WHY AM I DOING THIS?
Five words buzzing like bees through the interior of my mind…between inside talker, Ray Valenz, uttering “FREAK” and “KING!” over the double speaker amplification system. All broadcast to the 300 person occupancy bleacher seating of the Brooklyn auditorium.
And then…there are seconds left, preparing my leap back upon the Coney Island (CIUSA) Sideshow by the Seashore stage.
The audio engineer and actor extraordinaire, Luis Micheals, presses play. He naturally cranks a thumbing-pumping drum introduction through the soundboard. I faintly hear from backstage: Katy Perry’s disembodied voice singing, “You’re so hypnotizing. Could you be the devil? Could you be an angel?” playing ominously over the PA system.
That’s my cue….
Flying from house left, to stage apron, wearing my multi colored shoes, tutu, mask, holding a rainbow splattered metal folding chair in one claw, -a mallet in the other. I take a drastic, violent, standing pose…
Meanwhile, the audiences, at $10 a pop, fill the room completely. It’s a full house, standing room only. Lifting the aluminum chair over my head, blocking stage lights from my eyes for a brief moment…the roar of the crowd grows deafening. Fear fills my head over the audience’s jubilation. WORRY. Concern over whether being on stage could be harmful to others like me. My mind rewinding as the chair crashes down upon the black-painted stage. And now I’m back towards the negative feelings of someone just like me…but different.
Before arriving back to my beloved second home, I read an article by an affluent writer, calling for performers using the FREAK moniker legal banishment from stages in the US and UK. This wish if granted could send a modern generation of differently designed artists into a void of silence. A self-described Disability Activist of Short Stature attended one of CIUSA Sideshow by the Seashore’s traditional ten-in-one grind (continuous) show. On the particular day of the viewers’ visit, the show was an actual FREAKSHOW. Due to the fact a Natural Born Human Oddity appeared on stage…or a performer of limited height (to put in corporate terms). Seeing the FREAKS interpretation of his experience was not in line with the Activist writer’s own conditioning. The writer, without knowing, or either receiving the real name of the FREAK artist, his intent, or his divine endowment; took to a highly trafficked infotainment news website to publicly dismiss the reflector of personal scars. The writer, to the best of their ability, began calling out governments: to revise civil rights laws, to end any reminders of actions that left hurt feelings, asking society to break mirrors that revealed any scar or blemish, requesting communities to wear blinders for policy and control words to specific scientific terms -setting sunder a whole field of artists. Banished because “One of Us” found a reflection awkwardly uncomfortable and needed it permanently removed.
In DEFENSE of an anti-FREAKSHOW scribe: Environments instill values as well as prejudices. Financial security will allow for protection, higher learning, travel and medical care. Financial insecurity will not. Single parent homes may not. Public vs private education environments are drastically unalike.
An experience is the point of the FREAKSHOW. Scars splayed open for the world to interpret. The FREAKSHOW is there to affect. Coney has defended that tradition of creative exhibitions and performances; kept it ALIVE on the INSIDE of America since the 1980s when a Yale graduate, by the name of Dick Zigun, organized a group of artists to commission a vision. Everyone deserves a voice, but not everyone gets the mic. Dick Zigun held that stage, lit for voices otherwise ignored.
HE DARED TO PRESS PLAY…
HOW I FOUND MYSELF AT CONEY.
I submerged myself into FREAKSHOW performance because I am an artist born different in a world where the majority of those hiring creative, refuse to accept anything outside the standard ten fingers or ten toes, typical. So with a few others of Mother Nature’s human anomalies, we took back the original positive meaning of the word FREAK to stages all across America confronting those who didn’t/don’t know the true beauty of all forms that our world presents.
Historically, Freak Shows were generally owned and operated by natural-born human oddities. Mistreatment was the exception, not the rule. Circus sideshow FREAKS are not only royalty of the sideshow arts, but were the biggest money draws. PT Barnum was twice bailed out of bankruptcy by the freak performer: General Tom Thumb, who grew so rich on his own accord, he was able to save his first and only employer from financial ruin.
THE MICHIGAN PENAL CODE Act 328 from 1931 is still on the books. Being on stage is still illegal for FREAKS in these our United States.
It is a battle to have “born different voices” heard. Watch as the ultra-rich line-up on morning news entertainment dis-informational talk shows to claim they are the “Voice for the Voiceless.” IF WE ARE VOICELESS, THAN WHICH ONE OF US ASKED YOU TO SPEAK? In truth, most able body spokespersons for the disabled are collecting paychecks thanks to photo ops with their: “disabled mascots,” to hang on the walls of their high-rise offices; while those they claim to advocate suffer in poverty and live with social stigma.
Shock in seeing a reflection of yourself in someone else doing what you can’t comprehend, is no reason to shut a movement down. Just because the titles aren’t the same, does not mean the intent is not.
