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MAT FRASER: If we think of the word mutant, it comes from mutagenic mutation. Now a mutation is when you irrevocably change a genetic structure. So you add a mutation to a developing gene structure only it mutates, it changes, and then when that organism reproduces, it carries with it the added mutation. But a tetration is when it changes the molecular structure of that being, but it can’t be passed on. A genetic difference happens. But it only happens all that generation and that generation alone. And then it reverts back to that with it had previously been for the subsequent generations. So you’d look at me think, oh, he’s a mutant. There was a mutation in his genetic, development. But actually I’m a tetrant.
So if I were to have kids, they would go revert back to the genes that my mother had before she took the drug. I love political incorrectness and going against the grain and stuff. Cause we can talk about what was considered disgusting and cool. But that changes with eras. But the thing that doesn’t change is the gut fascination with the different. Let’s say it’s somebody feeding themselves with chopsticks when they’re using their feet. It’s amazing.
It’s still riveting for the five year old who’s just walked into the restaurant, right? Because I’m just as fascinated by physical differences, as the next person. But there’s a negative way of looking, and then there’s positive ways of looking. You’ve kind of struck me dumb here because it is a question I can’t answer, and I’m trying to be super open and I am fascinated by it, and I don’t know why.
Okay, I am painting this rosy, guys. I’m painting this rosy, but why not, nobody ever does. The circus comes to town. It’s exciting, it’s sexy. It smells weird. And there’s a group of weird fucking people like me who are like, dude, come with us. We are on the road all the time. We get wankered every single night. We get paid. We’re autonomous, we’re fiscally independent. What you got, , I’d have jumped straight on the, on the bandwagon.
My name’s Matt Fraser. I’m 51. I was born and bred in London, and I travel the world extensively doing my, weird performance, work. For listeners who are never gonna see a photo, I’ve got truncated arms. My upper arms, which are just shorter than where maybe an elbow would be. And then my hands turn in like a foot from a leg inwards towards my body. And, I have no thumbs. And that’s actually the most profound part of my impairment. The lack of the opposable digit.
It didn’t evolve and make people the best beings on the planet for nothing. It’s a pretty wondrous tool and without it, you can still manage fine. But I mean, I do a lot of things with two hands that you guys do with one. And not just, the obvious. My dad died when I was like 21 of, abdominal cancer and he was a, an old fashioned hoofer. Gay, closeted for many years. Yeah, my mom still, she’s in an a, in a musical at the moment in London, kind of fringe off, off, off off Broadway kind of thing.
And that’s fun. She’s happy cuz it’s a smash hit and everyone is sold out. She was on tour, had morning sickness, there was a, went to a local doctor in whatever town he prescribed this brand new drug. She took it three times in one week and, I came into the world like this a monstrous deformity as it were.
AUDIO CLIP: Hundreds of babies have been born deformed, some of them without arms, simply because their mothers in the early stage of their pregnancy, took a new drug.
MAT FRASER: And thalidomide was a drug that was invented in the late fifties for women with morning sickness, general painkiller. The reason it was hailed as a wonder drug was because it was the first ever non barbiturate sedative. Which meant that if you took loads of it, you couldn’t die from an overdose. It was completely safe for mother and child.
AUDIO CLIP: In its varied forms. It would take away your headache, put you to sleep and calm.
MAT FRASER: And they were so, confident in it that they marketed like a child version of it. And it was flying off the shelves. It hadn’t been tested properly and it wasn’t until an Australian, Dr. Bill McBride, thought, hold on a minute. So he started to do his own tests on New Zealand white rabbits. And they all came out not so much with deformed limbs, but there were just far fewer than there should have been. And some had, malformed limbs. So he sent his findings to the British Medical Journal, The Lancet. It apparently got lost for six months. The letter.
