SAMANTHAX, Freak Momma
I'd like to begin the interview by having you give us a
little background about yourself?
SamathaX: I was teaching anatomy and
physiology in healing arts schools when I began using
photos of the freaks to teach the endocrine system.
Upon finding the photos I started reading about the
amazing lives of fabulous freaks. I met Dylan
Blackthorne shortly after and was telling him stories of
the freaks ov old. It was then when the idea to
bring back the freakshow was birthed. WE already played
dark carnival music and so now the work was to find
freaks and seek out the old showmen and find out just
what a freakshow was. We were both too young to have
You mention that after you decided to bring back the
Freakshow you had to find freaks, would you explain what
your idea was of freaks at the time and where were you
going to find them?
SamathaX: To me
Freaks were humans with genetic anomalies that were
willing to show their fabulous talents. I'm not exactly
sure how I "found" freaks. I was building the museum of
mutantstrosities and carrying around photos of freaks
and telling their stories and the freaks came to me.
When they heard my mission to bring back the freakshow
and show the world that freaks are fabulous we slowly
became a travelling freakshow and family. It was magic
that brought this project together.
What was it that made you
think a Freak Show would sale in todayís political
I was not concerned with
the outcome of the project. I only wanted even one
freak from the past to be remembered by somebody. The
goal of the initial project was just to remind folks how
fabulous the freaks were. That they were celebrities
and world travellers, not locked in a box and abused by
I also wanted to showcase the
amazing showmen who worked side by side with the freaks
to make this world of oddities and curiosities possible
for the audience explore. In the beginning we thought
"bringing back the freakshow" meant one short tour...
What was it the got you interested in the Sideshow?
SamathaX: I have
always been fascinated by the circus and sideshows. My
father always took me to museums and the circus and
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?
I of course am the freak momma and am not a freak as I
am not a medical anomaly. But I am honored to be a part
of reclaiming the word freak and keep alive the freak
stories of the past and help to keep alive n old circus
tradition. To create a world where freaks are fabulous
again, where people can come to gaze at them in awe, to
hear their stories and to celebrate genetic diversity.
SSW: What you mean by reclaiming the word
Reclaiming the word freak is exactly what I mean.
Taking it back to the time when the word freak meant, a
person with a genetic human anomaly that is also a
fabulous performer. Not just someone who looks
different by choice or feels weird but someone who lives
day to day with that anomaly and chooses to use it to
highlight their performance art. Also reclaiming the
word for human anomalies to hold proudly in their hearts
and souls again.
out to celebrate the saying "I am a freak, in the truest
meaning of the word".
SSW: You also
mention keeping alive the freak stories of the past and
help to keep alive an old circus tradition, would you
give our reads some insight into the stories of the past
how they relate to keep an old circus tradition alive?
SamathaX: In the
past the freakshow was the darker, unimaginable and
intriguing side of the midway. It was the part that let
people explore their stranger emotions. To explore the
possibilities of genetic diversity, evolution and lands
from beyond. It gave people hope that not all things
are as they seem. At some points in history the
freakshow grossed more money than the other acts on the
midway. The freakshow was an integral part of Barnumís
life and helped to keep his career moving forward as he
continued to help lay the path for larger circuses to be
Each and every freak that I research has an interesting
and exciting life and I recommend to all readers to
explore their stories. They are inspiring to say the
least. Many can be found by clicking on Elizabeth
Andersons picture (our freak anomalies expert) on our
Was your life difficult before you entered show
SamathaX: Life is
up and down, that has never changed
How has your perspective changed since you've been in
perspective has changed in so many ways. Just being
with folks in wheel chairs and prosthetic limbs has
helped me to see how many public places are not
accessible to folks with medical anomalies. I have seen
how the public looks away and pretends our freaks arenít
even there. I have seen them tell their children not to
stare. I have learned the struggles that each
individual freak in our show went through when
transforming from an anomaly to a performer. What it
was like for them to accept the term freak and to hang
out with other anomalies, as most of them spent their
life avoiding others with disabilities. I have watched
them become self confident and interact with people in
different ways then when they began the show. I have
seen the power of a group of freaks in our performance.
I see a venue where the audience becomes liberated to
ask the freaks about their conditions, to see their
skills and to relate to the world of freaks in a
different way. I have seen people in our audience pull
out their hidden freak hand from their pocket and wave
it in the air and others taken off their shoes to show
us with pride their 4 toes. I have seen people relieved
to be able to ask the lobster girl about her hand or the
dwarf what its like to be short. I see this show as a
very healing and necessary aspect of our society which
was long due being revived.
SSW: I have seen how the public looks away
and pretends our freaks aren't even there.
this affected you and the performers of 999 Eyes?
SamathaX: Well the
performers have dealt with it their whole lives, but I
have seen them yell out against it when they are all
together. The most interesting thing is when the public
pretends not to notice the dwarf or half woman and walks
right up to the tall white man (the giant) and says "do
you play basket ball". It is fun also to help people
feel comfortable looking. It is one of the joys of
working with the freakshow is to give the public the
power to ask the freaks questions and to feel safe
meeting and greeting them.
SSW: I have watched them become self
confident and interact with people in different ways
then when they began the show, would you share what that
experience was like and
How did it
effect the direction you took the show?
