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Telephone drectory - Paris telephone directory torn apart by the strong woman, Joan Rhodes

Paris telephone directory torn apart by the strong woman, Joan Rhodes

  • Object:

    Telephone drectory

  • Place of origin:

    Paris (printed)

  • Date:

    1959 (printed)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Printed paper

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Joan Rhodes

  • Museum number:

    S.822:1, 2-2017

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Paris telephone directory, A-L, 1959, in two parts, torn in two by the strong woman, Joan Rhodes, in 1960.

Joan Rhodes (1921-2010) first appeared in variety shows at the Nottingham Empire in the 1950s. She had answered an advertisement for 'freaks' in the Stage newspaper. Joan was petite and blonde with the good looks of a chorus girl: the only thing 'freakish' about her was her strength. She could bend steel bars with her teeth, break six inch (15 cm) nails and tear telephone directories in half.

Rhodes said that she had discovered her strength at the age of 12 while working in her aunt's public house, where she surprised the customers by lifting the heavy beer barrels. At 14 she was working in a circus as a strong man's assistant and, convinced that she could perform the same tricks, began to rip up telephone books. She tried working as a model and a dancer, appearing with the internationally known dance troupe, the Bluebell Girls, in the South of France, but carried on performing feats of strength for her own amusement, and then decided to try and make a career from her unusual skills. Her employer at Nottingham wanted her to wear a leopard skin, the traditional costume of the circus Strongman, but Joan Rhodes wanted to maintain her feminine appearance. She became 'the Mighty Mannequin', showing off her 50-centimetre waist in evening dresses and diamanté-covered leotards, and appearing on television and in cabaret around the world. In interviews she said that she preferred working in cabaret because 'the audience are so close. They can see if any of my equipment is faked'. She calculated that during 25 years as a strong woman she had torn up 25,000 telephone books and bent more than two and a half tonnes of nails.

Physical description

Paris telephone directory, A-L, 1959, torn in two unequal sections, the tear running from the upper edge. The green paper cover printed with an advertisement for Citroën. Each section with a paper label, annotated 'Torn by Joan Rhodes 1960'. All the 'pages' of the smaller, right hand, section are loose.

Place of Origin

Paris (printed)

Date

1959 (printed)

Materials and Techniques

Printed paper

Dimensions

Height: 27 cm left section of directory maximum, measured at spine, Width: 22 cm left section of directory approx., Height: 28 cm right section of directory maximum, approx., Width: 11 cm right section of directory approx., Depth: 5.0 cm depth of both sections, measured at spine approx

Descriptive line

Paris telephone directory, A-L, 1959, in two parts, torn in two by the strong woman, Joan Rhodes, in 1960

Materials

Printing ink; Paper

Techniques

Printing

Categories

Entertainment & Leisure; Variety

Collection

Theatre and Performance Collection

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