In the opening song of Side Show, the Boss invites you to:
Step right up! Right this way, there is no wait, we don’t waste your time!
So little to pay; just one thin dime gains you admission to my “odd-itorium.”
Never have you seen a comparable emporium of wonders under one tent.
Your dime could not be better spent.
So just who would you have seen in one of these infamous side show tents?
Most of the human performers in side shows were either born with or developed physical anomalies that their current science and medicine didn’t understand. Some, such as Daisy and Violet Hilton, didn’t have a choice about joining the shows and were either sold or forced into their performing roles. Others found the side shows to be a home where they could capitalize on their deformities and live an independent life that would not other wise be possible. Some, like the Hilton Twins or Tom Thumb and his wife Lavinia Warren (both dwarfs who were under 27 inches tall), even gained superstar status.
Here’s a look at some of the performers you would have seen underneath the tent.