Life as a carny

“Charm is a product of the unexpected” -Jose Marti


A photo posted by Rachael Porter (@rporter90) on Sep 7, 2015 at 6:28am PDT


A monster on a ghost train. Now that’s a job I never thought I’d be putting on my CV, but it’s there now, in all its unashamed glory. To be used in random conversation, or as an answer to that awful interview question”tell me something fun about yourself”.

So yeah, my job was to dress up as a monster and scare little children/their parents/teenagers that were too old for the ride, on a daily basis for about 3 weeks. Sounds pretty good, right? I travelled to the Royal Adelaide Show & then the Royal Melbourne Show, which worked out pretty perfectly for me, because I wanted to settle in Melbourne anyway.

My daily routine consisted of coming into work, getting inside the ghost castle and putting on my ‘scream’ outfit, and then sitting/standing in one spot until the carts come round, and literally jumping at the passengers. I would have some absolute corkers of photos if I was allowed to photograph their reactions. Crying,screaming,swearing, I swear I got hit in the face so many times I nearly retaliated! Sometimes I’d switch monsters and become Jason or just jump on the back of people’s carts, or occasionally I’d work the queue and operate the ride.

I learned five things while working as a carny:

  1. The hours you have to put in are insane – in Adelaide I worked 14 hours a day some days, mainly because nothing ever goes on in Adelaide (or so I’m told) so it was really busy. Even on that 14th hour you have to work like you’ve just started. Being in the heat of summer, inside what’s essentially a large black box was unbearable. So next time you go to a carnival/fairground don’t give the worker a hard time, chances are they’ve probably already been working longer than your regular office day.
  2. Carnies aren’t gypsies – common misconception. Maybe some are, but a lot of people I met working there were just travelers looking for a fun way to travel and make some money. Or successful people being part of a family business (also not gypsies). In England, it may not be a misconception … I’m pretty sure most are gypsies, but maybe with this on my resume I can now go and find out for real while touring Blackpool and Grimsby…
  3. You’re never too old for free rides – when you’re offered a free ride on something, there’s still nothing more exciting … even at the age of 25. I’ll never learn to not go on a ride that goes upside down and spins around just after eating though. Yep, that happened. After a large Oreo milkshake.
  4. I’m good at being scary – I made children cry, I made adults scream. It’s not always a good thing though, because I definitely got punched in the face more than once.
  5. Parents love scaring their kids – On numerous occassions I’d seat parents and their kids on the ride, and the kid would literally be screaming and crying because they don’t want to go on, and I’d always ask “are you sure you want to take them on?” and they’d ALWAYS reply “yeah, they’re fine”. Suuuuuure they are.

All in all, it was a pretty interesting job to do. I met some cool people, and lived the life of a carny for a month. I’d definitely recommend people to give it a go, because it’s a good way of making money while getting to travel the country you’re in.



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