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Sideshow Freaks is about the unique, the unusual, the exotic, the bizarre and the rare. Traditionally the term “sideshow” is used to refer to an extra or additional set of attractions associated with a circus, carnival, or fair. These sideshow attractions were not the main attractions of the circus, but over time became so commonly associated with the circus and the carnival that these sideshow acts and performers became a big part of what most people thought of as the “circus” experience. The sideshow acts and performers, (for example fire eaters, jugglers, etc.) often had their beginnings as street performances. The circus sideshow provided a more permanent forum for these attractions to develop and flourish then did the street. And for over hundred years the sideshow was strongly associated with the circus, where it thrived and developed into an important form of entertainment.
The sideshow was mainly a stage for “shock entertainment” including the exhibition of both human and animal anomalies, some real and some that was pure fraud. These anomalies were often referred to as “Freaks”. With the term generally, being used with a measure of disdain. However, the dictionary defines a freak as something that is markedly unusual or irregular. There is no disdain in that definition, and is the definition that will be used on this website.
The sideshow attractions of the circus were particularly popular form of entertainment in America from the 1800s until the 1960s. With the widespread use of the television and changing moral attitudes towards people born with disabilities the sideshow and the circus both became dying forms of entertainment in America by the 1960s. In the twenty-first century there has been a revival of interest in sideshow entertainment and although most of the big circuses of the past are gone, there is a new generation of sideshow performers that are utilizing new venues to practice their crafts and entertain the public. So the sideshow is back, although in a somewhat different form. While fairs and festivals continue to provide one venue, rock concerts, sporting events, and other events often provide new venues for sideshow performers. The television and the internet have both made it possible for sideshow performers to reach a world-wide audience.
Although the use of congenital human anomalies for entertainment is generally still out of favor, there is a new breed of sideshow performer who is willing to purposely make themselves different or unusual in order to gain some amount of fame, and in some cases, wealth. The modern sideshow still exhibits human anomalies, but most are now self-created. In viewing the modern sideshow, one must take a broader view, as the sideshow is no longer mainly associated with traveling circuses, which have gone all but extinct. Instead, the modern sideshow, which still has many of the traditional sideshow acts as well as a new forms of entertainment including “reality television”, is more broadly associated with the new circus collectively referred to as the “Entertainment Industry”.
In addition to thinking of the sideshow as a type of entertainment, one can also philosophically think of the sideshow of life that is filled with people who are different or unusual because of the way that they have decided to live their lives. Some courageous souls have taken the road less traveled instead of following mainstream America like a herd of cattle. In some cases this has led them to good fortune, in other cases they have faced hardships. However, either way their lives are interesting, if not entertaining, to those who have followed the common path, and are consider part of the “normal”. It is from all of these perspectives that this site examines “Sideshow Freaks”. We look at historic sideshow acts, modern-day sideshow performers and those persons who are not formal entertainers, but have made choices to follow unusual or different pathways for their lives. We bring you this website you in hopes that Sideshow Freaks will educate, entertain and maybe enlighten. So Enjoy!!!!!!!!!!
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