Humans have always been fascinated by the different, the unknown, and the extraordinary. Even today, we can’t tear our eyes away from magicians, acrobats, and other performers who do the incredible. It’s no surprise then that before medicine could give us an explanation, crowds flocked to see human biological rarities.
At the time, these people were inappropriately labeled “freaks,” and performing was often their only way of making a livelihood. Over time, the fanfare went away, and we learned from our mistakes, but that doesn’t make the “freakshows” of the past any more acceptable. Take a step back in time to the 1800s and meet the people behind the human rarity that was captivating audiences.
Elastic Man isn’t a made-up superhero, it was Felix Wehrle. He was a sideshow performer in the early 1900s who could stretch his skin excessively thanks to a unique condition called Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. The disorder effects connective tissues in the body and can leave you with stretchy skin and loose joints.
Wehrle used his unique skin to perform with P.T. Barnum and he could also bend his fingers all the way back to his wrist.