Sunday, August 9, 2009

More Sparkling! More Bros.! More Carnies and Freaks!

We're sticking pretty tightly to the carnival theme lately, what with Sparkling Bros. and Coney Island and Asbury Park. We have some surprises, too - freak show decals.


We're fascinated by the world of the freak show, and of human difference in general. If you've been following our work, you know our love for the human body in all its variety, and that variety is the making of beauty. In their own way, human oddities and prodigies (the words preferred by P.T. Barnum for his performers over the derogatory and belittling "freak," which originally meant "whim" and carried the connotation of impulsiveness and rashness) are figures of great beauty, as they stretch our definitions of "human" and "perfect."


Freaks, in their own particular perfection and wholeness, constitute a form of beauty that we often ignore. You've seen Purple Myrtle, of course, the resident object of desire in the Sparkling Bros. Carnival.


Her beauty and sex appeal is based in the reality that the carnival "fat ladies" were desired by many man and some, like Dolly Dimples, were married many times to admirers. This bowl shows her in her bathtub, singing opera to herself after a long day on display. A number of bearded women had beautiful voices, owing to their hormonal imbalances.

Here is a portrait of a dog-faced boy from Sparkling Bros. that we call "Gerald." He's a buttoned-up type, and very dignified and stiff. Again, many times in histories of the freak show you will see references to the dignity of the hairy people - it was, in fact, and aristocratic disease, passed through generations of intermarrying nobility.

And we've introduced Cosmo the Dwarf and Hannibal the Giant earlier in the card game. Cosmo and Hannibal stand for a lineup that betrays Hannibal's dark secret - he's not really all that tall. You know, tall for a regular guy, but for a giant...?

And poor, lovestruck Hector looks on as Myrtle performs for the customers, stroking her beard as her rotating dais turns.

That's all for now. Maybe next time we'll have to do some pretentious pontificating on art or craft or some such junk.

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