/// Contemporary Art & Poetry Review ///
It is a bad day and age for the kind of freaks we used to be: tattooed ladies, fat women,
rubber-faced babas, those mermaid girls with sweet webbed feet. Melancholy freaks,
wistful in our gauzy dresses or our striped unitards, every hair in place with a ready song
or a line of verse. Before every man was a mark, there was an etiquette.
Now we want more! Better! Gills! Pinheads! Hermaphrodites! There are specialists of all
sorts, with no skills to speak of. Just simple insults to the eyeballs. We used to want to
educate our freaks, have them perform moonlight sonatas, play games with the children,
woo our women with their tender hearts. Now we watch them on the television, isolated
in our own wards, providing no entertainment except in their very formities.
And the state of the freak show? No one takes pride of place in the bally, all the good
mikemen have gone the way of the buffalo. It’s irony that’s ruined this country, the people
in it. You treat your freaks as if you’ve seen it all before. No anomaly, no matter how
exotic or fundamental, can turn your heads.
I don’t take these things lightly, you know– if a tear happens to spring from my ductless
eyes, what of it? What care you wandering by the fleabitten stadium with our threadbare
plush? After you’ve knocked a good tip into some carnie’s pocket for your girl? After
you’ve slummed in the sugar shack and taken a ride on the ferris wheel to cop that first
feel. It’s heavier than you expected, isn’t it?
I remember it as if it were yesterday, my first day on the box. “Worm Girl” was
emblazoned everywhere in royal purple and gold, arrows all over the show pointing down
to me and they came to me with wonder in their eyes and they touched me, the places
where arm or leg would have been. Wriggling for them was the necessary evil. But the
looks on their faces when I sang an aria from Carmen, or the national anthem (I knew
several: I had travelled the globe), the way their eyes filled—it was as if they didn’t even
know what they had come looking for.