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Oofty Goofty
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    (April 26, 1862-1923)
    Born in Berlin, Germany
    Birth name was Leonard Borchardt (or Burkhardt)
    Sideshow performer in San Francisco
    Performed as the ‘Wild Man of Borneo’ (1884)
    After discovering he was immune to pain, made a living by letting people beat him up for a price:
    Five cents to kick him, 25 cents to hit him with a walking stick, 50 cents to hit him with a baseball bat
    Eventually settled in Texas
    Last known record was a listing in the Houston city directory of 1923
    He tried to stowaway on the SS Fresia to emigrate to America.
    He deserted from the cavalry, selling his horse and rifle to a farmer (1883).
    After the US Army tracked him down in San Francisco, he was sentenced to three years in prison (1885).
    He tried to avoid prison by faking epileptic fits, but the ruse was uncovered.
    He eventually injured himself by jumping off a cliff, resulting in the Army giving him an early discharge.
    As the ‘Wild Man of Borneo,’ he was covered in tar and horsehair and ate raw meat.
    He would yell ‘oofty goofty’ at passersby, giving him his later name.
    He portrayed Romeo opposite 220-pound ‘Big Bertha’ as Juliet in a version of the play that ended partly because he threw himself into the role so energetically that he kept bruising Bertha.
    He had a vaudeville act consisting of drinking six glasses of beer with a teaspoon in five minutes while smoking a cigar. (Now that’s entertainment!)
    He was discovered by the captain of the Fresia and forced to work for three crossings of the Atlantic before he was allowed off in America.
    His stint as a ‘Wild Man’ lasted a week until he passed out because he could not perspire properly underneath the tar and hair.
    Doctors had trouble removing the tar without also taking off his skin until they doused him in turpentine and left lying on the hospital roof until the sun and solvent softened the tar.
    While he was hospitalized, the promoter ran off with all the money the ‘Wild Man’ act had earned.
    Boxer John L. Sullivan, presumably determined to get his 50 cents’ worth, whacked him so hard with a pool cue that he broke three vertebrae, leaving Goofty with a permanent limp (1891).
    Proving you can’t keep a good Wild Man down, a little more than a year later, he travelled around Montana mining camps, betting people that they could not make him cry out in pain by hitting him with a drill.

Credit: C. Fishel

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