Venice Patch—After more than a decade of thrilling visitors with acts such as the Bearded Lady, the Wolf Boy and an array of two-headed animals, the Venice Beach Freakshow will close its doors Sunday [April 30] thanks to a landlord who declined to renew the attraction’s lease.
But is the show being forced out to make way for Snapchat, the ever- expanding Venice-based social media giant?
That remains a mystery, but supporters of the Freakshow note that everyone in the Ocean Front Walk building that houses the attraction is being evicted — except Snapchat. And the new owner of the building is ironically named Snapshot Partners.
Freakshow backers say Snapchat claims to have no affiliation with Snapshot Partners, but the Los Angeles Business Journal reported that Snapchat has the right of first refusal on space in the building. The expansion of Snapchat — and a general movement of gentrification in the historically off- beat Venice community — has been a point of contention in recent months among longtime residents fearing a “Silicon Beach” takeover.
Regardless of the politics behind the move, the Freakshow will be no more after Sunday. So the business is going out in style, staging a Farewell Party and Protest, featuring performances, stunts, music — and even the wedding of Jessa the Bearded Lady.
Todd Ray, the operator of the Freakshow, has said he isn’t sure where the show will land, suggesting that Las Vegas was a possibility. But he told The Argonaut newspaper he is trying not to be bitter.
“You can buy the property, but you can’t buy Venice Beach and its spirit,” Ray told the paper. “The idea that we have to fit into other people’s boxes is really the trap that keeps us all so unhappy. If everyone would just hold that idea in their heart, then in fact the Freakshow will still be alive.”