In today’s internet-fueled society, oodles of entertainment is quite literally at our fingertips. It wasn’t so for people before the technological revolution, so they had to go to circus, vaudeville or magic acts to experience things out of the ordinary. The biggest circuses in the United States were:
- Ringling Brothers
- Barnum & Bailey
- Pepin & Breschard
Though the circus held many acts that are still seen at carnivals and events across the country, it also has held some of the most unusual and sometimes dangerous acts in history. Worldwide there were wide variances in talent and format, leading to some questionable decisions.
Here is a look back into some of the weirdest acts of the past, some of which we’d likely still love to see today.
1. Le Petomane – Joseph Pujol is a good place to start, who gained fame by drawing and expelling air from his rear on cue. That’s right, he farted for a living. Putting out candles and even doing some impressions, Pujol was a successful act that ran at the Moulin Rouge in Paris.
2. Ethel Purtle – Along with King, her lion, Purtle would race around a specially made track doing gravity-defying stunts like the “Wall of Death”.
3. Frank Richards – A stunt parodied many times, “Cannonball” Richards would take the point-blank shot right in the gut twice a day, among other strongman performances.
4. Josephine Giradelli – An act the Targaryens would be proud of, Giradelli was a fire queen who seemed immune to heat. Between holding boiling lead in her mouth, and frying an egg in hot oil in her hands she shocked and awed audiences across Europe.