About seven years ago, Grammy-winning producer Todd Ray walked away from a successful music career to satisfy his sense of wonder by opening the Venice Beach Freakshow, a Los Angeles-area museum and stage show featuring some of the world’s most amazing and unusual animals and people on the infamous Venice Beach Boardwalk. Ray; his wife, Danielle; and their two children, Asia and Phoenix, own and operate the show, and their passion for all things unusual is the subject of the eight-part series “Freakshow,” premiering Thursday, Feb. 14, on AMC.
“You will see it all,” Ray says. “You will see what others have never seen in their life. What you will see on this television show you will talk about until the day you die. It is not your typical show. It is a piece of history. It is a world of wonder. It is something that is impossible to forget. Once you turn it on — I will promise you this — you won’t be able to turn it off. It’s that amazing.”
Amazing is an understatement when it comes to the passion Ray exudes for instilling a sense of wonder in all of us. Described as a modern-day Ripley, Ray has been collecting old circus show stuff since he was a kid. He’s expanded his collection to include a small zoo of abnormal animals.
“We have probably about 40 strange animals — strange to most people, beautiful to us,” he says. “We have 29 two-headed animals that are all alive. I’ve got the largest collection of living two-headed animals in the history of man, literally.”
His family and extended family of performers are equally as unusual. Asia, 20, is Rubber Girl, the Electric Lady and a professional sword swallower. “She is also the fire eater in the live show. She does contortion. She does an Electric Lady act where she literally takes 100,000 volts of electricity,” Ray says.
And there’s plenty more to blow you away as the curtains pull back on the crazy life of his Freakshow.