Todd Ray is freaking out, and with good reason.
The owner of the Los Angeles-based Venice Beach Freakshow is being forced to close the doors after 11 years of showing off human anomalies like the world’s hairiest man, people who can regurgitate metal balls and the world’s largest collection of two-headed animals.
The last show at its Venice Beach location is on Sunday, and Ray says he’s being pushed out by Snapchat.
“It’s been an ongoing thing for the past eight months,” Ray told HuffPost. “Snapchat started buying buildings in the area. At first, nothing changed, but we were coming to the end of a five-year lease and the landlord told us they weren’t renewing.”
Snapchat reportedly has been interested in the building that houses the Freakshow since last year, and had a right of first refusal when the space became available, according to the Los Angeles Business Journal.
But Snapchat told The Argonaut that it is only interested in the top two floors, not the retail space that currently houses the Freakshow. The tech giant also said it is unaffiliated with Snapshot Partners, the company reportedly leasing the space.
Snapshot Partners didn’t immediately reply to a request for comment from HuffPost. A Snapchat spokesperson told HuffPost by email “despite the rumors, Snap Inc. only has a sublease on part of the third floor.”
Snapchat’s reported building buy-up of funky Venice Beach frustrates Ray, and not just because he believes it’s forcing him to pack up and move.
“They’re buying up the boardwalk because they liked the vibe,” he said. “But they’re killing the vibe.”
Ray hoped to buy some time and at least operate the Freakshow through the summer.
“It was the worst winter of the 11 years we’ve been in business,” he said. “I asked [the landlords], ‘Can we get to June?’ Then I asked, ‘Can we get to Memorial Day?’”
Ray’s request was denied. That means Sunday’s show is the last until Ray can find a new space for the show.
He prefers to think of it as a celebration, rather than a funeral. On Facebook, Ray promises that the final show, which he’s calling a “Farewell Party and Protest,” will include performers, stunts, music and the wedding of Jessa the Bearded Lady.
Meanwhile, Ray has to pack up a lot of weird stuff, including a jar that holds the corpse of a two-headed baby.
“I have these displays and some delicate pieces that are all packed up for storage,” he said.
Ray hopes he can find another place in Venice Beach for the Freakshow. If that doesn’t happen, he’s willing to look at other places, including Las Vegas.
Regardless of any relocation, Ray thinks the spirit of the Freakshow will remain in Venice Beach where it started.
“You can buy the property, but you can’t buy Venice Beach and its spirit,” he told The Argonaut.
This article has been updated with comment from Snapchat.