During which time, no doubt, backroom boys were scrambling about, trying to cover their asses for the oncoming litigation. And the whole thing was the first proper medical, pharmaceutical, corporate crime of history.It’s because of thalidomide that every single drug now has, if you are pregnant, please seek the advice of a physician before taking this drug. So I’m a thalidomide victim, a thalidomider, as we, call ourselves these days. Kind of neutral judgment, free explanation of what we are. Rather than victim or survivor, which is whatever.
I wanna go back to my mom though, because I know a lot of people always wanna know this. What was it like for my mom? She came to, went the grogginess and was like, no baby. Okay. An hour went past something’s wrong. Two hours, three hours, and then four hours went past. She convinced herself by then that the baby was dead and that they weren’t gonna be able to tell her. It was gonna difficult for them to confront her with it. And then they came in with me very tightly wrapped, so you couldn’t tell, in other words. And as they put me into her lap and arms, she was making the mother a child bonding connection with the eyes. She said it was like looking at an old friend or something like that.
While they were going, got some very bad news from you, your son has really short arms. Then she thought, oh, is that all? Because she thought I was dead. So to her it was a relief. No doubt. Over the next week, the reality hit her like a concrete block. And this is typical of a lot of the parents. The angst that a parent feels when they bring a disabled kid into the world, a part from that, it was monstrously different and shocking for everybody on a like level of deformity thing.
The angst that the most parents suffer is they’re like, oh crap, my kid has really got it stacked against him. He’s gonna have to fucking fight like shit all his life and I won’t be there for half that fight. And I feel bad about that.
A lot of parents had a really hard time. Yeah, a lot of us kids did. I didn’t and my mom didn’t. We got along fine. I’m sure she felt really shit when she saw me toddle off on my first day at primary school on my own for the first time. Everyone’s first day at school is difficult, isn’t it? Because she suddenly realized it. There’s a whole big life out there and you’ve got to be part of it when you are weird and different and it’s kind of more scary, I suppose.
But also when you are seven, you’re blissfully ignorant of anything outside of your own experience. I did deal with some kids who, unused to difference and reacted in a traditional Western way, IE, teasing me. But kids are nonjudgmental, they don’t give a fuck about who’s got what. They have to be taught that shit from adults, right? It’s incredible.
But by the time you hit about nine or 10, then the insecure kid will start bullying you. And the kid who’s unhappy at home will start being really nasty to you. And cuz we know that bullies are just scared people anyway. By the time you hit 13-14 when you’re super sensitive and wondering about girls or boys, as the case may be, whatever it was, girls with me. It all kicks in at the, so that’s, that can be really difficult. But the angst that I suffered in my 13 year old bedroom about girls and being, not being tough and not being one of the gang is just the same as the fat kid or the kid that had a really pizza face.
The level of angst that you go through as an individual, I think, I suspect rather, is the same. For the most part. I’m very happy. I’ve always been very gregarious and social and I like talking to people and for the most part, they like talking to me. Always very outgoing, always doing little, plays for my grandparents when I stay with them. And little performances at home. But the first one was probably about when I was 12 or 13 in, in secondary school or high school for you guys. And we had English lessons and the guy said, you all have to write a five minute play.
And then I wrote one and a few people laughed at a couple of my gag lines. And that, as any creative will tell you your first like positive reaction to piece of art that you’ve thrown out is such a.It’s like a mainline drug to the DNA spine. You’re just like hooked for the rest of your life.
Well, my mom was having an affair with a drummer in the seventies. And he kept a drum kit round at my house and I said, well, if you’re gonna have a drum kit round at my house, will you set it up in the my bedroom? And he showed me the rudimentary, paradiddle, which is right, left, right, right, left, right, left, left. You can apply that to bass snare, bass based snare, bass snares, snare. I got the bug immediately. How do I drum? Well, I drum. In a conventional way, if every of you have ever looked over the orchestra pit in the theater at the interval to look down at all the instruments and you’ve looked at the drum kit and it’s all like squashy, like the symbols are overhanging, the tom toms, and the whole thing’s like it’s been squashed into the corner.
