Friday, November 28, 2008

548th Post - Sad News For Carny Fans

From my friend James Taylor, publisher of Shocked and Amazed! James is one of our neighbours at the cottage. I can spill the beans and tell you that he has agreed to an interview for the blog, but it will not happen before the summer of '09. It will be worth the wait. James is a fascinating guy!

Maybe I got this news a bit later than Judy Tomaini-Rock wanted to get it to me, but the news is the saddest I've gotten in a long time regardless. Showman William "Billy" Rodgers, owner of show supply shop The Pirates Treasure Cove in Gibsonton, FL, died Nov.24 at the age of 74. If you want more details, you can go to, though I've been told there are a number of errors in the piece. Despite those errors, I can tell you accurately that Billy was a huge friend to SHOCKED AND AMAZED! over the years, one of the best. I met him on my first visit to Gibtown at the start of my work on S&A!, and from moment one he was a major source of material and contacts on the show business, putting in many a good word with the showfolk, recommendations he needn't have given except, well, that was the kind of guy he was. At the end of my very first visit to Gibtown, disappointed that I had not achieved one of my major goals for the week (though with Billy's help I'd accomplished much, much more than planned), I told him my regret: that I'd not met "Lady Sandra" Reed, photographic subject of renowned photographer Diane Arbus. Sandy Reed's image – head thrown back, arms thrown out, cruciform, multiple swords down her throat – had been an iconic inspiration to me from the first time I'd seen it. And now, at the end of that initial journey, I'd come no closer to her than the picture I'd seen years and years before. Billy looked at me across that dining table there in the showmen's club, put on that huge grin he was famous for, and told me, "Why, Sandy's one of my best friends." And the rest was history. Thanks for that, Billy, and much, much else.

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