"Stella the Bearded Lady"
"Stella the Bearded Lady", worked fairs for us several times. It
is customary for the attractions to sell photos of themselves to
augment their income. Nate Eagles, the contractor of side show
attractions for the Ringling Circus, Madison Square Garden date
in New York, engaged Stella at fifty dollars per week. The
Belvedere Hotel had a circus rate of $35.00 per week and it cost
$15.00 per week to store a car. Therefore it was necessary for
her to sell photos to have food. Nate had overestimated her
ability to do so. The circus opened on Thursday. Sunday was
payday and Stella departed, understandably so.
The following year, Bernie Rogers, a female impersonator, who
worked as "Brenda Beatty, The Bearded Lady", contracted the
Garden dates. With flashy wardrobe and sexy appearance, her
photos sold well.
Five days before the engagement ended the head of Madison Square
Garden security and a New York City vice detective visited the
side shows during the matinee.
When the show ended, the security chief introduced the detective
to Nate Eagles, who inquired, "Is the bearded lady a female
impersonator"? Nate explained that he would be happy to meet
with them in the office in a few minutes, where he would answer
all questions. They agreed and proceeded to the office. This
gave Nate the
time to alert Brenda of the situation and send her to the hotel
till he determined what was the problem.
Dotty Williams, a beautiful midget lady who had worked a number
of years for Nate, accompanied him to the office. When Nate
asked the detective if the police didn't have more serious
crimes to investigate, the detective replied, "We have a signed
complaint alleging fraud, so we are required to investigate".
Further conversation revealed, according to Nate, disclosed the
letter of complaint was sent by Stella the Bearded Lady. Nate
said, "She looks like a woman, dresses like a woman, and tells
me she's a woman. That good enough for me". Pointing at Dottie,
he continued, "This little lady has worked for me for several
years. She looks like a woman, dresses like a woman, tells me
she's a woman and during our years together, I have never asked
her to raise her dress and drop her panties to show me she's a
woman". Now directing his remarks to the detective he said, "You
look like a man, you dress like a man, that's good enough for
The detective asked and was assured the bearded lady was leaving
New York when the circus finished the remaining five days. He
then suggested he write to the complainant asking additional
information. By the time a return letter could arrive the show
would be gone eliminating the problem.
Some months later Brenda (Bernie) Beatty was killed in a traffic
accident in Nevada. Stella worked again in the Ringling Sideshow
which we produced at Washington, D.C. in 1973. The last really
big sideshow put together.
Shortly thereafter, Stella gave up the show business to be a
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©1991-2007 Ward Hall, all
rights reserved. The stories and images are excepts
for Ward Hall's book My Very Unusual Friends.
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