Iconic Venice Beach Freakshow closing after losing lease

- 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 today, victim to a lost lease.

And while rumors swirled that the building was being emptied to make way for Snapchat, a spokesperson for the Venice-headquartered tech firm Sunday firmly denied that.

The Freakshow organizers planned to go out in style today, 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.

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.

But a spokesman for Snap Inc. said the firm has no interest in the ground floor.

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, who say they fear a "Silicon Beach'' takeover.

Regardless of the politics behind the move, the Freakshow will be no more after today.

"You can buy the property, but you can't buy Venice Beach and its spirit,'' Ray told the Argonaut newspaper. "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.''

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