Sunday, January 14, 2007

Francis-Francine Hodgkiss

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.


Blogger Zagria said...

Is there any connection with Francis Francine, the drag performer who was in New York avant garde films in the 1960s? Did the latter take his stage name from ms Hodgkiss?

6:09 PM  

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