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Ambassadors from Mars
May 29, 2014 10:40 AM   Subscribe

The strange, tragic story of the Brothers Muse. The sideshow called them Eko and Iko, cannibal savages from Borneo, sheep-headed men, ambassadors from Mars, highlighting their signature white dreadlocks in every poster. In reality, they were George and Willie Muse, taken from their parents in 1899 in rural Roanoke, Virginia by bounty hunters working for sideshow producers fascinated by their albinism.

When they were somewhere between 5 and 9, depending on the account when they were "drafted" into the circus. They were told their mother was dead. They toured with the Barnes Circus, then Barnum and Bailey, paid only in room and board for over 18 years.

Then, in 1927, they toured in their home town, catching the attention of their mother. Harriet Muse fought to free them, to get them paid.

In 1928, they returned to the road with the circus, unable to fit into non-circus life but at least keeping their own earnings until their retirement hiding out from reporters and the curious, eternally the Ambassadors from Mars.
posted by Gucky (7 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

 
From the George and Willie Muse link:

What type of society would nurture or find amusing the publicizing and the parading of the unfortunate individuals which where exploited by others for profit in so-called "Freak Shows?"

Yeah, what kind of society would think that kidnapping people from their homes and forving them to do whatever work the kidnappers demanded is okay? I can't imagine.
posted by rtha at 10:56 AM on May 29 [6 favorites]


What type of society would nurture or find amusing the publicizing and the parading of the unfortunate individuals which where exploited by others for profit in so-called "Freak Shows?"

I'm guessing the commentator doesn't watch much television.
posted by IndigoJones at 11:18 AM on May 29 [2 favorites]


Men From Mars?

Boy. People in the olden days would believe anything!
posted by the_royal_we at 11:31 AM on May 29


As we know, the only white men on Mars have to come from earth.

It appears that while they learned to love and enjoy the life on the road, their origin in the circus is absolutely depraved.

As an aside, Roanoke apparently had a population around 21k in 1899.
posted by Atreides at 11:42 AM on May 29


Gotta respect someone who lived in three centuries. (Or anyone who makes it past 100, for that matter.)
posted by XMLicious at 2:07 PM on May 29


It boggles the mind that only 115 years ago, at a time when my mother's father was alive, bounty hunters really would steal children away to the circus like my mother always teased me with when I was being bad.
posted by ob1quixote at 3:48 PM on May 29 [1 favorite]


What a story. But what resilience.

It's amazing the brothers lived as long as they did as skin cancer is a real risk for people with albinism. I can't imagine the brothers were treated with much tlc by their kidnappers. A friend of mine in Nigeria was very careful with hats and suncream and covering up all his life but he still only got to his 40's.
posted by glasseyes at 6:02 AM on May 30


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