SSW: I'd like to begin the interview by having you give us a little background about yourself? 


h.e.a Burns: 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?

h.e.a Burns:  The concept of a travelling community.  A nomadic way of life that requires the participation and cooperation of all it's members. 


SSW: 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?


h.e.a Burns: 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 gaps......


SSW: How were you accepted by the other folks in the sideshow, and how long did it take you to feel a part of the community?


h.e.a Burns: 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?

h.e.a Burns: 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.

As 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 with me.

SSW:  Was your life difficult before you entered show business?

h.e.a Burns: It wasn't difficult but I felt stifled and confined by my insecurities.


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 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 have to. It made me a little neurotic, you see....

SSW: How has your perspective changed since you've been in the show?

h.e.a Burns: Now I talk openly about my condition and those of others in the show. 


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 growth?


h.e.a Burns: 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 s
omething 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 ?

h.e.a Burns:  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 fully.

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 about show people what has your experience been in your travels and do you think they are different than what others have experienced?

h.e.a Burns: 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 sideshow?

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? 

h.e.a Burns:  Yes they are supportive, and yes they believe I have lost my mind.

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?

h.e.a Burns: 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 to the 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 it.  


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!

SSW: Is their anyone you would like to thank?

h.e.a. Burns: 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?


h.e.a Burns: ...............?..............

SSW: One last question, What does H.E.A. stand for?


h.e.a Burns: ((lower case letters, 2 periods))

Highly Explosive Ammunition is what I heard...but that was after I had the name.

As to its origin...its my birth a certain sense.


I want to thank h.e.a Burns, it has been my pleasure.


John Robinson Sideshow World


Header Image: jrrobinson copyright 2006 all rights reserved


Photographs: Courtesy of SamanthaX copyright 2006 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 legged Cow

Reynolds vs Burns at Bobby Reynolds Ranch



Each month we will try and interview a new performer for the site.  Because of the logistics of it face to face interviews are tough to come by.  A good percentage of the interviews we will be doing will be via e-mail or telephone.  If you are interested in being interviewed for the site drop us a line.


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