The mere idea of a "freak show" today seems somewhat degrading or dehumanizing to the performers. The shows had gone from a form of entertainment, to being very politically incorrect. For some reason (this is where a sarcasm font would really come in handy), the idea of gawking at people, mainly the "born freaks" with physical disorders, just started to seem unappealing.
The fourth season of American Horror Story: Freak Show will focus on one of these shows in Florida in the 1950's, just as they hit the sharp decline into seediness. The premise alone sets it up to be awesome since it's a huge part of entertainment history, and something that we just don' talk about anymore.
If you've been following the show, you know that AHS will release short teasers up until the premiere of the show. These always get me! Seriously, they're short enough to keep you guessing, but long enough to captivate you.
So far, FX has released 4 teaser trailers, and boy do they live up to the name! As has been the case with the last 3 seasons, the show tends to take some notes from history. After watching the trailers, it's clear that some of the inspiration came from real life freak show performers.
Creepy hand holding a tiny ticket? Yeah, this one scares me the most! It's not even the shape of the hand or the sound it makes when it's unfolding over the creepy carnival music in the background. It's the fingernails. How does this person get anything done with those long nails? Typing would be so difficult...
Grady Stiles "Lobster Boy"
Here's my guess on where some of the inspiration might come from. This is Grady Stiles, also known as "Lobster Boy." Grady has ectrodactyly, which is when a person's fingers and toes are fused together. Grady was the sixth in line of his family to be diagnosed with this deformity. His father was also a carnival performer, so he joined the circuit at a very young age. When he had a family of his own, they performed together as the "Lobster Family."
This teaser is fantastic for a number of reasons. One of which is its subtlety. Watching it the first time around I had no idea this acrobat had three legs! Many YouTube commenters have also stated that this might not even be a woman (pause at 0:03 to get a better look!) and that from certain angles their shadow resembles a swastika. Well, we know that Jessica Lange's character, the ringleader, is German. Maybe more nazis this season?
Myrtle Corbin "Four-Legged Girl from Texas"
Myrtle Corbin was one of the most popular acts in her show. Myrtle was born with two separate pelvises that were side-by-side from the waist down. As she grew up, her two outer legs on each pelvis grew at a normal rate, while the two inner legs were much more stunted. She joined the sideshow circuit in the 1880's when she was only 13 years old. At 19 she got married and went on to have 5 children after leaving the circus life.
Not much to say on this one. It just brings out the squeamish side of me I guess. I've seen a few split tongues in real life, but the image of being able to lick either side of a lollipop at once kind of freaks me out!
Erik Sprague "The Lizardman"
Erik is probably one of the most famous modern-day split tongue performers. Since he has mastered tons of the more daring sideshow acts, he travels the world performing for audiences. He is also in a band called LIZARD SKYNYRD. And, before he began his transformation, he was a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Albany! Just goes to show, you can't judge a book by its cover!
This is freakin' amazing (pun totally intended)! Do you see the size of that cage? People, like real CGI-less people, can actually do that! This just blows my mind because I can barely bend down and touch my toes. The other thing that catches my eye about this teaser is the relationship between the man and the caged woman. It seems pretty... unhealthy. I can't wait to see how this one plays out!
Maribeth Old "Contortionist"
Yes, we all know that contortionists are very real. Trust me, I live in LA so every yoga studio I pass seems like a contortionist training session. But the level of skill of some of these performers is just out of this world. Maribeth was one of the most popular and famous American contortionists in history. She performed in the 1950's, when AHS is going to take place. So maybe we'll see Maribeth as a character!
I don't know about you, but I can't wait for [American Horror Story](series:206668): Freak Show to air. Unfortunately, we're going to have to wait until October 8th, but that just means more awesome teaser trailers are coming our way in the meantime!