Obscure: Episode 38: Francesco Lentini

Obscure: Episode 38: Francesco Lentini

The Man with Three legs; and Two Penises.

The Man with Three legs; and Two Penises.

  Francesco “Frank” A. Lentini was a three-legged Italian man who used his disability as a means of educating and entertaining patrons of the various sideshows he traveled in during the 1900’s.

  He was born sometime between July 1884 and May 1889 in Rosolino, Italy, and was one of 12 children. Lentini was actually a conjoined twin, however, in utero, Lentini’s body partially absorbed that of his twin. His twin was connected to Lentini at his spine, and had its own pelvis bone, male genitalia, and a fully formed leg. The extra leg protruded from Lentini’s right side, also having a foot attached to the knee. This means that the three-legged man actually had four feet. In total, he had 16 toes, and had two functioning penises.

  It’s believed that Lentini was examined at an institution for disabled children on the island of Malta. Photos from the era belonging to a Maltese Professor of Medicine show a child between the ages of 7 and 9 with Lentini’s identical condition. Because the third leg was so close to Lentini’s spine, doctors feared that if they removed it, the boy would become paralyzed.

  As a child, Lentini was embarrassed by his condition, and felt restricted by its presence. He believed he couldn’t play sports and do things that most boys his age could do, until he witnessed deaf, blind, and severely disabled children who had accepted their conditions without complaint in an institution in Italy. It was a turning point for him, and he decided he could have a fulfilling life even with a third leg. His third leg was shorter than his other two, so he wasn’t able to use it to walk, but he learned to run and jump, ride a bicycle, ride a horse, swim, ice skate, roller skate, and even drive a car.  He was able to control his extra appendage, and later wrote in a pamphlet about his life that the third leg actually helped him when he swam. “One advantage I have over the other fellow when I swim is that I use the extra limb as a rudder.”

Photo: unbekannt, Edena Studios/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

  In 1890, a puppeteer named Vincenzo Magnano was touring Italy when he entered the town of Rosolini, Sicily, and encountered Francesco, who was six years old at the time. Magnano thought the boy would be an excellent addition to the Barnum and Bailey Circus, so he asked Francesco’s parents for consent to bring their son to the United States. They agreed on the condition that they could travel to the US with Frank, and after raising money for their passage, in 1892, the three Lentinis along with Magnano and his pregnant wife, made the one-month trip across the ocean to Bridgeport, Connecticut.

  Lentini and his parents moved to the United States when he was only 8 years old. While the possible profit the family could make lingered in the air, Frank’s father refused to let him go on tour until he had received a proper education. When he graduated from school, he spoke four languages, which is quite a feat in it of itself. After graduation, he was allowed to go on the road with his act, spending nearly 20 seasons performing between his time with the Ringling Brothers Circus, the Barnum and Bailey Circus, and even Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, as well as his own sideshow.

  While today it is frowned upon to exploit those with odd conditions, these side shows enabled people like Lentini to earn a steady income, marry, have children, and buy homes. It’s unlikely Lentini would have been able to do any of these things if hadn’t left home for a life in show business.

Photo: YouTube

 When Lentini performed in his side show act, he would demonstrate his ability to kick a ball with his third leg, gaining him the nickname the “Three-Legged Football Player”. He would also use the extra appendage as a stool, and would allow the audience to ask personal questions, including inquiries about his extracurricular activities and sex life.

  As I mentioned before, the man had two sets of functioning genitals. It was no surprise that this became an area of interest during his act, but not in a crude manner. He capitalized on this, selling a six-page booklet for 25 cents called The Life History of Francesco A. Lentini, Three Legged Wonder. He described his condition, discussed good hygiene habits, and included information about sex and procreation. The titles of the pamphlet’s chapters were: “Obey Nature’s Laws,” “Poisons Are Not Remedies,” “The Mother During Pregnancy,” “Illicit Intercourse,” and “Physicology of Sex Life”.

  His dual set of machinery worked just fine apparently, as Lentini married a woman named Theresa Murray in Massachusetts, and had four children; Josephine, Natale, Frank, and James. I hope all those kids came from one set of junk or the other.

Photo: YouTube

  In the early 1960s, Lentini moved 10 miles south of Tampa, Florida, to Gibsonton, where many performers went when they retired from circus life. The town was dubbed “Gibtown,” and was home to a variety of side show acts, including Priscilla the Monkey Girl, the Alligator Man, the Lobster family, and Dotty the Fat Lady. These performers were often ostracized in other places, to little surprise, however, they felt at home in Gibtown, and bonded with those who shared similar experiences.

