We bet every one of you reading this has one weird thing about your body you'd change if you could -- maybe you have an eye that's slightly lower than the other, or a nasty little scar on your lower back where your tail used to be. We all want to be perfect.
But not so fast. As a whole bunch of famous people can tell you, a horrible deformity and/or physical mutilation can be the difference between failure and stardom. For instance ...
#7. Sylvester Stallone: An Iconic Face by Way of Botched Childbirth
Let's not mince words here. In terms of full-on acting chops, Stallone isn't much more impressive than any other action star. You know, except for the part where he wrote, starred in and received Academy Award nominations for one of the greatest films of all time. In fact, thanks to Rocky, Stallone was only the third person at the time to be nominated for both acting and writing in the same year. The other two? Charlie Chaplin and Orson Welles (for Citizen Kane, no less).
So, yes, maybe he's got that over the Steven Seagals of the world, regardless of the Judge Dredd-level turds that followed.
The gun later won an Oscar.
Now ask yourself -- would anybody have given a shit about Rocky if the studio had gotten their way and cast a star like Burt Reynolds or Ryan O'Neal in the lead role? The whole point was that this guy was a schlub, a down-and-out boxer. Something about Stallone in that role just made people believe in it.
Specifically, his face. The face that looked like it had spent decades taking blows to the jaw. You can say the same thing about First Blood -- this time a down-and-out soldier instead of a down-and-out boxer. The signature Stallone roles just wouldn't feel right without that signature fucked-up face giving his mouth a permanent snarl. But how the hell did it get that way?
Just try to imagine him screaming anything but "Adrian!" It can't be done.
As romantic as it would be to blame Stallone's droopy face on a lifetime of hard living and tough breaks, Stallone's lazy facial features are actually due to Bell's palsy, a facial nerve paralysis condition that was caused by birth complications. Namely, he was yanked into the world with forceps that also came into less than pleasant contact with his face and severed a nerve, effectively paralyzing the lower left half of his face (including a bit of his tongue). And just like that, literally, a star was born. Schwarzenegger only wishes he were that lucky.
Which is why he'll be returning for a third term as governor and swapping punches with Mr. T.
#6. Paul Stanley of Kiss Became a Rocker Because of a Deformed Ear
Paul Stanley is the lead singer of Kiss, which may not be a big deal to you young kids who don't remember when Kiss was the biggest band in the world (they sold 100 million freaking albums worldwide). But there's one other thing you need to know:
Paul Stanley has a jacked up ear, you guys.
So jacked up. Jacked up like it's not really even an ear. Can you see it in that picture up there? Of course you can't, and that's going to be the whole point right after we tell you that if you could see Paul Stanley's right ear it would look kind of like this ...
Under all that decoration, he's really an 8-month-old child.
It's a rare congenital deformity called microtia, where the fleshy part of the outer ear is extremely underdeveloped or absent entirely, leaving poor Paul Stanley with no ear canal and, naturally, no hearing in his right ear.
As you can imagine, having a fleshy Cheeto where his ear should be made Paul Stanley the target of schoolyard teasing and bullying. His solution was to grow his hair long to cover it up. Problem solved! However, he was now facing another dilemma: With that hair, he couldn't really hang with the jock crowd, because jocks are assholes, especially jocks with long hair. Despite growing up right around the time when hippies controlled the land, he never really fell in with that crowd either.
"No, go away. My unruly hair and face paints have built an impenetrable barrier between us."
Luckily, his long-maned look provided a third option: Paul Stanley could hang out with the rockers. The rest, as they say, is history. Of course, we're not saying that Paul Stanley would never have pursued a musical career without his microtia. We don't need to, because here's a video of the man saying it himself.
Stanley had the cosmetic aspects of the ear somewhat fixed when he was in his thirties and nowadays sports a bone-conduction hearing aid, which is the perfect name for a hearing aid worn by the front man of Kiss.
He could have literally sculpted his ear into a demon lord's, but went for the "saggy old man" look.
Incidentally, in a very non-Kiss-like move (because it's for charity and not profit), Stanley actively participates in awareness programs where he freely talks about his handicap, and acts as the spokesman for the Canadian AboutFace foundation. Probably because there are more bears in Canada, so they need to hear a lot better than people in the United States.
That might not be why, though.
