Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

AMC's 'Freakshow' comes to Gibsonton area

Freakshow, a reality TV series on AMC, filmed an episode for the show’s second season Saturday in the Gibsonton area.

AMC

Freakshow, a reality TV series on AMC, filmed an episode for the show’s second season Saturday in the Gibsonton area.

RIVERVIEW — The red-haired old man wearing a kilt and holding a long contraption made from coat hangers took a deep breath and asked the crowd, "So, do you really want to know how to swallow swords?"

The crowd cheered, and then Red Stuart — who claimed to be the world's oldest sword swallower without volunteering his age — said a poem he has recited hundreds, maybe thousands of times right before jamming large metallic items down his throat: "It's between the lips and over the tongue, behind the heart and over the lungs, watch out stomach, here it comes, this is the way swallowing swords is done."

And with that, Stuart gulped down the coat-hanger contraption, eliciting gasps and cheers. (Stuart did swallow a sword Saturday night, but for unclear reasons decided to recite the poem before swallowing something else.) As he removed the metal from his mouth, however, a stagehand told him he needed to do the whole thing over again — something about the shot not being right.

The AMC reality show Freakshow tapped the Gibsonton area, a community with a long history of being home to sideshow and carnival performers, to host a taping Saturday evening of an episode for the show's second season. The allure of a free freak show brought hundreds to the Museum of the American Carnival. After waiting through intermittent rain, some for more than an hour, the people got their free freak show, albeit one with frequent intrusions from the mechanics of a television production.

By the time Stuart was interrupted, the crowd was actually getting acclimated to the rhythm of a TV shoot. They'd all signed waivers promising AMC they were okay with the network using their images and likenesses. (When staffers ran out of waivers, they had the last dozen or so in line say the words of the waiver while staffers videotaped them with their cellphones; a verbal contract the staffers hoped aloud would hold up in court.)

They'd all seen the cameramen moving in and out of the crowd, and watched as the performers like Stuart, with the opening act Ward Hall's World of Wonders, repeatedly looked over to production staff for approval.

At 7:45 p.m. Todd Ray, the former music producer and owner of the Venice Beach Freakshow, featured in the AMC show, took the stage. Ray's first performer was Morgue, an androgynous young man who got his nickname, Ray explained, because "if you try to do what he does you'll end up in the morgue." Morgue drilled an electric drill bit into his nose, then turned the stage over to Creature, a man with a body covered in tattoos and a head studded with piercings whose act consisted of jumping up and down and acting like some kind of creature.

A few minutes later, Ray took center stage again, and started a short speech intended to inspire crowd energy for 7-foot-8 George Bell, the "Tallest Man in America." Ray got a few words out before a producer interrupted him. Again, the shot was apparently not quite right. Ray smiled, looked at the crowd, and pleaded for patience as the cameramen moved.

"Welcome to TV," he said.

Will Hobson can be reached at (813) 226-3400 or whobson@tampabay.com.

AMC's 'Freakshow' comes to Gibsonton area 11/02/13 [Last modified: Saturday, November 2, 2013 11:12pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Once 'angry' about Obamacare, Republican David Jolly came to see it as 'safety net'

    Blogs

    Former Congressman David Jolly, who ran against Obamacare in 2013, said in an interview Monday night that he now considers it a "safety net."

  2. Five children hospitalized after chlorine release at Tampa pool store

    Accidents

    Five children were sickened at a pool store north of Tampa on Monday after a cloud of chlorine was released, according to Hillsborough County Fire Rescue.

  3. Deputies find unidentified decomposing body in Dunedin canal

    Public Safety

    DUNEDIN — Pinellas County sheriff's deputies found an unidentified male body floating in a Dunedin canal Monday afternoon, the Sheriff's Office said.

  4. Rays acquire slick-fielding shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria from Marlins

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Chaim Bloom said the Rays weren't necessarily in the market for a shortstop. The team has a number of those. But when the Marlins recently began shopping Adeiny Hechavarria, well, that was too much to pass up.

    Adeiny Hechavarria has emerged as one of baseball’s top defensive shortstops in the past three seasons with the Marlins.
  5. Lightning journal: Forward Yanni Gourde agrees to two-year deal

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Just three years ago, Yanni Gourde was fighting to stay in pro hockey.

    Tampa Bay Lightning center Yanni Gourde celebrates after scoring against the Florida Panthers during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, March 11, 2017, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara) TPA108