SamathaX: Mostly we
created "freak stories: real stories from real freaks"
in which the freaks come out and we have story time and
they tell a true story! They are super fabulous and
funny. My favorite is when the dwarf tells about her
mother saying, "If you werenít a dwarf you would be tall
like your sisters" or when the old lady asked her where
she shops for clothes. People go crazy for these stories
and often after the show they have come up and admit to
doing some of the things the norms in the stories did
to our freaks.
SSW: How has it
changed your life? For the better, worst and WHY would
you give a little more feedback on this question?
life is so much better now that I have a family of
I SEE THE
WORLD THROUGH NEW SETS OF EYES. I SEE THE SOCIAL
INTERACTION BETWEEN THE FREAKS AND THE NORMS TO BE A
MAGICAL THING. IT DOES NOT MATTER IF SOMEONE IS
VEGETARIAN OR NOT, REPUBLICAN OR LIBERAL, GENDER
IDENTIFIED, TATTOOED OR OTHER, ALL PEOPLE SEEM TO LOVE
FREAKS. I HAVE GAINED A STRANGE COMFORT THAT MOST
PEOPLE ARE INTERESTED IN THAT WHICH LIES OUTSIDE OF THE
BOX THROUGH MY INTERACTIONS OF SEEING THE GENERAL PUBLIC
EXPERIENCE THE FREAKSHOW
SSW: 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 out show people what has your
experience been in your travels and do you think they
are different than what others have experienced?
SamathaX: Oddly the
freaks seem highly accepted, but as always people are
skeptical about travelling gypsy like crews. Usually
once they realize we are a performance group they ease
up and when they hear us play music they invite us home!
SSW: What does your family think of you
working in the sideshow?
SamathaX: My dad
grew up in NYC going to the freakshow and loves that it
is coming back.
SSW: Have they been supportive or do they
think your have lost your mind?
SamathaX: My family
has always been supportive.
I've felt like an outsider most of my life, I like
things outside of
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 fill you fit into the world and how has the
effected where you are now in your life?
SamathaX: I think
each person is unique and I want to see the world come
to a place where freaks are celebrated again and where
the strange and bizarre are seen as beautiful.
SSW: Where would you like to see
your show go? What are your plans?
want to see a freak revolution. We would love to do a
freakshow along side the Bindelstiffs, circus
contraption and the yard dogs. Those are our first
goals, then we would like to stir things up and take it
back to the midway!
SSW: Ward Hall has told me that if
someone would bring back a real Freakshow they would
have to hire to people to just count the money they
would bring in. What has been your experience in the
clubs you work? And how has the attendance been?
SamathaX: With all
due respect to Ward Hall, who we consider a hero, he
gave us the courage to bring back the freakshow and we
thank him dearly for being an important figure in the
999eyes. We have a vaudevillian type freakshow done
with the back drop of live music, but truly people come
to see the freaks.
to the museum afterward to meet and greet them in
person. We have been in newspapers, magazines and
filmed for Hollywood, the BBC and national geographic
and television. We have sold out several clubs including
the California institute of abnormal art. We have played
weddings and festivals (no bar mitzvahs yet). We have
had no problem with attendance people are mad for
freaks. We give them permission to feel ok about it,
help them realize the freaks may be superior to their
boring ten fingered ten toed model and they want to come
and see for themselves.
SSW: Is there
anyone you would like to thank?
to thank all the sideshow performers who gave us the
guts to bring the freaks on stage. I would to give
special thanks to Bobby Reynolds and John Strong for
having our freaks and us in their homes and helping us
understand the freakshow, and for donating us our museum
items. I would like to thank John Robinson (Sideshow
World) for working to promote the sideshow and for
helping us along the way. James Taylor for sending us
free issues of "Shocked and Amazed" for our museum. I
would like to thank Reverend Tommy Gunn from the Empire
museum for having faith in us since the beginning. The
California institute of abnormal art. David Apocalypse
for teaching us the art of talking. Brothers Grimm for
having freaks on stage.
Ward Hall for keeping freaks on the midway. Franco for
organizing the sideshow gathering. Burning man for
helping us to fund our project and having our freaks on
the manbase in 2005. The Yarddogs for having a show in
Austin which brought me and the Madame Miniature
together. The Alberta Street Clown House for always
opening their doors to the freakshow. Richard Butchins
our documentarist. All the folks who have come out to
see us. And all the showmen and freaks of the past who
have made this world of oddities and curiosities
possible. Kyjah and Song. All the guest performers. I'm
sure I'm forgetting a lot of amazing people who have
helped us along our way and would like to extend thanks
to them. I would also like to thank Jim Rose, for his
efforts to combine sideshow performance and art, and my
Mom and Dad.
ESPECIALLY THE FREAKS OF THE 999EYES OV ENDLESS DREAM
FOR HAVING THE COURAGE TO GET UP ON STAGE AND DO THEIR
Header by John
Robinson copyright 2007 all rights reserved
Photographs: Courtesy of
1 - 999 Freak Muesum
2 - SamathaX with John
3 - SamantgX Mcpuke
with John Strong's Babies and Ape Women in the
4 - SamX and John
Strong's Two Head Punks
5 - 999 at Bobby
Reynolds - Pegleg the Leg O - Samantha X - Bobby
Reynolds - Dame Demure, Madame Miniature - Burns
Lobster Girl - Mcpuke
6 - 999 CIA-LA
Dame Demure, Madame Miniature - Carl Crew Ringmaster CIA
- Burn's Lobster Girl - SamanthX - 2 headed calf
7 - 999 SamathaX -
Lobster Girl Burns - Tammy Wallenda - Frank Rooney &
Snake Show - John Strong