Sunday, January 06, 2008

Skills of Skin (4/4): a Sunday Gallery and a video

An unexpected contemporary survivor in the estinguished art of “rubber skin man”.

Of all the famous recorded show-business anomalies, one rarely surviving is the rubber skin man or the elastic skin human being.

On the Barnum and Bailey european tour of 1900-1902, the side show tent hosted the legendary James Morris. The 1902 edition of the “Livre des Merveilles” (the freak and menagerie souvenir program) in our collection, describes him as “l’homme cautchouc”.

Morris’ deformity is known as cutaneous asthenia: “instances the skin is affixed so loosely to the underlying tissues and is possessed of so great elasticity that it can be stretched almost to the same extent as India rubber. There have been individuals who could take the skin of the forehead and pull it down over the nose, or raise the skin of the neck over the mouth”, as stated in “Anomalies and Curiosities of Medicine" (1896), by George M Gould & Walter L Pyle.
The same authors records a man from Hungary as the first known “rubber man”, and of a certain Felix Wehrle as being famous around 1880s.

After Morris’s world successes, few other of those performers are scarcely recorded.

Today, a contemporary gifted practictioner emerges from Great Britain, responding to the name of Garry Turner.

The other evening Mr.Turner was here in Italy, for a Guinnes Record TV show.

The last post of our Sunday gallery, below, will show the video of his performance.

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