Drew Friedman’s Sideshow Freaks
Drew Friedman
Foreword by Penn Jillette
Hardcover • 8 x 8″ • 112 pages
Nonfiction • Color illustrations throughout • $19.95

“Drew Friedman’s trademarked propensity to make ‘normal’ people look a tad freakish is turned on its head in this impressive collection. Here, the ‘freaks’ look back at us as if to say, ‘So who’s normal?’ Friedman’s uneasy affection for the ‘weirdos’ among us comes through in every lovingly drawn portrait.”
Bill Griffith, creator of Zippy the Pinhead
“Drew Friedman has created the greatest sideshow lineup ever. His astounding portraits of the strange, the unusual, the bizarre, and the unconventionally beautiful truly capture the spirit of these extraordinary characters. This is a must-have book for anyone who is a fan of the joyously twisted world of the sideshow.”
—Todd Robbins, Purveyor of Amazement, co-author, with Teller, of Play Dead
Drew Friedman's Sideshow Freaks
Drew Friedman
Foreword by Penn Jillette

Acclaimed by R. CRUMB (“I wish I had THIS guy’s talent.”), CHRIS WARE (“The unchallenged living master of caricature”), GRAYDON CARTER of Vanity Fair (“Simply without peer”), and THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW (“The Vermeer of the Borscht Belt”), Drew Friedman has created illustrations appearing in countless publications—The New Yorker, Spy, Raw, The New York Observer, to name a few, for more than thirty years. In DREW FRIEDMAN’S SIDESHOW FREAKS (February 2011/nonfiction), with a Foreword by master illusionist PENN JILLETTE of Penn and Teller, he explores his lifelong fascination with the lost world of Johnny Eck, “King of the Freaks”; Dolly Dimples, “The World’s Most Beautiful Fat Lady”; Otis Jordan, “The Human Cigarette Factory”; and others who put themselves on show in the heyday of the carnival sideshow.

Before the politically correct impulses of the 1970s squelched the grand American tradition of the sideshow, people born with abnormalities and others who created their oddity exhibited themselves to the shock and thrill of millions in sideshows nationwide, from Ringling Brothers circuses to World’s Fairs to Coney Island. As a youngster in the late sixties and early seventies, Drew Friedman often visited Coney Island with his family, and he and his brothers always insisted on seeing the “Freak Show.” Here, in the last vestiges of the extravaganza of humans on display, Drew became fascinated with people who are different, like Jolly Jere, the 800-pound “Fat Man” who kept his sense of humor though not his wife—as his weight ballooned, she took the kids and fled. A Borscht Belt comedy sensibility was integral to the sideshow in its golden days, and many of the performers displayed themselves with humor of every variety: dark, zany, and classic Vaudeville schtick.

DREW FRIEDMAN’S SIDESHOW FREAKS presents fifty of Drew’s favorite historic human oddities—famous and obscure—in mesmerizing full-color portraits. As in Warts and All, Old Jewish Comedians, and More Old Jewish Comedians, Drew Friedman once again meticulously, brilliantly, and affectionately brings to life people in the show business, this time focusing on America’s oddest performers.

Drew Friedman is the author of more than six books and the recipient of the 2001 Reuben Award for newspaper illustration. His portait of President Obama graced the cover of The New Yorker for Obama’s inauguration, January 2009.