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Friday, May 30, 2014

The Wall of Death and Wheels Through Time

So, the other day I was just minding my own business when I saw this homemade sign on the side of the road.


Okay, I didn't know what a Wall of Death is, but it sounds pretty awesome, plus I am not the sort of man that says no to the word "free".  This Wall of Death Show was at the Wheels in Time Museum in Maggie Valley, NC. 


Wheels Through Time is a motorcycle museum that is literally 5 minutes from my house.  It was also featured on roadsideamerica.com.  Despite this, I had never managed to visit.  The fact of the matter is that I'm just not really a car or motorcycle guy. 

Maggie Valley itself is old school tourist town that was previously centered around the wild west amusement park Ghost Town in the Sky, which is still around, but not nearly the draw it once was. 


These days the primary tourists in Maggie Valley are bikers who have come to drive the winding  mountain roads.


Being a major biker town, the Wheels Through Time museum is the perfect attraction.

So, anyways I showed up early for the "Wall of Death" show, with still no clue on exactly what a wall of death was, but it looked intriguing.


So, I sat there at a picnic table fiddling with my phone waiting for the Wall of Death show to start, when I man approached me and introduced himself as Dale Walksler, the man who owned the Wheels Through Time Museum.   Not sure why he zoned in on me, it may have been my big ol camera, or the fact that in a crowd of leather clad bikers I was wearing a button up shirt and khakis.  When I told Dale that I was a local and worked for Social Services he told me that he was all for supporting the community and gave me a free ticket to the museum.  This is the sort of generosity I am not accustomed to on my travels. 

I happily accepted Mr. Walksler's generous offer and headed into the museum.


As I said before, I have no real interest in motor vehicles other then their ability to get me from one place to the next as cheap as possible.  I happily drive a Toyota Corolla, but even I could appreciate this attraction.  The staff was super duper nice and openly encouraged me to take pictures, even going as far as telling me I could move placards to get better pictures of the motorcycles.  There were docents everywhere happy to answer questions and talk motorcycles with the guests.


Not surprisingly the museum was packed with bikers, who appeared to be absolutely drooling over the old school motorcycles.  I would definitely say that if you have any interest in motorcycles then this would be an awesome destination.  Some of my favorites where the Coke-Mobile, which was pimped out with fake ice cubes.....


I also liked this gritty motorcycle with a holster..........


Looks like something out of the post-apocalypse....

Then there was this awesome cycle with a built in prosthetic leg....


Of course the crown jewel of the Wheels Through Time Museum is the uber-mysterious "Traub"......


This is the only Traub in existence, and the only one to have been built.  The Traub was mysteriously found behind a false brick wall in Chicago, IL.  The date of creation was dated back to 1916.  The thing is that there is no records of the motorcycle ever being produced.  Almost every component of the Traub is completely unique, so the assumption is that every piece is hand made.  What makes this really strange is the Traub was insanely advanced for the time it was created and contains features that would not be seen for decades.  This nearly 100 year old bike still functions perfectly to this day.  I did some internet research on the internet and there are passionate discussion groups trying to unravel the mystery of the Traub, some theories include time travel and even Masonic conspiracy.   

While I am admittedly not a fan of motorcycles, I am a major fan of creepy mannequins.  The museum does not disappoint in this regard.










Check out this spooky piano player.....


In a horror movie twist you approach the piano to find out the player........


Has no face!!!!!!

So, time for the Wall of Death rolled around and I headed out to see this spectacle.

So, it turns out that the Wall of Death is actually a carnival attraction with a long a rich history.  It is a cousin to the Ball of Death.  The Wall of Death is actually a pit where cyclists ride in a circle and scale the walls.

The shows starts with a proper cranival bally.....

video

The show continues as the performers ride various vehicles up and around the wall of Death in shows of gravity defiance straight out of the Matrix.


The show was free, but they did stop in the middle to ask from donations.  This was explained as a need for money to pay for riders injured in accidents.  The MC explained that they are denied insurance coverage for participating in the Wall of Death.  In all fairness I can understand a insurance company not covering things with the word "Death" in the title.

Lucky for us, they didn't just pass around the collection plate.  Instead, they send a rider careening around in a circle snatching dollar bills out of audience member's hands.


Here's a moving picture.........


If I had one complaint, it was the fact that they left out one tradition of the Wall of Death.  Classic Wall of Death riders used to ride the Wall with LIONS IN THE SIDECAR.  I'm serious.


Not my picture
Let's take a look at some vintage footage of a Lion riding in the Wall of Death.....


Nothing is going to top that.


The Carpetbagger

Please feel free to email me at jacobthecarpetbagger@gmail.com
And don't forget to check out my Flickr Photostream and my Youtube Page

Monday, May 26, 2014

American Burlesque and Sideshow Festival


This past weekend was the American Burlesque and Sideshow festival in Asheville, NC, which sadly, I was unable to attend.  I was however able to attend back in 2010.

I had looked before hand and found that photography was expressly forbidden.  This of course made me very sad and grumpy, as I really hate being told I cannot take pictures.  I did notice however, that there was a form where you could apply for a press pass.  I figured the worst that could happen is I could be told "no".  I e-mailed Onca O'Leary, the event planner and local belly dance legend.....


I basically explained that I enjoyed photographing southern oddities and sent her a link to my Flickr page.  Much to my surprise this was enough to grant me a press pass and a ticket to the inaugural event.  Being given carte blanche to take photographs in a restricted area gave me a wonderful feeling.  (On an unrelated note, the inaugural event took place in a local gay bar).


Being an official member of "the press" I arrived and was stationed at the red carpet to photograph the performers as they arrived.










This included festival headliner and "America's Got Talent" contestant Michelle L'Amour....


After my first paparazzi gig I head in to take in the show.  The venue had cigarette girls, but instead of cigarettes they were handing out candy and er....condoms.



The show was hosted by magician Sneaky McFly......


Sneaky would entertain the crowd by cutting off his own finger with a knife........


The show had an extremely eclectic lineup.....we had marionettes......




Music.....


Burlesque.......




A human marionette pole dance...........



There was also some traditional sideshow "working acts" such as sword swallowing.....


And "The Human Blockhead" where a man nails a metal spike into his own skull.........


Possibly most remarkable was a belly dancer by the name of "Mavi of DC".  Just look..........







Quite an experience to say the least.


The Carpetbagger

Please feel free to email me at jacobthecarpetbagger@gmail.com
And don't forget to check out my Flickr Photostream and my Youtube Page