At first glance, this 1930 picture of a freak show act would be something you put down to trickery. But this trickery may give you the willies. Mortado was a body modification practitioner.
Mortado, The Human Fountain was born in Berlin and first exhibited himself there in 1929. He had holes bored through both his hands and feet, and, when seated in a specially constructed chair, copper tubes were fed through the wounds. Water flowed through them at a high pressure, making Mortado a “human fountain”.The picture was taken at Coney Island’s Dreamland Circus.
When he was not performing, he plugged his wounds with corks to keep them from healing. He occasionally also performed in biblical Crucifixion reenactments, placing small “blood bags” in his wounds for realism, which his assistant would puncture when he nailed him.