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The Tattoo Circus

By Urtatu @urtatu
The Tattoo Circus The Tattoo Circus

The Tattoo Circus

In the nineteenth century, circuses started using heavily tattooed people as part of the “Freak Show.” Some of the sailors would come back from Polynesia, covered in tattoos.The mainstream Western world had never seen that before and would pay to see the tattooed “freaks.”

Various Tattoos The Tattoo Circus

Various Tattoos

Some heavily tattooed people even had audiences with the various royal families of Europe. In 1842, P. T. Barnum employed James F. O’Connell as the first tattooed man ever on exhibit in the United States. Many circuses also employed tattooists to tattoo the circus goers. Places like Coney Island became hotspots for tattooing.

Tattooed Girl The Tattoo Circus

Tattooed Girl

Inkformation: Freak Show exhibits included strange and unusual things such as bearded ladies, two-headed cows, heavily tattooed people, fire eaters, and sword swallowers.


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