From Pin-Ups to Ewoks: Studies in Crap Charts The Tragic Decline of America's Touring Ice Spectaculars

Each Thursday [except Thanksgiving, hence the late entry], your Crap Archivist brings you the finest in forgotten and bewildering crap culled from basements, thrift stores, estate sales and flea markets. I do this for one reason: Knowledge is power.
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Souvenir programs from assorted ice shows

Date: 1952 - 1985

Discovered at: Antique malls in Kansas City and Northampton, Massachusetts

The Cover Promises: Tragedy struck today when a young beauty was discovered lying dead in a uriney ice rink, dressed in two Hostess Sno-Balls and Shakespeare's neck-ruffle.


Once, long before threadbare touring companies and kiddie horrors like Disney on Ice, traveling ice shows aspired to grandeur. In the 1950s, Holiday on Ice trucks hauled around dozens of skaters, hundreds of costumes, thousands of spangles, and even its own ice-rinks, which at one point made sound financial sense.

People so loved the spectacle that the lavish souvenir programs turn up in almost every antique shop your Crap Archivist raids.

These days, the Disney ice show is such an afterthought that nobody even proofreads the web-site: "It one colossal party on ice!" the site boasts, just before smashing the tanks General Ross has sent after it.

Here's highlights from the glory days, culled from three vintage programs. We start with 1952's Holidays on Ice show, probably best know as the year of the south-of-the-border tribute to the nipple.

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Your Crap Archivist's solemn promise: deep in today's entry is the single greatest image in Studies in Crap history.

Such international flavor was no fad. According to Roy Blakely's authoritative Ice Stage Archive, in 1947 Holiday on Ice played to 17,000 a night for two and a half weeks in a bull-fighting ring in Mexico.

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The shows featured sophisticated pageantry.

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Unlike the family-friendly Disney folks, the producers of Holiday on Ice dared to explore their audience's darkest fetishes.

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Here's a fresh, only-on-ice twist on an old cliche: what if Hell truly did freeze over?

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Extensive market research revealed that, after sex and spectacle, audiences love nothing so much as "Miscellaneous Weirdness."

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By 1964, some of those oddball bits of vaudeville had been purged. The production numbers, however, had achieved a Zigfieldean grandiosity.

Here, two dozen ladies are dressed as the individual cells of a pom-pom.

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Gape at this celebration of some vague idea of Mardi Gras:

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Still, some trace elements of miscellaneous weirdness remained, now filed under "Novelty."

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I defy you to found something that brilliantly strange in any city's Fringe Fest, ever.

There's also yet another tribute, this one to comic racism:

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You're just one click away from that single greatest image! Proceed only if you're comfortable with a feeling of minor disappointment at everything else you behold for the rest of your life.
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