Rasmus Nielsen, The Danish Strong Man


Rasmus Nielsen (1874-1957) was one of America’s first extreme tattooed and pierced individuals. Billed as “the Danish Strong Man” he was tattooed from head to toe, and had two nipple rings which he used to lift objects up to 250 lbs. such as a blacksmith’s anvil.His nose and tongue were also pierced, and he could lift with these parts of his body as well.  When he lifted weights with his rings, he would make a loud succession of gutteral screams “to transcend the pain”, but undoubtedly for the entertainment of the audience as well.Organizations that employed him included the Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey Circus sideshow and Ripley’s Believe it Or Not Odditorium. He was also known as “the Scandinavian Strong Man” and the “the Tattooed Water Man.”

To find out about  the history of vaudeville, consult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.


For more on silent and slapstick comedy please check out my new book: Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube, just released by Bear Manor Media, also available from amazon.com etc etc etc


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