Welcome to the Sideshow

With the Water for Elephants release date being just a few weeks away, I have had the circus on my mind. I’m not talking about the Ringling Brothers circus that I used to see when I was a kid, but rather the circuses that used to travel from city to city by train, bringing entertainment to small towns long before there was television and the Internet to keep us occupied.

My favorite part of the circus has always been the cheesy sideshow acts that would be performed before or in a side tent at some time. I say cheesy because that’s what they are now, cheesy. No longer are we shocked at “Fat Ladies,” terrified by fully tattooed men, or intrigued by “Wild Men of Borneo,” no, instead, most of this doesn’t even effect us because we have grown up with it or we can see it on Maury Povich any day of the week.

But physical deformities, sideshows of old, and traveling circuses have always held a deep fascination for me, so in honor of that, here are a few of my favorite books, movies, etc., about sideshows:

A really awesome documentary on this history of this sideshow.
A true classic that used to shock people in it’s time. Browning used real sideshow performers, something you’d almost certainly not be able to get away with today.

This is one of my favorite books.

It’s an encyclopedia of sideshow performers throughout history. Pretty much amazing.

This is one of my favorite musicals of all time, about Daisy and Violet, the conjoined twins who had a cameo in Tod Browning’s Freaks.

I haven’t read this yet, and have wanted to for years, it’s next on my list!
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