That’s how I kind of play my kit cuz I can’t reach things very far away. So everything has to be brought in for me. The way I hold my sticks, I don’t have opposable digits thumbs and so I hold my sticks very differently. But the human brain’s amazing. It is really the best way to answer that. Drummed away listening to records and trying to copy the drumming in my bedroom for a very loud, painful, for my mother two years. And then punk rock exploded. And it said, you don’t need to play your instrument properly. You don’t need to look proper. You don’t need to be one of those sorts of jacket sleeve rolled up to the elbow glam metal, White Snake type. You can be a dirty, fucking fucked up piece of shit and you can still play music.
The fact that we’d rather you were like that, and I’m like, well, I’m that. I said to Dan, my best friend, I want to be a punk. He said, me too. I said, what can we do with my school jacket? So I ripped the entire thing in half of the back and then put it back together again with the spine of safety pins. I thought I was the shit. My teachers didn’t agree. And I literally overnight went from being the school cripple to the school punk. And let me tell you, that was an upgrade when it came to identity. Big, big time. I could take all the, you think you’re a punk, do you? Oh, we hate punks. And I got smacked about a bit every time I got hit because there was a punk. It was verification of the fact that I wasn’t being hit because I was disabled.
So they didn’t know. But I, at a subconscious level was enjoying it. And then before I knew where I was, I was in a punk band. The bands I was in were A Fear of Sex we didn’t have a bass player we were very alternative. The Reasonable Strollers, certainly the worst title band I was ever in. Living in Texas, a comment on being in Britain might as well be the 51st state. Joy Ride, which was pure speed punk. I was the only man in the band and all the songs were about what assholes men are. Don’t touch me. Really good stuff. I fucking had a great time. There was a connectivity, there was a community, there was something to be a part of. And it was also railing against society, which I needed to rail against.
It was like everything I needed and wanted and I jumped in hook line and sinker. So one of the things with disability, one of the things disabled people do is reject that label because it’s so negative to them. And let’s not talk about whether they’re talking about people with disabilities or disabled people, or let’s not break down the language so far, or handicapped instead of disabled. They don’t like the label. They don’t being labeled with it. Because for them, and for most of society, it means inferior, lesser in need of help, pathetic, not self-sufficient. And all the things that we strive to prove that we are not in this modern world. So what’s weird about it is that I was in total denial of my disability for many, many years.
I was a punk. I’ve always, had my alternative stripes pinned to my chest and still do. But avoided disability as a subject like the plague cuz it embarrassed in me and I found it difficult. Then I went to a Thalidomide conference in 1991 in Holland and I met a woman called Mary Duffy, who’s an Irish artist, who with no arms, who paints with her feet and mouth, and what have you.She said, the trouble is you, is Matt, you don’t think you are disabled. And I said, I’m not because I can do this, I can do that. And she said, no disability isn’t. What you can do. It’s a social construct. It’s how you are treated because you are different as a disabling process. It makes you less in society. That really struck a chord with me.
I went back to London. And I sought out the disability rights movement. At the time, around about 95, there was a group called Disability Rights UK and they were a very sort of polite pressure group. And they would event and do events that we would mass demonstration. Now I’m, I come from sort of much more underground culture. So I went along and then the, I immediately spotted the like, the nutters, the tough guys, and they were like, we’re part of a different organization called Direct Action Network. DAN. Yeah. Yeah. You’re the guys. I like, I’m gonna be a Danner.
AUDIO CLIP: The thing I like is because it’s in your face.
MAT FRASER: Politically demonstrate by night and like do illegal things and run across roads and jump down onto into rail tracks and really cause a lot of shit.
AUDIO CLIP: What a lot of people are doing is going out, breaking down all the ideas or a lot of the ideas.
MAT FRASER: There was a guy called Robin where had no legs and could run on his hands so fast. And one time I remember he ran up a policeman and jumped onto the van. And was on top of the police van. And they couldn’t quite reach him and he was just mocking them and that was really, really awesome until he got arrested of course. We all got arrested.
