The Showman (1970) - full transcript

Short documentary about the circus showman, Wally Shufflebottom Jr.

He really is one of the last
showmen in England.

The real, genuine showmen.

He performs himself,
he entertains the public,

he gives them what he says
he's going to give them...

And it's genuine!

...if you just come a little closer,

give us your attention
for a few moments.

We're going to give you
a free performance on the outside.

Entirely free, just to prove to you
that we perform in reality,

that it's not false,
no penny swindle,

nothing to deceive you.

We're going to bring
the young ladies on the outside

to prove to you that they are alive.

Alright, girls. Let it go!

I think I'm one of the last
parading shows.

Now, what we term a "parading show"

is a show where they...
they come on the outside.

They have dancing girls,
or they do a performance on the outside

to draw the people's attention,
to get them up close,

to tell them what they're going
to show them inside.

The general public, uh...
sort of want to see what's going on.

They come around to... they come along
within easy seeing distance.

'And then we do a performance.

'We tell them we're gonna give them
something for nothing.

'And that is one of the main attractions.

'They think they're going to see
something for nothing.

'Which we show them.'

'Fire, to anyone, is an attraction.

'Then, when you get them
there interested,

'you get the girl down on the floor
or on the steps,

'you put the blindfold around,

'which they think,
"Well, they're gonna blindfold her."

"He's gonna do something here,
otherwise you wouldn't blindfold her."

'You call the people close.'

The people in front, they come closer
to see what's going on.

The people behind follow them
to see what you're gonna do.

Then, while you've got them going,
before you do anything else,

your fire's still going.

While they're interested in that fire,
then you start to tell them the tale.

Now, ladies and gentlemen.
I want you to thoroughly understand

that this is no part
of our inside performance.

It's just a little attraction
while we tell you the nature of the show.

Now, cutting a long story short,
as our time is strictly limited,

first introducing to your notice
the Great American Knifer.

Showing you how we pin
these young girls to a board with knives

in all different shades
of manner and form,

as it is impossible for them
to move or escape

without someone's assistance.

Then comes the second part
of the show.

The Great Striptease Knife Throwing.

Showing you how we pin
these young girls to a board with knives,

every knife touching the naked body
as it is thrown.

Pinning them to the board
in such a manner

at each impalement
she will remove her garments

like the young lady
in the Dance of the Seven Veils.

But folks, she hasn't got seven veils.

She's only got six.

Leaving the complete shape of
the young lady's naked body

on the board with the knives
as near as possible.

Cold steel against warm flesh.


Last but not least, we are presenting
by special permission

America's latest and greatest sensation.

The thrill that, no doubt, you all read
about in the News of the World.

It caused a great sensation in a London
night club only a few months ago.

The same thrill
that you saw on television

at Epsom on Derby Day
only a few weeks ago.

The young lady here,
known as Fearless Pauline,

the girl with the nerve of steel,
will go through the Great Indian Torture.

The girls are professional.

And you have to teach them the way
to go onto the stage, the way to...

Um, make their compliments.

The way to leave the stage...

The more applause they get,
the better they like it,

and it gives them a thrill.

We've had various types.

We've had... homeless girls,

girls who have had trouble at home...

Out of homes...

And they really have had it rough,
some of them.

And... it makes you more determined
to make them feel more at home.

And treat them as one of the family,

They are human beings, aren't they?

So they've got to be treated
as a human being.

Then you get the best out of them.

With nothing whatever
to protect her naked body

from this flying steel.

Now, when I say "nothing",

I mean nothing,
in every sense of the word.

She wears nothing at all.

As naked as the day she was born.

We will forfeit one hundred pounds
to any charity you care to mention

if this young lady wears one stitch
of clothing during this part of the show.

Now, if you're narrow-minded or killjoys,

then, for goodness' sakes,
stay outside,

because this part of the show
will not meet with your approval.

Because she wears nothing at all.

But if you're broad-minded men
and women of the world,

we have brought you the most daring
striptease performance

right to your very fairground
at a fairground price.

It's not five guineas,
it's not even one guinea,

it's not the price
of a packet of cigarettes.

After I've given that performance
on the outside,

they turn round and say,
"Well, he must be telling us the truth,

"because if he will give us
a performance like that for nothing,

"it must be obvious that
we're gonna get value for money

"if we pay to see the show."

Now ladies and gentlemen,

our space inside is strictly limited.

So the first ones to make an application
will be the lucky ones

and get the front positions.

And believe me, the closer you get,
the more you will see.

Now, we're all ready for commencing.
Everything is quite ready.

Make a start, someone.

The rest will follow,
and we shall ride away.

Step right forward, folks.
Just anytime now.

All ready. There's room
for a few more before we commence.

Make up your minds.
Come on now, all ready.

We're all ready for showing.

You're in capital time
to see the gorgeous ladies.

