Fans of “American Horror Story” are dying for details about Season 4, “Freak Show.” The castings gods have revealed that series regulars Jessica Lange, Kathy Bates, Sarah Paulson, Evan Peters, Angela Bassett and Frances Conroy are prepared to return to the chilling FX mini-series, along with newcomer Michael Chiklis. But so far very little has been released about the new characters gracing the small screen.
Currently we do know that Lange’s character will be a German expatriate who is “managing one of the last freak shows in the U.S.,” and that Chiklis will be playing the ex-husband of Bates, and father of Peters – both performers in Lange’s freak show. But viewers (and some of the actors!) are unsure of what types of “Freak Show” performances to expect.
“I don’t know that yet,” Bassett told E! News of whom she might be playing. “I don’t know if I’ll be a Siamese twin or a bearded lady!” Meanwhile Paulson previously revealed to Vulture that she was working on a “very special skill” for the upcoming season.
“American Horror Story” fans will have to keep on patiently waiting for more Season 4 spoilers, but in the meantime we’ve compiled a list of old “freak show” acts and potential characters for “American Horror Story: Freak Show.” Check out some acts that used to be featured in the “freak show” and sideshow circuit:
The Four Legged Woman
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Many sideshows had false four-legged performers, but Myrtle Corbin was a real girl who was born a dipygus, a deformity where the pelvis and legs are duplicated. Entering the sideshow world in the late 1800s, Corbin was labeled as the “Four-Legged Girl from Texas” and became popular in the industry.
Half Woman, Half Man
A common act in “freak shows” was the “Half Woman, Half Man.” One of the better-known hermaphrodites in the scene was Josephine Joseph. Performers like Joseph used the trick of dressing one side of their body like a man, and the other side like a woman.
Conjoined or Siamese twins were a big draw in the sideshow business. Famous sideshow twin performers include Daisy and Violet Hilton, who were born in England in 1908; and the originals, Chang and Eng Bunker, who were born in Thailand (Siam) in 1811.
The Fat Lady
One infamous “fat lady” to work the circuit was Jolly Irene, a 689-pound woman known for her happy nature. Jolly Irene had initially been touring with the circus, but eventually settled down to perform at Coney Island.
Many “freak shows” and sideshows featured wolf boys or dog-faced boys. Stephan Bibrowski became known as Lionel the Lion-Faced Man in the early 1900s due to hypertrichosis, a syndrome that left him with abnormal hair growth all over his body. Julia Pastrana was another sideshow performer during the mid-1800s who suffered from hypertrichosis, and was promoted as Bear Woman.
Jane Barnell or “Lady Olga” was a famous circus act known for being the “bearded lady.” At one time her beard was 13 inches long.
Prince Randian was a famous limbless sideshow performer known as “The Snake Man,” “The Living Torso” and “The Human Caterpillar." His act included rolling a cigarette with only his lips.
Grady Stiles or “Lobster Boy” was born with a deformity that left his fingers and toes fused together like “claws.” Stiles performed alongside some family members who also had the deformity, ectrodactyly. They became known in the industry as “The Lobster Family.”
“American Horror Story: Freak Show” will be premiering on FX in October 2014. What would you like to see on Season 4 of “American Horror Story”? Let us know your thoughts on “Freak Show” in the comments section or send a tweet to @AmandaTVScoop.