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11 August 2009

Francis-Francine Hodgkiss (192? - ?) carnie.

Unlike most half-and-halfs in carnival, Francis-Francine was female. However she had a large clitoris that passed as a penis, and she had a male gait and never grew breasts. She was ostracized by the other kids.

At 12 her mother took her to a doctor. The doctor showed her to another, and then she was being shown at medical exhibitions. On one of these trips the mother spoke to a man who worked in sideshows. As she enjoyed travelling, the mother arranged for her daughter to join a sideshow.
In the 1940s Francis-Francine was earning $500 a week and essentially supported the entire cast. She added silicone to her left breast to heighten the half-man/half women effect, and did a simple striptease which quite confused the punters. Her relatives joined the show to get a cut. She generously obliged. She was also known for her gifts to young children, and as her appearance frightened some children, she had some one else do the giving.

If she had been born a generation later, she would likely have been subjected to ‘corrective’ surgery and hormones. It is a shame that the only niche open at that time was carnival.

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