"Stella the Bearded Lady"

 


Betty Macgregor, "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 me".
 
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 C.P.A.

 

 

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