Fedor Jeftichew, better known as Jo-Jo the Dog-face Boy, is undoubtedly one of the most famous of all sideshow performers. Born in 1868 in St, Petersburg, Russia, he was the second generation of Jeftichews to suffer from this hirsute condition, known as hypertrichosis; his father Adrien, also had it. Billed as “the Dog of the Caucasus” and “the Siberian Dog-Man”, Adrien performed in Paris starting in 1873 with his 5 year old son by his side. When Fedor was 16, his father died, leaving the lad in the care of a guardian who took him to England. In 1884 P.T. Barnum caught wind up the act and booked him for the sideshow of his circus. Under Barnum’s management, it was given out that the boy was raised wild in the forest, and instructed to bark, growl, etc for the patrons (in reality, he spoke he three languages). He was one of the highest paid entertainers of his kind of that era. Jo-Jo continued to work American circuses and dime museums through 1901. He passed away while appearing in the Ottoman Empire two years later.
To find out more about the variety arts past and present, consult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available 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.