if you enjoyed AHS’s Freak Show, go watch this stuff

(This is an unusual blog post for me, but I’m wicked geeked out about the topic right now, so humour me. 🙂  )

Like a lot of people, I don’t get caught upon TV series until they hit Netflix.  American Horror Story is one of those shows, and considering the wild popularity of that show, I thought I’d share my wanderings through Netflix’s collection of things that don’t always pop up easily on people’s feeds.

Last year – and honestly, unrelated at all to AHS – I discovered a reality TV show on Netflix called “Freakshow.” You may not be into reality shows, but Todd’s desire to replicate freak show history today in Venice Beach is pretty interesting/educational…and with only 2 seasons?  Not a huge commitment.

When I finally got around to watching American Horror Story’s fourth season,  I found myself really glad I’d watched the aforementioned show because I felt like I understood the season better.  But goodness, was I missing stuff.  I knew (mostly) who had inspired varied stories; I just didn’t realize how many of the actors on the show were real-world ‘freaks.’  Indeed, even the opening credits reference real people.

Curious about Dot and Bette?  You’ll find “Bound by Flesh,” a documentary about conjoined twins Daisy and Violet Hilton, to be well worth your time.

I don’t know of a film about the “Lobster Boy” character Jimmy Darling’s real-world counterpart,  Grady Stiles Jr, but his son (who shares the family’s ectrodactyly condition, is a part of the Venice Beach freakshow and discusses his father on one episode.

Not related to AHS but definitely related to freaks, I highly recommend the following two documentaries as well.  First is “The Real Beauty and Beast,” which primarily tells the story of Petrus Gonsalvus, a man in the 1500s who was afflicted with hypertrichosis, causing long dark hair to cover most of his body.  He and his wife are believed to have helped inspire the fairy tale “Beauty and the Beast.”  (The trailer below doesn’t really capture much of what the documentary is about, although you’ll see the Venice Beach freakshow making yet another appearance.)

And then there’s this documentary about the Ovitz family – a family of Romanian dwarves that survived Auschwitz.  (Why don’t we all know about their story?)  This one doesn’t have much of a connection to anything else I’ve mentioned other than the obvious tie little people have to the world of the side show/carnival, but oh, I so encourage you to watch this one.  This family’s history is an incredible story.

I would not be surprised at *all* to learn that I’ve missed a thing or two from Netflix’s collection.  But since we know that things offered up for our viewing pleasure there does change over time…if the history of carnivals/freak shows interests you at all?  I encourage you go to take a look at this stuff.

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