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A freak of nature, Angelo Faticoni. The mysterious human cork.

Updated on April 16, 2011

Throughout history man has been fascinated by strange creatures, human freaks of nature, the mysterious or unexplained. Angelo Faticoni, otherwise known as the human cork certainly fits the bill, his apparently mysterious feats of extreme buoyancy shocked and astounded all those who witnessed them. Angelo Faticoni, the human cork, was born in 1859 of Italian American decent.

At some time during his childhood Angelo discovered that he could remain afloat in water for long periods of time with little or no effort. He was even able to sleep, on his side, or rolled up into a tight ball, laying on the surface of lakes and pools. However, it wasn’t until he became an adult that Angelo decided to put his mysterious gift to use and see if he could earn himself a living from it.


Angelo became a professional artist and contortionist in a freak show. Freak shows were particularly popular throughout The United States during the mid 19th century right up until the mid 20th century, when they fell out of fashion, they were often associated with travelling circuses and carnivals. Exhibits often included bearded women, ape men, conjoined twins etc.Today it would be unthinkable and thoroughly un PC to have anything even approaching a freak show. Undoubtedly many of these freak shows exploited the performers but for many at the time there wasn’t really a viable alternative employment. In fact, many freak show artists became fairly wealthy by working in them.

Angelo's greatest feats.


One of Angelo’s Faticoni’s greatest feats saw him sewn inside a large sack and then thrown into a river, as if that wasn’t enough he also had a twenty pound cannon ball chained to his chest. A journalist present at the time later reported that Angelo Faticoni soon poked his head out of the sack and “he remained motionless in that position for several hours”. Another time Angelo reportedly swam across the Hudson River tied to a metal chair weighted down with lead.

Angelo agreed to be tested by doctors at Harvard University in America and in front of a large crowd of students, professors and doctors he repeated his amazing buoyancy acts. The experts concluded that the human corks internal organs were different than those of other men, but could offer no further explanation or proof of this theory. The media of the time often suggested that Angelo was faking his abilities in some way but they too could provide no proof of this. They even suggested that other-worldly forces were at play, again without proof. Some psychics claimed that Angelo was kept afloat by spirits or ghosts. Angelo himself remained silent, promising to reveal the secret behind his buoyancy towards the end of his life. Unfortunately, when Angelo died aged 72, on August 2 1931 he took his secret to the grave with him.

Outside Ripley's believe it or not in New York a modern day freak of nature entertains the crowds.

Our interest in people such as Angelo remains constant, we have simply changed the way we view them. And of course we no longer call them freaks. Pay a visit to any of the Ripley's believe it or not emporiums or turn on the TV and I guarantee that on any given day you will find the electronics’ age version of a freak show.

Please take the time to answer this simple poll.

Do you think Angelo faked his abilities?

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  • GALAXY 59 profile image

    GALAXY 59 5 years ago from United Kingdom

    Thanks for commenting Angelo, he was indeed an amazing man.

  • profile image

    Karen 5 years ago

    WOW,Angelo was a human physica phenomenon - he could not sink!.He swam across the Hudson River strapped to a chair loaded with lead !. No wonder they called him the "human cork"!.To bad he passed away before revealing his secret.I actually came to know him this morning in a book called 'did you know'.The book is filled with amazing information.R.I.P Angelo for you are an extrodinary man (not a freak)!

  • profile image

    giffu melattur 5 years ago

    best article very useful and fantastic..

  • GALAXY 59 profile image

    GALAXY 59 6 years ago from United Kingdom

    Wow, what an amazing thing to have happen. I think that would have shocked me too.

    Thanks for the vote up.

  • tamron profile image

    tamron 6 years ago

    Everyone has natural abilities but I guess some people can harness the full benefit of their abilities.

    I witness myself once that my friend never picked up a musical instrument in her life never really had an interest.

    She was my childhood best friend so I knew her pretty good.

    She picked up my guitar and started playing it like a professional. It scared the hell out of her. She was also failing in school just barely passing so I was shocked as well.

    I have been practising for a few years and I couldn't play nowhere near as good as how she played.

    Great Hub Voted Up!