3 Heartbreaking Tales of "Freaks"


By Adam Horowitz

In 1749, G.L.L. de Buffon introduced an influential classification system in his book, Varieties of the Human Species, Of Monsters. "Monsters", as human anomalies were labeled at the time (as if the term "˜freaks' weren't offensive enough), were broken down into 3 categories: 1) those by addition; 2) those by omission; and 3) those by reason of the reversal or wrong positioning of parts. To correspond with de Buffon's breakdown "“ which is now scientifically obsolete but appealing in its simplicity - we present the stories of 3 remarkable real-life anomalies, 1 for each category:

The Siamese Twin and Champion Skater Who Got His Brother Arrested

(Anomalies by addition.) The Godina brothers were Siamese twins born in the Philippines in 1906. Because they were pygopagus "“ i.e. connected at the buttocks - they possessed great flexibility (relatively speaking) and actually became accomplished dancers and champion skaters.

Unfortunately, one day in Manila, Lucio got in an accident while driving drunk and injured the other driver. He initially received a jail sentence, but got off when the judge deemed it unfair to incarcerate innocent Simplicio too. A hefty fine was imposed instead, which upset Simplicio to the point that he told his brother he would no longer perform. Simplicio was forced to reconsider his position, however, when Lucio responded with a suicide threat. The Godinas married identical twin sisters and traveled to the U.S., where the foursome danced the tango on tour. But in 1936, Lucio caught pneumonia and died unexpectedly. An emergency operation was performed, separating Simplicio from his brother, but a complication ensued and Simplicio died just 12 days later.

"The Half-Man" and his Incredible Magic Trick

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All wasn't tragic however. In 1937, Johnny partnered with his brother Robert, and performed what must've been one of the greatest sawing-in-half illusions ever put on. The way it worked was an illusionist onstage would "recruit" Robert from the audience for a hypnosis stunt. He would then have Robert stay onstage as the subject for a sawing-in-half illusion. Unbeknownst to the audience, Robert would be switched out for two people, Johnny and a dwarf who was completely hidden inside a pair of pants. Together, Johnny and the dwarf formed an identical substitute for Robert. The illusionist would saw between the two of them, and as soon as they were severed, Johnny would jump onto his hands and start frantically chasing his legs around the stage. Eventually stagehands would set Johnny back atop the dwarf and secretly switch the two back out for Robert. Of course, the whole stunt looked extremely realistic, and allegedly made audience members scream, run, and faint. In other words, it was a hit.

In 1988, Johnny was victimized once again when a gang of thieves assaulted him in a burglary of his home. The incident left him embittered and reclusive, and he remarked at the time, "If I want to see freaks, all I have to do is just look out the window." Johnny died of a heart attack in 1991.

The Very Sad Tale of "The Lobster Boy"

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Want more stories like these? Be sure to check out Miss C's post.