AUDIO CLIP: To be able bodied to live a normal life, treat treating us like shit.
MAT FRASER: We had stopped public transport from operating in a certain area because it was not accessible to wheelchair users. And they weren’t coming to the discussion table. And so more extreme action we felt was required. And so they were like, we need two people to go under that bus and handcuff themselves to the exhaust pipe, said that you physically can’t be removed. So this woman went, Matt, you good? And I was like, yep, yeah, let’s go.
I don’t remember the name of the lady. She was from the Midlands. She had a leg impairment. She was just a random housewife who’d had enough of not being treated like an equal. Not being able to get on her bus to do her shopping. Is it too much to ask for to have access to public transport? Not really. And we were both the chosen people to go under that bus. There were several vehicles around, and actually it was one of those ones where when you turn off the ignition, the suspension slowly goes down and the bus was slowly coming down on top of us as well, and everyone was freaking out. The bus is sinking, they’re gonna die. So there I was with my disability protest friend under a bus. It was three days of protesting.
And I said, oh, it’s funny. I should really be an audition. I had my first audition, acting audition. But this is much more important. And she’s like, what the fuck are you talking about? You stupid asshole. Very few of us are gonna be able to audition, let alone get the part and do something and be visible and be like part of the media. Any one of us can handcuff ourselves under the bus, but some of us can do it in different ways. Get the hell out of here.
I think my mom must have be very in tune. She said, do you wanna go to a play? I was like, yeah, I love, going to plays, mom. Yeah, let’s go to a play. And we went to a play. And it was a play by a theater company called Grey Eye.
AUDIO CLIP: A remarkable touring company of disabled actors.
MAT FRASER: And I went and I watched a spazzy bloke with cerebral palsy, unintelligibly, mumble, and dribble at the front of the state. I was intensely embarrassed with people in wheelchairs fucking whizzing around. Crutches, all of it was a cavalcade of weirdness. And then after five minutes I understood him cuz you’d tune into people with spin speech differences after a while. And I was like, this is really cool. It just hit me like a tidal wave. And I realized I really wanted to be an actor and a performer. Inclusive of my disability. Not like, pretend I didn’t have it. So I got a profile in Britain.
I was knocking on the door of TV going, I wanna do a documentary and about freak shows cuz everyone said don’t do freak shows. It’s the pornography of the disabled. And the more they say that, the more you wanna do it. And I found an American director who was really into old Vaudeville who wanted to do it. And I thought between us, this is brilliant cuz he’s got the American history and I’ve got the modern day stuff. And we did a big documentary called Born Freak in 2001.
AUDIO CLIP: And I discovered that throughout history, disabled people had been working as entertainers, as gladiators, court, jesters as freaks.
MAT FRASER: A freak show is one where people come out and display their uncommon difference, whether that’s their body or their behavior, or a skill.
AUDIO CLIP: There are thin ones, there are fat ones, they’re all inside.
MAT FRASER: And they do it to entertain the crowd. But, whilst at the same time, giving them a sort of pattern that educates the audience about that difference. Of course there were people who were exploited because their parents didn’t want them, nobody wanted them. And then somebody profited and said, I’ll look after them, and then sold them on. And then they just sold from one person to like, of course that happened.
But you know what? Percentage wise, I’m reckoning it’s gotta be down to about 5 to 3%. Cuz most of the time there were people who managed and produced themselves who made a crap load of money. One of whom was, I’d heard that this guy Sealo the Seal Boy, who was a Freak Show performer from 1929, I think, to 78. With arms like mine.
AUDIO CLIP: Was an American freak show entertainer from the 1940s who looked like me. He had Phocomelia. That’s the medical term for my condition. It literally means seal like limbs.