One can learn a lot about themselves by what frightens. Growth comes from facing and learning from those fears. Destroy what scares you by saying a friendly: “Hello,” asking someone their name, and reserving judgment. You’ll never know how someone, walked, limped, rolled, or crawled to get where they are…until you ask. When you see a reflection, perhaps, instead of jumping up, running for the Wi-Fi hot spot to post a blog, why not try to make a friend? Learn a little understanding.
WHY AM I DOING THIS?
These five words stung like bees to my brain, as I stood before the sold out crowd. But I knew why. I always had. All I wanted was to change the world. To lead those viewed as preconceived negatives towards a peaceful beautiful rainbow painted positive future. For any considered odd to have their voices heard, stories told, words recognized; whether in joy, fear, through tears or laughter seen as beautiful human beings.
And one of the very few places left where that is even a possibility for someone just like me, is Coney Island USA Sideshows By the Seahore: where a voice wishing and wanting to shout, sing or cry out, can be heard by anyone willing to take that $10 ride of lifetime.
“Ladies, Gentlemen and Transgender of all ages, I am the Black Scorpion from future Austin, Texas…”
Who is the Black Scorpion?
Black Scorpion is a writer, director, performer known mostly for his contribution to the revival of modern freak show and sideshow arts. Known for his bizarre and surreal stage performances, multi-colored self-designed bandit mask and shoes, as well as his “trademark” claws, also called Ectrodactyly by some and lobster claw syndrome by others. His feet are like his hands, three toes to a foot.
Black Scorpion performs as a freak working to change the word from a negative to a positive through educational humor. He has also worked for over sixteen years at the Austin, Texas television news station KEYE-TV. In 2006, after being discovered by Mr. Lifto, Black Scorpion burst onto the sideshow scene with one of the last traveling authentic vaudevillian Freak Show the 999 Eyes. He appeared for the first time onstage as National Geographic filmed the troupe for their show Taboo.
In 2008 Black Scorpion joined the cast of Coney Island USA’s world famous Sideshows by the Seashore.
Every morning before my eyes even open I go through every wonderful person I have in my life. I am so grateful for all those who care for my health. The only way I know how to repay my debt to you all is to try my best to lead a positive existence with as much happiness as I can in the world in which I live.
Grateful & Thankful
The Social Security Administration in Austin does not serve the people who reside here. I ask you to try calling either (866) 627-6991 or 512-206-3700. And see where that gets you. If you call the national hotline you will get someone who will redirect you back to your local administration. This is not serving anyone in need. People are getting paid, with benefits, to keep others from their Social Security benefits. This is a shame and a crime against the elderly and disabled.
My hands and feet are odd. Both effected by Ectrodactyly. But my body is different as well. From my straw like hair, burning eyes with dark circles beneath, blotchy skin, small ears, delayed hearing, see through teeth, sweat glands, underdeveloped chest, and nails that either split or curve growing back into my skin.
Medical issues and dental fights have plagued my life. For all I have ever known Ectrodactyly was the cause of my genetic mutations. In my 36 years on planet earth not one primary physicians have ever been able to tell me otherwise. It’s all been either a guess or a gamble. Local doctors have had no idea. Dentists cared less. As long as each were getting their payments in full either from insurance, credit or straight out-of-pocket, everything was wonderful. For them.
My non stop medical emergencies and countless dental repairs left me physically and financial devastated. Credit debt. Deep depression. Shame. Embarrassed, I never told my own family half of what I’ve been through just to survive. To stay afloat. I withdrew from everyone and everything I loved. For a three-year period I went without physical contact from another human being.
I first became aware of Ectrodactyly-Ectodermal Dysplasia-Cleft Lip/Palate or EEC syndrome in 2010. I thought in name alone I was not a member of the this rare disease’s group. I did not have either a cleft lip nor palate. The medical definitions for Ectodermal Dysplasia overloaded already anxiety ridden brain. What I did understand was Ectodermal Dysplasia began before birth as a layer of cells form over the body.
In 2015 I began a battle to return my ability to chew, after losing all my lower molars. I started a GoFundMe Page. I wrote and posted my dental horror story on social media and through that cry for help discovered a EEC syndrome community. The EEC Syndrome community lead me to NFED an organization with vast sources of information for those either just diagnosed or learning about Ectodermal Dysplasia for themselves or loved ones. They not only provide you with research but can actually help in locating medical and dental professionals with knowledge and experience with of Ectodermal Dysplasia.
