SAMANTHAX, Freak Momma

SSW: 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 seen one.


SSW: 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.

SSW: What was it that made you think a Freak Show would sale in todayís political correct world.

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 their showmen. 


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...
SSW: 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 Coney Island.


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?

SamathaX: 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 freak?



SamathaX:  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. 


To yell 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 and
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 born.

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 web site.

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

SamathaX:  Life is up and down, that has never changed

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

SamathaX:  My 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.

How has 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?


SamathaX:  My life is so much better now that I have a family of Freaks.





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.

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 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?


SamathaX:  We 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.


They rush 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?


would like 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.



Header by John Robinson copyright 2007 all rights reserved


Photographs: Courtesy of SamanthaX

1 - 999  Freak Muesum

2 - SamathaX with John Strong's Snake

3 - SamantgX Mcpuke with John Strong's Babies and Ape Women in the background

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


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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