Freak Shows

by Rachael Iturbide

Just a bit about freak shows before we begin.

Freak shows are a popular source of entertainment, they were generally popular until the early 2000s. They are commonly known for their connection with British ideology and imperial imagery, but many times there was many lies involved. There were also many freaks who were able to seperate their stage persona from their own personality and identity. If freak shows were still around this day, they would be counted as cruel and unacceptable. (Laura Grande, "Strange and Bizarre: The history of Freak Shows", https://thingssaidanddone.wordpress.com/2010/09/26/strange-and-bizarre-the-history-of-freak-shows/ , 9/26/10, Accessed on; 9/28/15)
Top 10 Freak Show Acts Of All Time

The freaks themselves.

As known, you can't have a freak show without the freaks. Freak shows themselves are known as public images that are manufactured by the disabled people themselves of their promoters for the purpose of fame and fortune. Showmen and freaks would often split the profits from ticket sales made off pamphlets or cards. It was mostly uncommon for the freaks to be better off due to the terms of wealth, but P.T Barnum made sure that they were. (Priceonomics, "The Rise and Fall of Circus Freakshows" http://priceonomics.com/the-rise-and-fall-of-circus-freakshows/ April 30th, 2014. Date Accessed: 9/28/15)

P.T. Barnum

In the 19th Century it wasn't considered terrible, it was considered family entertainment. P.T. Barnum made millions from Freak Shows themselves. His freak shows brought together bunches of curiosities, such as, bearded ladies, tattooed men, the severely disfigured, and the abnormally short and tall. Barnum himself falsified the origins of these performers which made them out to be beasts, rare specimens, and Cretans. (Cretan; someone who is an idiot and lacks gravitas) When criticism caught up with Barnum, he spoke that he was only on a mission to sprinkle society with a little magic, and that he only wishes to first attracting them then pleasing them. He managed to do these things through exploitation, but then on the side paying the so called, "freaks" a handsome sum. A lot of freaks are mis-believed to be treated poorly within some amounts of information, but they were all payed quite well while also being treated the same exact way.