Welcome one and all to the fourth installment of freakStomp Novelties Freak of the Week featurette here at The Barker's Blog! Today's tantalizing tease was known on the ciruit as Krao, Darwin's Missing Link!
click to enlarge (original freakStomp illustration by RelleR)
Lady Krao was born in mysterious Siam the year of 1876, and from the moment of her emergence into this world she was completely covered in hair, with the finishing touch being a long downy mane down her back starting between her shoulder blades! A promoter with the modest name of The Great Farini discovered her at age six, and took young Krao on a tour of Europe. From there she ended up in a dime oddities museum in Philadelphia, where she was discovered again by a scout for Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus, and signed as a feature attraction!
She was primarily billed as an "Ape Woman" for her luxuriant coat and for her vaguely simian features, but was also billed as "Darwin's Missing Link" to capitalize on a popular debate of the time. In the late 1800s Darwinism was a hot-button issue amongst the populace, and adorable Krao was presented as "Exhibit A" in the case for evolution! It was even claimed that Krao belonged to a race of apish half-humans living in trees, and this claim was bought into by several prominent naturalists and scientists (they don't teach you how to stop being a gullible stooge in university, kids).
Many papers and theses were composed about Krao and her existence as Darwinian evidence, including the 1896 book Anomalies and Curiosities of Medicine. Much attention was paid to Krao's "prehensile feet," presented as proof of the evolutionary bridge between human beings and...creatures who can grab things with their toes, I suppose.
Sadly, the reality is never quite as romantic as the myth, and Krao was simply a vivacious young woman with an advanced form of hypertrichosis (excessive body hair). She was of above average intelligence, and spoke several languages.
Unlike other human oddities and living attractions, Krao was never exploited by her promoters - she performed and displayed herself according to her own rules and terms, and lived an independent life outside the sideshow. She spent her last 20 years on Earth living in a private apartment, entertaining guests with her sparkling personality and cooking for them! You might say she had complete freakdom! Well, if you wanted to make an awful pun you might say that, but you know me, I would never make such an awful pun.
She never married, although she had many suitors. Oh, how we danced, Krao and I, under the bright circle of the moon, her back mane a perfect handle for those long, slow dips...
What's that? How old is your Barker? Well, age is relative here at Thimbleton's Circus and Oddities, ladies and gents, but The Barker will always be as old as you need him to be...as old as you need him to be.
Krao passed away from influenza on April 16th, 1926.
Here's a bill for a lecture given on Krao in 1887:
click to enlarge
Adorable, wasn't she? Well, your Barker always thought so, anyway...