Snapchat blamed in freak show’s closure

A stilt walker and other Freakshow supporters have a message for Snapchat.
Image: AP/REX/Shutterstock

The freaks are feeling pushed out of their home in Venice Beach, California, and blame Snapchat for the latest causality: a boardwalk freak show.

The long-running Venice Beach Freakshow once the subject of the AMC reality show Freakshow bid farewell to its beachfront location in Los Angeles this weekend. The final outlandish performances Sunday were chock full of Snapchattable moments, but Snapchat was not welcome. Rather, the six-hour finale show was coupled with a protest criticizing the disappearing messaging app.

See, the performance group, known for its bearded lady, bubble boy, sword swallowers and other self-proclaimed freaks, happens to share a building with Snap Inc., Snapchat’s parent company, and the Freakshow’s owner, and many of his supporters, think Snapchat’s presence in its building caused its landlord to push them out. Rumors have been swirling that the retail storefront will turn into office space as more tech companies flood the quirky neighborhood. Nearby business owners think the investment company that owns the building, Snapshot Partners LLC (no relation to Snap) would do anything for the photo app company that was valued at $24 billion when it went public in March, according to the LA Times.

Snapchat, for its part, has no plans to take over the freak show’s location of 11 years, and claims it had nothing to do with the landlord’s decision.

The Freakshow represents “old” Venice, full of artists, creators, misfits, freaks, odd characters, and intriguing personalities. Now the community worries for their survival.Earlier this year, ahead of Snap’s IPO, a similar protest was held at the company’s office. Demonstrators were angry at Snap and the encroaching “Silicon Beach,” claiming the new tech companies are changing the community and pushing out small businesses.

In the farewell party invite, the show wrote, “The Freakshow seems to be another casualty of ‘Silicon Beach’ and the greed of developers.”

Show supporters came to the beach Sunday carrying signs calling for Snapchat’s eviction and reminding everyone Venice is “a community, not a corporate campus.” Freakshow owner Todd Ray told the Los Angeles Times, These people are greedy and they dont care about the culture of Venice.”

He hopes to find a new location for his group, but told LA Weekly staying in Venice will be a challenge as the tech community has changed the area.

“I don’t blame them for wanting to work on the beach, but at some point its like saying, I want to live in this exotic area of the world and you go there and cut all the trees down and you kill all the wildlife,” Ray told the local news outlet.

A Snap spokesperson said, “The Venice Beach Freakshow has been a unique part of what made the boardwalk special and we are sad to see it move on from that location. We do not own or operate that building and will not be expanding into any of that retail space.”

The company has publicly stated its intentions to expand outside of Venice, despite the rumors that Snap would take over the freak show space. Already the app company is moving into new offices in Santa Monica.

While the freak show has taken its final bow, its message is still going strong: let your freak flag fly.

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