This drawing is based on Jan Van Eyck's famous painting
The Marriage of Giovanni Arnolfini and Jeanne Cenami. The bedroom has been replaced
by the sideshow platform, but the dog (one very much like the pet terriers
Percilla always had around her) remains as a symbol of fidelity. The timeless
quality of Van Eyck's painting seemed a fitting tribute to these performers,
Emmitt and Percilla Bejano.
The pair met on the carnival lot, fell in love, and married in
April 1938. By the early 1950's, they were touring the circuit with their
own show, which starred themselves as the only attraction. Percilla and
Emmitt were billed as "The World's Strangest Married Couple."
Percilla's extreme hairiness (hypertrichosis) was the cause of
her stage name, and for that reason she often appeared on stage with a
trained chimpanzee. Emmitt's moniker came from his dermatological condition,
in which the skin of his body everywhere apart from his face and hands was
prone to flake and scale, creating an effect very much like a reptile. He
reportedly lacked sweat glands in his skin, and was only able to perspire
around his eyes — which caused him some discomfort and vision problems.
Having spent a great deal of their lives on the sideshow platform,
Emmitt and Percilla retired to live a comfortable life together in Florida.
Their romance ended with Emmitt's death in 1995. Percilla herself passed
away in February 2001.
One of Percilla's pitchcards may be seen here.