American Horror Story: Freak Show is amazing audiences - (including me!) - with its range of incredible performers and unusual characters.
The people in AHS: Freak Show are keen to carve out a space for 'freaks' to be honest, valued, and admired: an ethos that sticks with many performers today.
There's a man in Venice Beach, CA who's dedicated to keeping the art alive.
Todd Ray has been running his Freak Show since 2006
Todd Ray, runs his Freak Show with the help of his family, and I find his dedication and love of the unusual inspiring:
There's things that are impossible to understand. It's those things that bring you wonder, and expand the things you think are possible.
People came up with these standards [of normal] so they can feel safe. But we're all freaks and one of a kind. We're all freaks on planet earth.
Right on, man. Todd's Freak Show has even had its own show on AMC. Here are some of the amazing performers you can see...
Ali is 3 feet, 5 inches tall. She uses her natural warmth to welcome customers into the Freak Show, bantering with the audience between segments.
Her comments on the bold, affirmative nature of Todd Ray's Freak Show are quite inspiring:
Todd does not exploit. He is the most encouraging, supportive person. He created a place to showcase that difference is something to be embraced and celebrated. It’s a family show and an educational experience...
I think it’s important to introduce children to things that are not of what society considers the norm. That way when they grow up and see something different, they’ll understand more. And it teaches all of us to be a bit more tolerant of people and things that aren’t exactly like you.
Ali's wedding to Matt McCarthy was broadcast on the show - and 'Wee Matt' became a performer, too!
Similar performer on AHS: Freak Show: Ma Petite (Jyoti Amge)
George Bell - The Tall Man
George Bell is 7 feet, 8 inches tall and, although there is an American man a third of an inch taller than him, this fine figure of a man was the tallest man in the US for years. He played briefly for the Harlem Globetrotters and hadn't featured in any sideshow performances until Todd contacted him. Bell says:
I was a little skeptical when Todd first contacted me. I came out and received a warm welcome from everyone. I feel very good about this group, because it's like a family.
Similar performer on AHS: Freak Show: Amazon Eve (Erika Ervin)
Jessa - The Bearded Lady
Even before her turn in Todd's Freak Show, Jessa was deeply involved in unusual entertainments. She walked her three ball pythons along the Las Vegas strip, educating passers by about her beloved reptiles. She also worked at Renaissance Faires.
Jessa chose to join the Venice Beach Freak Show to promote understanding and empowerment for unique people like herself and her colleagues.
Similar performer on AHS: Freak Show: Ethel Darling
Morgue is a brave guy, using needles, hooks and various power tools to insert into his body for audience entertainment. He even jokes of his potentially lethal act, 'I like to tell people I’m called Morgue because if they tried what I try, they’d be dead.'
Even though Morgue pulls off some pretty extreme stunts alongside the more traditional sword-swallowing, he has a thoughtful ethos behind his performance:
My act isn’t shock for shock's sake. There's a purpose. It's to show people that there are different ways of expressing yourself.
Whether it's something beautiful or something horrible, it's all valid and it's all about opening minds.
Similar performer on AHS: Freak Show: Nail Man in the AHS Credits
Well, I'm certainly impressed and found it really interesting to hear these performers express themselves. What do you all think?