Sunday, January 14, 2007

Esther Lester

Like most hermaphrodites in the sideshow, Esther Lester was merely a female impersonator, named Eddie Lester. He claimed to born in Seattle, Washington in 1910 with both male and female sexual organs.
Esther Lester began his/her career in the mid-1930s and worked with a variety of showmen, including Harry Leonard, Whitey Sutton, and Slim Kelly. Audiences were told Lester was considered a girl until the age of 13, at which point puberty got confused and developed her left side as a man and the right side as a young woman. Early in his/her career, Esther Lester was scantily clad in a bikini, obviously hiding fake breasts. Later, as sex shows faded from the sideshow circuit due to the proliferation of local competition, Esther Lester’s act changed to a more literal half-and-half act. He/she appeared as a half man, half woman and lectured the crowd in what has been described as an exaggerated and ridiculous accent. Esther’s half of the face was shaven and sported a feminine hairdo. Lester’s half was unshaven and featured a male hairstyle. Off stage, Lester lived in drag. She was always elegant and charming, and simply known as Esther.


Blogger Exguyparis said...

Wow... I remember seeing Esther Lester in a carnival sideshow in New Jersey in the 1960's. I have a postcard he/she was selling with a photo. I still remember the strange accent-- "The left half of my cos-tu-eme..."

10:51 AM  
Blogger Dick Mullin said...

{Esther / Lester spoke in a strange high lilting voice with words that contained extra syllables and sentences that would often end with the last word stretching into a higher pitch. She was always difficult to understand, but I believe that this represents her presentation as transcribed here.}

Esther / Lester: “Ladies and Gentlemen, I am a special person who will go just as far as the laws of this county will permit me, to prove to you, that I am just that. I am known to the many audience worlds of the two continents as Esther / Lester: the man and woman in the one body. First, showing you the female side with the woman’s wrist… The waistline… Notice the woman’s straight streaming arm, having no particular development, then moving down the leg, the tapered calf and ankle… and wearing the number seven shoe. That shoe positively fits the foot. The left side, the most peculiar part of the entire body. You will notice the curvature again… having no waistline… the tough hand… the muscle in my arm… also noticing the ankle and the calf. Wearing a number nine shoe and that shoe positively fits the foot. Studying the entire body, you will notice how completely the left side is out of proportion with the right. You’ll also notice the difference in the texture of the skin. And now, ladies and gentlemen, I have and possess the two different sexual organs. The female sex predominates – having no use, the male sex. Therefore making me more feminine than masculine. I am married. I am married to a man, but will never have any children. And now ladies and gentlemen, there are questions in your mind concerning my condition and I find it impossible to answer them individually. So I have arranged an actual photograph of myself… taken without the use of this costume. You’ll also find my life history and the answers to any questions concerning my condition. They are placed in a sealed envelope and they are not for the hands or the eyes of the small children. The regular price of these have always been fifty cents, but for this show I am going to pass by at the exact cost

4:28 PM  

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