From a 1934 letter by Lovecraft…

… in a freak show (Hubert’s Museum in W. 42nd St.) in New York [he saw in 1925] “Jean Libera” [sp. Libbera …]. So far as I know, he is still living and on exhibition. [In 1930] “I chanced to mention the matter [of the story “Cassius”] to my old friend Arthur Leeds of New York, who has had the extensive dealings with freaks and other amusement enterprises. Fancy my surprise when he told me that he knows Libera well — that the man’s real name is Giovanni Libera, that he is an Italian of great intelligence, that he is interested in everything weird, and that (believe this or not — it’s actual truth!!) he is especially fond of my work in Weird Tales!!!!

Jean Libbera and his large ‘twin’, quite gruesome when unclothed.

I’ve found an ad that shows that Libbera played Coney Island for the summer season of 1925, therefore Lovecraft’s visit to Hubert’s (aka Hubert’s Dime Museum) must have been either January-March or October-December of 1925.

In the Wandrei letters Lovecraft remarks that his friend Arthur Leeds had become associated with a human freak show. Possibly this one, though there was also likely another on Coney Island and I’ve found he also ran one in Chicago. More on that tomorrow.

There’s a book on the Museum as it was in the 1950s and 60s, Hubert’s Freaks. One can pick it up on eBay fairly cheaply. The site appears to have been on Times Square, then notorious for sleaze and set to grow ever more so into the 1970s and 80s… before the big Zero Tolerance clean-up of the early 90s.