Filed under: Digital Photos
Yes, it’s true, we actually had a white Christmas for the first time in 83 years (according to channel 8), which I’m skeptical about, but whatever. The point is, on Christmas Eve, when the snowing began, I was on my way to a little holiday get together, and took some photos. If you’d like to see them all (I think there are 6, total), click here and be magically transported to my Flickr account: Set- Winter ’09.
• American Sideshow by Marc Hartzman © 2006
Synopsis: From the bearded women and half-men of the P.T. Barnum era to the bug-eating denizens of contemporary Coney Island, Hartzman leaves no circus tent unexplored in his history of freakish sideshow performers. The human curiosities, many of whom made a good living, are listed alphabetically within each chronological section and are accompanied by brief bios-based on sensationalist publicity for the older cases, and interviews with those still living-that include everything from anatomical details and medical explanations to minutiae about performers’ social lives: Myrtle Corbin, the four-legged woman, for instance, “had five children-three born from her own body, and two from her twin’s.” “Insectavora,” Coney Island’s resident facial-tattooed bug-eater, “walks up a razor-sharp ladder of swords and is currently working on a whip-cracking act. During the off-season she works in a tattoo and body-piercing shop, and probably eats a more balanced diet.” Hartzman’s book succeeds as a curiosity-quencher, but not as a reference, as his source material, particularly for the early performers, is sketchy, but the book-and its marvelous collection of photos-will shock and amaze offbeat voyeurs.
Comments: I found this book (on sale, no less) at an antique mall recently and couldn’t resist it. Being a longtime fan of Todd Browning’s ‘Freaks‘ (1932), the whole sideshow arena has always held a certain fascination for me. The book is basically an encyclopedia of, well, “freaks”, circa the 1800’s (The Golden Age) to present day (The Modern Age). I can’t put the book down! It really is fascinating…and some of it kinda creeps me out too. Especially what is known as a “Parasitic Twin.” The most disturbing (so far) being Myrtle Corbin: she had two small legs coming out from between her two regular-sized legs, and apparently had two functional vaginas, as she was married and conceived 5 children: 3 from one vagina, 2 from the other. I can’t help but think: “I can’t even get someone to LIKE me, much less marry me, but some 4-legged freak with 2 vaginas can fall in love and get married?” Whatever! Mind-boggling.
The book, as mentioned earlier, goes up through “The Modern Age”, which is where I will probably stop reading. Personally, I don’t consider body modification remotely in the realm of “freaks” who were, by no choice of their own, BORN into it. Body modification is something that is entered into VOLUNTARILY, and is nothing more than someone who is obviously starved for attention and/or has some kind “issues”. Why this would even be considered part of the same culture is a mystery to me (methinks maybe the author wanted to up the “cool” factor, either personally or through association). Utterly useless portion of the book. Otherwise, the book is golden. Highly recommended. Continue reading