While many half-and-halfs were female impersonators, Francis-Francine was actually female. She just didn’t look very feminine. Born with abnormalities, Hodgkiss had an enlarged clitoris which looked like a penis. Upon hitting puberty, her body failed to grow breasts. Her rear end was round like a woman’s, yet her gait was manly.
As a young girl, Hodgkiss was ostracized by her peers. She often kept to herself and cried. By the age of 12, her mother arranged a doctor’s examination. The doctor brought in other doctors, and soon the poor girl was being shown at medical exhibitions and clinics. While accompanying her on one of these trips, her mother met a man at a clinic who performed in sideshows. He recommended her daughter join one. Mrs. Hodgkiss, who was enjoying the traveling, took the man’s suggestion, and Francis-Francine was born.
In the 1940s, the half-and-half Hodgkiss proved to be a boon for sideshow owners. Though naturally androgynous, Francis-Francine added silicone to her left breast to heighten the half-man/half-woman effect. Working the blow-off, she earned $500 a week and essentially supported the show for the entire cast. All she did was a simple striptease, which often left the crowds utterly confused.
Her fortune quickly attracted relatives eager to travel with her and get a cut of her earnings. The generous Francis-Francine not only obliged her flocking family, but she often showered young children with gifts – or had someone else shower them for her. The half-man/half-woman’s bizarre appearance frightened some kids, so Francis-Francine often employed a relative to hand out her treats as she watched nearby.
Daniel Mannix, author and sideshow performer, once called her the most successful freak he’d ever known.