MAT FRASER: So I researched him and I found out that he had worked at Coney Island
AUDIO CLIP: Coney Island, the world’s greatest fun frolic with its beach miles long, all peppered with people. The place where merriment is King
MAT FRASER: Coney Island in 19, I think 12 could boast 10,000 different novelty acts.I took myself down to Coney Island one day. If you’ve never been, it’s the full length of the Q or the N or the R train. You go through all the worst projects, and then you finally arrive with this old beach resort that looks very dilapidated. And I walked up and there was all these banners. And yea it looked like a freak show. And I walked up and knocked on the iron door and a guy, a crazy guy with a top hat and curly hair, looked at me and he went, hello, you are home.
AUDIO CLIP: It is my great pleasure to introduce to you the man who put this all together, the artistic director of Coney Island USA, here he is ladies and gentlemen. Live in person Dick Zigun.
MAT FRASER: I got to know Dick Zigun and the unofficial mayor of Coney Island and total hero, I think of sideshow culture. A man with two different theater degrees. So he knows his shit.
AUDIO CLIP: Instead of a speech I would like.
MAT FRASER: We set up the interview, he said, well, why don’t you interview me on the stage, all the history around us.And I said, I wonder what it’s like performing. As a freak. I mean it’s so brutal and direct and I’m an actor and there’s always a, an artifice. And he just looked at me and said, will you either shit or get off the pot, don’t you? Why don’t you just come and work the weekend? And he said, I said alive on camera. So I was like, yeah, okay. Cause it made a good bit of TV. I joined, the cast on the Saturday and they filmed all the rotations, liver. Then they all went away and then Dick was like, but you’re coming back tomorrow. You said you’d work the whole weekend. I’m like, dude, gimme a break.
I said, but I don’t wanna don’t the Sealo the Seal Boy Act. Can I just try and like modern stuff? And he said, do whatever the hell you want. I don’t care what you do, I just want you in the show. And I found that I could do a modern version of Sealo’s Act and do standup and get a dig in at the pharmaceutical companies and talk about the FDA. Because you did—you guys didn’t get Thalidomide because the FDA back then was good and did their job. And I had this tattoo. I’m showing, I’m showing this. I’m showing the guys a tattoo on the outside of my ankle that says Sealo at Coney Island 2001.
Cuz after that first rotation, I was so pumped in sight. That I ran straight upstairs where they had a tattooist and they had a quiet, I said, stick it on me now before I changed my mind and then ran back downstairs and did the next rotation. It was awesome. I don’t know what a Carney is, whether you’re always a Carney, a Carney is something in your heart man,. Or whether know you have to, I’ve actually been born in Carney Land or whatever it is, but I did, and I felt like a Carney.
Well, I didn’t count for was you simultaneously have all and none of the power, you’ve none of the power because they’re potentially—because they’ve come to just look at the difference that you are. But you are talking and they’re listening. So you get to say what? See, it’s disgust you get to imprint into their brains and I realized the intoxicating power of that. And I’m like, but dude, I don’t do anything. The guy before me just lay it on a fuckin’ bed of nails. Risked his life, got hung up by his nipples and I’m on just going, yes, I don’t have a humerus and I have, I don’t have a, and it’s because the.
I would, to this day feel guilty about the really talented guys, the self-made freaks and the actually skilled people who do stuff. I’m reasonably skilled at the pattern, and I’m not a bad standup comedian. But I can’t do amazing sideshow skills. I have none. I learned to do mouse trap on the tongue and it really, really hurts. And I just thought, I don’t wanna do that eight times a day. Suffice to say, I did feel like I’d come home as a performer, as a human, as a combination of everything I was and was interested in.So I became part of their network and family and worked every summer there.
AUDIO CLIP: Coney Island a a mega by day, a glittering spectacle by night.