It's not bluff, it's no swindle!

'It's not an illusion
got up to deceive you.

These young girls
perform in the flesh, in reality,

with nothing to protect their naked bodies
from this flying steel.

Now we're all ready to commence.
Get your places right away now, folks.

You're in capital time by coming now.

What a thrill! What a sensation!
What a figure!

A nerve like Davy Crockett,
a figure like Raquel Welch.

And she wears absolutely nothing at all!

What a sensation!

'I was born a travelling salesman.'

My father before me
was a performer,'

which I think I inherited...

...the skills and the personality
of being a showman.

He came over to this country then,

with the Buffalo Bill Show
called The 101 Ranch,

which toured England
and then went into France.

It broke up, and my father
stayed over in this country.

My father and mother were known
as the Count and Countess Rosaire.

Circus people, of course.

I met Wally at Greenford.

And from then on...
we courted,

we married.

I don't think I was really attracted to him
in the first place,

because we were so strictly brought up

that we weren't really allowed to...
associate with boys.

Alright, girls, inside!
Don't keep them waiting any longer.

Inside and get ready to show.
There's not a moment to wait.

Hurry along, folks. The young ladies
are going inside to get ready to show now.

Whether you come or whether you
come not, we're gonna start the show.

Come a little closer, please.

There they are. The young ladies
are on the inside stage now.

They're alive. There are some
of the implements we perform with.

They're not put up there for decoration.

Every implement you see inside
we use at this and every performance.

Now we're all ready for commencing.

Get your places right away now.
We're all ready for showing.

Follow the crowd, get your places
right now. There's not a moment to wait.

You're just in time
to see the full programme

by coming right away.

Hurry, hurry. Forward, please.
You're just in time to see the full show.

I thought it would be a good idea to...

to work it instead of just
the ordinary... Wild West show,

make it into something
with a different name.

It wasn't just a Wild West Show
anymore, it was..., striptease knife throwing,
which the public wanted.

We had to do it,
we had to give them what they wanted.

That's the motto of the showman:

"Give the public what they want,
and you'll succeed."

We just couldn't do any good
at the side of other people

that were showing
this... striptease business.

So we had to... do the same thing.

But we did it very artistically.
We still do it very artistically.

And there's nothing nasty about it.
It's nice.

Ladies and gentlemen, the first part
of the performance is the knife throwing.

The first impalement is
from the feet then all round.

Take particular notice,

the complete shape
of the young lady appears on the board

with the knives as near as possible.

There's two or three methods
of getting staff, girls,

But the main one is, I'd put a notice
on the front of the show:

"Smart young lady wanted
to travel with the show.

"Must be 18 years of age.
Willing to travel."

They're usually scared.

And... I've got to use
my personality and skill

to challenge that fear.

And within... within a few minutes,

providing the girl
is reasonably intelligent,

within a few minutes I've got her doing
the performance as I want her to do it.

'Next impalement is sideways
across the naked face

and up the spine of the back.

Next impalement is
across the chest and naked throat,

pinning the young lady to the board
at the same time.

A very dangerous feat to accomplish.

He lives the part.
He really lives the part.

And it is his life.

- Isn't it'?
- Yeah, I suppose that's it.

It's just one of those things.

I want to be a showman.
I've got the talent.

I've got the skill
to be a showman,

and I think while I'm fit
and my health keeps as it is,

Pm just happy doing it.

- 64, Wally, aren't you?
- 63.

Nearly 64.
Nearly 64. 63...

Nearer 64 than 63.

Next part of the performance
is for the Great Indian Torture

with knives, hatchets,
tomahawks and scalping axes,

showing you how the Indians
used to torture the white women

previous to burning them at the stake.

If you're satisfied,
you've enjoyed the show,

don't forget to advertise
and tell your friends,

as our show goes entirely
by your recommendation.

It won't do you any harm.
It may do us a little good.

And now, for your approval,
the last but not the least,

striptease knife throwing,
knife throwing in the nude,

or the Great Indian Fire Torture.

Next, I'll throw
those large tomahawks.

Next is to throw those large
battle axes across the naked temple.

That concludes our performance.
Thank you one and all for your patronage.

Hoping you will advertise the show
to your friends,

as our show goes entirely
by your recommendation.

They're coming out now,
as they leave.

Don't believe what we tell you
on the outside.

Just ask your own friends
and neighbours about the show.

They will tell you all about it.

Don't feel afraid to ask your friends.
Hear what they say as they leave.

'Now ladies and gentlemen, we are
presenting by special permission

'America's latest and greatest sensation.

'The young lady here,
known as Fearless Pauline,

'will go through
the Great Indian Torture.

'With nothing whatever to protect her
naked body from this flying steel.

'As naked as the day she was born.

'And it's not the price
of a packet of cigarettes.'