  A performer for life at heart, Lentini was performing with the Walter Wanous Side Show when he got sick. He was hospitalized in Jackson, Tennessee, and died on Sept. 22, 1966. He was an unbelievable 77 years old, and was the most advanced age anyone living with his condition is documented to have reached.

  This amazing man thrived in the face of adversity, and will be remembered through history for his bizarre condition as well as his positive attitude. And probably the multiple penises too.



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Art Attack! News: Episode 37: Eyevan Tumbleweed

Art Attack! News: Episode 37: Eyevan Tumbleweed

Found Wood Sculptures

Found Wood Sculptures

 I’ve come across some unique wood sculptures, but nothing quite like the ‘Found Wood’ sculptures created by artist Eyevan Tumbleweed.

  I’m always on the lookout for new, interesting, and unique art and artists. By chance, while scrolling through my Instagram one day, I came across the most bizarre wood sculptures I had ever seen, created by an intriguing individual, and an even more incredible method.

  Bennett Ewing, aka Eyevan Tumbleweed isn’t a wood sculptor in the traditional sense. Rather than carving wood, he collects bits of it in his travels, eventually piecing them together in a sort of natural collage, creating faces with fantastic expressions.

  From a young age, Eyevan couldn’t help but perceive faces in natural objects; in the patterns of trees, mountains, and so on. I can relate, as I tend to see faces where others just see a smudge, or a pile of junk as well. In 2002, he began an exploratory method of mimicking those natural faces, and from there he’s kept creating.

“My primary focus with the medium has been to create a series of relief faces from non-carved, naturally colored wood that I collect myself from nature’s various nooks and crannies.”    Eyevan Tumbleweed

  Most artists create pieces using materials that can be easily replaced. Eyevan, however, can’t just go to a craft store and purchase more supplies. This is what I find most intriguing about his craft. He has collected materials from mountains, deserts, swamps, forests, rivers, and beaches. Some of his past works have featured weathered woods from over thirty-five U.S. States, Mexico, Canada, and even Ireland.

  Not only does Eyevan create amazing faces with these bits of wood, he also truly captures the essence of emotions that a face can display. While each of his wall-hanging sculptures has a mystical, mythical aspect to it, they also beautifully display a range of intelligent sentiment.

“I find facial expressions, both subtle and overt, have a unique ability to visually bridge the gap between thought and feeling.”      Eyevan Tumbleweed

  Through his travels, Eyevan has found a connection with nature, and believes that an artist’s job is to create something from its components, by re-arranging them into something new.

  He states, “any material one uses to create art comes from the earth… I consider my art to be a sort of raw testament to that. 

  Another curious component of Eyevan’s technique is the patience it takes to complete even one sculpture. Since every piece of wood must be found, he may not find the right pieces to finish a project for an extended period of time. He also told me that even though he is always learning new tricks, he has not completed more than 5 pieces in a single year. Now that is patience.

  Even more than that, it’s bewildering to think where each piece of wood may have actually come from. “Undoubtedly some of the wood I find has been around for quite some time; much longer than a human life span. Each piece of wood I find on the shores of the Atlantic or Pacific oceans has likely had its own journey, and I find that particularly cool to think about.” 

  Eyevan studied art and writing at Prescott College, Massachusetts College of Art, and Northeastern University, and has an art intensive background of over 20 years in various creative mediums, not limited to visual arts. Now at 35, and having 15 years in his found wood sculpture experience, it’s safe to say he’s found his niche. The wall hanging relief faces in his series consist of over a dozen finished works, and blend fantasy with reality; impressionism with ornate design.

  What I respect most about Eyevan’s unique artistic method is the pure truth about art that is portrayed. Art is not about fancy materials, or even knowing exactly what the outcome of a project will be. Art is an exploratory journey, and a connection to emotion. What better way to express emotion than to connect with the world around you, experience it wholeheartedly, and use what is found to share that connection?

  Overall, each piece of wood used in these pieces is really a memento of an experience in Eyevan’s life, and a testament to the vast possibilities of life. So, like Eyevan, keep exploring, keep experiencing, and – most importantly – keep creating!



  To see more incredible works by Eyevan Tumbleweed, follow the links below!

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Obscure: Episode 37: Odd Whiskey Facts

Obscure: Episode 37: Odd Whiskey Facts

Odd Facts

Odd Facts

 I love whiskey, but there’s a lot of interesting history behind it that I never knew. Today, let’s explore 10 things you never knew about whiskey.

1. Whiskey vs Whisky

  Surprisingly, both spellings are correct. Stateside, we tend to spell the word with and added ‘e’ – as in “whiskey” – while some countries in Europe refer to it as “whisky”. It is produced across the globe, but is usually made in three varieties, Scotch, Bourbon, or Rye, with each using a different set of core ingredients. The term “whisky” is usually attributed specifically to Scotch Whisky.

