World’s Strangest

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The Man With Enchanted Hair

Of all the sideshow freaks I’ve read about — and thanks to research I did for an upcoming book, I’ve read about plenty — none had a more peculiar talent than that of Pierre Messie, a Frenchman who was said to have muscle control over his hair. While “prehensile hair” is a trait that any number of obscure comic and Manga characters can claim — a character named Metalhead from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles; Grendel’s mother from the 2007 film version of Beowulf; one of the ghosts from the Grudge movies — it’s not something you see much IRL. But according to Ripley’s Believe it or Not and the Fortean Times (such reputable sources!), Pierre, who was a 19th century actor and sideshow performer from Nantes, France, could make his hair stand up, fall, curl, or make one side move while the other lay flat, all without touching it.

In a sourceless article entitled “The Occult Moustache,” the Fortean Times claims that Messie “was officially observed to make his moustache independently spring upward, flop down and curl like a corkscrew. Medical experts claimed this was due to his extraordinarily developed ‘erectospilæ’ hair muscles. Messie could also move his scalp hair in much the same way. When kissing ladies, the disgusting Frenchman was known to waggle his handlebar up their nostrils.

Woefully, I’ve been able to find no photographs of Mssr. Messie, hence the illustration of the cat above. I’ll be on the lookout for further proof — suffice to say that I’d just rather live in a world where it’s possible to wave at someone passing on the street with your hair as well as your hands. I want to believe!

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March 8th, 2011

Stranger to the World


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