Josephine Joseph

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This article is about the reputed hermaphrodite. For the "Soul Food" character, see Josephine Joseph (Soul Food).
Josephine Joseph, c. 1935
Josephine Joseph
Born 1913
Height 5 ft 6 in (1.68 m)

Josephine Joseph (born 1913) was an Austrian-born actress whose body was supposedly split down the middle, one side female and the other male. She claimed to be a true hermaphrodite, but there is no evidence to confirm whether this was the case or not; she may have just been a very skilled male/female impersonator.

Like most sideshow "hermaphrodites" this would have been portrayed with the "half and half" trick; woman on the left and man on the right. One side of the body would be exercised, have hair trimmed, and tanned in the sun; the other side would be covered and unexercised, making it pale and flabby, so the chest resembled a woman's breast while the hair was grown out. The performer would then wear a split costume; a low cut, tight top and hotpants on the "female" side and on the "male" side a Tarzan style loin cloth.[citation needed]

Josephine is most prominently remembered, however, for a role in the Tod Browning classic Freaks, 1932 at the age of 19. Although she only had two lines, she still appeared in a number of scenes, most notably the scene at the wedding reception where she begins the chant "We accept her, one of us! We accept her, one of us!" In another notable scene, "Josephine" gives an alluring look towards the strongman to which another performer responds "I think she likes you, but he don't!"[1]


  1. ^ "Freaks Screenplay". Arts Library. Retrieved 2012-03-19. 

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