Lulu Farini, cannonball in drag
June 24, 2011 2:27 PM Subscribe
posted by Gordafarin (8 comments total)
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The world's first human cannonball
was a performer who went by the name of Lulu the Flying Artist
. Flying up to 40 feet in the air, she gained a good deal of acclaim, even inspiring the Lu Lu Waltz
. And yet, Mlle. Lulu was not what she seemed - He
was a young man named Sam, who had previously performed as El Niño Farini
Trained by The Great Farini
, who first devised the human projectile act, Lulu was born in Maine as Samuel Wasgate (or Wasgatt) in 1855. The boy was adopted by Farini at a young age (his name changed to Sam Hunt) and began performing at the age of 11 on the trapeze and tightrope. Under Farini's care, young Sam was mistreated, forced to perform, and relocated to England
In 1870, Lulu
was debuted in Europe - 'the Beautiful Goddess of the Air'. Her first US performance was at at Niblo's Garden in New York in 1873. At one fateful Dublin performance in 1878, Lulu's springboard malfunctioned, causing a leg injury which required her to be sent to the hospital - and revealing her to be him.
Cross dressing circus performers
are not unprecedented - a male performer impersonating a female could potentially draw in a larger audience. Lulu had many admirers during her short career as a woman -- after the reveal, Samuel continued to perform with Farini, but with a man's haircut and moustache.