Archive for the Hairy People Category

The Monkey Girl and the Alligator Boy

Posted in Dime Museum and Side Show, Hairy People, Human Anomalies (Freaks), Missing Links/ Wild Men, Skin Conditions with tags , , , , , , on April 26, 2013 by travsd

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Today is the birthday of Percilla Roman Bejano (1911-2001). Born covered head to toe in fur, and possessing two rows of teeth, she was billed as The Monkey Girl and exhibited alongside chimpanzees and orangutans in Lauther’s European Wonder Show starting at age three. The act did especially well in the aftermath of the Scopes Monkey Trial. In 1936 she was signed over to the Johnny J. Jones’s Exposition’s “Wonders of the 20th Century” exhibit. There she met and fell in love with Lobello, the Alligator Boy (1914-1995), who was covered head to toe in reptilian scales. The two married in 1938, and were now thenceforth billed as Londo and Lobello, the World’s Strangest Married Couple. In 1945, they toured with a Ripley’s Believe it or Not show. In the 50s and 60s they traveled with their own outfit; and they performed in the James E. Strates shows as late as the 1970s. By the 1980s they had retired but for the occasional tv appearance. When Emmitt died in 1995, Percilla kept her face clean shaven thereafter.

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.

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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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Lionel the Lion-Faced Man

Posted in Circus, Coney Island, Dime Museum and Side Show, Hairy People, Human Anomalies (Freaks) with tags , , on February 27, 2013 by travsd

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Stephan Bibrowski (1891–1932) was better known as Lionel the Lion-faced Boy (later “Man”), owing to a rare condition called hypertrichosis which caused his entire body to be covered in long, silky hair. Born in Warsaw, Poland with an inch of fur covering his body, Stephan was essentially sold off to an impresario named Sedlmayer at the age of four. Sedlmayer sent Stephan to boarding school for a time. This cultivation would later pay off – Bibrowski’s reputation (and his act) were enhanced by his learned intelligence, his obvious exposure to literature, and the fact that he spoke five languages. On the other hand, Sedlmayer also gave him his stage name (and an appropriate backstory concerning his pregnant mother’s traumatic encounter with a lion) and began exhibiting him around Europe. By this time, his facial hair was eight inches long; elsewhere on his body, it was closer to four.

In 1901 (when he was 10), Lionel traveled to the United States to appear with Barnum & Bailey as a replacement for the recently retired Jo-Jo the Dog-Faced Boy. During his five years with the circus he learned tumbling skills from the acrobats, enhancing his act. In 1907 he returned to Berlin for a time where he was featured at the Passage-Panoptikum wax museum. Starting in about 1913 he made his homebase New York, performing for 15 years with Coney Island’s Dreamland Circus sideshow. In 1928 he returned to Germany, his adopted country, to retire from show business. He died, reportedly of a heart attack, four years later.

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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Jo-Jo the Dog Faced Boy

Posted in BUNKUM, Circus, Dime Museum and Side Show, Hairy People, Human Anomalies (Freaks) with tags , , on November 13, 2012 by travsd

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.

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The Hairy Family of Burma

Posted in Asian, Dime Museum and Side Show, Hairy People, Human Anomalies (Freaks) with tags , , , on October 10, 2012 by travsd

 

From 1887 through 1888 P.T. Barnum presented as an oddity in his sideshow this interesting family, which did indeed, as advertised, hail from Burma. Members of the exhibited family were of the third and fourth generation of a entire clan that had been born covered with soft fur, dating back to the hairy dynasty’s founder She-Maong, born in what is now Laos in 1796. They became court entertainers to the royal family of Burma until displaced by revolution in 1885. Agents working for Barnum discovered them living as refugees in England the following year.

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.

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