– a midnight sketchbook page drawn after our annual viewing of Tod Browning’s 1932 masterpiece, Freaks
My mind is still a little blown by the idea that there were really positive elements to being a sideshow performer. Check out these words from an NyTimes article about Ward Hall, King of the Midway:
“Nowadays, it’s in the contracts: no freaks,” says Mr. Hall, who believes political correctness is putting people out of work. “Do-gooders run things. I’m telling you, this life was very good for freaks. These kind of people made money. They were hams, but they could never be actors. Who’s putting a bearded lady or a one-armed girl in a leading lady role on Broadway? This way they lived a great life. No more. It’s ridiculous.”
Then there is the strange but true fact that American society has gone just plain freaky itself, Mr. Hall believes.
“The fat man — Howard Huge — he wanted to come out with us. But I said, ‘Howard, a fat man couldn’t sell 10 cents’ worth of fried chicken. Everybody in America’s fat.’
“You want to see a fat man, Mr. Hall says, try the Cracker Barrel, you’ll see a dozen at once.
better to be a sideshow freak than john mellencamp!
stupid mellencamp: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k-ZOtlQJnqI
J. Mundie says
Heck yeah, the freak shows were a positive experiences for the freaks. It was the one place they were valued and important and not looked upon as – well, freaks. On the sideshow they were stars.
Much of my work deals with this very idea.