Venice Beach Freak Show


31 Responses to “Venice Beach Freak Show”

  1. Scooter Jackson says:

    Is it just me or does the Merrick bust look kinda like Donald Trump to anyone else?

  2. JBarnes01 says:

    All that for five dollars!?  You found yourself a genuine bargain!  Allowed to photograph too, without an additional surcharge? Even better!

    I thought I found a good value at the Santa Cruz Mystery Spot which is $6.00/head.  However, it’s a crap shoot–it all depends on which tour guide you get.

  3. Eliot says:

    The sword swallower is Brett Loudermilk

  4. Huwman says:

    Looks very cool, although, from what I’ve heard, a freakshow on Venice Beach is almost redundant.

  5. mtdna says:

    I just can’t come up with anything witty or suggestive to say about the guy swallowing a 7′ balloon. Oh, wait…

  6. sef says:

    The iguana with two tails happened because the tail broke, but did not actually fall off.  Since it broke, it grew a new one, but the old one healed.

    You can do it deliberately; I hope that wasn’t the case there.

    • peromyscus says:

      I’ve kept iguanas (and other lizards) for 19 years. I only ever incubated one batch of iguana eggs, and a couple of the hatchlings had split tails. (Which is what led me to never try it again.) Judging by the picture, I don’t think the iguana here had a broken tail that regrew forked. I think it was a birth defect, as mine were.  Reptiles seem to get this developmental problem quite frequently, as you can tell by the double-headed beardie, double-headed slider and double-tailed iguana just in this one collection of “freaks”.

  7. peterblue11 says:

    Reminds me of Cory’s makers. all they need is a 3d printer :)

  8. The couple that runs this place, and their five-legged MinPin, were once featured on an episode of The Dog Whisperer. He’s adorable, but he’s a terror:

  9. pjcamp says:

    ” This woman is sitting in an electric chair while the man illuminates a
    fluorescent light tube with the current emanating from her body.”

    No he’s not. And no she isn’t.

    She’s sitting near the Tesla coil which you can see to the left rear of the chair. The high frequency oscillating field of the coil is what is illuminating the fluorescent tube. There is no real current to speak of. Ionizing the tenuous mercury vapor inside the tube requires high voltage, not current, and that is what the Tesla coil provides. This is basically the same effect as the giant lightning bolts produced by very large coils. You don’t see those here because the coil is small and the air too dense for significant ionization. But the vapor in the tube is a pretty decent vacuum and will ionize quite well.

    It’s conceivable she’s in the circuit though it doesn’t look like it. Human nervous systems aren’t sensitive to currents with frequencies above about 20 kHz and Tesla coils typically operate at hundreds of kHz. If they operate in the MHz range, the skin depth is so small that the signal doesn’t even penetrate the body at all.

  10. James Turner says:

    I went to this place the other day, and it was exactly what I was hoping for and more – couldn’t believe it was only 5 dollars. I just loved the sense of fun and attention to detail – it didn’t matter that the electric woman wasn’t really electric, or that a few of the exhibits were fake, that was just part of the enjoyment for me!

    After I left I drew a couple of sketches of the exhibits (including a visiting dog-faced boy!) and other inhabitants of the beach:

  11. prospero761 says:

    The Coney Island Side Show has no “freaks,” just some amazing live performers.

  12. Yinzer says:

    Cyclops chihuahua is fake, because it has a nose. Real-life cyclopses don’t have noses – or if they do it’s a small tube growing out of the forehead. The reason for this is simple: the nose can’t grow like it normally should because there’s a big ol’ eyeball right where the sinuses are supposed to be. For the same reason some cyclopses are also born without mouths. If you look carefully at a pic of Cy the Kitty, you can see he doesn’t have a nose. 

  13. VBartilucci says:

    Amusement parks are caked with sounds
    A solid hunk of meat
    A barker’s sweat flings from his tongue
    His tattoo shines with heat

    A wary stranger stands and sways
    Enraptured by his stance
    Two-headed goats come stumbling by
    And give a troubled glance

    The barker looks into the eyes
    The stranger tries to bend
    The barker swears to more delights
    For all who seek within

    The stranger enters canvas doors
    And smells the fresh cut hay
    The barker points to Siamese twins
    The stranger looks away

    The eyes of horse faced women
    Watch the few who wander through
    They sense the tension in the air
    And smell the sweet taboo

    A heart beats fast against a chest
    The stranger leaves the tent
    The waves of people drown the sounds
    Of loss of innocence

  14. bklynchris says:

    You know what would be REALLY freaky, if those barbie doll heads are these barbie doll heads:

    You know…cleaned up, of course!

  15. The person speaking outside the event is called an outside talker, not a barker. The spiel he delivers to try to entice you inside is called the bally.

  16. HUMUNGOUS says:

    I recognize that monkey butler! He’s nightmare image numero uno from a series of photos from creepy Russian playgrounds!

  17. HughDiego says:

    Cool place~ Someday I will go and experience the special stuff~!

  18. It’s very scary. For Halloween.

  19. David Hart says:

    i miss venice. that building was a tshirt/ head shop when i lived there.

  20. Cody Saunders says:

    Almost every building in Venice was at one time a T-shirt/head-shop.

  21. Mister44 says:

    Joseph Merrick was thought to have suffered from Neurofibromatosis type I (and maybe Proteus Syndrome). It is a fucking shitty ass disease (ask me how I know).

    Basically we have genetic code that says, “Don’t make these extra tumors.” If you lack that code your body might start making tumors, usually along nerve paths.

    NF is pretty common – 1 in 4000. The thing is, you can have it and have no idea you have it until you have kids and they develop a tumor on their spine, small bumps all over their skin, large deforming tumors on their face, or something equally horrible. OR your case might mean you have a few brown spots on your body, a learning disability, something called Lishe nodules on your eyes, or maybe a strange bump here or there. From mild to wild.

    Sooooo – if you would like to learn more or donate to help out now and future “Elephant Men”, check out

  22. So can I shoot there?  Wonder what would be involved. I like to take a picture now and again.

    The website on the business card is no more.

  23. MDwebguy says:

    Looking forward to Frauenfelder’s MAKE feature on two-headed turtles.

  24. Listener43 says:

    With Japanese bio-tech coming online, we should soon have turtles with transparent shells so we can tell if these are fake or not.
    Of course, there’s more to it than exposing freaks, as I’ve written here:

  25. ziggityzoom says:

    Thanks, Mark  … this was a “fun” post!

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