For Venice Beach FreakShow owner Todd Ray having his Freakshow on AMC is a dream come true. His show is unlike anything you’ve ever seen before, as well as his journey. Ray is a Grammy-winning producer who walked away from a successful music career to satisfy his sense of wonder.
“I’ve always did things from the heart and when I got to a high level of the music business — it’s really corporate and really tough to stay creative, so much so, I got to the point that I was making a lot of money but it wasn’t making me happy,” Ray shares. “I’ve been collecting for years and years, ever since I’ve been a kid. Old circus like sideshow stuff and circus related stuff. I just got to a point where I realilzed that part of the problem, in the parts of the world where I was, was that people had just lost their sense of wonder. And that they had lost their sense of beauty of life here on our planet.I was like, ‘You know what?’ And I looked at my kids and my wife, who thought I was completely nuts. ‘I think we are going to open a place that’s going to bring this back, to a time where wonder was alive. I want us to bring that to this era.’ They thought I was crazy and I just did it. I put it all on the line and we came out here to Venice.”
Ray, his wife Danielle and their two children, Asia and Phoenix, are the owners of the Venice Beach FreakShow, a museum and stage show featuring some of the world’s most amazing and unusual animals and people on the infamous Venice Beach Boardwalk. Their passion for all things unusual is the subject of the AMC eight-part series Freakshow airing Thursdays at 9:30pm ET beginning Feb. 14.
“You will see it all,” Ray tells us. “You will see what others have never seen in their life. What you will see on this television show you will talk about until the day you die. It is not your typical show. It is a piece of history. It is a world of wonder. It is something that is impossible to forget. Once you turn it on — I will promise you this — you won’t be able to turn it off. It’s that amazing.”
Amazing is an understatement when it comes to the passion Ray exudes for instilling a sense of wonder in all of us. Described as a modern-day Ripley, Ray has been collecting old circus show stuff since he was a kid. He’s expanded his collection to include a small zoo of abnormal animals.
“We have probably about 40 strange animals — strange to most people, beautiful to us,” he says. “We have 29 two-headed animals that are all alive. I’ve got the largest collection of living, two-headed animals in the history of man, literally. I’ve got my dog Rocky who’s got five legs, my little dog Fluffy has five legs, and our little dog Pinky was born with no front legs so she walks around like a little lady.”
His family and extended family of performers are equally as unusual. His daughter, Asia, 20, is Rubber Girl, The Electric Lady and a professional sword swallower. “She is also the fire-eater in the live show. She does contortion. She does an Electric Lady act where she literally takes 100,000 volts of electricity,” says Ray.
“[Morgue] does an incredible act where he takes a meat hook and sticks it in his nose and twists it to the inside of his skull until it comes out his mouth,” Ray describes. “It sounds horrible when you say it, but when you see it you are just blown away.”
And there’s plenty more to blow you away as the curtains pull back on the crazy life of his Freakshow.
Pictured above are: (L-R) Brianna Belladonna, George Bell (The Tallest Man), Murrugun the Mystic, Creature (kneeling), Danielle Ray, Todd Ray, Asia Ray, Phoenix Ray, Ally the Littlest Lady, Morgue
Photo: Credit: Ben Leuner/AMC