Julia Pastrana – Mexican Ape Women was born on 1834 in a mountainous area in Mexico. She was a women with kindest heart but with what was called “ the most hideous face” and “ugliest woman in the world”. Since her birth, she had a strange fast hair growth that covered all her body. People around her was thinking she was a monster so they didn’t accept her but they ran away when she see her.
Julia Pastrana Circus Journey
In her journey she met an man who worked in the circus and also offered her a job. She became “The Freak” that people would pay to watch her and enjoyed her show!
Though it was a very hurtful thing for her, she had no other choice but to accept to at least ensure food and shelter. She sand and danced to entertain the audience and her show was very popular and also they toured to Europe and Russia. The circus became to gain big amount of money and fame with her shows.
Julia Pastrana Marriage
Theodore Lent the manager of the circus decided to marry her. It was one of the most famous marriages at that time that went viral in newspapers.
How could a normal man marry a 135cm tall monster they asked. There was lot of rumor that about the marriage.
Strange enough though, she gave birth to a normal baby. Unfortunately, they developed a fever related to complications from childbirth they both died in Moscow in 1860.
Julia Pastrana After Death
Julia’s bad fortune did not end with her death. Her greedy of a husband decided to mummify her body so that people still could pay to watch the half monkey half human dead “monster”.
After Pastrana’s death, Lent sold her body and their son’s body to Professor Sukolov of Moscow University who permanently preserved them. This process includes lot of chemical things and her preserved body was technically not a mummy because it was not mummified. But still few say it as a mummy.
Her body was stuffed and renowned naturally by Charles Darwin. Theodore Lent repurchased her body and started exhibiting throughout Europe.
For over 100 years, the bodies of Pastrana and her baby son was displayed around the world museum, circuses and amusement parks. The bodies were toured from 1921 to 1972 and after that it was withdrawn from public view. After which a few barbaric people damaged the baby body and the remains were consumed by mice. Julia’s body was stolen and later it was stored at the Oslo Forensic Institute and they used it for research.
Julia Pastrana’s Burial
On 2 August 2012, it was reported in Aftenposten (Norway’s largest printed newspaper) that Pastrana would finally be buried in Mexico.
In February 2013, with the help of Sinaloa state governor Mario López Valdez, New York-based visual artist Laura Anderson Barbata, Norwegian authorities, and others, the body was turned over to the government of Sinaloa and her burial was planned. Hundreds of people attended her Catholic funeral, and her remains were buried in a cemetery in Sinaloa de Leyva, a town near her birthplace.
“Imagine the aggression and cruelty of humankind she had to face, and how she overcame it. It’s a very dignified story,” said Mario Lopez, the governor of Sinaloa state who showed a interest in having her remains to home state for burial.
“Finally Julia may rest in peace.”
Marco Ferreri’s film The Ape Woman (1964) is based on Pastrana’s life story.
A musical Pastrana by Australian writers Allan McFadden and Peter Northwood was performed by Melbourne’s Church Theatre in 1989.
The Ass Ponys wrote and recorded the song Julia Pastrana about her life on their 1993 album Grim.