  No matter the spelling, it’ll get you hammered, for sure, with an average alcohol content between 40% – 68% (usually 40%, 43% or 46%).

2. Mountain Dew Was Originally Meant to Be a Whiskey Chaser

  As amazing as that sounds, it’s totally true. Two brothers, Barney and Ally Hartman, were trying to find the perfect chase for their whiskey. After trying just about everything, they decided to create their own drink, as nothing gave the perfect combination in their opinion. Thus, Mountain Dew was born, and hit the market in 1940. The original slogan definitely sounds like the brain-child of two whiskey chasing brothers: “Yahoo Mountain Dew, It’ll tickle your innards.” Seriously, that was their slogan.

3.  George Washington was the largest American whiskey producer in the 18th century.

    There’s been numerous myths over the years pertaining to good old George, but this one is completely true. That’s right. America’s first president – who also grew hemp and showed a great interest in cannabis – was also a big-time whiskey man. He opened a whiskey distillery three miles from his Virginia estate, which in 1799 produced 11,000 gallons of whiskey, making him the largest producer of the 18th century. ‘Merica.

4.   The Death of Jack Daniels

  While his actual birth date is unknown, his death date is recorded as October 10, 1911. Jasper Newton “Jack” Daniel was pronounced dead due to blood poisoning; however, he did not drink himself to death. The founder of the Jack Daniel’s Tennessee whiskey distillery actually died from an infection in his big toe that poisoned his blood. The story goes that he had kicked his safe one day after struggling to remember his combination, injuring his toe, which inevitably lead to his death.

  While there’s no hard-evidence to prove this story, I can totally picture it. After a few shots of Jack, I forget a few things too. Like, how to walk, for example.

5.  Diabetics’ urine can be converted into whiskey.

  As absolutely fucking disgusting as this sounds, it’s true.

 James Gilpin is a designer and researcher who also has type 1 diabetes, which means his body doesn’t produce enough insulin to regulate blood sugar levels. In his research, he discovered that a diabetics urine is so sugar-rich it can be turned into whiskey. He now collects the urine of elderly diabetics and turns it into a high-end single malt whisky. As if that weren’t disturbing enough, when the spirit is bottled it is labeled with the name and age of the contributor.



6.  During the Prohibition Era, you could get medicinal whiskey.

  The Prohibition era in the United States lasted from 1920 to 1933, and made all alcohol sales illegal across the country. Luckily, the federal government made an exemption for whiskey prescribed by a doctor and sold through licensed pharmacies. Whiskey was used to treat a variety of ailments, and during this time, the Walgreens pharmacy chain grew from 20 retail stores to almost 400. Imagine that.

7.  Speaking of Medicinal Whiskey…

  When former U.S. President Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt was a young child, doctors prescribed him whiskey and cigars to relieve his severe asthma.

  I could use a prescription like that myself too, doc.

8.  Nikola Tesla drank whiskey almost every day.

  If you are unfamiliar with Nikola Tesla, please do some research. This man was way ahead of his time, and was one of the greatest minds of modern history. As such, he declared that he did not use stimulants such as coffee or tea, but saw whiskey as not a stimulant, but “a veritable elixir of life.” He also claimed that “Alcohol is not a poison, nor is it a drug…in small quantities, it cleans and sterilizes the alimentary channels; thereby preventing infections, and proves a beneficial stimulant to thought, speech and physical exertion.” He drank whiskey every day, until the era of prohibition, and said that abstaining from alcohol only a few days made him a sick man. Upon dying at 86 years old, he stated that “Had I not given up [daily] whiskey during [Prohibition], I would surely live to 150 years of age.”

9.  Johnny Depp has a funeral plan involving whiskey

  It’s no surprise that a character like Johnny Depp would have some odd funeral plans for his inevitable death. Depp once paid for the arrangements of his close friend Hunter S. Thompson – author of ‘Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas’, ‘The Rum Diaries’, etc. – who had some strange funeral arrangements, which involved Thompson’s ashes being fired from a cannon shaped like a “Gonzo fist”. Like Thompson, Depp to wishes for his ashes to be used in his final send-off, but not through a massive cannon. Instead, he wants his ashes dumped into a barrel of whiskey, from which his family and friends can drink.

  Line ’em up, throw ’em back. I’d drink a few of those shots, just saying.

10.  The founder of “Alcoholics Anonymous” requested whiskey on his death bed.

  In the biography ‘My Name Is Bill‘, Susan Cheever reveals how the founder of Alcoholics Anonymous Bil Wilson asked for alcohol shortly before his death. He was suffering from chronic emphysema and only had a few short days to live. It’s stated that he asked for whiskey on four separate occasions, yet he never received his drink. The nurses’ noted this in their records. It seems that those around him felt that protecting his image meant more than the last wish of a dying man.

