Episode 7: Johnny Eck, Baltimore’s Amazing Half-Man
In this episode, Frank learns about a man who did more with half a body, than most people do with a whole body.
Some ages ago, when I was in tenth grade, I had a film class that was originally supposed to be a “hands-on” class where we would be making movies. Sadly, the budget never came through and it turned into a class where instead, we studied films. That class was one of the most influential classes I have ever taken in my film career. My teacher had an extensive collection of laserdiscs. Yes, laserdiscs. Before dvds, there were these record size pieces of glass or something that held a movie as well as special features. My teacher would play us movies he found influential to him, and thus, hopefully we would feel the same.
One of those movies was Freaks.
I was instantly captured by the film. The way that it took sideshow performers and held them up as the heroes spoke to me. Especially since they used real sideshow performers.
Who know, over a decade and a half later I would end up interviewing the person who holds the largest collection of Johnny Eck memorabilia. I mean, this was a movie I showed my friends when we were going to college together to earn a film degree. They didn’t teach this film at our college, but I definitely exposed very many people to it. So to be able to sit, surrounded by artifacts from Johnny’s life, just felt kind of fitting.
And along those lines is M.I.C.A. The Maryland Institute College of Art. I’m not going to be coy, this interview was filmed almost two years ago. We just never had the perfect place to put it in our seasons. But we wanted to include it and this current season seemed like the best place to include it. But when we were first approached about this exhibit, I had no idea what M.I.C.A. was. I’m not a Baltimore native, and am always learning about new places.
Come to find out, a couple of years later, that I would become very familiar with M.I.C.A. through my art education. Numerous friends either have attended or currently attend M.I.C.A. , so it’s always interesting to see how something new and fresh to someone can become kind of important as time rolls by.