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Freakshow 107, Freaks of Nature

Posted by Amber Keller on March 28, 2013

Tonight, Todd brings us more freaks with the seventh episode titled, “Freaks of Nature”. In his attempt to recreate one of the most rare pitch cards in the world, Todd has invited Jim the Armless Wonder and Jesse the Halfman to come and stay at his home. In this famous pitch card we see a man with no arms and a man with no legs riding a tandem bicycle, who strikingly resemble the two men above in physical attributes. In the meantime, we see Todd and Danielle maneuvering around their kitchen as Todd gently washes his conjoined turtles and Danielle stumbles upon a chupacabra infected with flesh-eating beetles hiding out in her freezer next to the waffles, naturally. I can only imagine what it must be like living in the Ray house.

Next, we see Jim driving Jesse to Todd’s house, using his feet to steer the specially adapted car. It turns out that Jesse attended regular high school where he played baseball and was the number one pitcher, winning championships with his feet. Jesse also was able to lead a normal life, even playing football. He later went on to open up a satellite business, hanging the dishes by himself. These two men are inspirations as they have not let their disabilities hold them back. When shown the pitch card, Jim notices that the photo was taken while the bicycle was not moving. He proposes taking it one step further and having him and Jesse actually ride the bike down the boardwalk.

The two-headed bearded dragons from the first episode have made a reappearance tonight. They were named Chang and Eng after the original Chinese twins who were also in the sideshow attraction and were connected in the same way, by a thin sheet of skin on their torsos. Todd and Phoenix have noticed how the dragons battle with each other on what they want to do, leaving one dragging the other against its wishes. Todd believes it may be more humane to check into getting them separated in order to bring them some peace and better quality of life and he plans on consulting with a veterinarian.

We see Jim shaving and going through his morning routine using his feet. It seems so natural because it is for him. Having been born without arms, this is the only thing he’s known. Jesse made the same observation earlier, and we see it as he makes it down the stairs with ease.

At the show later, the audience is treated to a very spirited Jesse and Jim, and also the other regular performers, such as Murrugun doing some sword swallowing.

Todd talks to a vet and they do an x ray to see if the operation is possible. There are a few ribs fused, but their organs are separate, yet they cannot tell if their lungs are functioning as one, or are separate as well. With the surgery will come risks, including how they would fare after. This leaves Todd worried and deep in thought as he considers his decision.
A visit to the bike store turns up a tandem bike that Murrugun will modify so that Jim and Jesse can ride it. At a bar, Jim and Jesse shoot a mean game of pool.

Todd finally decides to leave the dragons conjoined after receiving feedback from his family. With the risk of them dying while going under anesthesia, he comes to the conclusion that it simply isn’t worth losing them.

Jim and Jesse prepare to ride the tandem bike. With an audience gathered outside the Venice Beach Freakshow, they mount the bicycle and with a countdown, they’re off. Amazingly, Jesse sits in the front, steering, as Jim is in the back, pedaling, bringing a wonderful end to tonight’s episode.

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Freakshow 106: Strongman Competition

Posted by Amber Keller on March 21, 2013

Tonight the Venice Beach Freakshow is hosting a strongman competition. It looks to be the opponents will be The Illustrated Penguin, who can lift five to ten pounds through his stretched ear lobes, and Billy Owen, Todd’s mystery character tonight. In between meeting The Illustrated Penguin and Billy Owen, we see a fellow lifting weights by putting blunt hooks into his eye sockets with weights on chains, and Morgue treats us to a quick hook through his mouth and out his nose trick.

Billy Owen is a cancer survivor and a medical miracle that was told he had less than ten percent chance of making it through his disease. He wears an eye patch over his right eye and soon reveals, by removing the patch, that the treatment he received for the cancer necessitated the removal of his entire right eye and almost half of his mouth. When he removes the plastic orthotic over his eye and another inside his mouth, he’s able to put his finger through the roof of his mouth and out the hole where his eye had been. It’s a shocking story and an even more awe-inducing act. Throughout all of this, Billy’s positive and healthy outlook on life proves to be remarkable.

