Carny Code Tutorial for Amateurs who dunno wtf... or for a modern day Cirque Nouveau revival (translate: internet survivalism):
No matter how you look at it, humans are pack animals. A newborn human infant is the most fragile and ill prepared creature on earth and yet we think ourselves superior. No matter how much money you have, have you ever built a garden to feed yourself? Can’t eat paper so you better find yourself faithful to a tribe or else our species will annihilate itself. It’s time for a bold and fearless new vision of selfless service to others for the sake of our own happiness. Circus does not exist without a circle of people and the bigger the better was always the right idea. Join Barnum & Bailey instead of starting up Harry & Heidi Ho who don’t own a tent or a train nor a single monkey so what were they thinking, silly wannabe hobo apes?
Originally known as “the carny code” was less known for its communal integrity and more for its cunning capabilities to con a “mark” or easy target. The games and features of a midway lot were notorious for not only being rigged impossible to beat but instead of all competing for a buck and a gag, they indeed colluded with each other by creating an insider lingo so they could pass along observations right in front of the observed. This is the natural progression of culture in a capitalist society where outsiders and artists are all starving in an industrial age where no one becomes rich or famous without dying first to leave behind a legacy. Ever think about what you will leave for your mark on the world?
To me a circus is an expensive as in multi million dollar corporation that runs like a family instead of a pyramid hierarchy system of threat/reward. It’s nomadic and tribal and most of all extremely self organizing which requires a lot of ego relinquishing notions. Here’s what I’ve intuitively followed from having been one of the last people born in America that can say I ran away to join a real circus. Cabaret, clubs, cliques, and talent and/or learned skill does not replace nor automate carny culture. Like an Indian (Native American) you have to be willing to sit down in a circle and negotiate terms you can live with without leaving in a hissy fit. People aren’t disposable and circus can’t be bought nor sold like an extinct breed of magical flying monkeys or snowflake special unicorns.
Here’s what I know:
- a carnie knows their own kind and takes care of their own.. respect first & foremost! those are your monkeys, this is your world. you alone are solely responsible for creating the world you want to live upon. also summed up as, “don’t shit where you eat, my friend.”
- don’t sell or give away trade secrets. think magician’s code or spoilers and this one is obvious. trade secrets traditionally were passed to one carefully selected apprentice instead of pimping out your youtube channel with #tutorial
- if someone sets you up with a gig, remember. return the favor! that way no one goes broke paying forward. duh?
- if you don’t have a website and haven’t spent 20 years on establishing a flawless professional track record including hand passed down open flame permit privileges, respect the work others did to service you!
- again, return the favor! respect your elders who carved a very clear and concise path for you and not for you to demonstrate your superior youth and capitalistic dog eat dog dogma. permits will expire and for all the work, you’ll never make $hit for being $hitty fake former friends to people.
- speaking of, someone once told me to “not take it personal, it’s just business.” so you stealing a gig for $250 so I won’t make a 10% commission charging $300 is shooting yourself in the foot, stupid amateur!
- all references to “the business” like pro wrestling lingo or any other insider trade secrets is and always has been the one true carnie code: “show business”!!?? same no difference so know and follow the code before you make a total ass of yourself.
- ever heard of opec? nafta? how about sag-aftra or union of variety performers? while you’ve been plotting your secret competitive marketing takeover, these people got together and figured out how to make a living wage by setting a market minimum instead of giving away resources for free or spawning carbon copies rendering themselves worthless. Collective bargaining IS the carny way of life because WE are NOT them. If you aren’t confident that your newly manufactured skill is worthy of charging a fair price as determined by those who carefully calculated what their time is worth to them and what they must earn to be worth their investment, then by gawd, don’t take away their well deserved income!
- never drop off your lions or elephants or monkeys in the middle of nowhere to be some townie’s problem. problems are ALWAYS settled in house. those are your monkeys, this is your circus. your behavior reflects on everyone else in the business. don’t be a “stan blacker” 🙄 shit talk = shit breathe and stanky air surrounding any person consuming petty bullshit. #stanblacker
- be honest. be cool. be real and leave people better than you found them! if that’s not your one true intent, you’re most certainly in the wrong business! amazon will never be able to sell you a new culture so don’t sell out the one you have.