the freak show

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The freak show

The freak show

During the victorian age there were lots of different circusES with weird and rare ATTRACTIONS. The victorian ones are the first case of a globalized show: thanks to the upcoming railway and to the infrastructures amendment, all the people who used to organise shows fairground, are now able to go on tour in every part of the uk. THE PROTAGONISTS HAD DIFFERENT PECULIARITIES, like biological rarities or genetic strains, which could have been from birth or not and had a big effect on the general public. THESE SHOWS WERE CALLED freak showS oR side showS.

MAIN FEATURES

The Side Show was full of people affected by physical distortions as lack of limbs, shapeless faces with two noses, people without hands, the snake-woman with twisted skeleton or the bird man who was able to walk backwards because of his distorted legs, or the man with the scaled body, like a snake, or the woman with the elephants skin; all of these people were part of this scary show. Especially the middle class was interested in these performances which used to represent a sort of imperfection in the perfectionist victorian society.
The public was usually cruel.
Some attractions came also from abroad (ex: the two freaks in the picture on the right are from Kostroma, Russia.)

The barnum and bailey circus

One of the most successful circuses in England was the Barnum and Bailey circus. Which had more than 1200 freaks and 380 horses. The B n B circus used to move through the UK on two different trains! It had some of the most loved performances: the tightrope ones or a carousel with more than 70 horses. A music group with more than 80 musicians used to play at the entrance while a few horrible freaks used to call the attention of the people passing by. From 1882 and 1907 the B n B also had the Seven Sutherland Sisters, the people with the longest hair on earth, assisted by Prince Randian, the human caterpillar

THE SEVEN SUTHERLAND SISTERS

The seven sutherland sisters structured their performances arriving on the stage while singing wrap in their long hair (from 2,10 to 2,70 mt): two of them used to suffer from mental illnesses, nevertheless, they went touring for years and years, also posing in some shops showcases, to sell hair-care products. Their faces were rarely visible, hidden by their very long hair that gave them the main requirement to be horribly grotesque and frightening.

The human caterpillar

Randian (whose birth name is unknown) was born with no arms and legs inDemerara,British Guyana. He was aHindu and spokeHindi,English,French, andGerman.[With his wife, known as Princess Sarah (born circa 1872), he fathered three daughters and a son. For his act, Randian wore a one-piece wool garment that fit tightly over his body, giving him the appearance of a caterpillar,snakeorpotato, and would move himself around the stage by wiggling his hips and shoulders. His best-known ability was rolling and lighting cigarettes using only his lips, but he was also capable ofpaintingandwritingby holding a brush orstyluswith his lips and ofshavinghimself.

The elephant man

John Merrick ( known as The Elephant Man) was probably the most famous freak because of his bad deformations caused by a cancer, which started when he was two. During his childhood he broke his leg; the Merricks family was not able to cure his new little problem due to its economic impossibility. Though, this was a perfect feature fot the side show. After a long gipsy life and different hospitalizations, he was exposed as an attraction in the Tom Normans circus in 1884, as the Elephant Man.
Two different novels were written, based on Johns life.
Moreover, in 1980, David Lynch directed a movie about the life of this as famous as scary freak, called John Merrick: The Elephant Man.

FANIZZI MANUEL,
CARROZZO PIERLUIGI,
SCAGLIUSI DOMENICO

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