Years ago, while I was doing research for a project featuring circus freaks, I stumbled across the Hilton sisters—not Paris and Nicky, mind you—but Violet and Daisy, who were joined at the hips (literally) and have carved out a decent career for themselves both in the circus, on stage and screen. Their story was further exploited in a Broadway musical entitled “Sideshow,” which I’m sure was a devil to stage. The opening number was about a day-and-a-half long and featured the ugliest cast in the world—and I’m sure it’s not because they’re made up to look like carnies. Needless to say, that musical became the dominant subject of my ridicule for years to come. How could it not? It had songs like “We Do Everything Together,” and “I Will Never Leave You.” If you and your sibling share a few major organs, it’s pretty much a given, wouldn’t you say?
In reality though, I admire people with deformities who made it work in their favor. What horror must they go through in their daily lives before they found the warm embrace of their carny family. Who’s to say Lizard Boy and Wolf Girl can’t be effective members of society? I imagine they would add some color to an otherwise drab and dreary work environment. My admiration for them deepened after reading “Geek Love” by Katherine Dunn. It’s not easy being green, that’s for damn sure.
And so, this is my homage to the brave souls who occupies center stage in the Odditorium of Life.
Left to right: Marla and Karla the Singing Sisters, Mr. Quills the Barker, Mel Ott—Smallest Man on Earth, Atlas Steele the Strongman, and Lucinda the Bearded Lady.