An open letter to B... First, you need to
know that unlike this one your site cannot be found. Ms.
B..., People like you are responsible for removing a strong,
mostly intelligent, self reliant culture to the realm of the
handicapapped though ignorant, bigoted, do-goodism rather
than asking those who lived the life in the "Human Oddity"
shows... They were responsible for educating many thousands
of people about physical deformities...The family strength
of the shows is something you can never understand...You
needed to live it.. Lumping all of the disorders under a
self effacing umbrella is blatantly stupid! For example, I
worked with Alzora, the turtle girl, and her cousin Joanna
the bear girl. I can certainly certify neither was "double
jointed" They were as they appeared! I've taken the liberty
of gathering the names of some of the anomalies to perhaps
give you a stronger data-base to reason from... I know you
won't change your mind about us, your kind can't!
Walk a mile in our shoes lady, it will serve
ALBINO - Person or animal lacking skin
pigmentation. Very pale skin, white hair and colorless eye
ALLIGATOR MAN/WOMAN/ETC. - Sideshow human
oddity afflicted with skin condition, commonly ictheosis,
that gives the skin a scaly, reptile-like appearance.
ANATOMICAL WONDER - A sideshow performer,
usually perceived by the public as a human oddity, but more
a working act. The performer would do stunts such as 'the
man without a stomach' (pulling the gut in until the
backbone shows), pulling themselves through a coat hanger or
similar challenge. when I was young I had this ability
BEARDED LADY - Woman with a beard appearing in a show. They
were most often genuine, though there were the occasional
BLOCKHEAD - An act where a spike is ‘driven’
into a performer’s nose. Performers use screwdrivers,
drills, anything to enhance the effect.
CYCLOPS BABY, A baby born with one eye. They
seldom live long, due to other complications.
DWARF - A person with shortened arm and leg
bones, fingers, etc. Usually other bones, like the skull are
normal size. Achrondoplasty.
FREAK - A human oddity on exhibition in a
museum or in a circus or carnival side show. Early day
circuses also displayed some featured freaks in their
menageries. Often called “VSP’s (Very Special People) as a
salute to Frederick Drimmer.
FROG BABY - Anacephalic. Baby born with a
fog-like appearance, the result of the top of the skull
being sunken, causing the face to bulge.
FROG MAN/GIRL/ETC. - Human oddity whose legs
and arms could be contorted so they could squat in a
frog-like position. This ability was often the result of the
Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, an affliction which can result in
hyper-extensible joints, skin laxity (such as that of Rubber
Skin people), and other anomalies. Otis Jordan, on the other
hand, often billed as Frog Boy, was so called as his
locomotion was by hopping, necessitated by his shriveled
HALF GIRL/BOY - A human oddity born without
MIDGET - a small person, usually normally
proportioned. Not a victim of achodroplasia (dwarfism)
MONKEY GIRL/BOY/ETC. - Human oddity afflicted
with hirsutism. (Hypertrichosis) Such individuals might also
be called Wolf Boys, Dog Boys, etc. Their hairiness is more
extreme than, say, a bearded lady's. MULE-FACED WOMAN -
Grace McDaniels. severe Rosacea. Also, KOKOMO, The mule
faced-boy. Grossly prognathous...
OSSIFIED GIRL/BOY/ETC. - Human oddity
afflicted with a condition which effectively freezes them in
position, withering their limbs, etc.
PARASITIC TWIN- A twin dependant on its
sibling host. Betty Lou Williams is probably the most famous
of these. Also LALOO.
PENGUIN BOY/GIRL/ETC. - Human oddity
afflicted with foreshortened limbs, usually with hands and
feet attached directly to the torso without arms or legs.
See Seal Boy/Girl.
PICKLED PUNK - A carnival term for human
fetuses. Two-headed human babies, joined together twins,
etc., etc. (Also normal specimens from one to eight months).
Some real, some fake, these specimens were repulsive to
some, but highly educational for millions of others. See
BABY SHOW as well.
PINHEAD - Human oddity afflicted with
microcephally, the head coming to a point, a fact which was
often further emphasized by leaving a top knot of hair to
emphasize the head shape. ZIP, SCHLITZIE, and others.
SEAL BOY/GIRL/ETC. - Human oddity afflicted
with phocomelia, or foreshortened 'seal,' limbs, usually
with hands and feet attached directly to the torso without
arms or legs. See Penguin Boy/Girl.
SIAMESE TWINS - Conjoined twins, connected to
each other in various ways. Although ENG and CHANG were the
source of the name, there have been many others, dating back
to the year 1100.
John Merric - The Elephant Man -
Neurofibromatosis, Proteus Disease.
I can take very little credit for this
dictionary. Most of it is built on Joe Mckenna’s fine work,
and it’s been expanded by James Taylor’s “Shocked and
Amazed.” Then the next step was blatant plagarizing from Joe
Bates. The language (lingo) is hundreds of years old, and
has roots in many tongues, from all over the world. Some of
these definitions are crossed over circus terms I added a
little, with the help of some of my carny “family.” Thanks
to all. Ms. B, we are not as limited as you might think!
Slim Price 11-06-1998