This Dia de Muertos (Day of the Dead), we remember and celebrate the life of Julia Pastrana.
My “walking altar” at the Catrina Ball at the Orange County Center for Contemporary Art in Santa Ana on Saturday, October 12, 2013 honors the short life of fellow Sinaloense performance artist Julia Pastrana. Julia was born in 1834 and died at 26 years old on March 25,1860. She was born with the rare condition hypertrichosis, which covered her body with hair. Internationally, she was displayed as the “Bearded and Hairy Lady.” She was a talented singer, dancer, and fluent in three languages. After death, her husband mummified her to continue profiting from her. Throughout her life and for more than 150 years after her death, she was exhibited as a freak. Darwin called her “the Missing Link,” between apes and humans. Julia was finally buried on February 12, 2013 in Sinaloa, Mexico.
My 19-year-old niece Amber Rios is the model. Special thanks to Rigo Maldonado for organizing the fashion show segment of event, and Elvia Rubalcava Taylor and her niece for donating the quinceañera dress. Special thanks to my team: my spouse Alicia Gaspar de Alba for beard application and choreography; my sister Leti Lopez for dresser support; and my mom, Macrina Lopez for hand sewing rebozo seam after sewing machine malfunctioned and for babysitting Tristan. This project was a family team effort.