viernes, 30 de abril de 2010

Mademoiselle Gabrielle, the Half Woman.

Born in Basle, Switzerland, in 1884, Gabrielle Fuller was a corset-trained Half Woman, who first joined the circus at the Paris Exposition in 1900. She traveled with the Ringling Brothers Circus and appeared at Coney Island's Dreamland sideshow.

Gabrielle's exploits in the sideshow were quite successful, as she soon traveled to America to work with the Dreamland Circus Side Show, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey. 

Furthermore, in 1912, Mademoiselle Gabrielle embarked on a short-lived vaudevillian career with New York’s Hammerstein Theater. She eventually broke her contract with the theater agent and was subsequently sued for breach. A four year court battle resulted in a $2000 fine paid to the theater agent. 

Few human marvels appeared on the vaudeville stage, The Hilton Sisters did so several years later, but Mademoiselle Gabrielle was a special case. She was beautiful, charming, graceful and demure, she was also corset trained and dressed in finery to emphasize her natural beauty.  Interestingly this seems to allowed for the general public to accept her deformity objectively.

Mademoiselle Gabrielle possessed no legs and, according to a 1929 London Life article, she possessed no stumps whatsoever. Her torso finished just below the hip gracefully. Her figure was impressive and she accentuated her physical qualities and natural beauty with opulent Victorian garb and striking jewelry.  She firmly believed that she was ‘no less a woman.' 

Indeed, others seem to have reacted to Gabrielle with kind of reverence in spite of their curiosity, different from the traditional, derogatory name-calling of other human oddities we have seen, where the  human "exhibits" functioned as a way for the audience to re-affirm their own sense of adequacy and normalcy. 

Gabrielle was described by a doctor "the formation of the body is perfect within its own limits, and no provision has been made by Nature for the presence or functioning of limbs". And artists have described the wonderful torso as "a perfect, if unfinished, piece of natural sculpture." 

Wallace Stort (who had a thing for the limbless beauties) described her as a "Unique and stupendous attraction"

Mademoiselle Gabrielle attracted men in droves and married at least three times during her lifetime. First she was married to a man with the surname of Hunter and lastly to John de Fuller. Due to these surname changes, her later history is difficult to trace and her eventual date of demise is currently unknown.

Gabrielle was one of a handful of actual disabled women remarked upon by the writer and amputee fetishist Wallace Stort, writing for London Life in 1929:

"Gabrielle", who has spent nearly all her life in America, I saw during an earlier visit to the States some years ago. She is about 40, and was for many years considered the most perfect example of what is known as the "half-lady" on exhibition. Down to the hips she is a beautifully proportioned woman. Below that she does not exist, the trunk finishing neatly and smoothly a little below the waist, with nothing in the way of stumps being present.
"Gabrielle" has also been married twice, her second husband being a German born.

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