The sheep-headed men
They were called "The Sheep-Headed Men," "The White Ecuadorian Cannibals Eko and Iko," and "The Ambassadors From Mars." But when they weren't being forced to perform for gawking crowds on sideshow stages, they were simply George and Willie Muse of Roanoke, Virginia — and their real story was far more tragic than those circus tent onlookers would ever know.
Born both Black and albino in the Jim Crow South of the 1890s, the Muse brothers were given not a shred of respect or acceptance from the very beginning. When they were just small children, they were already toiling in the tobacco fields from dawn til dusk.
It was there, in 1899, that a traveling "freak hunter" named James "Candy" Shelton" spotted them, offered them some candy, then kidnapped them in order to force them into being sideshow performers. Soon, "The Men From Mars" were being presented as the missing link between apes and humans while white audience members tugged on their hair in disbelief that it was real.
All the while, the Muse brothers' white handlers raked in untold sums as "The Men From Mars" became unprecedented stars capable of drawing in audiences as large as 10,000. But through it all, the Muse brothers never saw a dime. Their years of forced performance only ended when the circus found its way back to Roanoke in 1927 and their mother stepped to the front of the crowd and recognized the sons she'd lost all those years before — and took them back.