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Carny Folk: The World's Weirdest Sideshow Acts
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Carny Folk: The World's Weirdest Sideshow Acts

3.70  ·  Rating Details  ·  86 Ratings  ·  12 Reviews
Here spectators will see Atasha the Gorilla Girl, Combustible Kira, Lionel the Lion-Faced Man, Otis the Frog Boy, Serpentina the Snake Girl, and more than forty other legendary sideshow acts. From P.T. Barnum's albinos and "Siamese" twins, to the traveling oddity museums linked to circuses and carnivals, to a whole new generation of "carny kids," Carny Folk reveals the str ...more
Paperback, 221 pages
Published April 5th 2005 by Citadel Press
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(showing 1-30 of 180)
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Mar 20, 2016 Autumn rated it did not like it
Shelves: outdated, not-for-me
I did not like the author's attitude or the way that she presented these people. The book was rude and insensitive. These were not objects to stare at and make fun of, but people with feelings, just like the rest of us. The only reason that they were there was because they could not find work elsewhere. Her whole way of approaching this subject was so last century, that it wasn't funny.
Sep 02, 2008 Jon rated it really liked it
Shelves: freaks-and-geeks
This book was a surprise present from my friend Barbie, who apparently knew about my obsession with circus freaks.

I always find these books tremendously enjoyable because no matter how many times you read about a performer, the next biography will be different. The combination of poor historical records with exaggerated tales told to eager crowds ensure that the complete truth will never be found in one source.

Recommended for fans of the Circus Arts.
Jul 22, 2008 Mary rated it really liked it
Reading this book was like gawking at a car accident... you know you shouldn't be lurking, but your curiosity won't let you turn away.

It gave brief (1-4 pages) bios of quite a large number of individuals who spent some time being a part of a sideshow act. I've seen some pictures and heard the names of a few of the more popular ones, but many were new to me. I liked getting a glimpse into their lives.
Sep 29, 2011 Kim rated it it was ok
First, this book was constructed upon the offensive premise that it's okay to gawk at the people with disfigurements and deformities, because that's the only way they can make a living (although, the author does finally admit that the mentally handicapped "pinheads" in their diaper wearing glory were taken advantage of). Secondly, the word "ironically" was overused and definitely misused at least twice. And most irksome to me was the bibliography! Not only were sites such as and webMD.c ...more
Les Wolf
Aug 30, 2015 Les Wolf rated it liked it
I wanted it to be better - better written, better illustrated and better researched. Such a book will probably wait since my reading list is quite long. I liked the comparison of showtime bally with the hyped up ads for reality tv shows and also the parallels in terms of human spectacle. Shows like Survivor and Bachelor do seem to exploit unusual people in order to boost ratings.
Diane Schneider
Jan 05, 2016 Diane Schneider rated it liked it
A nice overview of some of the more notable sideshow acts in American history. The author also demonstrates both sides of the controversy regarding sideshows. A light read; the author doesn't get into any issue to in depth, but a good overview.
Edward Sullivan
Jul 01, 2014 Edward Sullivan rated it really liked it
Fascinating collection of brief autobiographical profiles of "human curiosities" who performed in carnivals and circuses.
Apr 29, 2008 Kevin rated it liked it
Interesting if somewhat brief bios and anecdotes about turn of the century circus freaks. I liked it, it only left me wishing there was a bit more substance to it, although in all I suspect most circus freaks lived fairly tragic lives. Worth a read if you like stuff like this. Which I do. ;)
Sep 02, 2011 Jen rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Everyone who loves human oddities
Carny Folk was a great read. Many fascinating, fun, and sometimes fictional short bios about many human oddities.
Apr 22, 2008 Bobby rated it it was ok
Where does my mom find these books, and when she does, why does she think they'd make good Christmas presents for me?
Kelly Phillips
May 27, 2013 Kelly Phillips rated it really liked it
Wonderful. Very interesting!
Lindsay Buttle
Feb 21, 2015 Lindsay Buttle rated it really liked it
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Apr 20, 2016
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Trina Parham
Trina Parham marked it as to-read
Jan 19, 2016
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Jan 18, 2016
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Jan 19, 2016
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Jan 14, 2016
Skronk marked it as to-read
Jan 02, 2016
Gerry King
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Dec 31, 2015
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Jessi Witt rated it really liked it
Dec 28, 2015
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Dec 16, 2015
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