Sideshow Superstars


Charles Eisenmann / Photographer of “Freaks”

(Germany 1855-New York 1927) was a famous   photographer of the 1880s whose studio was located in New York’s Bowery. At that time in the Bowery district lived an eclectic mix of artists, people passing and prostitutes. The Gangs of New York movie quite likelihood reprentaba this environment experts. The consequences of the riots in New York City projected an image of a wild and experimental period: an ideal setting for the unusual and avant-garde photography.


Charles Eisenmann began making portraits fotogáficos of showing people that were exhibited in the famous “a dime museums” in the 1870s. While photographing “normal” people conventionally, Eisenmann continued working on his file “Freaks” during the 1870s and 80s. These photographs were sold as cabinet cards, collections very popular at this time available to the middle class.


In the book Monsters Golden Age (1979), are samples of his work on human oddities who worked at the Barnum & Bailey circus. A widely held image was that of Jojo the dog-faced boy. Although some of his photographs were obvious fakes (“monsters” spoofing), many others were actually individuals with abnormalities, including giant Ruth Goshen, Myrtle Corbin, the little four legs, the twins Millie and Christine …


Jojo the dog-faced boy


Sophia Schultz, “The Dwarf Fat Lady”


Fanny Mills

In the nineteenth century, physical deformities were not so much a hindrance as a talent. In modern society we strive to correct deformities to an ideal perfection if the situation permits and not life threatening. But at that time the physical strain was used to take advantage of it. Many of the artists or performers who worked in the “dime museums” could get a job with a good salary, marry and have a relatively happy life.

Dime museums were created following the model of PT Barnum’s American Museum on Broadway, which featured “curiosities” human as well as many exhibits unusual and arguably “scientific”. In many ways they were like the circus barracks, and they highlighted the “Freaks” strange human physiognomies showed their visitors speechless.


Eli Bowen

Eli Bowen was born in 1844 in Ohio with a condition called Phocomelia (feet seal). He had no legs and feet protruding from her hips. He used his arms to walk and as a result, he developed great strength in his upper body. This allowed him to specialize in climbing and tumbling acrobatics. His career began at age thirteen when he joined a traveling circus and skills earned him the title, “The Acrobat Without Legs”. Throughout his long career he worked for a number of dime museums and circuses, including PT Barnum and Sells Brothers. Eli Bowen was recognized in his time as one of the handsomest men in the world of entertainment.


Laloo “The Hindu”

Laloo Ramparsad, “Laloo the Hindu” was born in India in 1874. He had a parasitic twin that your stomach sobresalalía shoulders together with a rudimentary body, legs and arms. The twin had no brain, but had a penis that could urinate and get an erection. Despite its genre, often v Estía the twin girl clothes to add curiosity to the show. Laloo shared bloodstream and could feel when it was played the twin. Laloo, worked with PT Barnum as one of the artists of the attractions and participated in the 1899 protest artists who wanted you were called “miracles” instead of “Freaks”. He died in 1905 in a train accident in Mexico.


Millie and Christine McCoy

Millie and Christine McCoy were born into slavery on July 11, 1851 in North Carolina. The girls were born as twins Pygopagus, have two pairs of legs and upper bodies, but sharing a pelvis. At the age of six years had been sold three times, the last to showman JP Smith. Smith and his wife taught the children to read, write, sing, dance and speak five languages. The girls were stolen by a rival JP Smith, who exhibited them discreetly in the United States and England. When England banned slavery, Smith found work displaying them with the pitchman Miller & Thompson. Smith managed to gather together with her mother and formed a new show called “The Two-Headed Nightingale”. They had a very successful career and traveled with PT Barnum circus. At 49, he retired to North Carolina, where he bought the farm where they were born. Millie and Christine died in 1912 of tuberculosis, with 17 hours apart.

 Josephine Myrtle Corbin

 Born in , TN in 1868 and spending most of her childhood in Blount County, AL – daughter to a wounded Confederate Soldier ( found in the 1880 census ) – her condition was incredibly rare. The tiny body of her twin was only fully developed from the waist down and even then it was malformed – tiny and possessing only three toes on each foot. Myrtle was able to control the limbs of her sister but was unable to use them for walking and she herself had a difficult time getting around as she was born with a clubbed foot. Technically, the ‘Four-Legged Woman’ only had one good, usable leg.

