From Publishers Weekly
From the bearded women and half-men of the P.T. Barnum era to the bug-eating denizens of contemporary Coney Island, Hartzman leaves no circus tent unexplored in his history of freakish sideshow performers. The human curiosities, many of whom made a good living, are listed alphabetically within each chronological section and are accompanied by brief bios-based on sensationalist publicity for the older cases, and interviews with those still living-that include everything from anatomical details and medical explanations to minutiae about performers' social lives: Myrtle Corbin, the four-legged woman, for instance, "had five children-three born from her own body, and two from her twin's." "Insectavora," Coney Island's resident facial-tattooed bug-eater, "walks up a razor-sharp ladder of swords and is currently working on a whip-cracking act. During the off-season she works in a tattoo and body-piercing shop, and probably eats a more balanced diet." Hartzman's book succeeds as a curiosity-quencher, but not as a reference, as his source material, particularly for the early performers, is sketchy, but the book-and its marvelous collection of photos-will shock and amaze offbeat voyeurs.
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About the Author
Marc Hartzman has been writing professionally since 1996. He is the author of Found on eBay: 101 Genuinely Bizarre Items from the World's Online Yard Sale.