Willie and George Muse: The Men From Mars

Willie and George Muse were black albino brothers born in the 1890s in Virginia. They had an unusual look, but not nearly as unusual as what they would later be made out to be. Circuses and sideshows tried to recruit them, and when that failed, the two young boys were kidnapped by sideshow agents in 1899 and shopped around to various traveling shows.

The brothers began to tour. To accentuate their already unusual appearance, their handler had the brothers grow out their hair into long white dreadlocks. In 1922 showman Al G. Barnes began showcasing the brothers in his circus as White Ecuadorian cannibals Eko and Iko. When that gimmick failed to attract crowds the brothers were rechristened the ‘Sheep-Headed Men’ and later, in 1923, the ‘Ambassadors from Mars’.

As the ‘Men from Mars’ the two traveled extensively with the Barnes circus. Unfortunately, while they were being fed, housed and trained in playing the mandolin, they were not being paid.

For almost 30 years, the brothers were kept in slavery, earning only their room and board from the thousands of people who paid to see them. Then in 1927, they played their hometown of Roanoke, Virginia, where their mother found them and stood up for their rights. Read the rest of the story of “the Ambassadors from Mars” at The Human Marvels. -via Metafilter

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