See the real man alive who grew up in a carnival


The same was true for me. Outside of carnival – in Montana, where we lived off season and went to school – I was a sissy boy with a big perm (don’t ask) who hated sports and adored Whitney Houston. “Is it a boy or is it a girl?” a school photographer once asked a teacher within earshot. When I signed up for the “How Will I Know” lip sync for the fifth grade talent show, another teacher called me “obnoxiously freak” and referred me to the school psychologist. (Their loss. I would have killed him.)

For them, I was the show monster.

In the carnival crowd, it was the opposite. I was accepted, even celebrated. When I was still in elementary school, my parents allowed me to roam alone when they were working, which was all the time. They knew that Slim, who ran the Ferris wheel, or Chief, the toothless mustached merry-go-round operator, or Ruby, a dwarf who played the smallest woman in the world, would drop everything and gut anyone who bothered me.

“This really interesting melting pot of people – very insular, a society in itself – is one of the things that fascinates me about carnivals,” said del Toro. (For Blanchett, the call was different: “When I was young I wanted to be a contortionist – you know put your legs behind your head. To this day, magic tricks make me scream.”)

In the United States, circus impresario PT Barnum popularized the often cruel display of disabled people for the enjoyment of others – known as freak shows or sideshows. While traveling carnivals proliferated in the 1920s and 1930s, stemming from the Chicago World’s Fair of 1893, where the Ferris wheel made its debut, these acts were offered in tents (later caravans) set up mid-way. path.

Sideshows eventually disappeared from carnival lines, following ordinances banning them and changing social mores – although some still exist, according to Marc Hartzman, author of “American Sideshow: An Encyclopedia of History’s Most Wondrous and Curiously Strange Performers “.


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