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Minneapolis

Contrary to the belief of anyone who's eaten their fried stick-food offerings, not everything at the currently running Minnesota State Fair is crusty. To prove it, we interviewed third-generation ride operator and all-around well-showered guy Michael Wood, who talked to us about how to get into the carny biz, why real carnies can actually be non-scary, stand-up gentlemen, and how, if you use the term "carny", he'll open you up with a jagged piece of funhouse mirror glass!! ask you to stop, in a gentlemanly manner.

On Diseases Picked Up By Attending the State Fair The Carnival Business
I tell my wife, you get it in your blood and you can't get rid of it.

On How Said Blood Originated
My mother said to my father, "You need to find something for you and these boys to do or this marriage may not last". So we went out and bought a big, spectacular ride called the Hang 10 from Italy.

On Unforeseen Consequences
My mother told my father, right after he became a partner in the big carnival, "I wish you had a girlfriend because I know how to compete with another woman, but I don't know how to compete with a carnival".

On Humorously Favorable Comparisons
We're almost like rock stars: We show up in the middle of the night, nobody knows we're here. We quietly go to work, do what we gotta do. Put on our performance. And when it's over we pack up and go to the next one. And that's why we call it show business.

On The Term "Carny"
It does have a horrible stigma attached, and I gotta be honest, it was earned. We wound up with -- for years -- not really bad people, just society's misfits: they can't get outta bed, they can't get along, they can't manage their money...There was a small element of criminals...The biggest element we would get on that front were people who didn't want to live up to their responsibilities in terms of child support, so they went and got a job at the carnival.

On Behind-the-Scenes, Impeccably Groomed Carnies
But what people see are the front line people, and the front line people have been in the past, sometimes a little unhygienic, sometimes they need a little dentistry help.

On Terrifying Realities
Here's the thing, there's no place on Earth that manufactures carnival people. They come from your hometown and mine too.

On Cashing Carny Checks
People judge us everyday. You tell people you work at the carnival and immediately it's like, well you gotta pay me cash.

On People's Continuing Fascination With Justin Bieber Carnival Culture
As sick as it may sound, that's part of the allure to the public. It's kinda like they wanna go look over the edge of death. They wanna see the dark side. It's the same reason you wanna go see the freak show. You don't wanna be a freak, you don't wanna have three arms, but you wanna go see somebody who's got three arms.

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