I'd like to begin the
interview by having you give us a little background about
I grew up in
a small town. Moved a lot. Went to college for one semester,
then took off and travelled around on freight trains and
hitchhiked throughout the country.
SSW: What was it that got you interested in the Sideshow?
The concept of a travelling community. A nomadic way of
life that requires the participation and cooperation of all
You say a travelling community,
what did you bring to the community when you joined, and
what talents did you feel you had to share with the show?
Fate and magic brought me here, and only as I grow along
with the show do I find my place and learn to exploit my
talents for the benefit of us all. For example: I have
introspective tendencies and a fair amount of self awareness
which allows me to accept criticism and apply it
constructively, a trait that is crucial in this business.
I've got artistic vision, unwavering
loyalty and dedication, sensitivity toward the feelings of
others, and an ability to see what is needed to fill the
How were you accepted by the other folks in the sideshow,
and how long did it take you to feel a part of the
Well, I was the first freak. It was just Samantha and myself
down in Xenia, where we found Medusa's China Doll, the Dwarf
Demure, the Giant Handed Man, a fuzzy-faced lady, and
an elusive half man and started to grasp the concept of what
a freak show could be....meanwhile Dylan was on the western
front spreading his tentacles and laying the network for the
show to take place. Therefore I have been accepted by
default as the original freak of the 999 Eyes.
SSW: Original Freak or one of the
founders of the group? What was it that
influenced you to join?
h.e.a Burns: Both.
The thought of recreating a caravan rolling town
to town with a museum and a crew of gypsies and
freaks was not something I could pass up. It
seems to me it was one of the things I was born to do.
SSW: Dylan M. Blackthorne was on
the western front spreading his tentacles and
laying the network for the show to take place,
What was the network he built and how did it
support the group?
h.e.a Burns: Dylan had already
been a part of a large scene of goblins out west
which helped lay a fan base and with his
technical skills he built us a web site that has
done much to promote us.
SSW: How was the networking Dylan did helpful
in developing the groups image?
h.e.a Burns: .....?.....
SSW: 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 business?
Before the show, I was insecure about
the way people viewed me
due to my lobster hand. I often hid
it in my sleeve and
felt awkward when I shook peoples hands.
far as relating to the title freak: I as a kid had a
difficult time approaching other freaks because I thought it
brought out my own anomaly , and I was afraid others would
categorize me along side of them.
Now that I embraced the title freak it
has freed me. I now feel proud and honored to carry the
title that so many amazing freaks in sideshow history share
SSW: Was your life difficult before you entered show
It wasn't difficult but I felt stifled and confined by my
SSW: Would you explain a little more
of what you mean by stifled and confined by your insecurities?
h.e.a Burns: I've always had an itch
to perform...to sing, play music, or even public
speaking....but I knew in the spotlight I would be unable to
hide my hand. And that scared me. Even when dancing I would
keep my arms at my sides. In almost everything I did I
would, consciously or subconsciously, find a way to hide my
hand and would not show it in front of people if I didn't
It made me a little neurotic, you see....
SSW: How has your perspective changed since you've been in
Now I talk openly about my condition and those of others in
I feel more
comfortable approaching others with anomalies, I am not put
off by them. I see the power of walking with a group of
freaks and the way that when we are together people are awed
and can't ignore the fact that we are different.
SSW: So you feel empowered by being a
part of the group, how has this effected you as an
individual? Please explain a little about your personal
I have grown in confidence, I no longer feel limited by
external forces. I have a stage upon which I can enact my
hopes and dreams for a world in which unusual is beautiful.
SSW: Is that stage, the
sideshow or is it internal? Will it be there after the show?
h.e.a Burns: Well, both. We have a show and
within that we have a community. Knowing that I now am a
part of something that extends beyond myself is all it took
to open me up, and the show has taught me the importance of
working together with others towards a mutual goal.
SSW: How has it changed your life? For the better, worst ?
It has changed my life for the better. Now I no longer
have the excuse of being incapable because of my "inferior
role" in society. I am learning to be a stage
performer and having the venue in which to express myself
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 Town's were outsiders to the show folks. They
had a lot of miss trust about show people what has your
experience been in your travels and do
you think they are different than what others have
I think when people see us before they see our show, they
see us as a travelling gypsy-like group, and as
I have noticed in the past, folks tend to have a mistrust
for travellers in general. Once they realize we are
performers, they open up to us and are very curious and enchanted.
SSW: What does your family think of you working in the
h.e.a Burns: At first they were extremely weirded out and afraid to even
ask me about it. As time has gone on, the show evolves and
gets recognition from shows like national geographic, they
are beginning to see the validity and the importance of
bringing back the freakshow in this day and age.
SSW: Have they been supportive or do they think your have
lost your mind?
Yes they are supportive, and yes they believe I have lost my
SSW: 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 it effected
where you are now in your life?
I am not in the sideshow world because I like things that
are outside the norm...I just generally AM outside and have
lived my whole life up until the freakshow feeling sorely
misunderstood and confused by my inability to relate
main-stream concept of reality. Whether that is directly
associated with having a claw for a hand I do not exactly
know. I have now found that reality is an illusion. That has
empowered me to express my version of the
world as I see
Because our predecessors have opened
this venue in the psyche of American Culture.
SSW: Where do you
think the Freak Show will go in the future?
h.e.a Burns: I hope to take the show to
wherever there is an interest. I want to see other freak
shows develop to keep the true meaning of the word ALIVE! I
want to see the freak show on the midway again. We have been
well received everywhere we go... even my own family which
at first was appalled are now excited about my involvement
in something of such historical and social significance. The
public is ready for the return of the freakshow!
Is their anyone you would like to thank?
John Strong and Bobby Reynolds, of course.
Without them we would
be lacking the connection
to and continuity of the history behind us. I
must thank Barnum for exploiting fabulosity to
its full potential. It is very important for us
to acknowledge our predecessors who have opened
this venue in the psyche of American Culture. I
also thank everyone who has kept the magic of
the sideshow running through their veins, and
John Robinson and Sideshow World for bringing
the sideshow community together on the web.
SSW: Is there anything else you
would like to share?
SSW: One last question, What does
H.E.A. stand for?
h.e.a Burns: ((lower case letters, 2
Highly Explosive Ammunition is what I
heard...but that was after I had the name.
As to its origin...its my birth name....in a
to thank h.e.a Burns, it has been my pleasure.
John Robinson Sideshow World
all rights reserved
Courtesy of SamanthaX
all rights reserved
h.e.a Burns aka Lobster Girl
SamanthaX and Lobster Girl
Hissing Roach and Burns
Freakshow Banner from 999 Eyes,
by Elizabeth Anderson
h.e.a Burns aka
Lobster Girl, Samantha X & Bobby Reynolds punks.
Burns and her wash board -
member of That Dam Band
h.e.a Burns and John Strong's 5
Reynolds vs Burns at Bobby