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The Marriage of Emmitt the Alligator-Skinned Man and Percilla the Monkey-Girl

"The Marriage of Emmitt the Alligator-Skinned Man and Percilla the Monkey-Girl" is copyright    1998 by James G. Mundie. All rights reserved.  Reproduction prohibited.

Pen and ink, 9 x 6.25 inches, 1998

This drawing is based on Jan Van Eyck's famous painting, The Marriage of Giovanni Arnolfini and Jeanne Cenami (1434). The bedroom is here replaced by the sideshow platform, but the dog (one very much like the pet terriers Percilla always had around her) remains as a symbol of fidelity. The timeless quality of Van Eyck's painting seemed a fitting tribute to these performers, Emmitt and Percilla Bejano.

The pair met on the carnival lot, fell in love, and married in April 1938. By the early 1950's, they were touring the circuit with their own show, which starred themselves as the only attraction. Percilla and Emmitt were billed as "The World's Strangest Married Couple."

Percilla's extreme hairiness (hypertrichosis) was the cause of her stage name, and for that reason she often appeared on stage with a trained chimpanzee. Emmitt's moniker came from his dermatological condition, in which the skin of his body everywhere apart from his face and hands was prone to flake and scale, making him look very much like a reptile. He reportedly lacked sweat glands in his skin, and was only able to perspire around his eyes — which caused him some discomfort and vision problems.

Having spent a great deal of their lives in the outdoor show business, Emmitt and Percilla retired to live a comfortable life together in Florida. Their romance ended with Emmitt's death in 1995. Percilla herself passed away in February 2001.

One of Percilla's pitchcards may be seen here.

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All Images and Text James G. Mundie 2003 - 2018