The gentleman depicted is Martin Laurello, born Martin Emmerling, and he hailed from Nuremburg, Germany. He was an anatomical wonder, able to turn his head 180 degrees. How he accomplished this feat is unknown, however I have seen this trait duplicated. In fact, I recall seeing a video of a U.S soldier performing the same anatomical stunt to amuse his fellow recruits. In that video, it appears that the stunt is performed by twisting both the neck and the torso – that said, it is still very likely linked to a genetic trait. Without that predisposition, injury and perhaps death is highly likely.

Martin first appeared in the United States in 1921 though he had performed in Europe previously. Initially, he was tied to Dreamland circus but he also did stints with Barnum & Bailey, Ringling Bros. and, perhaps most notably, with Ripley’s Odditorium. His last recorded appearance was in 1945, with Ripley.

It was rumored that Martin was a Nazi sympathizer. His attitude did little to endear him to his fellow performers. It is likely that Martin burnt too many bridges in the sideshow community and opted to retire. No one knows what became of him, but it is rumored that he passed away in the 1950’s.

image: I have no idea. All over the Internet.

Edit: I’ve been informed that the above image is from Sideshow World.


Author, researcher and an expert of the odd, J. Tithonus Pednaud has been chronicling bizarre history and highlighting the lives of those born exceeding different for over a decade.


  • Reply January 31, 2008


    Thank you for your efforts and resurch. Do you mean 360 degrees of head movement instead of the 180 listed? I have your site marked and am still enjoying it. Thanks.

  • Reply March 18, 2008


    360 degrees would be all the way around facing front again. 180 degrees would mean that he could turn his head all the way around to his back. look at the picture, it’s 180.

  • Reply July 10, 2008

    Arno Nym.

    When I start looking at the right and then turn my head to the left as far as possible it makes almost exactly 180 degrees. And I’m shure you can do so as well. So what the man on the picture does is a lot more than a “simple 180 degree head turn”!
    Anyway, it becomes clear when you see the picture that this was a very special feat – I always considered sth like this impossible.
    Fascinating stuff here!

  • Reply January 18, 2009


    I actually knew a kid in my band class (not a band geek joke, I swear!) who could do that. I saw it once and never wanted to again. Equally impressive, however, was the kid who could thread floss from his mouth into one of his nostrils. True story.

  • Reply March 25, 2010


    My gorgeous girlfriend can actually do this and thinks it’s perfectly normal! Thinking about taking her on a freak show tour as ‘The Amazing Twisty Bendy Woman!


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