Freaky Girls Of The Sideshow

The lives of sword-swallowing, tattooed, bearded women and giantesses reconsidered.

When you’re known as "Percilla the Monkey Girl" or "Julia the Baboon Lady,” your life is anything but ordinary.

But the sideshow life could be empowering for women who were born different -- and those who demanded to be different. So says Ilise “The Lady Aye” Carter and Marc “Backwash” Hartzman, two featured speakers at the Morbid Anatomy Museum, who join us on the HuffPost Weird News Podcast.

Hartzman, the author of "American Sideshow," documents the lives of midway stars past and present. Carter, a writer, sword swallower and burlesque performer, explores the fringe side of show business through a feminist lens.

Part of the allure for these women in these show was taking control of the word "Freak," turning it from an insult into a badge of honor -- the right to be be different.

Check out photos of many of these ladies below as you listen to our guests. Many of the woman below were sideshow stars. Other starred in movies and plays that borrowed heavily from that tradition. It's an art form that is a curious reflection of American tastes and obsessions as it has evolved.

Also, check out the Morbid Anatomy Museum. It's one of our favorite spots in Brooklyn. And thanks for listening.

LOOK: Freaky Girls of the American Sideshow

Julia Pastrana, circa 1855
UniversalImagesGroup via Getty Images
Lady Aye, New Orleans, 2015
Shadow Angelina
Lady Eye
The Circus of Horrors, 2009
sarahphotogirl via Getty Images
The FreakShow Deluxe, 2015
Miikka Skaffari via Getty Images
Hilton Sisters' 17th Birthday Party, 1925
Visual Studies Workshop via Getty Images
Emily Padgett and Erin Davie in "Side Show"
Walter McBride via Getty Images
Josephine-Joseph, in "Freaks"
Fox Photos via Getty Images
Todd Browning's "Freaks," 1932
Movie Poster Image Art via Getty Images
Pig-Faced Lady, 19th Century Victorian Freakshow
Culture Club via Getty Images
Trashique D' Lamour, Tinderbox Circus Sideshow, 2013
Stephen J. Cohen via Getty Images
World's Shortest Woman Jyoti Amge at 18
ASSOCIATED PRESS
Giantess Sandy Allen
John Allen/Cast A Giant Shadow
Jessa "The Bearded Lady" in AMC's "Freakshow"
JB Lacroix via Getty Images
JoAnn the Double Sex Wonder in Abingdon, Virginia, 1967
Robert Alexander via Getty Images
Kali Von Wunderkammer, "Storyville Rising"
JonGunnar Gylfason
Alex Doll, Sideshow Scribe
Katherine Gaines/ AmbientEye Photography
Photo by Katherine Gaines / AmbientEye.com
Gala Of Union Artists In Paris , 1975
Keystone-France via Getty Images
Married Giants, Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey Circus 1930
Transcendental Graphics via Getty Images
Reggie Bügmüncher Olde City Sideshow
Shadow Angelina
Asia Ray In AMC's "Freakshow," 2014
JB Lacroix via Getty Images
Insectavora, World of Wonders Sideshow, 2014
Mel Melcon via Getty Images
Stella the Bearded Lady, World of Wonders Sideshow
Courtesy of Ward Hall
Percilla the Monkey Girl And Emmett The Alligator Skin Man
Courtesy of Ward Hall
Percilla the Monkey Girl

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