  Personally, I find this revolting. I hope that when you are faced with your own mortality, no one has the balls to deny you your last wishes, even if that last wish is a drink.

  Anyone who has ever drank whiskey irresponsibly has learned to respect this humble spirit. In its long existence, it has surely affected many lives, for better or for worse. No matter what, its history proves an intriguing tale, from past to present, and surely into our future.

With that being said, BOTTOMS UP! Maybe we’ll all live to 150!



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Obscure: Episode 36: Prison Weapons

Obscure: Episode 36: Prison Weapons

Photo: Flickr

Weapons from Everyday Objects

Weapons from Everyday Objects

  It’s incredible how many MacGyvers there are in lock-down. If you had to watch your back constantly, and had a whole lot of time, you’d be amazed at what you could come up with too, I suppose. Today, let’s take a look at 7 brutal makeshift weapons confiscated from inmates.

1.  A simple eye-gouger.

Photo: Imgur

  Starting off slow, this incredibly simple weapon is actually noted in an exhibit at the Sing Sing Prison museum in Ossining, New York. The prison’s museum is devoted to the history of the nearly 200-year-old correction facility, and displays numerous makeshift weapons, but this weapon in particular stands out, and was made of two plastic forks fastened together with the middle tines taken out. No one knows for sure if it was ever used to gouge any eyeballs, but still, it’s a scary thought.

2. Nun-chucks No-fucks

Photo: Imgur

  Lorenzo Pollard, a man who gave zero-fucks, fought off a dozen armed guards and facilitated his escape using nun-chucks in the St. Louis Workhouse. He fashioned said nun-chucks out of two chair legs and a bed sheet. After his quarrel, he broke through a window, squeezed through a homemade escape hatch, and scaled two razor-wire walls.

  Even so, he was recaptured.

3.  Bedpost Shotgun

Photo: Pinterest

  This devastating device is one of many homemade weapons discovered in German prisons. This shotgun was created from iron bedposts, used gunpowder made of lead from curtain tape and match-heads, and was fired by AA batteries and a broken light bulb. On May 21, 1984, two inmates took a guard hostage, shot through bullet-proof glass, escaped, and stole a car.

  MacGyver be damned. These guys weren’t messing around.

4.  Toothbrush Crossbow

Photo: Pinterest

  A Canadian prisoner in solitary used his “alone-time” to make one of the most creative an insanely ingenious makeshift weapons I’ve ever seen. It was a full-fledged crossbow, crafted using “10 toothbrushes, a cigarette lighter, a section of ballpoint pen casing, a piece of wire coat hanger, a section of a pair of aluminum cafeteria tongs, assorted electrical components, pieces of yellow rubber gloves, some Kleenex, a piece of string, and a few screws.” The bolts themselves were made of tightly packed toilet paper and aluminum foil. The bolts could be fired as far as 40 feet, but luckily it was confiscated before it was ever used.

  The weapon was put on display afterwards, because, let’s face it, it’s pretty awesome.

5.  Razor Blade Comb

Photo: Imgur

  This weapon was seized from a New Jersey prison. It’s simplistic in design, but is a very deadly device. It was made from a comb, some razor blades, and some copper wire. The inmate simply cut a slit down the middle of the comb’s tines, inserted a few razor blades, and wrapped the tines in wire.

  Simple, but effective.

6.  Crafty Crucifix Shiv

Photo: Imgur

  For a time, inmates were allowed to make large wooden crucifixes in prison wood-shops. I suppose that an inmate crafting a religious item was viewed as looking to change. Or, perhaps that inmate was just very crafty

  This unbelievable homemade shiv was discovered in a German prison in 1994, and soon after, inmates were no longer allowed to craft large crucifixes. Food for thought: maybe not allowing inmates to have any large wooden club-like items in general is also a good idea.

7.  Coffee Creamer Flamethrower

As insane as it sounds, this is actually a thing. I saved the best for last.

Photo: Imgur

  Apparently, the animal fat in common powdered coffee creamer can be lit on fire and funneled through a tube to create a crude – but very effective – flamethrower. This is about as crafty as it gets, not to mention deadly. Prison commissaries stopped carrying powdered coffee creamer because so many inmates were devising weapons and torching their enemies.

  Guess you’re drinking that coffee black from now on, fellas.

  While these 7 makeshift weapons are incredible to say the least, I know there are many more where they came from. This list is just a few of my personal favorites, and if you know any tales of inmate ingenuity, feel free to drop a line in the comment section below!



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