Her father began showing her to curious neighbors for a dime beginning when she was just One Month Old.  This her future and provided for the family.  The newspaper ads W. Corbin placed and the naturally attracted P. T. Barnum, and at the age of 14 she was signed up for Barnum & London Tours Myrtle was a popular attraction with P. T. Barnum, and later with Ringling Bros. and Coney Island.Myrtle was so popular that she was able to earn as much as $450 dollars a week. She retired at age of 18.

At the age of 19 Myrtle married a doctor named Clinton Bicknell.  She had four daughters and a son and it has been rumored that three of her children were born from one set of organs and two from the other. Whether this is true or not; it is medically possible.

Rather than having a parasitic twin, Myrtle’s extra legs resulted from an even rarer form of conjoined twining known as dipygus, which gave her two complete bodies from the waist down. She had two small pelvis side-by-side, and each of her smaller inner legs was paired with one of her outer legs. She could move the smaller legs but was unable to use them for walking.

 Account of the Four-Legged Child, J. Myrtle Corbin


 Nashville, Tennessee Jun 16, 1868

The undersigned, in response to the request of  a number of physicians, and the relatives and friends of the unfortunate subject of this investigation, give the following testimony: The  infant, J. Myrtle Corbin, has four legs and two distinct external female organs of generation, with two external openings of the urethra  and two external openings of the double rectum.  The external genito-urinary organs are as distinct as if they belonged to two separate  human beings.  The fœces and urine are passed (most generally simultaneously, particularly the urine) from both external urinary and  intestinal openings, situated respectively between the left and right pairs of legs.

 The head and trunk are those of a living, well-developed, healthy, active infant of about five weeks, whilst the lower portion of the  body is divided into the members of two distinct individuals, near the junction of the with the os sacrum.  As far as  our examination could be prosecuted in the living child, we are led to the belief that the lower portion of the spinal column is divided  or cleft, and that there are two pelvic arches supporting the four limbs, which are situated  upon the same plane.Photographs of this infant have been made by the advice and under the supervision of one of our number.

 The reality in this surpasses expectation, and we are of the opinion that this interesting living monstrosity exceeds in its curious manifestation of the powers of nature in abnormal productions, the celebrated “Siamese Twins.”


                                                                                                                                                 Joseph Jones, M.D.,

Prof. of Phys. and Path., University of Nashville.

 Paul F Eve, M.D.

 Prof. of Surgery, University of Nashville.

 The Professors further remark:

 Josephine Myrtle is the third offspring of W.H. and Nancy Corban, aged twenty-five and thirty-four, the wife being the senior by nine  years. They are so much alike in appearance, having red hair, blue eyes and very fair complexion, as to produce the impression of their  being blood kin, which, however, is not the case.  Mrs. Corban is from North Alabama, had borne one child to a former husband, the  child having dark coloring, and resembling mostly the father, who had black hair and eyes.  Her three children are all girls; the one  already alluded to , now six years old, another three, and this infant monstrosity, now to be more minutely described, born the  12th of May, 1868, in Lincoln county, Tennessee, five weeks ago.

