Every once in awhile, a Human Marvel comes along who is a multiple attraction. Often a Human Marvel may learn a few traditional sideshow feats to pad their status as a crowd draw. The Tattooed Sword Swallower, the Fat Man Fire Eater, The Singing Midget or The Armless Man who can paint a portrait are all example of this trend and all were often quite successful. However, few persons have actually encapsulated the characteristics of two separate traditional human marvel displays into one presentation. There have been no ‘hairy giants’ for example or ‘dwarf stone men’. However, Carrie Akers was a double feature in the world of sideshow – she was both a midget and a Fat Lady.
While the date of her birth is not certain, Carrie did hail from Virginian. She weighed a purported 309 pounds and stood only 34 inches tall. These traits qualifed her as both a midget and a Fat Lady, thus a ‘double feature’.
Unlike the usually ‘Jolly’ copious performers of her time Carrie, as evident in many of her cabinet cards, was considered a very sour and bitter person. So poor was her reputation that she was eventually shunned from the sideshow community and she had a serious falling out with P. T. Barnum – serious enough for the showman to drop the potentially profitable Carrie from his roster of performers. Furthermore, her unfortunate epithet of ‘The Warthog’ was given to her not only because of her dimensions but also due to this hot temper and extremely rude reputation.
There exist a few rumors that Carrie was also becoming a legitimate bearded lady, whether via biological or gaffed means. This would have made her a triple feature in sideshow – however it appears that she retired from show business shortly after her problems with Barnum.
Most of her cabinet photos date between 1888 and 1889 and few photos of her exist today. This indicates that her career was not a successful one, likely due to her gruff personality. Not much else is known about Carrie following her short carrier. However, if she had gotten a few tattoos she could very well have been a complete sideshow all on her own.
Image: Acrylic painting by Italian artist Antonello Matarazzo.