By Marc Hartzman

A desirable check out the heritage of the yank sideshow and its performers. research what is genuine, what is pretend, and what is simply downright strange. you could have most likely heard of Tom Thumb. The Elephant guy. Chang and Eng, the unique Siamese twins. yet what approximately Eli Bowen, the legless acrobat? Myrtle Corbin, the four-legged girl? Or Prince Randian, the human torso? most of these and extra have been stars through the heyday of the yankee sideshow, from 1840 to 1950. American Sideshow chronicles the lives of really impressive performers, studying those courageous and impressive curiosities, not only as sideshow sights, yet as humans, delving into the lives they led and the way they have been capable of conquer their abnormalities. American Sideshow discusses the increase and fall of the unique sideshows and their next substitute through modern-day self-made freaks. With the growth of recent drugs, the actual abnormalities are disappearing, both via therapy or prevention; and, mockingly, those self same technological developments now give the chance to alter bodies at will. it really is impressive how effortless it really is to have your tongue forked, horns surgically implanted, or your earlobes got rid of. There also are modern day giants, fire-eaters, fire-breathers, sword-swallowers, glass-eaters, human blockheads, and, oh, much more. those attention-grabbing personalities are celebrated via intimate biographies paired with wonderful images. nearly 2 hundred performers from the earlier one hundred sixty years are featured, giving readers a finished and infrequently miraculous view of the background of the yank sideshow.

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Extra info for American sideshow: an encyclopedia of history's most wondrous and curiously strange performers

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Giants were frequently given several extra inches in height, and fat people always tacked on a few extra pounds. Sorting out what’s true and what’s not isn’t always easy. But it doesn’t necessarily matter. It’s all part of the wonder of the sideshow. PART ONE The GOLDEN AGE We are all ladies and gentlemen, and we act so. None of us are frights. CHARLES TRIPP, the Armless Wonder, at the Protective Order of Prodigies meeting, 1903 From P. T. BARNUM’S LIVING PRODIGIES to the DEATH of JAMES BAILEY (circa 1830s to early 1900s) Banners promoting Lionel the Lion-Faced Man at Coney Island.

Becker Collection, Special Collections Research Center, Syracuse University Library Chang Woo Gow (also known as Chang Yu Sing) was born in 1845 in Fychow, China. As a teenager he earned the name the Chinese Giant for obvious reasons, and he became a sensation in the court of the emperor. The well-proportioned eight-footer claimed to have a sister who was even taller, but it was he who made a career out of his stature. In 1864, standing seven feet, nine inches and growing, he left China for England.

At sixteen, she began working in his American Museum, exhibiting her full height, a glorious seven feet, eleven and a half inches. Swan would often be paired in contrast with the twenty-nine-inch Commodore Nutt or the equally small Tom Thumb. Working for Barnum was prof-itable, but tragedy would strike. Twice. The museum caught fire while Swan was there, and it burned to the ground. Firemen heroically broke through a wall and used a crane to lower her to safety. The giantess lost all her possessions.

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