Snapchat Filters Venice Culture

On April 30, 2017, the world-famous Venice Freakshow had to say goodbye to the community it has known for the past 11 years. Todd Ray, the owner and founder of The Venice Freakshow, had a childhood dream that became his reality when he opened the boardwalk side-show attraction in 2006.

When the Freakshow was first established, Tod Ray found performers from near and far, including a man known as ‘Morgue’, “I was originally a street performer on the boardwalk. I performed a lot of acts that were very rare, like regurgitation. There are only a handful of people, like two people in the world, who do that, so Todd heard about me and I came in as a guest performer, then I ended up staying full-time as the host of the show”.

Snapchat, a social media giant, has been expanding their headquarters in Venice Beach, which meant the closing down of many culture heavy buildings. The latest building to have been bought by the company was the very building The Venice Freakshow called home. As the news got out to the public, a protest was organized and the Freakshow performers got on stage for the Venice community one last time.

‘Jessa The Bearded Lady’, another performer at the Freakshow, made her last day in Venice even more special by getting married on the steps of The Freakshow to her now husband Craig Burlingame.

Todd Ray stood on the balcony of The Freakshow addressing the frustration he and the crowd both felt, “They can buy the buildings, but they can’t buy the spirit of Venice Beach”.

He was very transparent about what was happening to his beloved shop, “[Snapchat’s Lawyers] told me they were going to sue me if I’m not out by midnight tonight”. Members of the crowd held up countless amounts of signs protesting Snapchat.

The Venice Freakshow may have closed its doors for good, but the message at the core of it’s existence will be forever remembered by its Venice locals and the tourists that once came to see the oddities of the freak show.

“Just always remember what the freak show is all about and that’s being who you are and being your individual self” says Morgue.