I'd like to begin the interview by having you give us a little
background about yourself?
I am 22 years old. College
educated in art and audio engineering.
a kid my family put me in gymnastics, martial arts, 4H and other
clubs. I was born with one short leg, on the left, which is
missing a femur bone. And no leg on the right. It is a very
rare condition and I have never met anyone else just like me. I
also have four toes on my left leg, and two fingers on my left
hand were webbed at birth - but were cut apart surgically when I
was two years old.
Growing up, I moved
all over the country. I have always been a performer - in
school, and outside - doing plays. I have also played guitar for
about six years, and have been singing my whole life. I had
been performing long before I joined the Freakshow.
I used to run around
on my hands and foot all the time when I was a kid and was very
active. I have always been how I am, and, that being my reality,
I donít feel like it is different. It is not hard for me to do
things that other people do. I consider it an ďalternativeĒ
life-style. I have been involved in the 999 EYES genuine
freakshow for three years.
I love what I do and
am thankful that I can be around such amazing people
What was it that got you interested in the Sideshow?
I heard Samantha X (freak momma of the 999 EYES of Endless
Dream) do a freak call-out on the radio when I was living in
Oregon and finishing up college. I was sitting with my friend
when they were promoting their
upcoming show. I joked that I should join because of my
background and my odd talents. I didnít think they had real
freaks, I thought they were just a sideshow because I thought
that all those shows were long gone.
They announced their tour dates
and where they were traveling to, and it sounded like a really
fun tour. Then
said to my friend, ďIím going to go down there and joinĒ and I
did. I liked them automatically, even though I had never known
them at all before, and packed my bags.
I left with them for my first two-month tour and it turned out
to be one of the biggest moments in my life. I hadn't
considered doing something like this before because I had never
heard of a freak show existing. After I joined it was like an
epiphany and I found myself thinking, ďWhy hadnít I thought of
this before? Itís just perfect!Ē After touring I started
delving deeply into the history of the freakshow and was just
A freak call outÖIíve never heard that expression. Would you
tell us about it, how it was presented and the key elements that
caught your attention?
We do this thing when we are touring, usually on the radio but
also at our shows too, itís called a ďfreak call-outĒ. When I
first heard it, Samantha X was talking about the performers in
the show. She would say, ďAre you bored with the mundane human
body withhomogenized culture? One head, ten fingers, ten toes?
Well, my babies have seven fingers and four toes.Ē Then she
said, ďIf you have two heads, missing limbs, skin conditions and
want to join us we are always looking for new human anomalies.Ē
At the shows we have a ďfreak call-outĒ in which we invite
people in the audience to share their abnormalities and we tell
them if, in fact, they are a freak. When I heard what they were
looking for I thought I fit the description and I knew that I
would be perfect, plus I wanted to travel.
You said, ďI had never heard of a freak showď. Does this mean
you were unaware of the displaying of human anomalies in
I knew a little bit about them. I saw Todd Browningís movie
Freaks when I was a teenager, but I didnít know about the
history that much. I figured it was long gone.
I know that in this politically correct world the title of Freak
causes a lot of people problems, Your shows mission statement is
changing the world one Freak at a time. How do you relate to
the title and what was your life like before you entered show
When I am with my friends and family I am not a freak, it is
when I transform into my character that I become a freak in the
truest sense. The term doesnít offend me. In the generation
that I grew up in freak meant something totally different.
People called themselves freak with pride, meaning that they
were strange and unique. Now that I work in the show and know
the history I want to reclaim the term freak in what it really
means, that being a born human anomaly who performs in a
freakshow. Not everybody who is born different is a freak, it is
something that you choose to be. In my opinion words only have
as much power as you allow them too. The meaning of words
changes in how you use them and it which context. You can
embrace them or regard them as degrading words. I wear the title
of freak with pride. I am proud to be different and I want to
share what I can do with people and encourage them to be proud
of who they are no matter what they look like.
To me it is a
celebration of diversity.
Was your life difficult before you entered show business?
Luckily I found art, performance and music at an early age so I
had something to channel my energy, joy, and frustration into.
Growing up is hard for everyone no matter how you were born. I
was never teased or picked-on more then the next person. I was
generally well liked. Itís all relative as to what is difficult
for people individually. Especially when you look at other
countries, war-torn nations, and poverty around the globe. It makes
you think, wow, Iím getting wrapped up in these problems that
seem so epic but are minuscule problems comparably.
How has your perspective changed since you've been in the show?
I think itís actually made me feel even more comfortable with
myself. Iím not hiding anything or trying to be something I am
not. I donít have to use a wheelchair or crutches I can run
around on my hands and do cartwheels and handstands. When I got
older I stopped doing stuff like that. I got more
self-conscience and didnít want to be running around on the
ground anymore so I stopped for a long time. When I started
walking around like this and performing I really liked it. It
never stopped being fun, I just forgot how fun it was. A lot of
people I had known for years didnít know I could do all these
things with my body. People see me in a wheelchair or on my
crutches and donít know I can do all these things so itís fun to
show people. Plus most people have never seen anyone move around
like I do, so itís surprising, and very interesting for them.
