Barnum was born into a poor family in Connecticut in 1810. His genius lied in his ability to drive human psychology to meet his own ends, and his talent for hatching the most sensational and bizarre schemes. In her book Circus! Marian Murray notes that Barnum was known to many as a "trickster, a perpetual … Read more

Freakshows Today

In the early 1990s former phone salesman Jim Rose developed a modern sideshow called “the Jim Rose Circus”, reinventing the sideshow with two types of acts that would attract modern audiences and stay within legal bounds. The show featured acts reviving traditional sideshow stunts and carrying some of them to extremes, and “fringe” artists (often … Read more

History of sideshows

Exhibitions of living human oddities has been around in travelling fairs, circuses and taverns in England since the 1600s. These included so-called giants, dwarves, fat people, the very thin, conjoined twins and even people from exotic countries. Freak shows were a particularly popular form of entertainment during the Victorian period, when people from all classes … Read more

Types of freakshows

The Ten-in-One freakshow offers a program of ten sequential acts under one tent for a single admission price. The ten-in-one might be partly a freak show exhibiting "human oddities" (including "born freaks" such as midgets, giants or persons with other deformities, or "made freaks" like tattooed people. However, for variety’s sake, the acts in a … Read more

Exploiters or slaves ?

As stated earlier, many freaks signed their contracts and displayed themselves willfully, while others were sold or drafted by their parents or guardians into the freak show. Those who had no choice in the matter were generally mentally retarded or very young; in either case, they were unable to completely comprehend what would happen to … Read more

What is a freakshow

A Freak Show is a show where human oddities and freakish working acts are performed. The term applies to both circus and carnival. In practice, these shows were often ten-in-one shows and usually had on top of the usual human prodigies a high percentage of working acts like sword swallowers and fire eaters or ‘made … Read more


Sirenomelia, alternatively known as Mermaid Syndrome, is a very rare congenital deformity in which the legs are fused together, giving them the appearance of a mermaid’s tail. This condition is found in approximately one out of every 80,000 live births (about as rare as conjoined twins) and is usually fatal within a day or two … Read more


Achondroplasia is a genetic disorder of bone growth that results in abnormally short stature and is the most common cause of dwarfism ie short stature with disproportionately short limbs. The average height of an adult with achondroplasia is 131 cm (52 inches, or 4 foot 4 inches) in males and 124 cm (49 inches, or … Read more