We lost a very dear friend of not only Tam and Susan’s but our company on December 21st. Butch Butler was not only a giant in the carnival/amusement industry and the much-loved patriarch of the Butler family but was simply a great man.
Tam and company spent an entire summer with Butler Amusements and the Butler family capturing the life of the traveling family carnival. Following our lives as carnies (including one circus jump from Santa Maria to Turlock), we’ve edited it and re-edited into numerous different reality television shows with titles such as The Carney Life, Carnival Kings and the latest version Ride Jocks. While network after network express interest in the show and the world, there seems to be some expectations that the “reality” of the carnival world is more like a circus midway with strange characters like the Bearded Lady or something. Instead, we’ve seen this “reality” show as an interesting traveling venue for a family business. The reason all four of the Butler daughters are in the family business as is Butch’s first wife, Mary, the husbands/partners of the daughters, and too many grandchildren to count. And they all travel from town to town, from February to November.
We’ve found it to be a really interesting world to explore. Here’s a bit from the treatment:
Ride Jocks takes viewers deep into the world of the traveling carnival, a view that the every day patron does not get to experience. An experience where hard-working all-American men and women live an adrenaline-filled life on the road and where every night is a gripping thrill ride filled with unexpected twists and turns. Rides are built, repaired, torn-down and transported in torrential down pours and sweltering heat. Mother nature may not be the only one doing its best to break into profits, there are also difficult safety inspectors ready to impose costly fines if the rides don’t pass inspection. Workers on the carnival circuit become a true family and, like any family, there’s more than enough drama to go around. The grueling life of the carnival keeps crews on the road ten months out of the year, working seven days a week from daybreak till midnight, living in cramped quarters and dealing with unruly customers, a lifestyle that takes a toll on everyone. Ride Jocks is an in-depth look into the non-stop work that goes into running and preserving one of America’s dying traditions. There’s never a dull moment on the topsy-turvy thrill ride of carnival life and the ride jocks are at the heart of it, as they say, “there’s no business like show business.”
Until a network gets as excited as we are about our Carney friends, we started a YouTube channel to show some of the stories that could have been featured; you can watch Ride Jocks at www.ridejocks.com. And for our friend Butch, thanks for the memories and your hospitality on and off the road. We’ll miss you.