Andrew, the guy from the beginning who used his eye sockets for weights, is planning on pulling a car from his eye sockets. Now wait a minute, Todd has pulled out another surprise for us. He has The Great Nippelini and his ‘nipples of death’ dropping by, as well. Another interesting performance by Andrew showed him inserting spiral shaped metal rods driven by an electric drill into his nose and out his mouth. If you haven’t got a little squeamish tonight, that last one should do it for you, folks.

Nippelini is planning on using a four-wheeled cart, filled with as many people as possible, to pull around with his nipples. Later, Danielle and Ali and Creature go to the hardware store to buy some chain for the guys to use for their various acts. The expressions on the clerks’ faces are classic and do you blame them? How often do they get that request? Or maybe we don’t really want to the know the answer to that…

First up is the Penguin lifting a weighted bucket from his ear lobes. Next, Nippelini pulls the cart with four women in it around the front of the freakshow with ease. Andrew comes out next and pulls a 3,800 pound truck from his eye sockets. This one gave me pain to watch, I admit it. For the finale it’s Billy. Once the audience is inside, he explains his medical condition and shows the crowd, humbly, his anomaly. The crowd respects him and the show comes to a close with Billy embracing his wife on stage to swelling applause.

Maybe the most intriguing and shocking episode yet, Freakshow continues to find the acts and characters to keep me watching, wondering what will be next.

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Freakshow 103: The Two-Headed Baby

Posted by Amber Keller on March 1, 2013

The show starts with Todd who is on the hunt for the most rare specimen in a sideshow, a two-headed baby. In order to find one, he must travel to see Bobby Reynolds, also known as The King of the Sideshow, the owner of a two-headed baby boy preserved in a jar. Todd claims to have the largest collection of two-headed animals in history, but this one particular object has eluded him. He sees this as a representation of a transition from an older era to a newer one. The hook is that Mr. Reynolds is known for his tough negotiations and his rigidity when it concerns selling the baby. Todd has a plan, though. He will be taking the original Lobster Boy’s son, Grady Stiles III, with them. His father might have been the most famous and well-known sideshow attraction in his day, and Grady was born with the same anomaly, hands that appear much like lobster claws. Todd’s reasoning in taking Grady with them is so that Mr. Reynolds will see that Todd is in fact true to the older traditions. Todd also believes the older era is dead, save for his show.

Grady drops by and is happy to see an old photo of when he was a child with his dad. After some conversation, they all hop into a car and are off to see Mr. Reynolds.

The rest of the troupe enjoys a day off. Morgue reveals that on his days off he doesn’t usually leave his house. When the others decide to go to a skating rink, Morgue becomes concerned, revealing that he has problems outside of the freakshow that keep him from enjoying daily activities, but he relinquishes and decides to go with them. Amazing Ali hops behind the wheel.

At a stop along the way, Grady explains his physical features with candor. The birth defect that he has is termed ectrodactyly. Grady grew up in Gibsonton, the place where the carnival folk would live in the off season. He was also baby sat by The Monkey Girl.

At the skating rink, Morgue is too nervous to skate. As the others enjoy, he says that being in these situations make him nauseous and claustrophobic, and he eventually steps out to regain his composure.

