Monkey Boy

The centre of attraction in the side shows was the monkey boy who is veritably a human monstrosity or a hideous freak of nature.

14 December 1895. Saturday. With little else to do in Perth, we decided to follow the crowd and do the opening night of Ye Olde Englishe Fayre.

Passing through an elaborately decorated entrance, we saw sideshows, refreshment booths and a stage for the variety performance.

In one tent were waxworks, although you thought they looked rather the worse for wear. The figures of Beach and Searle, those renowned Australian scullers, were melting in the summer heat.

Moving on to the next tent, we sneered at the alleged age of the moth-eaten mummies. 4,000 years old? Really?

The conjoined babies made us linger for a while, though, as did the peculiar pig caged right next to them. The other freaks were good for a laugh although a few made you turn away in disgust.

The centre of attraction in the side shows was the monkey boy who is veritably a human monstrosity or a hideous freak of nature.

I went all giddy and lost a lot on the Razzle Dazzle. The persuasive attendants tempted others to spend money on swinging boats, shooting-galleries, and the inevitable Aunt Sally.

As for the variety show, we thought the acts variable. The Fakir of Oolu—looking uncannily like Charles Sylvester in a turban—worked the disappearing lady trick, but without charisma. Professor Seguy juggled heavy weights with ease and speed.

Pearl Akarman’s appearance as The Living Serpent impressed. But we agreed that contortion feats by a woman are not edifying.

And management has to sort out the crowd. Women and children were rudely pushed and hustled, and neither group should have to listen to such questionable comments as were passed on the performers.

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