
To all already living it: Get out
To all doubting my words: I make 50K in it and hate it
Lori J Latimer from Central Oregon on August 27, 2010:
Thank you for sharing the inside scoop on Carnie Life! (and all the commenters too)
sharky on June 12, 2010:
the best money in life is of a happy or satisfied costomer and i love spending it like this hopeless life in the same maner lifes too short to not take that blind step and have a lovely wicked jones and company carnival ride swing by and have a super slide ride
anonymous on April 24, 2010:
"carnival patron" made me laugh. who talks like that.
anyway good article. all i know is that it is way too easy to become a "lifer" in the carnival business.
hmm on year five now myself....
JOE KITE on September 15, 2009:
I HAVE BEEN A CARNIE FOR 8 YEARS NOW WITH SEVERAL LARGE ORGANIZATIONS I HOLD TWO COLLEGE DEGREES HAVE A RANCH AND A BEAUTIFUL WIFE AND SON THAT TRAVELS WITH ME. CARNIES ARE THE SHIT TRY IT SOME TIMES AND JOIN THE LIFE. NEVER GO BACK TO DAY TO DAY BULLSHIT IT IS NOT REGULAR JOB IT IS THE LIFE I CHOSE......
carnie_man on June 26, 2009:
Altough i found your reading accuate,it also seemed jaded. I have been with it for five seasons. i have had good and bad expeirences on the road. no matter what line of work you are in, you will have those.
i think of the road as a cross-section of life. elements of small town life and of the big citys. family for those who have none, employment for those who are unemployable. an escape from an inviroment that will lead back to prison
wich is another sighn of the times, part of rehabilatation is work readiness and job skills. but on the outside an excon has a really hard time finding a job that isn't min. wage or doing the same thing that got him locked up in the first place.
my self, i have traveled with 29 shows in 35 states. played from state fairs to town festivals. i have walked the gammit. i'm educated, bonified, and know on the circuts.
there is money out there even for the green hanky-pank clerks. i my self averaged 57k in cash, roughly 65 before taxes. i met my wife on the midway. i left the road, and now she wants to book in a straight sales joint. and i don't think it's a bad idea.
in conclusion, life is what you make of if it. i don't know who burnt you on the road so bad, but every time i got burnt. i got them back wasn't right away, but i got mine back.
Dolores Monet from East Coast, United States on June 07, 2009:
Freezepop - being a carnie seems like a good move for somebody who wants to be a fiction writer. The carival life must be rife with stories.
I'll never forget Merry-Go-Round Larry, how he moved so gracefully around the spinning Merry-Go-Round, almost like a dance. He would have been a beautiful creature if he had bathed once in a while, or did something about those teeth, not to mention the peculiar look in his eye.
koko on May 22, 2009:
i was a carnie for quite a while..they tell you they do drug tests and crap but not the one i worked for..that's all we did..by the way every game has a trick..so does every carnie..they also have a sweet spot..talking to some of them when "head" aint around you can score freebies..all kinds of freebies..not just in the one i was in..in all of them..then again if one carnie knows u was one they let you do shi**
Six on May 18, 2009:
It sounds like a good way of life to get me where I want to go then slip out of the shadows with my money and find new work =)
Dolores Monet from East Coast, United States on March 27, 2009:
It seems like being a carnie would be great fodder for a novel... I'll never forget one MerryGoRoundLarry who so gracefully walked around the spinning MerryGoRound against the current while taking tickets and smoking a cigarette at the same time!
FreezepopMorality (author) on March 09, 2009:
Thanks! Although, I think I tried to stay balanced with the pros and cons, I think what I can out with is more con than pro and it wasn't exactly my intention.
Enelle Lamb from Canada's 'California' on March 09, 2009:
Very interesting read...I had a friend who was a lifer with the Carnie, said it was the best! I think you captured the "pros and cons" perfectly!
Proud Mom from USA on March 07, 2009:
I never knew ANY of this!! Wow!!!
FreezepopMorality (author) on March 07, 2009:
It means meat? Wow...that might actually explain some things.
Thanks for all your hard, work, ripplemaker.
Michelle Simtoco from Cebu, Philippines on March 07, 2009:
Hello...YES! This is indeed part of the golden hubnuggets list. Congratulations FreezePop! It is gr-izz-eat!!! So be sure to vote and ask all your carnie friends and non carnie friends to join the hubnugget fun by voting too! I was also curious what a carnie is. When I hear that word (in our dialect) it means meat. LOL
FreezepopMorality (author) on March 07, 2009:
Thanks guys, yeah, apparently it made the hubnuggest this week:
That's pretty gr-izz-eat!
Kari Poulsen from Ohio on March 07, 2009:
I've always loved going to the carnival and being talked into trying a game! The carnies were always so good at sweet talking a townie like me. I think that part was more fun than the rides! I always went straight for the games.
Frieda Babbley from Saint Louis, MO on March 06, 2009:
Awesome Freezepop! I was going to read this earlier today but then my kids turned into a bunch of carnies and I had to make sure a "brodie" didn't happen. Just saw this hub is one of this week's hubnugget contenders! Very way cool. Congradulations.
Joanna McKenna from Central Oklahoma on March 06, 2009:
Great hub, Freeze! I had a friend who was a carnie in his younger days. Whenever he started talking "carnie", I never had a clue what he was talking about. But then I was never good at pig latin in any form, and he knew it. ;)
FreezepopMorality (author) on March 04, 2009:
Didn't your mother ever warn you against casually insulting carnie types? We're like the mafia. Never Forget!
I'm very sensitive about my small hands.
modernsavage on March 04, 2009:
Haha, it's a reference from Austin Powers:
Basil Exposition: What's the other thing that scares you?
Austin Powers: Carnies. Circus folk. Nomads, you know. Smell like cabbage. Small hands.
FreezepopMorality (author) on March 03, 2009:
HA! What are you insinuating?
I can't really say I'd recommend being a carnie. It has its pros and cons, but you need pretty thick skin to get through it sometimes. Its...an experience. Definitely unforgetable though
modernsavage on March 03, 2009:
And not to mention, they have really small hands...
Elena. from Madrid on March 03, 2009:
What a ride of a hub ... no pun intended :-) You've got to love the slang, and origin of "coping a feel"! Here in Spain carnivals are still quite popular in the summer, especially around villages. Now that I think of it, it's true that some of the individuals handling stuff seem to have escaped from the nearest prison... Thanks for the entertainment, Freeze!
Anna Marie Bowman from Florida on March 02, 2009:
Hmmm...never really thought of being a carny, and now I know I don't want to! Though it is a prefect job for a nomadic person like myself. I hate staying in the same place for too long. I don't really know why.
Christoph Reilly from St. Louis on March 02, 2009:
I can't believe you were a carny? That's a riot!
FreezepopMorality (author) on March 02, 2009:
Hhhm...I guess I should define it at the beginning for people who don't want a carny is.
Elena. from Madrid on March 02, 2009:
Hi Freeze! I'll have to come back later and read the full article in peace -- for now let me say I had to check out "carny" in the dictionary! Yet another thing I learned with your hubs! Until later!