A 2012 addition to the Venice Beach Freak Show, "Amazing Ali" Chapman stands three feet, 5 inches tall. She is the warm and friendly face of the Freakshow, greeting customers as they enter and snapping pictures inside. She hosts the live show, introducing the performers and chatting with the audience between acts.
A native of Indianapolis, Ali met Todd Ray via the Internet. "Todd had decided that he wanted to add one of the littlest people in the country to be a host of the Freakshow. So he went searching and he found me on Facebook," she remembers. "We really connected as people. I came to LA to check out the Freakshow, and fell in love with it. And here I am!"
Ali had never performed publicly prior to joining the Freakshow; the thought hadn’t really crossed her mind. Once in Venice, she acclimated quickly and happily. "Being in the Freakshow has been amazing. It’s really built up my self-confidence to be able to speak in front of people and be in front of an audience. It’s brought me more out of my shell," she affirms. "I haven’t always been confident about who I am and the skin I’m in. And now I’m very happy to be who I am, and show others that it’s okay to be different. Because we’re different; we’re all unique. I just wear my uniqueness on the outside."
She’s aware that the history of sideshows includes many examples of exploitation, certainly when it comes to little people like her. She thought about these issues early on, and any concerns were quickly put to rest. "Todd does not exploit," she says firmly. "He is the most encouraging, supportive person. He created a place to showcase that difference is something to be embraced and celebrated. It’s a family show and an educational experience. Kids can learn why certain animals formed the way they did, why a snake has two heads. I think it’s important to introduce children to things that are not of what society considers the norm. That way when they grow up and see something different, they’ll understand more. And it teaches all of us to be a bit more tolerant of people and things that aren’t exactly like you."