American Horror Story: Freak Show redefined and found joy in what makes us 'freaks', often looking at real people throughout history for inspiration.
Here's 9 vintage photos of remarkable people from real Freak Shows of the past - people daring to be different in a world that could be cruel, who would surely have found friends in Elsa Mars' 'Freaks'...
1. The Three Legged Man
Name: Frank Lentini
Facts: Lentini not only had multiple legs, but two sets of working genitals - this was actually the result of a half-formed twin fused to his body. He had four children, and toured the world as part of sideshow attractions until he died in 1966.
2. The Living Skeleton
Name: Rosa Plemons
Condition: Progressive Muscular Atrophy
Facts: Plemons weighed only one pound at birth in 1873 and joined the sideshow in a tragic manner - she was kidnapped from her parents at the age of 19. The 'Living Skeleton' act was made famous by Isaac W. Sprague, a well-known Freak Show performer.
3. The Anatomical Wonder
Name: Anato Hayes
Facts: Hayes could move his internal organs and muscles around his belly so dramatically that his spine was visible from the front!
4. The Bohemian Twins
Name: Rosa & Josefa Blazek
Condition: Pygopagus conjoined twins
Facts: The twins worked in sideshows in Paris after leaving the small village where they were born in 1878: Skrejšov , Czech Republic. They were eroticized in their publicity, even claiming to have had a son, Franz, who was marketed as 'The Son of Two Mothers'.
5. The Living Venus De Milo
Name: Frances O'Connor
Facts: Frances was one of many fabulous Freak Show participants to demonstrate their abilities despite their missing limbs. Another famous example was Carl Unthan (pictured below) who played violin with his feet and even inspired soldiers in warzones by counselling them after limb loss and disability through injury.
6. Lionel, the Lion-Faced Man
Name: Stephan Bibrowski
Facts: Bibrowski's hirsuitism was sold to the public with fantastic stories: his mother had been attacked by a lion during pregnancy, leaving the boy with the hair and eyesight of a big cat... He was a good painter and a brillain acrobat, enjoying a full life and education despite his oddity. He was almost totally toothless, but earned a lot of cash - $11,000 a week in today's money at the peak of his career.
7. The Dwarf Fat Lady
Name: Sophia Schultz
Facts: Schultz combined two famous side show acts - the little person and the fat lady act. Later, she even added Bearded Lady to that roster when she started spontaneously sprouting facial hair.
8. The Camel Girl
Name: Ella Harper
Condition: congenital genu recurvatum
Facts: Ella starred in W. H. Harris’s Nickel Plate Circus around 1886, and may have been married at some point in her well-paid career.