Page:Sawdust & Spangles.djvu/71

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47
FREAKS AND FAKES

and public attention was called, shortly afterward, to the fact that a lady with three perfect heads would be exhibited on a certain day. Now, this strange being was really an optical illusion, built on the same lines as the ghost show invented by Professor Pepper. Three girls were used, and all portions of their figures not intended to be shown were covered with a black cloth. The whole illusion is merely an effect of light and shade.

Still another "fake" that not only "drew" well but positively deceived the whole New York press, was the "Dahomey Giant." About 1882 a very tall specimen of the African race walked into an Eastern museum looking for work. He was actually over seven feet in height, and had never been on exhibition. Knowing that his value as a negro giant would be but little, the proprietors resolved to introduce him as a monster wild African. After consulting Rev. J. G. Woods' Illustrated History of the Uncivilized Races, it was determined to make a Dahomey of the tall North Carolinian. A theatrical costumer was set to work to make him a picturesque garb. A spurious cablegram was issued, purporting to be from Farini, of London, stating that the Dahomey giant had sailed with his interpreter