#5. Multiple Singers Have Ridden Throat Trauma to Success
Bonnie Tyler is a Welsh-born singer with the unfortunate real name of Gaynor Hopkins. Tone Loc is a Los Angeles based rapper whose real name matters even less. She had a massive hit in the 1980s with "Total Eclipse of the Heart," he was in Ace Ventura: Pet Detective. Oh, and he released that "Wild Thing" song, too. Maybe you know it from developing a healthy hatred for it after hearing it for the 874th time in 1989 alone.
Under federal law you can kick him once in the junk without consequences.
But the similarities between Bonnie Tyler and Tone Loc don't end with their shared status as couple-of-hit wonders. Much like a Stallone film isn't a Stallone film without a paralyzed lower lip, a song by either of these two just wouldn't pack the same punch without those voices: raspy, sandpaper-like, as if they've been gargling badgers. It must be nice to born with such a gift. Too bad neither of these two were.
They had to get their excessively manly voices the hard way ... through horrific medical care. In Tone Loc's case, the problem, like so many problems for so many people before him, can be traced back to shitty parenting. After he came down with a bout of strep throat at age 13, Tone Loc's mother mixed him up a concoction of hot tea and brandy, because booze shuts up fussy kids. That's parenting 101.
Tip for an overdue pregnancy: Playing "Wild Thing" will ensure the baby will not want to stick around any longer.
One problem, though: The tea was absurdly hot and, likely after realizing he had a shot in his hand, Tone Loc slammed it down his gullet without a second thought. The ensuing carnage scarred his vocal chords and left him with a voice that sounded like heaven when paired with a Van Halen sample he probably should have been sued for using without permission.
For Bonnie Tyler, the circumstances were even more troubling. She had already released her debut single before things turned for what probably seemed like the worse at the time. Check it ...
No sign of rasp, right? Now, let's check out her breakthrough single from the very next year:
Clearly, something had changed. Something had changed and, if our ears aren't mistaken, it likely involved swallowing shards of glass. It turns out Bonnie had a major problem standing between her and a full time singing career: She had been diagnosed with vocal fold nodules, tiny lumps of meat that can mess up vocal cords something awful. After her first single, she decided to get the problem fixed for good and went under the knife. The surgery went without a hitch, and the doctor sent Bonnie home with one instruction: She was not to speak for six weeks for the vocal cords to heal properly.
To this, Bonnie Tyler apparently said, "What are you, some kind of doctor or something?" For reasons that were probably unknown even to herself, Bonnie decided to ignore the doctor's orders completely and spent the healing period being less than careful about her voice, up to and including full throttle screaming. As a result, her voice got the instant whiskey treatment, making her the female Rod Stewart.
Or maybe just the Rod Stewart Rod Stewart.
#4. Thomas Edison Became a Genius (and a Dick) Due to Deafness
While he never used his disability to scale to heights anywhere near as epic as the Destroyer album like Paul Stanley did, Thomas Edison still deserves a healthy amount of respect for overcoming significant hearing loss to do whatever less important bullshit he did with his life, which involved something along the lines of holding 1,093 successful patents. It's no "Detroit Rock City," but people remember him anyway.
We have pointed out several times that Edison was kind of a dick, but that's not exactly an uncommon trait among the great creative thinkers. Going "outside the box" means constant disagreement with contemporaries, a rejection of traditional methods and a steadfast belief that you're right, no matter what they say. It requires living in a mental bubble. And to that end, near-deafness was a blessing for Edison.
"I DIDN'T CATCH THAT, TESLA. WHAT SORT OF CURRENT?"
Edison lost virtually all hearing as a child for reasons that aren't known for certain, though there are several theories floating around, none of which involve explosions, so we won't recount them here. Whatever the reason, Edison's subsequent difficulty to hear others around him made him live his formative years as a relative recluse in a silent, brooding world of his own after his mother withdrew him from school.
"I've been 'peeling your lideas'? You're speaking gibberish, man."
Unable to make friends or do normal little kid stuff, young Edison started reading his little ass off. He obsessed over the sciences, particularly physics and figuring out how electricity works. And here's the thing -- because he wasn't being taught by anyone in any formal setting, he was able to think outside the box, chasing down the newest and most radical theories instead of whatever bullshit they were teaching in high school.
Or, to put it in Edison's own "dickish" way, "Deaf people should take to reading. It beats the babble of ordinary conversation."
"Everyone is a prick but me."