How has it changed your life? For the better, worse?
Definitely for the better. Sometimes I think about what my
life would be like if I had not have met the freak show and it
makes me laugh because I canít imagine it not being my life. It
just seems so perfect.
The freakshow has connected me with so many amazing people and
intense experiences that I would never get anywhere else. I now
have a freak family and community as well as my blood family. I
always wanted to be in show business when I was young, but
figured I couldnít be successful. Boy, was I wrong! I feel
like I have a niche now. I have something that no one else has
and instead of that being a bad thing it is a good thing. I
guess it has effected me in a bad way, because, now that I have
spent a lot of time doing this and have
realized how amazing it is. It would be hard for me to be happy
working a normal depressing job.
You have a freak family. Could you explain how the group
functions as a family?
We are all really supportive to each other in everything, not
just our show. We have been together for years, traveling the
country and performing for thousands of people. We are very
close. Now we all live in the same town literally blocks away
from each other. At one house we have Samantha X, her children,
D. M. Blackthorn (our accordion player in THAT Damned Band),
Lowrent the Clown, and Lobster Girl. Down the street is me, St.
John (our drummer and flipper boy) and Tommy the sword swallower
(aka the Great Gozleone). We hang out a lot together. Many
people in our projects have children who I consider my friends
and we babysit for each other and spend holidays together. We
are a family.
The show community is a closed group for the most part,
they take care of their own. Historically when folks were out on
the road the Townie's were outsiders to the show folks, and the
locals had a lot of mistrust of show people. What has your
experience been in your travels and do you think they are
different than what others have experienced?
When we go town to town, I feel like people love the show and
it is often a new experience. Our troupe is irreplaceable, you
canít call a temp agency and ask for another human tripod that
can do karate and sing. It seems the audiences realizes this
when they see our show - they realize what an amazing thing it
is. We want people to feel comfortable with us, and not be
alienated. We are trying to better the world. Traveling with a
show like this is defiantly different than traveling by other
means. I think it enriches the experience. A lot of times, we
have an effect on people in a really intense way - we have
people coming up to us and sharing their abnormalities. They
feel relieved that they have found someone who understands. It
empowers some people. Itís also a good show, it is something you
canít see anywhere else.
What does your family think of you working in the sideshow?
they been supportive or do they think you have lost your mind?
When I first mentioned it to my Mother,
I think initially
she was shocked, I mean I just called her and said "mom, I'm
leaving in 4 days on tour with a freak show" At first she didnít
really understand, and kind of was like, ĎJackie, why are you
doing something like this? You donít have to join a freak
show.í I thought she would be instantly excited because I
was. I don't think she really knew what a freak show was
either. It wasnít even in her generation.
Iím really close to
my mother. I love her dearly and wanted to have her support. I
attribute her fully for how I am today.
She never treated me any differently than any other kid. I
talked more about it, explained to her about what I was
doing and why I was doing it and she warmed up to the idea.
Basically, my reasoning is that it gives me a chance to share
all these talents I have. There really is nowhere else I could
do the things I do on stage. I mean, am I supposed to go on
American Idol or something and start flipping around and karate
chopping boards? I donít find working in the freak show is any
more exploitative than any other form of entertainment,
including the plays and music I did before the show. I think
everyone in entertainment is exploiting themselves in some way.
My Father just doesn't get it at all! He lives in a small town
in the Midwest and is basically deprived of any entertainment so
he doesnít have anything to compare it to.
I've felt like an outsider most of my life, I like things
outside of the norms, that's one of the reasons I enjoy the
shock and amazement of the sideshow, would you give us some idea
of how you feel you fit into the world and how has that effected
where you now are in your life?
I feel like I have always been a pretty eclectic person who was
into the strange, into art, and seeing the bizarre as
beautiful. I always hung around strange and interesting folk,
because they are all over the world, and I tend to draw them to
me. Iím a sucker for an interesting story and there are tons out
there. I feel really bad when I hear about and think about
people, especially teenagers, who just donít fit in anywhere and
feel so alone. They donít know that there are people out there
like them. Many people find their place in the sideshow. I feel
like I found my place there.
It is human nature to look at people that appear different. How
do you feel about people staring or pointing when they see you
out in public? How is the experience different than when you are
with your freak family?
I do think it is part of human nature to be curious about things
that are different. What do you think propelled science and all
that we know today? It is a need to know about the world around
us. I stare at people too. Not in the slack jawed kind of way,
but I still look. I donít think people should be afraid to look
at people and ask questions. I think itís more uncomfortable
when people force themselves to look away and pretend they are
not looking. Itís like sometimes when kids see me in public they
stare and say things to their parents and the parents are
completely embarrassed and are covering their kids mouth and
dragging them away. What do they learn then? I like it better
when they bring their kids over to me to ask me questions and
meet me. I am used to it, but I use to get kind of embarrassed
when I was younger - if I was with other people who arenít use
to it. It actually seems to make other people more angry then it
makes me. Iíve had people who were with me yell at people for
staring at me and I have to explain it to them. When Iím out
with my freak family it makes even more people stare at us
because we are in a group, but I think itís fun. When they see
us they usually conclude we are in a show or a band because
there are so many of us together. It seems like a surreal
experience where people are asking themselves, ĎDid I just see
Could you tell us about your groupís stage show?
