Freaks, Geeks and Human Oddities!

Some may call them freaks and human oddities - but they are truly human marvels!

A congress of most unusual mortals

see them triumph over fate, nature and the judgement of man
JOHN HOLTUM - The Cannonball Man

JOHN HOLTUM – The Cannonball Man

At one point in history every circus, carnival, and vaudeville hall had a strongman on hand to astound spectators. The image of a mustachioed man clad in leopard print while hoisting a bending barbell high aloft is still synonymous with circuses. The spectacles these men provided ranged from the highly impressive the the borderline mundane but in a golden age populated with hundreds of contemporaries an individual simply had to go the extra mile to ensure fame and fortune.

John Holtum elected to stand apart by becoming a human target. Holtum caught cannon balls fired directly at his him from point-blank range.

KOO KOO – The Bird Girl

There are a handful of human marvels who seem to transcend time, culture and societal norms. These truly unique few become forever recognizable and iconic to the general public. Joseph Merrick, The Elephant Man will be forever famous due to his unforgettable visage. Likewise, Jo-Jo the Dog Faced Boy will forever be famous for his shaggy face and Zip the Pinhead will always remembered. However, one strange character who managed to obtain this ‘celebrity of strange’ wasn’t really that strange at all. Or, at least, not when compared to other more ‘impressive’ marvels.

KITTIE SMITH – The Armless Dynamo

Mr. Smith held his daughter to the red-hot stove until her arms were destroyed. Too badly damaged in the incident, both arms were eventually amputated three inches from the shoulder at Cook County Hospital.

AL AND JEANIE TOMAINI – The Strangest Couple

True love knows no bounds.

Al had an overactive pituitary gland and he eventually stood over seven feet in height. To earn a career in sideshow, Al claimed a height of 8’4” and billed himself as ‘The Tallest Man in the World’. No one seemed to mind Al’s embellishment, due mostly to the fact that Al was an incredibly genuine and nice guy.

HADJI ALI – The Great Regurgitator

The Great Regurgitator, who was also billed as The Egyptian Enigma, was born Hadji Ali in Egypt in 1892. In the 1920’s Hadji Ali came to be something of an American vaudeville sensation for his unusual ability to swallow unique items, regurgitate them in an order specific to audience requests and for his ‘human water spout’ routine.

CHANG – The Chinese Giant

The gargantuan Chang Woo Gow was born in Fychow, China in 1845 and, before appearing in front the Prince and Princess of Wales by request in 1864, the nearly eight-foot giant was best known for delighting the emperor of China as part of his royal court.

FIRE EATERS AND MANIPULATORS

The art of fire eating has evolved immensely to what we now view as ‘fire eating’. Today, most of us envision a performer extinguishing torches with the aid of their mouth. However, early fire eaters generally ate and drank burning objects like coals and pitch. The earliest record of fire eating dates back to 133 B.C.E. when a Syrian named Eunus lead a successful slave revolt while breathing out smoke, sparks and spikes of fire.

ANGUS MACASKILL - The Cape Breton Giant

ANGUS MACASKILL – The Cape Breton Giant

In 1981 the Guinness Book of World Records recognized MacAskill as the largest true giant to have ever lived, the strongest man who ever lived and the man with the largest chest measurements of any non-obese man.

ben_underwood

BEN UNDERWOOD HAS DIED.

I have just heard that modern human marvel Ben Underwood, featured here for his amazing echolocation talent, passed away on January 19, 2009 at age of 16. He was taken by the same cancer that claimed his sight and leaves behind a legacy of inspiration few will ever match.

I offer my sincerest condolences to his family and friends.

susi the elephant skinned girl

SUSI -The Elephant Girl

Ichthyosis finds its etymological origins in the Greek term for ‘fish’, however the majority of human exhibits afflicted with the skin condition often adopted an Alligator-themed epithet. Susi’s skin, however, was particularly coarse and cracked and the title of ‘elephant-skinned’ seemed more appropriate and illustrative.