Reaction To Reflections

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.

Photos by Jean-Stéphane Sauvaire

Photos by Jean-Stéphane Sauvaire

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.

PAUSE…

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…

Photo by Laure A. Leber

Photo by Laure A. Leber

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…”

 

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Photo by Ray Valenz

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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.

Black Scorpion also plays musical instruments. Some of his original sounds can be heard at his #BUILDNEWLEGENDS page. He is also a director. His work can be seen on his BSTV page.

In 2014 Black Scorpion became the consultant for Evan Peters character Jimmy Darling for the fourth season of American Horror Story: Freak Show.

 

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