I now know I have the both E’s in EEC Syndrome. Ectodermal Dysplasia and Ectrodactyly. These mutations of my gene’s contribute to my issues with my teeth, hair, eyes, skin, sweat glans, nails, ears, nipples and hearing. The genetic disorder Ectodermal Dysplasia may mean for most entering a world that can rob one of either worth or wealth and moreover both. If knowledge of Ectrodactyly-Ectodermal Dysplasia-Cleft/Lip Palate spread to the insurance companies, doctors, dentists and the public lives like ours who live with EEC Syndrome would change for the positive.
Now that I do know I live with EEC Syndrome my mind is once again drowning with facts, figures, statistics. But I am learning. There is a lot of research on EEC Syndrome to enlighten those with a thirst to comprehend. More is being learned everyday. Understanding is key to helping combat against prejudice, misunderstanding, harsh uneducated judgments and unjust insurance denials.
Knowledge is power.
Learning is hope.
Searching for the path to health.
Studying the effects of Ectodermal Dysplasia. Join along the journey. Texas is terrible place for folks living with rare diseases. Suppression of information is pathetic. Doctors for profit in the pocket of big pharmacy. Dentist are thieves. Insurance is a joke.
Ectrodactlyly or EEC Syndrome has taken a physically toll upon my health. EEC not only affects hands and feet but also hair, teeth, nails, skin, hearing and sweat glands.
Embarrassing as it is to admit publicly on social media the effects on my teeth have been the most devastating. I’ve lost all four of my bottom molars due to jaw infections leaving me with the inability to chew.
Dentures have not been a “fit” spending over $1000 on a set that have already broken, splitting my gums open.
My only option left are Dental Implants. Dental Implants are the most conservative procedure available. Dental Implants do not affect the surrounding teeth and will restore my ability to eat without pain.
Dental Implants are expensive. With a $340 dollar CT Dental Cone Beam procedure to scan my jaw for placement of dental implants. Then the 1st procedure will cost $7,514 to implant two back molars on each side of my lower jaw. After the initial implants heal my dentist suggest another set of implants on each side to fill in the gaps of the two other missing molars at a cost of another $7,514.
Unfortunately my dental issues do not end there, but I am uncomfortable asking for anymore. I do work while disabled and will continue to , to pay for these issues I am facing for years to come.
I am not good at asking for help. My adult life’s been spent working non stop only to see all my earnings wiped out to pay for continuous medical disasters. So as much as I dislike it I am here asking for help.
I am grateful for anything you are willing to give.
What does the word FREAK mean to the King of Freakshow, the Black Scorpion? I’ve been asked to personally define the meaning of this particular word in question on street corners, inside crowded subway cars, operating rooms, sewers, theatres, bank standoffs, by taxi cabs drivers, mechanical engineers, aeroplanes pilots, documentary presenters, with my back against the wall in pool halls, as well as over over instant messenger.
A Google search defines Freak the noun as a person, animal or plant with an unusual physical abnormality.
I’ve heard countless celebrities express how they felt like Freaks growing up. Which is fair because as a child I felt like a celebrity. Suspicious that eyes were gazing upon my pincers only to find heads whipping to avoid making any kind of humane contact. Having civilians brazenly walk up shouting first thoughts that flew off the tip of their tongues about my chelas, whether the comments be either terribly kind or horridly rude.
The famous were simply expressing a common internal occurrence of feeling different from their community. A thought, an emotion found in many. Maybe all. Even though as poet Ryunosuke Satoro states:
“Individually, we are one drop. Together, we are an ocean.”
Except in the case of Siamese twins though spiritual speaking, separate.
Again I find I’m dancing around a burning bush in a tutu when it comes to the question at claw just to make what would easily be a quick answer into a longer blog. Only because I am trying to figure out how some make a living off of blogging. Is it length or substance? Both perhaps. Talent most likely. Another question for another blog maybe.
What does Freak mean to BS?
Freak to me means someone born different who takes the canvas, written word, stage, streets or sheets to express the most positive attributes of Mother Nature’s anomalies.
Freaks are the face, arms, hands, fingers, legs, feet, toes or lack thereof that have to face the medical nightmares that nearly all may go through at some point. Freaks face those up hill medical battles from the womb.
But aren’t we all freaks? Freaks existing upon a living rock flying around a ball of fire through oxygen-less space.
There are Freaks and then there are what I call the Typicals. Typicals simply being the other side of the Freak coin.
Yes we’re all different in our unique beautiful ways. But feeling different doesn’t make one a Freak. Simply feeling different makes you a Typical.
Freak is predetermined by genetic coding and predating heartbeat.
That is what the word FREAK personally means to BS. Freak, a word that had been subverted into a negative and used as a weapon against those born different in the Typical Norm world.
No need to agree. No need to argue. Perhaps just a consideration. A few thoughts to chew upon. Though truly the only need I see is to create positivity that moves all forward towards prosperity, universal health, happiness free of terror and labels that separate us from Peace and Love.