February 16, 2013 9:51 AM Subscribe
posted by Countess Elena (15 comments total)
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This week, the famed singer and performer Julia Pastrana
was laid to rest near her birthplace in Sinaloa, Mexico.
Julia Pastrana died in 1860. Her husband had embalmed her body and exhibited it in a touring display for many years afterward, together with the remains of their infant son."Pastrana was born in Mexico in 1834. She had two rare diseases, undiagnosed in her lifetime: generalized hypertrichosis lanuginosa, which covered her face and body in thick hair, and gingival hyperplasia, which thickened her lips and gums."
Julia performed as a singer and actress. She was said to have a particularly beautiful voice. In one play,
she performed as a woman who wears a veil at all times, and causes the hero to fall in love with her through her voice alone -- until the final act, when he sees her.
Described by all who knew her as sweet-natured, charitable, and domestic, Julia was in love with her husband -- her manager Theodore Lent, who subsequently married her in order to secure his investment in her. He impregnated her, despite her small stature and she did not survive childbirth; but the touring continued.
The rock song "Julia Pastrana,"
by the Ass Ponys (who, despite their own name, have produced a moving and lovely song here).
The play The True History of the Tragic Life and Triumphant Death of Julia Pastrana, the Ugliest Woman in the World,
by Shaun Prendergast, is performed almost entirely in the dark. (Excerpt of a play performed in Spanish.
I do not know if this is a translation of the same play about Julia Pastrana.)
The 1964 Italian movie La donna scimmia (The Ape Woman)
was a fictionalized portrayal of Pastrana's life.