The 999 EYES show is a variety show of sorts. We
have a live jug band that consists of an accordion player,
flute, clarinet, musical saw, wash tub bass, washboard player,
fiddle, tuba, guitar and jug. The band is called THAT Dammned
Band, and they play music throughout the whole show. Then we
have the freaks, which consist of me, lobster boy, lobster girl,
Stn. John the Flipper Boy, Ken ĎPeggo the Legoí Ďthe modern day
elephant maní, Diedre the ĎDancing Dwarf Demureí, as well as
other freaks who perform on occasion with us, like lilí miss
Fire Fly the Ďmidget of mischiefí, Danny the half-boy, and a few
different giants. We also have some sideshow performers
including a sword swallower (the Great Gozleone), Lowrent the
Clown, and occasionally Katzen the Tiger Lady. Our show
involves music, vaudeville, traditional freakshow acts and
working acts, as well as ones weíve created. The show is really
What types of venues do you play?
We have played so many different venues. Weíve played at
festivals, bars, frat houses, churches, resorts, benefit shows,
colleges, and theatres all over.
Do you have much time off? What do you like to do in your free
I do have time off. This year has been the most intense as far
as no time off. By the end of this year I have been touring
eight months out of twelve. I intertwine my work with my
pleasure. When I have time off I usually relax, work on acts,
play music, go out, play pool and read.
Since youíve been in the business who have you worked with?
I work primarily with 999 EYES, but I have done shows with
Brothers Grim. The tour that I was on with them I worked with
Zamora the Torture king, William Dark, a few yo-yo masters,
go-go Amy, Lady Diabla the sword swallower, and lilí miss Fire
Fly. I worked at circus circus casino with the Lizardman and
Swingshift sideshow. Dan Meyer, president of the Sword
Swallowing Association International, just came out to do a show
with us. Iíve done some shows with a Portland circus called the
Wonderlust circus. Iíve worked with a lot of bands too. Itís
still my preference to do shows with other freaks though.
How has the experience changed what you think of the
I like working with different groups because everyone has their
own acts and different spins on things. Especially, the way they
present their shows. Itís also been interesting to see what a
sideshow is like compared to the freak show. Like any business
there are bad ones out there that just care about money and not
the people performing for them or the history behind the show.
Luckily, with the 999 EYES, Iím with a good group of people who
share the same vision with me. Our show is co-created, and we
all make the show together. I like not having an authority
figure who is on a power trip about being the boss. I donít want
to feel like Iím below someone and I have to do what they say
and be controlled by them. In reality, a show is not a show
without all the people involved, no matter how small their part
might seem. When someone is performing with you, they are there
because they want to be, and they can just as easily leave if
you donít treat them right and appreciate the work they do.
What are your aspirations for the future?
I would like to do more TV and movies and get the freaks back on
the big screen instead of just using CGI effects and hiring
people to act like they are in wheelchairs. I donít think there
is anyone to look up to in the entertainment world who is not a
cookie cutter person. I am tired of people who are ďhandicapĒ
being looked down on and pitied. Itís ridiculous. I want more
freaks to come out of hiding and share what they were born with.
I would also like to meet a conjoined twin in person.
Generally, I want people to accept themselves and others and be
more understanding and accepting as a society.
Would you give us an idea where you see the Freak Show is
I think NOW is a great time for the freak show.
People are really interested in it. I think the future looks
Is there anyone you would like to thank?
would like to thank Samantha X, Lowrent the clown, Dylan
and HEA (the lobster girl) for all the work they have
done for the 999EYES. It's a lot of work to keep the
dream alive. I would like to also thank all the human
oddities I have worked with and the wonderful musicians
in THAT DAMNNED Band. John Strong, Bobby Renyolds, Ward
Hall and Jimmy Z. Special thanks to Josh Blatzik and
Elizabeth Anderson for the beautiful banners they
painted for me. Everyone who supported us from the
beginning. Also Lady Diabla and Zamora the Torture King.
Last but not least all the freaks and great showmen of
the past that created the history and legacy of the
like to thank Jackie for taking time to do this interview for
Header Image by John
Robinson copyright © 2007 all rights reserved
3-Banner by Josh
Bladzik - Photograph courtesy of Bobby Schneider copyright
©2007 All rights
Singing - Photograph courtesy of John Strong copyright
6-999 Eyes -
Photograph courtesy of John Strong copyright
©2007 All rights
performing - Photograph courtesy of John Strong copyright
12-Jackie and Danny
the Half Boy - Photograph courtesy of John Strong copyright
©2007 All rights
13-Jackie Karat1 -
Photograph courtesy of John Strong copyright
©2007 All rights