When Emmett Bejano,
the Alligator Skin Man, was a child, he was adopted by the dean
of the sideshow men of the nineteen twenties and thirties,
Johnny Bejano. It was common practice in those days for sideshow
owners to adopt children who were considered human oddities,
from parents who either did not want them, or who realized the
advantages they would receive by such circumstances.
Emmett has a skin condition medically known as ichtyosis, which
causes the dermas to flake and scale creating an appearance akin
to the hide of an alligator. This congenital condition is
neither hereditary, or contagious. The skin has no pores or
sweat glands. The person therefore perspires through the eyes.
This causes discomfort hi hot weather, and usually leads to
When he matured in his teen years, he decided to see what was in
the world besides his adopted father's show. Emmett was a
likeable, intelligent, educated young man, and a valued
attraction. He soon found himself employed by another well
respected sideshow operator, Carl Lauther.
A girl from Puerto Rico, Percilla was known as the Monkey Girl
because of excessive hirsuties, which gave her beautiful black
silky hair on her head and also on her face and body. Carl and
Frances Lauther adopted Percilla. She was provided a good home
and a good education. Percilla has a beautiful speaking and
singing voice, and is an accomplished dancer. In her act, she
performed with a trained chimpanzee in an interesting, highly
entertaining act, which delighted the public.
Romance soon blossomed between Emmett and Percilla. However, the
Lauthers were not pleased with anyone who might have an
influence on their daughter, the star of the show. Emmett and
Percilla eloped. It has been the love story of the century.
In April, nineteen eighty-eight the International Independent
Showmen's Association club rooms was the sight of a lavish party
to celebrate their fiftieth wedding anniversary.
They were then billed as the world's strangest married couple.
They were featured on every leading show in the country until
the early nineteen fifties. At that time they built their own
show wherein they were the only attraction. Emmet being very
articulate, did the outside announcements, assuring them
successful attendance wherever they pitched their tent.
As they aged they tired of the stress of their own show, so
again they contracted with other shows. They were the feature
act on our show in nineteen seventy-nine, and greatly aided our
successful tour that year.
They purchased a home north of Tampa, Florida where Percilla,
with her gift for growing flowers, has developed a genuine
showplace. In addition to raising pets and flowers, they raised
their handsome son Tony, who honored his parents and his country
in military service. Percilla, always the gracious hostess,
gives splendid parties at their home. I love to dance, as does
Percilla. Without modesty, I admit we were among the best doing
the Cha Cha and Rhumba.
Emmett and Percilla are now enjoying retirement in their
comfortable home. Their son Tony and his family live nearby.
Percilla's natural mother often journeyed from her home in
Puerto Rico to be the honored guest in her daughter's home.
Their beautiful love story endures and continues.
Emmitt died in 1995
Percilla died February 5th
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©1991-2009 Ward Hall,
all rights reserved. The stories and images are excepts
for Ward Hall's book My Very Unusual Friends.
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