Artoria Gibbons, the Religiously Tattooed Woman
Today is the birthday of Artoria Gibbons (Anna Mae Burlingston, 1893-1985). In 1912, the Spokane domestic met and married a tattoo artist named Charles “Red” Gibbons. To supplement their income (and advertise his skill) he tattooed over 80% of her body with religious images, drawn from the works of Raphael and Michelangelo. She debuted as a performer with the locally-based Pete Kortes Sideshow. From 1921 to 1923 she worked for Ringling Bros Barnum & Bailey, in 1924, Hagenbeck-Wallace, and any number of circuses, dime museums, carnivals and sideshows thereafter, culminating in her final gig with Hall and Christ in the 1970s. She retired in 1981.
To find out more about the history of show business, 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 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