Freak Shows of Old (Without Being Freaky)

Headless ladies and living half women were just some of the weirder Hull Fair sideshows.

Yvette had lost her head but she was still alive. She had to be, as there was a paying audience to amaze.


From the stump of her neck sprouted a series of tubes, keeping her organs working.

By her side stood the genius who’d saved her life – even if it wasn’t much of a life, given she was headless.

In the Hull Fair sideshows of the post-war era, Yvette and her bizarre sidekicks, including a Living Half Lady, kept the punters rushing in, and, on occasion, passing out.

“The presenter would tell you about poor Yvette, who had been involved in an accident,” said Jon Marshall, of Sutton-On-Hull company Sideshow Illusions.

“A passing doctor had carried out an experiment to keep her alive without a head – it was great, people used to faint. They’d keep smelling salts on hand to revive them.”
Another of his shows was Flora, featuring a giant flower in a vase, where the petals would open to reveal a living head – as if the girl was a flower,” said Jon.

“He didn’t like that one so much, as he said it was too pretty.

“It didn’t have the essential elements he said were needed for a sideshow – it must have a touch of the bizarre, it must have horror and it must have sex.

“If you got those three things right, then you’d be on to a winner.”

You can read the full story from the written by Will Ramsay for the Hull Daily Mail here, but in the meantime, have a look at these phantasmagorical side shows…

the girl in the goldfish bowl

the headless lady



the girl in the goldfish bowl

Would you go to see a sideshow like this today? Let us know in the comments!

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