Pen and Ink, 9 x 6.5 inches, 2000
What can be said about Koo-Koo the Bird Girl other than that she was
an odd little thing?
Koo-Koo's real name was Minnie Woolsey, and for a short time she performed
in a semblance of a Native American costume under the name “Mini Ha Ha”.
At another time, she was “The Blind Girl From Mars”, but the Bird Girl was
her most enduring identity. Koo-Koo wasn't what one would consider a ‘freak’
in the conventional sense, but rather just a very peculiar looking individual
who didn't seem to mind capitalizing on the fact.
Dwarfish in stature, Koo-Koo's stage performance consisted of wearing
a furry body suit and doing a sort of peculiar dance. She had a head shaped
very nearly like that of a baby bird, a resemblance that was enhanced by
the magnifying effect of her rather thick spectacles.
Koo-Koo was among the sideshow performers featured in Tod Browning's
infamous Freaks (1932). In the film, she performs her feathered shimmy
atop the banquet table at the wedding feast.
Here I have based my portrait of Koo-Koo somewhat on Hans Holbein's
portrait of Anne of Cleves.
A photograph of a sideshow front featuring Koo-Koo may be seen here.