MAT FRASER: The two most bizarre things I’ve done off the top of my head were I was in character as Seal Boy at a very posh art function up in Times Square. People were not digging me. They couldn’t look me in the eye, and I had three hours to go before I was gonna get paid. I was like, uggh, this is a bit of a drag. Somebody said, or you could go over there, take all your clothes off and get painted from head to toe in warm Belgian chocolate, have your photo taken. Then you can just fuck off. And I’m like, yep, I’m there. Let’s go. So me and my wife ran over there, stripped off, got covered in warm Belgian chocolate, which was an amazingly erotic experience, I have to tell you. And then, because the person running it was friends with the chief of police of Times Square, we got a weird police escort down two blocks. Walking naked with a police escort in the middle of Times Square at like 11:00 PM at the weekend. That was one weird, this thing.
Last year I was in the opening ceremony, the Paralympics mime drumming Spasticus Autisticus. And there we were playing in front of the Queen. It was beautiful roundup. And, unbeknownst to me, Chris Martin, the lead singer of Coldplay was watching the telly and two days later I got a call from him. That went something like this. Hello, Matt, it’s Chris Martin, from the band Coldplay. I thought I fucking know who you are, mate. Do you know what I mean? Basically, long, long story short, I ended up drumming the following Sunday as guest drummer on one song for the Coldplay gig at the closing ceremony two weeks later. I asked him not to play Fix You, he said, mate, we’re on, we’re already ahead of you.
Of course we can’t do that. That’ll be totally wrong in the Paralympics. That whole thing was incredibly weird. Fantastic, brilliant. This is the thing I’ve gotta tell you. So before the gig, before like we were like being ushered, along the thing. It was a huge stadium, 75,000 people. I was crapping myself. And he goes, okay, big circle. He goes, so and so go and get Jay-Z and Rihanna, cuz they were like guest artists on it, right? And he’s like, okay, huddle up. Huddle up. Bring it in. Jay, Rihanna, this is Matt. Hi. Hi, hi. ‘m thinking, this is really weird. Thank you three so much for being in this.
I’m like, wow, what a fucking brilliant guy to include me. And then he goes, okay, hand in the middle. Now most of us know what’s gonna happen next, right? Like, put your hand in the middle and go, whoa. Jay-Z had not done that before. And he went, oh, is this, are you guys gonna, or something like that? And we were like, yeah. And so we did that and I was like, wow, I just saw Jay-Z be like a school boy or something. That was incredibly cute. I shouldn’t have told the general public that, but I’m sure I won’t get sued.
Again, lovely people. But when it was done, I woke up on the following Monday, my life was back to normal, bank account, tiny bit bigger. Great memories. I was doing my own project with my performer wife, Julie Atlas Muz. And so we all worked together to make an adult version of Beauty and the Beast.
AUDIO CLIP: They’re not calling, Lord, my name is beast.
MAT FRASER: Super fun and full of love and everybody comes out crying and happy. It’s the perfect piece. Well, we did that in London last December and smashed it. Smashed it really over the rocks of the pebbles of theater land. And then we came to New York and did it, and again, smashed it. And we got the best review ever in the New York Times from Ben Brantley, who’s the theater critic. They’re the big scary theater critic. If it’s his thumb up, you do well. If it’s his thumb down, you’re finished.That kind of thing. And amazingly, we got the best ever review that anyone’s ever read of anything he’s ever written.
And meanwhile, a woman was in town thinking, I wonder what I’ll do tonight. And read the reviews, thought, oh, that’s rather a glowing review. Maybe I’ll go along. She went along and then she saw me on stage and thought, hold on my friend, she’s giving some kind of freaky TV thing. I’ll give her a call.I am currently in New Orleans, because in May I received an email from American Horror Story outta the blue saying, please audition for us. We run 14th of July, the 14th of December. So I did my, photo booth audition. And sent it to them, emailed it to them, and then 24 hours later they offered me the part. And then we negotiated a couple of things. I didn’t want to have my face tattooed.
