Snake Man of La Perouse
|Snake Man of La Perouse|
Snake Man performance, January 2007
|Location||La Perouse, NSW, Australia|
|Notable members||"Professor" Fred Fox
George Cann, Sr.
George Cann, Jr.
The Snake Man is the common name for a reptile show at La Perouse, a suburb of Sydney, Australia. Also known as 'the snake pit', an occasional Sunday afternoon visit to the Snake Man was a tradition for generations of Sydney families.
The show was held on the same site in La Perouse since the early 20th century.
The original Snake Man was "Professor" Frederick Fox, also known as the "Snake King", who was proud of the immunity to snake venom that he had developed. However, like other such showmen, he did have his own special antidote. In 1913 Fox travelled to India to sell his antidote. Another local, Herbert See, took over the La Perouse show but he was bitten by a tiger snake and died in hospital. While demonstrating his antidote in Calcutta in 1914 Fox was bitten several times by a krait. He treated himself but overlooked one bite and died after a few hours.
The Snake Man performed in a 10 m x 10 m area of grass defined by a metre-high corrugated steel fence. He stood in the 'pit' and removed reptiles one by one from canvas bags to show them to people lining the fence. He held a snake by the tail as he talked about it, or he may have walked around the perimeter of the pit with the reptile just centimetres from the onlookers.
Often he allowed a harmless reptile, such as a frill-necked lizard, to roam the pit for the duration of the show.
At the conclusion of each half-hour show 'the hat' was passed around for a small donation. The show was usually at 1.30pm on Sundays.
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