Todd and company have arrived at Mr. Reynolds with a bag full of $20,000 in cash and a steely determination to buy the two-headed baby. Grady is Mr. Reynolds surprise guest, as he knew Grady’s father, but Mr. Reynolds didn’t have any stories to relate to Grady. Reynolds and his wife describe how the carnival’s used to be in great detail. After some reminiscing, the two-headed baby is revealed. It is a gorgeous infant boy complete with two heads that floats eternally in a liquid-filled jar. But when Todd is attempting to broach the subject, Mr. Reynolds cuts him off and tells him the baby isn’t for sale. Reynolds is definitely one tough cookie, along with his wife, and just when you think they don’t care for Todd and his eclectic group, the tides begin to change. Todd attempts to win him over by assuring him his show is of the traditional vein. Todd says he can make a portion of the show dedicated to Reynolds show from long ago. A feisty Mrs. Reynolds flat out says she wants fifty percent of the profits. Todd begins to pile up the money from his bag on the table with the specimen and Mrs. Reynolds pulls out her own bag and holds it wide open. The sale is made. Mr. Reynolds passes down some sound advice to Todd’s son, Phoenix, when he tells him to make sure he always keeps the babies, that they will be his insurance for a lifetime of income. He also says to treat them as if they’re his brothers.

Todd’s dreams have come true.

Asia goes outside to counsel Morgue. By giving him the advice to try and enjoy his time, even if he doesn’t particularly like skating, she explains it’s really about the social experience instead. Once him and The Creature find the video games, all is well.

On the way home from the Reynolds home, Todd stops by to see a six-legged cow. Todd feels it an injustice that the cow is living on a plain farm and purchases it. It’s a unique addition to his unique animal collection, indeed.

Todd gives Grady the photo he showed him earlier of him, his father and his sister and tells him that they are all his family now. With the exciting additions to the show, Todd puts on a display with Grady as the star. He shook hands with the audience and explains how he lives life. He also states that he proudly calls himself The Lobster Boy. Todd waited until the very end to reveal the two-headed baby. His pride clearly shows as he explains that he will keep them as a part of his show forever.

It was quite the day for the Venice Beach Freakshow.

Ali and Lobster Boy - Freakshow - Season 1, Episode 3

Morgue - Freakshow - Season 1, Episode 3

Freakshow on AMC

Posted by Amber Keller on February 16, 2013

Welcome to the freak show.

At the Venice Beach Freakshow, owner Todd Ray, along with his wife Danielle and son Phoenix, carries out his passion for the strange by running a revamped version of the carnival freak shows of the past. At his seemingly ordinary suburban home, there resides a not so ordinary collection of vintage sideshow items that showcases P.T. Barnum, his idol, and two very unique specimens – a two headed snake and a two headed bearded dragon. It turns out that the bearded dragon, named Poncho and Leftie, is turning three and Todd wants to celebrate with a party including his company of just as unique individuals. The attractions include Asia, who happens to be Todd’s daughter and is a lovely fire eater, Larry, a boy with an extraordinary amount of hair that covers his body, Marcus “The Creature”, is an African-American body modification artist, Morgue, a shock artist, Murrugun, specializes in sword swallowing, the adorable Amazing Ali, Brianna Belladonna, “The Indestructible Woman”, and a gentle giant that comes in at 7 feet 8 inches tall, George Bell.

Mr. Bell becomes the focus of much of the episode as Todd attempts to woo him over to join the ranks of the Venice Beach. Bell sees the word ‘freak’ with a negative connotation until over time he comes to realize that Todd is out to reinvent the stigma attached and turn it into a positive.

In order to complete his collection, however, Todd goes on the search for and eventually finds, a bearded lady.

Many interesting facts come out about the sideshow participants over a cozy meal where we find out that Mr. Bell wears a size 18 shoe, is a police officer in Virginia, and played basketball with the Harlem Globetrotters. The bearded lady was once a street performer in Las Vegas, and the reason she developed the beard was from early onset menopause. Asia can’t inhale during her fire eating performance or else she would burn the insides of her lungs. And Mr. Bell is the tallest American, and consequently, Todd’s most valued prize.

The party is a success, and Todd is happy. He is able to bring his oddities to the public, for others to see their wonder. We have to wonder what he’ll have up his sleeve for the sideshow in the next episode.

You can catch “Freakshow” on AMC Thursdays at 9:30/8:30c.

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