Julia is one of my favorites. Her story is definitely indicative of how people CAN be exploited in show business. https://twitter.com/vampmagdalene/status/1309881297863548928
But I would argue Julia actually, still, DID want to be where she was. She didn't want to quit. But only for the saddest reasons.

Okay, strap in, here we go, y'all.
Julia Pastrana was a Mexican woman who was advertised as "The Ugliest Woman In The World." Like Annie Jones, she wasn't just bearded, but hirsute from birth.
And like Ludger Slybaris, her origins are murky and obscured by carney hyperbole and outright dramatic fibbing, which some historians have bizarrely decided to take at face value, even thought one account has her being kidnapped and held hostage by caveman monkey-people.

All we know for sure is she turned up as a ward of the then-governor on the Mexican state of Sinaloa in the 1850s, which suggests to me she'd been abandoned by her birth family and charitably taken in by the politician.
At some point in 1854, she came to America, under the management of a "J.W. Beach," who supposedly "purchased" her from the governor, which is... possible? But I don't believe that version, on account of one thing.

Theodore Lent.

It's about to get depressing. Fair warning.
While performing in the US, singing, dancing, playing instruments, and conversing with audience members (Julia was multi-lingual), She caught Theo's eye, which subsequently filled with dollar signs.
Here's the thing: Once again, freakshows were show business. And show business could make you VERY well-off, especially if you were a singularly unique act. Which Julia was.

So... Lent began to woo Julia. And they eloped the very same year Julia arrived in the US.
Now, this was 1854. Slavery was legal. The Civil War wouldn't go down for years yet.

If Julia were truly the "property" of J.W., he could have done something about this. These were, er, unenlightened times, especially for brown women.

But he didn't. vOv
So I don't believe he "bought" Julia. Especially since there WERE enslaved freaks who were the subject of EXTENDED legal rigmarole, like Millie and Christine McCoy, who were the subjects of HUGE ownership tug-of-wars until the Emancipation Proclamation became law.
But anyway, back to the story.

In case it wasn't obvious? Theo manipulated Julia into a relationship, and married her, solely so he could take over as her manager and enjoy the profits of her display.

Julia was COMPLETELY besotted by him. Just walking on clouds.
But Julia's friends, less so. Time and again, they warned her Theodore was only there for her money, and was cynically exploiting her feelings for his own benefit.

And Julia, time and again, would reply, that wasn't the case. "He loves me for my own sake."
And, as married couples are wont to do, Julia and Theo found themselves expecting.

This... was not great. Primarily because Julia was extremely tiny, just 4 feet, 5 inches. Childbirth was going to be INCREDIBLY dangerous. Julia prayed a LOT, during her pregnancy.
She prayed the birth would go smoothly, and prayed the child would be normal.

Neither was the case. Julia went into labor while on tour in Moscow, gave birth to a child just like her, and died 5 days later, living just long enough to see her baby expire 3 days after birth.
You are not going to believe this is possible, but: It gets worse. It gets *so much worse.*

Theo started to panic. His meal ticket was GONE. He would be destitute in a matter of months if he didn't think of something, FAST.
So, he did what any loving, recently bereaved husband and father would do.


Furthermore, he made certain Julia's mummy much more strongly resembled her promotional posters than reflecting her actual appearance in life.
And after he was done turning the corpse of his wife and son into monkey-mummies, Theo found ANOTHER bearded woman, wooed her, MARRIED HER TOO, and took her on tour with the corpses as Zenora Pastrana, JULIA'S SISTER.
Y E A H.

So, again, I wouldn't argue Julia was a hostage to the sideshow. She was just... married to living shitpile she handed all her earnings over to, because she thought he loved her, and they were a family.

I think it's a sadly-relatable story, for a lot of folks.
The only bright spot in this story (which I can't substantiate beyond a single source, sadly) is that Theodore supposedly went insane after a few years of touring with Julia, the infant, and "Zenora," and Zenora had him committed to an asylum and retired on his hoarded wealth.
Is that true? let's hope. It would be something resembling justice.

Anyway, the mummy of Julia and her son tours for years, changed owners multiple times, and became unsightly with wear-and-tear.
Julia eventually wound up in the basement of the Department of Anatomy, at Oslo University.

Her son didn't make it. Vandalized, damaged, and badly-stored, the mummy was eaten by rats.
And there she stayed, under lock and key, accessible only by special permit, from 1979 until 2013.

Things changed for the sad remains of Julia with the work of artist Laura Anderson Barbata.
Laura, also a Mexican citizen and moved by Julia's sad story, began petitioning for Julia's repatriation in 2005 while at a residency in Oslo. Norway finally agreed, years later, and Julia was buried near her (assumed) birthplace in Sinaloa in 2013, in a Catholic service.
Julia's story was unbelievably tragic, but... at least she was spared the truth of her manipulation.

She very likely died truly believing she was loved.

Which is sad. But only for us.
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