Bill Clinton, the ultimate "Showman"

Here's a picture of the headquarters for the Hot Springs Showmen's Association ("No Business Like Show Business"), a meeting hall/entertainment center for carnival folk. In a way, this place sums up Bill Clinton better than anything else could:

hot springs arkansas

Based on my quick journey across the state, it's not hard to see how a state like Arkansas - and especially a place like Hot Springs - could give rise to Bill Clinton. The corruption hangs heavy in the air there, as if it falls from the trees and rises from the grass.

Unfortunately, at the time that I visited all of the carnivals had shut down for the "winter." The winter at that time was 80 degrees. The building appears to have been built back in the 60s, and the inside doesn't look like it's been redecorated since. It has dark wood panelling, a bar, a stage with a big sign "There's no people like show people" over it

In the lobby there was a creepy cardboard cutout of a clown. The walls in the lobby are filled with tributes to the former members and the large number of their former presidents.

The front door was open, but there weren't any cars out front or in the parking lot. I thought it might be a trap, and I was going to end up being shanghaied or worse by a group of carnival freaks. The only person there was a cleaning guy who looked like an old carnie. He said someone would be there around 2pm. Since that was an hour away, I decided to go check out the alligator farm down the street first.

After the alligator farm, I came back. Despite waiting until 2:30, no one else showed up, and I somewhat reluctantly decided to hit the road. (Did the carnival guy there deceive me? No! It can't be true!) It would have been great to have gotten permission to shoot on the inside. I think that would sum up Hot Springs - and Bill Clinton - much better than mere words. So, you'll just have to imagine what the place was like.

Location

United States
34° 29' 24" N, 93° 3' 36" W
January 9, 2007 – 1:17pm