 Mr. Corban is a Georgian, served in the Confederate army through the war, and was severely wounded in the right arm and left  hand.  The parents are in fair health, though the mother is anœmic.  She recollects no fright or disturbance during her last  pregnancy.  The presentation was fortunately the head, which accounts for the preservation of the life of the child.  It would be curious  to speculate on the trouble which might have been produced had the feet or breach presented, while the result, in all probability, would  have proved fatal to the infant, and possibly to the mother.  Mrs. Corban says that there was nothing peculiar in the labor or delivery.   When three weeks old the child weighed ten pounds.  It now nurses healthily, is thriving well, and we saw it urinate simultaneously,  between the two paris of labia of the two vaginæ, situated about six inches apart.  From the crown of the head to the umbilicus the child measures twelve inches, and from this point to the toes of the right and left external feet eleven inches.  From the umbilicus up all is natural and well formed; all below this extraordinary and unnatural.  An inch below the navel is a mark of an  apparent failure for a second one.  There are four distinct, pretty well developed, lower extremities.  They exist in pairs on both sides of  the medium line, which resembles the cleft of an ordinary pair of legs; but here there are no marks whatever of anus or genital organs, and upon pressure we discover no os coccygis or sacrum.  The outer legs of boths sides are the most natural of the  four (though the foot of the right one is clubbed), but are widely separated by the two supernumerary ones, which are less developed,  except at their junction with the body, from which they taper to the feet and toes more diminutive, and which are turned inwards.  One  toe is bifid on the left extra inward extremity.  At birth these extra legs were folded flat upon the abdomen.  We are led to believe that  there are two uteri as well as two recti, in fact, that the pelvic organs are double.  Of course a minute dissection would alone expose the true condition of these parts.

 Should this infant reach maturity, and the internal generative organs be double, there is nothing to prevent conception on both sides.   The first difficulty will, however, be in her walking.  The outer, or external, legs may be used for progression; the inner, or inturned,  ones probably never.  These might be successfully amputated at the knee, or higher up.

 (The Western Journal of Medicine, Theophilus Parvin, ed., 1868)



Pasqual Pinon (1889–1929), known as The Two-Headed Mexican, was a performer with the Sells-Floto Circus in the early 1900s. A railroad worker from Texas, Pinon was discovered by a sideshow promoter, whose attention had been caught by a large benign cyst or tumor at the top of Pinon’s head. The promoter drafted Pinon into his freak show and had a fake face made of wax to place onto the growth, allowing the claim that Pinon had two heads (some reports state that it was made of silver and surgically placed under the skin). After several years of touring, the circus manager paid to have the growth removed, and Pinon returned to Texas.[1]


While it is possible for a person to have two heads, the condition craniopagus parasiticus, a form of conjoined twins, sees one head upside-down on top of the other – Pinon’s “second head” was oriented like his actual head.[2]


The novels Downfall and The Book about Blanche and Marie by Per Olov Enquist feature Pinon, though they portray the story as factual and, in the latter book, make the second head female.


Frog Baby?!



An unknown disorder that’s rarely ever talked about and kind of invisible to the public eye, is very common in some states. Any ordinary person would approach this sittuation thinking that this was a gene mixature of a human and a frog, when actually it’s just a babies head not formed all the way, leaving the brain on display. Which was caused by a chemical reation during the baby’s first through third trimester. A very, very rare, sad, and almost disturbing




Robert was born in 1895 in Missouri. Although it was never diagnosed, it was likely he suffered from an advanced form of congenital genu recurvatum, a back knee disorder which causes the knee to bend backwards. According to all accounts, he was unable to stand erect, even with the assistance of crutches, so he was forced to walk on all fours.



He spent thirty six years traveling with the Tom Mix Circus, and died in 1970.


Rosa Lee

Thin women have never been as popular as thin men on the sideshow/dime museum scene; only a handful have ever been exhibited, and none of these gained the widespread fame and fortune of their male counterparts.

A notable thin woman was Rosa Lee Plemons, who has been immortalized in Gould and Pyle’s Anomalies and Curiosities of Medicine, and who may indeed have been the most emaciated adult ever exhibited before the public. She still holds the Guinness World Record for the lightest average-height adult in history.

Rosa Lee was born in Tulane County, California, in 1873, weighing just one pound at birth. At the age of 19 Rosa was kidnapped from her father and taken on a tour of the United States. A man claiming to be her father told the public he was exhibiting her to earn money for her medical expenses.

At the time, she weighed eighteen pounds and measured just over ten inches around the waist. Rosa’s knees, ankles, wrists and elbows were permanently immobilized and she had only slight motion in her hips and shoulders. Eating was difficult for her as well; it took her caretaker between 30 and 60 minutes to administer a meal.

It is unknown what became of Rosa after her 1891 tour, but it seems unlikely she survived for much longer.


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