Sneak Preview: An Interview With The Venice Beach Freakshow
I'm starting something a bit new this month. Going forward I will be giving you a little teaser taste of some of the upcoming articles I have written in the most recent issues of Gothic Beauty Magazine. If you like what you read you'll have the opportunity to purchase that issue through a link to the magazine site below. This excerpt is from an interview I conducted with the Venice Beach Freakshow for the latest edition, Issue 46. Enjoy!
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A DIFFERENT DIMENSION An Interview With The Venice Beach Freakshow
Conducted by Gabrielle Faust for Gothic Beauty Magazine ©2014
I am not a man I am dynamite.” — Friedrich Nietzsche
From sword swallowers to two-headed animals of all shapes and sizes, humanity’s fascination with extreme deviations from the drone of its everyday existence has recently become an integral part of modern society and media. Today television series such as the “Freakshow” on AMCTV, which is based around the childhood dream of former music producer Todd Ray to build one of the most successful freakshows in America, have opened the doors to a far wider demographic, inviting them into the tight-knit family to show its unique inner workings. Now in their second season “Freakshow” has cultivated a captive audience, not only for the terrifying stunts artists such as Asia Ray and Morgue present each week, but also for the, at times, intimate drama that unfolds from the competition to be the “best in the world” at what they do.
Todd Ray remembers the first time he experienced a true freakshow and how it instantly captured his heart. “When I was about 12 year old, I went to a carnival in Charlotte, N.C. and there, in the middle of the midway, was the first real sideshow I had ever seen,” he said. “There was a huge banner line with amazing pictorial banners that showed all types of unusual people and performers. One said, ‘SEE the Sword Swallower’. Another said, ‘Human Oddities from Around the World’. And then there was the banner that said, ‘MASTER MAGICIAN’ and that one got me inside. I paid my dollar and entered the tent. What I experienced that day has become the lifeblood of the ‘Freakshow’. It felt like I had entered another dimension and I didn’t want to leave.”
As to what it was for him, initially, as well as his patrons, that inspires crowds to see such wonders, he explained, “It’s all because of curiosity. We would still be apes if it wasn’t for curiosity. It’s that same force that drives us to SEE what’s INSIDE. We love to witness what we never knew existed. It lets us know that, in fact, there are no boundaries.”
Many freakshow and sideshow performers find themselves drawn into the mysterious and colorful world at an early age. For Asia Ray, daughter of Todd Ray and a performer-artist, she was first introduced to mesmerizing experience when Todd opened the Venice Beach Freakshow when she was just thirteen. By the time she was a freshman in high school Asia had begun to work at the establishment alongside her father.
“While everyone was partying I was learning to eat fire,” she said. “It allowed me to meet all sorts of people I probably wouldn’t have met otherwise. This allowed me to better my understanding of what it is to be an individual and to be one’s self. Plus, being around so many extreme individuals made me realize that there is more than just the trend of the moment or what designer you are wearing.”
For Morgue, his journey to becoming an “extreme stunt artist” began far earlier with intense childhood phobias, which he forced himself to overcome...
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Did you enjoy the article thus far? You can read this interview plus several others I have conducted for Issue 46 of Gothic Beauty Magazine by picking up a copy! Issue 47 is now available for pre-order. Visit http://www.gothicbeauty.com/2015/01/pre-order-issue-46/