They wanted me to play the illustrated character. And I thought to myself, I’m absolutely buggered If I’m gonna be on a hugely high profile American TV show, my first screen work in America. And obviously people will recognize me because people recognize me because of my arms, but I’m buggered if I’m gonna have my face obscured. I want people to recognize it. It’s the feature that sells me. And so it’s the combo of my arms and my face that sells me to the next job. And so I need that combo. Then they, relented, which was great.
AUDIO CLIP: Tired of been laughed at, being attacked, been called Seal Boy. The world hated me. So no more lying to myself.
MAT FRASER: I know I’m meant to be on this program. I know it’s my destiny to be on this program. I have, researched, I’ve been an actor and a freak show performer for over 15 years. And been fully aware that at some point somebody would combine a high budget screen drama with and use real freaks in a freak show story. And, all I had to do was just stay in the in stay treading water in that genre. Be ever present and ready. Keep taking work. And I would be in the front runner for that. I really enjoyed being on the biggest ever genre I’ve ever been in where 150 people work on the production at any given time.
The funniest thing was at the Avenue Pub and on St. Charles. And somebody came up to me and went, excuse me. I aren’t you an American Horror Story? And everyone like decide, looking at each other thinking, oh, this is a bit weird. A year thinking, have you not noticed that I’m with three of the major stars of the show. Can I have my photo with you? And I went, yeah.And he had my photo and then he walked off. He didn’t even recognize the others cuz he’d just seen my arms.
He’d probably only seen the show once. Just seen my arms, knew that those were the same arms on the show and walked .Off and the others thought it was really funny because obviously they are sick to death of having that happen to them. And I, they looked incredulous, I said, but it’s the flippers, they do it every time. They pull, focus. Freak, it means, freakishly different. It’s, outrageous, rare difference, a freakish thing.
The freak show that we portray an American horror story certainly is that. Well, I hope that the sideshow, develops. I hope it keeps weird. I hope it always welcomes deformed people into it. I see an Applebees has opened across the street from the Coney Island sideshow, and everyone’s welcoming that and great. We do need to get rid of the smack crackhead image of Coney Island. But what if one day in six to seven to 10 years time.
The owner of the last empty lot that is, is now a chain reaction and looks and goes, Hey, Mr. Applebee’s, Mr. McDonald’s, Mr. Dunkin Donuts, see that Freak Show over there? They don’t belong here. And then it’s all condos and posh people. That’s what I hope doesn’t happen, and I hope they stay their ground.I definitely think that having my disability has helped me become the artist I am and made me more, more resourceful.
Many of the avenues available to fairly middle class, white, tall guys are not o open to me. So I’ve had to think outside a lot of boxes from a very early age, and that gives you a lateral way of looking at things.You mix into that, survival techniques. And, that does make me more creative and more resourceful and hopefully more productive.
There’s nothing wrong with not being able to wipe your own asshole. It could happen to any of us listeners. It could happen to any of us. We think it’s the living end of life and it’s only fucking shit.You’ll get used to it. We all would. I’m a politicized, disabled person, so I was disabled but didn’t want to be called disabled. Then learnt what disability really means in a social political context. And now I’m very proud to call myself disabled because to me, disabled doesn’t mean all the things I listed earlier, inferior, lesser in need of help, pathetic. It means the following list. It means given a shit card, but dealt with it anyway.
Learnt how to fight, learnt how to find an alternative voice when nobody wanted you to have one. And all those. It’s the fight. It’s a badge of honor because it means you’re a warrior. So in the last five years, I’ve not done any other activism at all. I’ve kept it to just in my work.
All I wanna do now is reflect society in my work. I will always have a disabled character or more in there. And all I want them to do is interact and have their life. Because I’ve learned the more you want something to be about something, the less you talk about it. You just set it in a situation. We’ve all got the right to be anything we want to be. I like being disabled. I like wearing it on my sleeve. I like being an out and proud disabled person cuz it, it’s a societal struggle in the same way that queer people call themselves queer fist in the air. I had a fist who would be in the air right now punching it for disability, but instead I have feet, so I kick for disability.