I happened to stroll through the San Gennero Fest today with a friend of mine by chance. We split a fried oreo, were asked if we wanted to spend $5.00 to go on a virtual roller coaster which we politely turned down, and then as we turned a corner approached a sign similar to this:
Okay so it WASN’T in Coney Island (but people like to look at pictures on blogs…so you get the idea).
In an alley there were two tents set up, one read:
“Meet the Human Snake for 50 cents!”
“Meet and have a conversation with the Human Elephant Lady for a dollar!”
Growing up and attending a few state fairs, my parents steered me clear from these attractions despite wanting to see a bearded woman, or a reptile type person…even though it was only $1.00 back then, and according to the sign it was only a dollar to meet and chat with the Elephant Lady. I was curious, and so was my friend…so we excitedly paid a total of $2.00 to enter the tent. I didn’t know what to expect, but certainly not what I saw.
An extremely friendly woman dressed from head to toe in a sari with her head was covered. She had on sweat pants with a leg rolled up and an arm sleeve rolled up and her face showing, exposing what was clearly a skin disease…no it was not Hollywood makeup or special effects…I wish that it were. She had a tip jar set up with photos of her kids around it and explained her non-contagious skin disease to us, and I don’t really remember much of what she said, and of course I “tipped” her. I felt guilty paying a dollar to see her, but she certainly seemed like a willing participant. One of her kids was even hanging in the tent.
When we left the tent my friend and I felt really awful, I probably could’ve cried…and was in shock. We didn’t think it would be a person with some kind of deformity…We both thought that it was going to be a person in an elephant costume…I mean, seriously, for paying a dollar-I expected to get ripped off and not to see someone suffering from a physical ailment. Some tourists came up to the tent and my friend told them what happened and to not go in…and they had the same reaction when we told them what happened.
“Oh…I just figured that it was going to be a person in a costume or something! I can’t believe it’s a real person with a skin problem!” Thankfully they took the advice!
Needless to say we did not go meet The Human Snake even though it was only fifty cents.
How does one price an “oddity” or an attraction? Why does the Elephant Lady charge $1.00 when The Human Snake charges half of that. Then it got me thinking…why do lap dances cost $20.00. Who came up with that price?