Krao

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Today it has become necessary to teach you about KRAO.

The mystery of KRAO.

The enigma of KRAO.

All eyes are on KRAO.

I said, “KRAO”.

Why is this man holding the naked KRAO?

Male? Female? Man? Beast?

Or sole inhabitrix of the liminal Krao-space?

The facts will speak for themselves. Born in what is now Laos in the 1870s, the girl was covered head to toe in coarse, black fur, with an equine mane running down the center of her spine (a condition known as hypertrichosis). She also had extra teeth, and was double-jointed. She was discovered at age six by The Great Farini (actually a Canadian performer and impresario named William Leonard Hunt), who took her on a tour of Europe, then the dime museums and circuses of America.

Not only was she billed as “Darwin’s Missing Link”, but the dodge fooled many scientists and doctors into believing she was a member of a sub-human, tree-dwelling tropical race called the Krao-Moniek, or Man-Monkeys. Far from being on the simian end of the spectrum, however, it turns out that Miss Krao was well read, spoke several languages and played the violin. The stupid apes were the ones who paid money to see her and swallowed the con. In her last years she lived in Brooklyn, working as a bearded lady in New York’s many dime museums, and the sideshows of Coney Island. She died in 1926.

To find out more about the variety arts past and presentconsult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famousavailable at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold. And don’t miss Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube, to be released by Bear Manor Media in 2013.

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