Freakshow, (in English, of
freak 'freak, freak', egl. 'grilling, warm', of uncertain
orig.), screening of persons or animals with congenital
abnormalities or aberrant appearance in the circus, "sideshows",
"folk museums" or marketplaces; included dwarfs and giants of
both sexes, very thick or thin people, people with extreme hair
growth, Siamese twins, etc.
People with different looks have been presented since the
Renaissance, including in English marketplaces. With P.T.
Barnum's American Museum (1841) was freakshow part of the
entertainment industry. A special group was called fodkunstnere,
people without arms, for example, could play the violin or shoot
a bow and arrow with her feet. Most "freaks" were professional
show people that had build specialized skills in one or more
disciplines and even participated in the staging of their show.
An exception was people from foreign cultures, which in 1800-t.
were displayed as freaks, including plate Negroes. There were
several cases of deceit, such as mental retardation due to a
special head shape was submitted as "original Aztecs". More
freak shows came in 1800-t. to Denmark, but apart from dwarfs
and giants beat the rarely hit with the audience. At the
beginning of the 1900-T. were freak shows particularly shown on
Dyrehavsbakken but disappeared in most places during the 1930s.
From being who attracted interest for their deviation from the
normal, were freaks increasingly perceived as a disease, and it
was considered unethical to present them for payment. The
American director Tod Browning created in 1932 the controversial
film Freaks, where most of the roles played by freaks.
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