Sunday, September 4, 2011

Monkey Man

A few days before the freak show came to town, news reports began circulating of a strange monkey-like creature that was appearing at night and attacking people. Eyewitness accounts were inconsistent, but the creature was described as about five-feet tall covered in black hair and amazingly human-like. Imagine it's 1908, you're a young child in London, you've survived another flu season and your dad is taking you on a stroll down Piccadilly Street. You make it within a block of Hyde Park and there outside the Pickard Theater stands a monkey in a business suit. At least you think it's a monkey. The sign on the theater marquis advertises Solomon the Monkey Man. This was the nature of the circus in those days. Bearded ladies, strong men, two-headed boys and animal-human hybrids. The attached woodcut depicts an actual poster for a traveling circus/freak show from turn-of-the-century Europe. "Solomon" was supposedly found in the Solomon Islands. I have no idea what his performance consisted of, but if I were a kid in 1908 I would've killed to see him. (5" x 7", black ink print)

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