Freak shows were popular attractions during the mid 19th to mid 20th centuries until changes in societal attitudes towards handicapped persons and tightening of local laws prohibiting “exhibition of deformed human beings” led to the decline of the freak show as a form of entertainment. Featuring attractions such as deformed humans and animals, unusual physical performers, “pickled punks” (abnormal fetuses preserved in glass jars), and occasional hoaxes, the freak show has captivated audiences since as early as the 16th century.
21-year-old Florida woman obviously misunderstands men’s motiviations – adds third breast to make herself unattractive
21-year-old Jasmine Tridevil (I’m guessing this isn’t her real name) says she was rejected by 50 plastic surgeons before one cosmetic surgeon (licensed?) agreed to perform an unusual surgery to add a third breast in between Tridevil’s two natural breasts. At a cost of $20,000, the surgeon’s only condition was that she sign a non-disclosure agreement to protect his identity.
30-year-old Victoria Wild had great aspirations. She wanted puffy pouty lips, gigantic breasts, and huge eyelashes so she could look more like an inflatable sex toy. Wild went through several operations to obtain size 32G breasts followed by rhinoplasty, bottom implants, lip implants, and botox injections. $50,000 dollars later, it looks like she accomplished her goal.
24-year-old Berlin native Michele Koebke has a goal in life – to set the world record for the World’s Tiniest Waist. In order to achieve this goal, and create the wasp-waist silhouette that was so popular in the 19th century, she has worn a tight corset every day and night for the past three years (she removes the corset to shower). When she began her quest, her waist measured a mere 25 inches. Thus far she’s shrunk it down to 20 inches and intends to get it down to 15 inches before she stops – or before she is forced to stop.
In 2013, a nine-year-old autistic girl from Sharjah, India was discovered to have an extraordinary ability to feel her mother’s emotions and read her mother’s thoughts without touch or any other physical medium. Nandana Unnikrishnan was revealed to the world in April 2013 and she could be the next name added to a worldwide registry of people with savant talents. Her parents began to notice her unusual reactions to her mother’s thoughts at an early age. When her mother felt or thought something, nine-year-old Nandana would react – without being told. Before long they began to realize that it was not just coincidence – Nandana was reading her mother’s mind.
In the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania area, children are often told the tale of a monstrous creature, a faceless man that wanders the streets at night, stalking the roads, looking for prey. They call him the “Green Man” or “Charlie No Face”. “If you go out after dark, Charlie No Face may grab you.” “If you stay out too late, you may run across the Green Man who will steal your face to place over the gaping hole where his face once was.”
In 1999, a former professional sprinter gave birth to a bouncing baby boy in Berlin, Germany. For the first four years, the baby boy had a somewhat normal life – until researchers found out he was a “super baby”.
Grady Stiles, better known as the Lobster Boy, was not content to just be unusual in appearance. Born with a condition know as ectrodactyly, Grady eked out a living as a sideshow anomaly. Stranger still, his turbulent life lead Grady to drinking, murder, and eventually, death.
From birth Schlitzie looked like any other baby boy but as the years progressed, it became apparent that he suffered from microcephaly, a condition where the face grows at a normal rate but the head does not. Microcephaly bestows upon the person an abnormally small head (often only half the size of a normal head) and sloping forehead. Known as “chaus”, “rat people” or “pinheads”, the condition almost always results in mental retardation and diminished brain capacity. The cause of the condition varies. Sometimes it can be caused when a child’s mother consumes excessive alcohol. There is no cure.
Koo Koo, the Bird Girl was born Minnie Woolsey in Georgia in 1880. Fate dealt Minnie a bad hand – she was born with a rare skeletal disorder, Virchow-Seckel syndrome. Virchow-Seckel syndrome is also known as bird-headed dwarfism, Harper’s syndrome or Seckel dwarfism. It is characterized by growth retardation and dwarfism, an extremely small head, a narrow bird-like face with a beak-like nose, large eyes with an unusual slant, a recessed jaw line, and mild mental retardation. It is very rare.
Prince Randian, billed as the Living Torso, was a side show performer during the 1930’s. He starred in the landmark film, Freaks, where he was mistakenly credited as “Rardion”. Born without arms and legs, Randian was often introduced as “the human caterpillar who crawls on his belly like a reptile”.
Jane Barnell, a “bearded lady” who used the stage name Lady Olga, was born February 28, 1877 in Wilmington, North Carolina. According to historians, Jane was already bearded at four years old when Barnell’s mother sold Jane to the Great Orient Family Circus. Her deformity caused her mother to believe she was bewitched and she sold Jane to the circus when her father was away on business. Jane quickly fell ill in Berlin and expected to die, was left in an orphanage, where she was later found by her father and returned to her home.