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Julia Pastrana: An Illustrated Lecture with Bess Lovejoy and Ilise Carter
Morbid Anatomy Museum
Brooklyn, NY
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Julia Pastrana: An Illustrated Lecture with Bess Lovejoy and Ilise Carter
Date: Thursday, November 19th
Time: 8pm
Admission: $8
Location: Morbid Anatomy Museum, 424 Third Avenue, 11215 Brooklyn NY

Julia Pastrana may have been one of the most misunderstood people of the 19th century. Born in the mountains of western Mexico in 1834 with a pronounced jaw and skin that was almost entirely covered in luxuriant black hair, she performed across the U.S., Canada, and Europe as "the Ape Woman," "the Bear Woman," or "the Baboon Lady." Some of the most eminent doctors of her day, including one here in New York, declared that she was probably half-human, half-orangutan. Even Charles Darwin weighed in, erroneously. And while Julia's life was difficult, her afterlife was downright bizarre--after she married her manager and died in childbirth in Moscow, her corpse was shuttled among fairs, amusement parks, museums, and chambers of horror throughout Europe for decades, receiving a dignified burial only recently. Bess Lovejoy will share some of the details from Julia Pastrana's life, based on her 2014 essay for the Public Domain Review.

Additionally, Ms. Pastrana's image and legacy continues to inform and shape the conversation about women's physical presence in popular culture. Whether expressed consciously or not, the ongoing dialogue in media about fitness of women to be seen and heard in public continues to echo much of the fascination and criticism that surrounded Pastrana in her own lifetime. In her portion of the talk, scholar and performer, Ilise "The Lady Aye" Carter will draw parallels from her research in to the display of female oddities and its parallels in contemporary culture in her discussion of the life and legacy of Julia Pastrana expanding and updating her earlier essay "Beauty Is an Impediment: Julia Pastrana and the Modern-Day Politics of Being Seen."  

As an award-winning writer, Ilise S. Carter's work has appeared in the New York Times, the AV Club, Playboy, Bust and other outlets. As the Lady Aye, she is one of fewer than three dozen living female sword swallowers, who's worked with everyone from Cirque de Soleil to Rob Zombie and been called one of "the masters of modern sideshow," by Sideshow World.

Bess Lovejoy is a writer and editor who lives in Brooklyn. She is the author of Rest in Pieces: The Curious Fates of Famous Corpses, an editor for mental_floss, and a researcher for books and film. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Time, Smithsonian.com, The Believer, Lapham's Quarterly, The Boston Globe, The Public Domain Review, Atlas Obscura and elsewhere. She is a member of The Order of the Good Death and a founding member of Death Salon.

Tickets are non-refundable unless the event is canceled.


Morbid Anatomy Museum (View)
424 A Third Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11215
United States




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