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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 104: Human Pin Cushion

Posted by Amber Keller on March 8, 2013

With a shocking start to episode four, “Human Pin Cushion,” we see Murrugun shoving skewers through his arm. He has agreed to do the famous human pin cushion act for the Venice Beach Freakshow. This act goes back thousands of years where people would pierce themselves in multiple locations throughout their bodies without bleeding. Murrugun proposes to stick a skewer through his torso where it will exit out his back. Todd shows concern about Murrugun possibly getting hurt, but Murrugun is confident he can pull it off, stating that he’s performed transcendental meditation for over thirty five years. He says he has to work himself into a mantra and that he will then move his internal organs so they are not pierced. Todd recommends that he go to a doctor and gets this idea cleared, for safety’s sake.
There’s some tension still between Murrugun and Morgue as they both agree to do the human pin cushion act, each in their own way. Murrugun is one of the last people who do this show without blood. Morgue, on the flip side, relishes pain and blood. He proposes using long hypodermic spinal needles to put into his face. The pain, he says, makes him feel alive. In fact, he reveals he used to have a phobia of needles. Morgue cured himself by eventually sticking thousands of needles into his body.

The Creature gives us a little insight into the reason he has become so decorated. He says there have always been limits on African American skin in the tattoo industry. He wanted to break the boundary on African American males concerning tattoos and piercings. The Great Oh My was one of histories most incredibly tattooed men, one of the first to cover his body in tattoos, but maybe even more remarkably, Creature tattooed himself. Creature said his body tells his story, and his story can never be done. It turns out he has a five year old daughter, and he claims it’s been a hard road because the few times he has seen her, she’s been scared. His decision to modify his body has caused him to not have a relationship with his daughter. Todd, coming down from a Murrugun inspired health scare moment, is in full on Dr. Phil mode and counsels Creature about how important it is for him to see his daughter, at least for her sake. He plans to set up an arranged meeting between his daughter’s mother and him so that Creature can have a relationship with his daughter.

Danielle, Todd’s wife, calls Creature’s ex-wife, Alyssa, and sets up a meeting between Alyssa and Creature. Todd and Danielle accompany Murrugun to the doctor in order to make sure that he’s safe performing his act. They x-ray him swallowing a sword. With the subsequent images, they prove that his sword goes down into his stomach. However, the doctor informs them that Murrugun’s plan to move his intestines out of the way so that he can safely puncture through his abdomen is impossible. It seems that Murrugun is still no convinced, though.

Creature meets with his ex-wife who expresses surprise at his appearance, which has changed since she’s last seen him. She feels he’s chose his lifestyle over their daughter. Through their conversation we find out that Creature wasn’t the same tattooed, pierced man that he is today when they were married. Alyssa is visibly upset at his transformation. Creature gives her some clothing he decorated for his daughter. It’s a very emotional, bittersweet meeting and the two of them both laugh and cry.

Now it’s time for the show.

Todd calls the show from the sidewalk and the crowd comes inside to watch Morgue do the human pin cushion act. He takes surgical needles and pushes them through his forehead and even eyelids. A thin trickle of blood runs down his forehead, the red in contrast to his pale, white skin. He prompts the audience to chant, “Blood” and he proceeds to shove needles through both of his cheeks, leaving him not able to close his mouth. A small bead of blood shows up on his cheek when he pulls one out. Next, Murrugun shows the audience three skewers and takes off his shirt. He puts one through his upper arm, another in his mouth, under his tongue and through his lower jaw, and the next one he will be putting through his torso. They give him a few minutes to meditate and prepare, then he goes through with his original plan and pierces through his lower left abdomen. True to his word, there is no blood. Todd praises that Murrugun is a true mystic. Todd also says that these acts remind him that the body is a miracle. It truly is amazing.

With acts like these, the crows continue to gather on the sidewalk out front of the Venice Beach Freakshow. What wonders await us for next Thursday?

