Half Men-Half Women or Hermaphrodites


The various half men-half women or hermaphrodites, who I was associated with, none were real. They all were female impersonators. The first one I encountered was on Dailey Brothers Circus. Francis Doran, whose stage name was "The Original Maxine". When I acquired my own show, the first one to join was Frankie, whose mother Ivy always traveled with him.
A dynamic speaker who butchered the English language, Frankie was a powerful attraction, and a money getter. In spite of that, they seldom had money because Frankie would trade for a new house trailer three or four times a year. Deep sea fishing was his hobby. They wintered at Aransas Pass, Texas in order to indulge his hobby.
When Ivy became ill and could no longer travel, they opened a sporting goods store at Aransas Pass. Frankie became so despondent when his mother died, that he attempted suicide.
His priest advised him to go back on the road. He came with us as a front talker (Barker), but was unhappy not being a performer.
Explaining that he no longer wanted to work in drag, he asked me to teach him to swallow swords. Even though I cannot and never had a desire to swallow swords, I know how it is done, yes, they really swallow the swords, it is no trick.
It is an uncomfortable practice, over a long period of time to learn. The year before, a sword swallower intent on impressing some girls in the audience at Honolulu, took an unnecessary risk swallowing a lit neon tube which broke in his throat, causing severe injuries.
With this fresh on my mind I agreed to teach Frankie on condition he would never swallow neon. Some years later, while appearing with Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey, with a different management, at the Astro Hall in Houston, Frankie swallowed neon. It exploded within him. He recovered enough to return to his act after a few months, but was never well again. A steady decline brought death in a couple of years.

Ward Hall


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