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Category Archives: Wild men

Columbus Inquirer, July 28, 1908. We confront one of two probabilities here: Either Leppo was an early method man and very dedicated to staying in character, or else this carnival was exploiting a bona fide crazy person as its geek. more

Washington Post, August 17, 1929. Rehearsing for his act and doing a little advance publicity work too, I’ll warrant. If I’d been this guy’s counsel, I’d have thrown Leviticus 11:22 in the judge’s face: “Even these of them ye may eat; the locust after his kind, and the bald locust after his kind, and the beetle after his kind, and the grasshopper after his kind.”
I’ve been delving into the circus wild man theme lately on a account of I just finished reading William Lindsay Gresham’s Nightmare Alley, which I heartily recommend though not to the timid. Sixty-four years after publication, it’s still a seriously disturbing toilet-crawl. Makes Jim Thompson look like Beatrix Potter.

Los Angeles Herald, November 19, 1905. As we’ve seen, Americans in the 19th and early 20th century were nuts about “wild men.” That’s is why circus geeks were a popular attraction: It was like a chance to see Bigfoot in captivity.
Your typical showbiz wild man was probably just a hobo in a fright wig with just enough teeth left to bite the head off a live chicken. But as this story shows, some enterprising carnies were willing to go that extra mile to impress the marks. more

New York Times, April 26, 1871. This is kind of cool: an editorial devoted to the subject of journalistic coverage of wild man stories nationwide. That’s pretty much the same theme I was working when I gave my talk on stage the other night, except I was focusing on wild women exclusively. But it’s time to acknowledge that wilding was numerically a male-dominated field of endeavor. Read More »

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