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Freakshow 104: Human Pin Cushion

Posted by Amber Keller on March 8, 2013

With a shocking start to episode four, “Human Pin Cushion,” we see Murrugun shoving skewers through his arm. He has agreed to do the famous human pin cushion act for the Venice Beach Freakshow. This act goes back thousands of years where people would pierce themselves in multiple locations throughout their bodies without bleeding. Murrugun proposes to stick a skewer through his torso where it will exit out his back. Todd shows concern about Murrugun possibly getting hurt, but Murrugun is confident he can pull it off, stating that he’s performed transcendental meditation for over thirty five years. He says he has to work himself into a mantra and that he will then move his internal organs so they are not pierced. Todd recommends that he go to a doctor and gets this idea cleared, for safety’s sake.
There’s some tension still between Murrugun and Morgue as they both agree to do the human pin cushion act, each in their own way. Murrugun is one of the last people who do this show without blood. Morgue, on the flip side, relishes pain and blood. He proposes using long hypodermic spinal needles to put into his face. The pain, he says, makes him feel alive. In fact, he reveals he used to have a phobia of needles. Morgue cured himself by eventually sticking thousands of needles into his body.

The Creature gives us a little insight into the reason he has become so decorated. He says there have always been limits on African American skin in the tattoo industry. He wanted to break the boundary on African American males concerning tattoos and piercings. The Great Oh My was one of histories most incredibly tattooed men, one of the first to cover his body in tattoos, but maybe even more remarkably, Creature tattooed himself. Creature said his body tells his story, and his story can never be done. It turns out he has a five year old daughter, and he claims it’s been a hard road because the few times he has seen her, she’s been scared. His decision to modify his body has caused him to not have a relationship with his daughter. Todd, coming down from a Murrugun inspired health scare moment, is in full on Dr. Phil mode and counsels Creature about how important it is for him to see his daughter, at least for her sake. He plans to set up an arranged meeting between his daughter’s mother and him so that Creature can have a relationship with his daughter.

Danielle, Todd’s wife, calls Creature’s ex-wife, Alyssa, and sets up a meeting between Alyssa and Creature. Todd and Danielle accompany Murrugun to the doctor in order to make sure that he’s safe performing his act. They x-ray him swallowing a sword. With the subsequent images, they prove that his sword goes down into his stomach. However, the doctor informs them that Murrugun’s plan to move his intestines out of the way so that he can safely puncture through his abdomen is impossible. It seems that Murrugun is still no convinced, though.

Creature meets with his ex-wife who expresses surprise at his appearance, which has changed since she’s last seen him. She feels he’s chose his lifestyle over their daughter. Through their conversation we find out that Creature wasn’t the same tattooed, pierced man that he is today when they were married. Alyssa is visibly upset at his transformation. Creature gives her some clothing he decorated for his daughter. It’s a very emotional, bittersweet meeting and the two of them both laugh and cry.

Now it’s time for the show.

Todd calls the show from the sidewalk and the crowd comes inside to watch Morgue do the human pin cushion act. He takes surgical needles and pushes them through his forehead and even eyelids. A thin trickle of blood runs down his forehead, the red in contrast to his pale, white skin. He prompts the audience to chant, “Blood” and he proceeds to shove needles through both of his cheeks, leaving him not able to close his mouth. A small bead of blood shows up on his cheek when he pulls one out. Next, Murrugun shows the audience three skewers and takes off his shirt. He puts one through his upper arm, another in his mouth, under his tongue and through his lower jaw, and the next one he will be putting through his torso. They give him a few minutes to meditate and prepare, then he goes through with his original plan and pierces through his lower left abdomen. True to his word, there is no blood. Todd praises that Murrugun is a true mystic. Todd also says that these acts remind him that the body is a miracle. It truly is amazing.

With acts like these, the crows continue to gather on the sidewalk out front of the Venice Beach Freakshow. What wonders await us for next Thursday?

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freakshow episode 104 creature

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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