AMC's "Freakshow" is the new unscripted series that follows Todd Ray's quirky family business -- the Venice Beach Freakshow. Leaving behind a successful career in the music industry, Todd was finally able to realize his true passion: bringing together all things bizarre and unique, including two-headed animals, strange artifacts, eccentric performers and human wonders.
Todd Ray is the mastermind behind The Venice Beach Freakshow, a classically-inspired circus sideshow with an attached museum of oddities. A 21st century P.T. Barnum with a congenital resistance to very concept of "impossible," Todd has set out to build the world's greatest showcase for the unique, the bizarre and the wondrous.
As a teenager in South Carolina, Todd fell in love with the early hip-hop singles coming out of New York and began performing locally with friends. In 1986, he landed a record contract which led him to New York where he met Danielle, the woman whom he would end up spending his life with. Over the next decade, Todd worked with a wide range of artists, including The Beastie Boys, Nas, Mick Jagger, Santana (on the Grammy-winning "Supernatural"), and won two Grammys for his work with the innovative Latin group Ozomatli. He and Danielle ultimately moved to Los Angeles, settling in the suburbs to raise their two children, Asia and Phoenix.
Successful as he was, Todd had creative ambitions that weren’t being satisfied. "I decided I'd rather share the wonders of the world with families - kids, adults, everybody. I recalled an experience in my childhood, which ultimately changed my life forever. I had gone to a sideshow and saw a man named Otis Jordan (known as The Human Cigarette Factory). Performing without any limbs, he used only his shoulders, chin and tongue to roll a cigarette. At the end, I said to him, 'I don't think I could ever do what you did.' He said to me, 'Son, if I can do what you saw me do on stage, a young man like you can do anything you ever dreamed of.' From that moment, the world seemed different and I knew it was my call as to what life could be."
Venice Beach Freakshow opened in 2006, and since then Todd has searched the world for animal anomalies, bizarre artifacts, and people with unusual physiological traits and astounding talents. He has embraced the word "freak" as a joyous rebuttal to "normal" and the pressure of conformity. "Every single one of us, by virtue of our individuality, is an oddity. We're each a freak: a freak of the universe," he stresses. "But a 'freak' meaning the most special, the most unique, the most magical creatures in the universe."
Todd Ray Photos
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