Step Right Up
OOB’s legendary carney Dave “the Guesser” Glovsky became famous for his ESP.
By Will Bleakley
Photograph from Collections of Maine Historical Society
For fifty-two years, calls of “Step right this way and let me guess your weight” were as much a part of the Old Orchard Beach experience as the pier and surf. Dave “the Guesser” Glovsky was a five-foot-five-inch former amateur boxer who found a second career as OOB’s most famous carney thanks to his uncanny ability to correctly guess (for a dollar) your age, weight, car, job, favorite drink, hobby, and even the last time you had sex.
Glovsky, initially a furniture mover, never intended to be a carnival guesser. His friend asked him to man a guessing stand on the pier for a few days, but the friend never returned, and Glovsky never left. From 1945 until he died in 1997, he managed to turn a small operation, which consisted of a folding chair, a brass scale, a dummy named Cyrano, and a wealth of corny jokes, into a career worthy of national recognition. Over the years he guessed the weights of such American icons as Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington. He even made a television appearance on David Letterman, where, on air, he correctly guessed the exact age and weight of the sardonic host.
Glovsky credited his talent to ESP (which, he said, stood for “Experience — Sex Appeal — and Personality”) as well as his sense of humor. Even if most of his cracks elicited more of a sympathy chuckle than a guffaw, there was a method to his madcap madness. According to Glovsky, wrinkles appear under the eyes at age twenty-five, crows’ feet show up at thirty, and at seventy, wrinkles have wrinkles. When guessing someone’s weight, he’d compare the customer to a friend or relative whose weight he already knew.
Guessing one’s weight and age can be a dangerous game, though, and plastic sunglasses, flags, balloons, and temporary tattoos sometimes weren’t enough of a consolation prize for an incorrect guess. Glovsky once overshot a woman’s age by five years. Instead of picking a prize, she picked the Guesser. She walked away dragging him under her arm and said, “I’ll take you.” His ESP had finally let him down — or, perhaps only the E and P. His sex appeal, apparently, never wavered.