In the day and age of modern science, we can sometimes overlook how far we have come as a society. Sideshows were made popular in the 1900’s because they offered a glimpse at oddities that were unknown to most people. Sideshows gave people who were ‘different’ a home where they could be comfortable around their peers. Sideshow performers became more of a family than just friends, looking out for each other and caring for one another. With the popularity of TV, these sideshows seemed to disappear almost completely until the early 1990’s when Jim Rose created the Jim Rose Circus Sideshow. Below are 25 pictures of sideshow performers and their acts.
1. Annie Jones, AKA The Bearded Woman, was an advocate against the word ‘freak’ being used when it came to sideshows.
2. Sideshow boxers.
3. Ella Harper was also known as Camel Girl due to her legs.
4. Elastic Skin-Man
5. The Four-Legged Woman
6. Johnny Eck, AKA The Half Man, was a performer, but also a conductor of an orchestra and an accomplished painter.
7. One sideshow perform with hand and leg deformities.
8. Humans weren’t the only participants in sideshows. This is the headless chicken that lived for 18 months without an attached head.
9. Martin Laurello was also known as The Human Owl. He was born with the ability to turn his head a full 180 degrees.
10. Koo Koo – The Bird Girl
11. Above is The Legless Acrobat in a picture with his family.
12. Lucia Zarate was only 18 years old and weight only 4 lbs! She is the smallest person to ever have lived.
13. This is Josephine-Joseph. It’s unknown if she was truly a hermaphrodite, or possibly a really skilled performer. Regardless, she was able to land a movie role in the 1932 movie Freaks.
14. Look at that strength! John Jennings was known as The Modern Samson.
15. The Pierced Man
16. The Human Pin Cushion
17. Pip and Flip
18. The Living Skeleton’s real name was Isaac Sprague.
19. Prince Randian didn’t let the fact that he had no limbs hold him back. He was able to write, shave, and roll cigarettes with his mouth. He was also fluent in Hindu, English, German, and French.
20. It’s kind of funny to think that she was part of a sideshow. Artoria Gibbon was known as The Tattooed Lady.
21. The Two-Headed Man
22. This performer was known as Unzie The Albino.
23. Alice E. Doherty was known as The Minnesota Woolly Baby.
24. Horace Ridler attended Oxford University and was a major in World War 1. He decided to transform his body adding zebra stripes to his body over a period of over 500 tattoo sessions because he wanted to be a sideshow attraction.
25. One of the performers with large feet and another with no arms.
It’s amazing how far we have come as a society. We no longer have sideshows with every circus, fair, or event. While you can still find sideshows around the world, the performers are there voluntarily typically performing acts that they have been trained in doing like sword swallowing, walking on broken glass, or being a contortionist.