Making History With Three Legs and Two Genitals. The Story of Famous Italian Showman, Frank Lentini.
He could have shut himself off from the world, but he opened up and became famous.
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Once he was born, the midwife was completely terrified of his appearance. The bloody child she held in her hands had three small legs and two genitals. What can be done with that? Surgery at the end of the 19th century was out of the question, as the boy could lose his life in the process.
The three-legged Frank Lentini was gradually known amongst all inhabitants of the Sicilian village of Rosolini, who considered him a curse of the family. However, Frank achieved greater success in life than most of his enemies. He went out into the world and became a famous showman. He played football with his third leg and allegedly used it as a rudder when swimming.
As profoundly charming man with plenty of intelligence, charisma, and even two genitals, he could have had many women. A certain French prostitute with two genitals also allegedly showed interest in him, but Frank had a wife and children. According to his journals, he was an advocate of monogamy. He wrote about his sex life in a small brochure, where he recommended chastity and virtue to young people.
- How the leg allowed him to excel in certain sports.
- Where did he get the motivation to live.
- How he went about buying shoes.
- How he allegedly kept in touch with a prostitute with four breasts and two genitals.
- What he realized in a home for children with disabilities.
Third leg as a chair
"I have never complained. I think life is beautiful and I enjoy living it, " said a man with two genitals, three legs and sixteen toes, who worked as an artist in so-called freak shows, according to the Sideshow World.
Additionally, as an adult, he joked that he was probably the only person in the world who did not need a chair to sit. He can sit on his third leg if he needs to. This way, he allegedly entertained journalists during an interview and then answered questions about his life with a smile on his face.
He allegedly bought two pairs of shoes each time he went shopping. He then gave the remaining fourth to a friend who's lost one leg, so they complemented each other perfectly in this regard, writes History Daily. Although we don't know for sure whether he really meant it or just joked about it. It certainly says a lot about his positive approach to life and that he was not worried about his biological deformation.
However, he has built such an attitude over time. As a child, he was, of course, unhappy about his differences. He was constantly ridiculed by his surroundings and couldn't even lean on his own family.
Frank Lentini looked taller than a normal man from the waist up. If you were sitting across a table from him, you wouldn't even notice that a third leg had grown from his right hip. It was supposed to belong to his twin, who never came into existence. "My mother gave birth not to two children, but more than one. Yet not two, " he said.
From his third leg grew another tiny deformed fourth leg, which isn't commonly mentioned. Each of his four legs was of different length, but the fourth one was almost invisible. The artist Myrtle Corbin, nicknamed the Four-legged Myrtle, also suffered a similar deformation.
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Shame and the family curse
Frank has been rumored to be deformed because before giving birth, his mother visited a man who made three-legged carriages, the Italian daily Corriere della Sera reported. Superstitious people believed the child was a form of curse.
The publicist Salvator Spadar found out that Frank was born in Sicily in the village of Rosolini in 1889 as the fifth of twelve children (however, the Italian daily states that he was an only child). After his birth, midwife Maria was allegedly beyond terrified. She never saw a child with three legs in her experience. While Frank was a child, the doctor considered amputating his third leg. Since he could potentially lose his life during the operation, they decided to rather not risk it.
Frank Lentini in his youth
The parents were said to be ashamed of their offspring, so they sent him to live outside his hometown with his auntie. Subsequently, in order to avoid ridicule, his third leg was allegedly tied to his other leg. Temporarily, he managed to successfully hide his biological deviation. From his aunties house he was transferred to a home for children with various disabilities, where he met boys and girls who had only one leg or none at all, kids who did not hear or were completely blind.
According to The Human Marvels, he mentions this period of his life as the main motivation that kept him going forward. He saw that there were people out there who were in a lot more trouble than he was, so he certainly shouldn't give up.
"Even though a child, I could appreciate and enjoy the beauties of life. I could read and they couldn't, I could talk to my friends, but some of them couldn't because they were dumb. I could hear and enjoy beautiful music, while some of them couldn't because they were deaf," he said. From the moment he saw the suffering of these people, he never complained again.
At the end of the 19th century, little Frank transformed people's interest in his biological diversity into performing in London. However, his career didn't fully start until he joined the American circus company Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey. His father traveled with him to the states. In the film The Greatest Showman about P. T. Barnum, the director of the circus, the role of Frank Lentini was portrayed by Jonathan Redavid.
Sex life and strict monogamy
Some freak show artists have never found a partner due to their appearance and have not procreated. An example of that is Joseph Merrick, also nicknamed the Elephant Man. He didn't get in touch with a woman outside of the family until a later age, when he became friends with a girl named Leila.
Frank's deformation was not so significant and, moreover, he was famous for his great charisma. Apparently thanks to this, he managed to get married twice during his life and fathered four children. They were all said to be healthy. He was married to his first partner, actress Theresa Murray, from 1907 until 1935. Shortly afterwards, he began living with Helena Shupe, with whom he formed a couple until he passed.
The number of his children is proof that at least one of his genitals must have been fully functional. However, according to available records, both were fully functional. Four-legged Myrtle had a similar situation with her pair of genitals.
She even admitted that she preferred sexual intercourse through her right vagina, but she allegedly became pregnant through her left vagina and gave birth through both genitals. Such detailed information about Frank Lentini's sexual life has not been preserved, but he also talked about his approach to sexual intercourse.
In a 6-page booklet, he wrote that he considered the genitals to be the most sensitive parts of the human body that needed to be well cared for. "Use them as nature intends and good judgment dictates. Aim to live temperately, chastely, virtuously," he advised the youth. Apparently, he was a supporter of monogamous relationships and did not lead a loose sex life with several partners.
Prostitute with two vaginas
The Indian daily Deccan Chronicle writes that Frank Lentini kept in touch with the French prostitute Blanche Dumas according to the book Human Oddities: A Book of Nature's Anomalies. Her body was deformed even more than Frank's. Blanche had three legs, four breasts and two vaginas, as evidenced by photographs from that era.
Blanche had a strong libido and she longed for a sexual relationship with Frank. Perhaps because their pair of functional genitals could potentially be compatible. We have no information on whether they have ever met. In The Book Of Lists, another three-legged man with two penises named Jean Baptista Dos Santos is mentioned as her alleged sexual partner. Therefore it cannot be ruled out that after this experience she also had a liking for Frank, another man with the same biological abnormality.
He used his own rudder when swimming
Bizarre rumors about his life are certainly interesting to people, but this is not a reason why Frank has made history. What made him famous were his impressive shows.
During his performances, Frank rode a bicycle, a skateboard, played football or jumped over a skipping rope with his three legs. In the aforementioned brochure, he described that he had an advantage over other people when swimming. He was said to have been able to use his third leg as a rudder.
On posters, Frank was promoted as "the great Lentini", "the three-legged Sicilian", "the only three-legged football player in the world" or "the greatest medical miracle of all time". However, the last characteristic could be up for debate. Freak shows in those days had quite a number of biologically different people that would also fit this label.
In 1908, he allegedly visited his hometown, where he was once considered a family disgrace, a curse, and was laughed at by everyone. According to Corriere della Sera, the local people welcomed Frank Lentini as a hero who has put Sicily on the map. To show support, some even put on trousers with three leg holes.
The village of Rosolini has not forgotten its honorary native even in the 21st century. According to Siracusa News, on September 21st, 2016, the 50th anniversary of his death, Rosolini celebrated the memorial day of Frank Lentini. The celebration was also attended by his grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Frank Lentini died in 1966 of a lung disease, reaching the respectable age of 77 (78 according to some sources), as stated by the publicist Salvatore Spadaro.
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