#2. Henry Cyril Paget Drove Perfume-Spewing Cars, Hypnotized People With Dance
At 23, Henry Cyril Paget, fifth Marquis of Anglesey (1875-1905), inherited almost half a billion pounds. By 27, it was gone. At 29, he died destitute, very likely a virgin, and such an embarrassment to his family that they burned every trace of his existence. You see, Paget was so flamboyant, he made Elton John look like Clint Eastwood. He almost exclusively wore elaborate silks and gems, and it was common to see him strolling down the Strand with a poodle done up in pink ribbons. Disliking the smell of car exhaust, he modified his car to spray perfume wherever it drove, like an Abercromobile.
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In his defense, it did get 21 miles on a gallon of lilac essence.
He was married to his cousin Lily, on account of nobility liking to keep everything in the family, but it didn't really take. Paget preferred dressing his bride up like a life-size doll instead of having marital relations. Their marriage was eventually annulled on the grounds of non-consummation and just general weirdness (we have to assume).
Via The Esoteric Curiosa
"White Rick James" is a difficult look, but damn if he doesn't work that shit.
Do you think we're cruelly mocking a rich gay guy? Better check your reverse-privilege: It's unlikely that Paget was a practicing homosexual. This was around the time Oscar Wilde was imprisoned for being just too damn fabulous. The gay witch hunt was in full swing, and Paget's ex-wife was none too happy with him. Revenge was as simple as a little rumor, easily believed. But even she bitterly told her friends (and several tabloids) that "Henry is a classic narcissist. The only person he would make love to is himself."
Really? We never would've pegged him as a primper.
She was absolutely not kidding.
Paget turned an ancient chapel on the grounds of his manor into a theater. He named it the Gaiety, and it was both elaborate and expensive. He poached one of the best touring companies, paying the actors three to four times their normal salaries to perform. One catch: Once the cast, crew, and venue were procured, the show would go on, with Paget in the lead role. He of course would require numerous costume changes. But the highlight of most of his performances was Paget's butterfly dance. Although historians are unsure of the exact nature of the routine, it was described as "serpentine," "fluid," "mesmerizing," and "of an otherworldly nature." We're picturing something between the Axl Rose snake-dance and the Hypnotoad ... but obviously with way more panache.
#1. Anna Maria Helena Hated Vaccines, Loved Cow Farts
Born in England and married into the French aristocracy, Anna Maria Helena, Comtesse de Noaille (1826-1908), was a strong-willed woman full of extraordinary beliefs, much like Jenny McCarthy. Also like Jenny McCarthy, she believed that vaccinations should never be given, and that inhaling huge amounts of cow farts was the secret to longevity.
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"Again?! Leave us out of this stuff. Get goats, they're down for everything."
Yep, exactly like our own modern day Jenny McCarthy, de Noaille was convinced that inhaling large daily doses of methane fresh from a cow's butt would bring her a long and healthy existence. To that end, she kept a herd of cows outside of her bedroom so she could be sure to get the full benefits of the gas. She also slept with dead squirrels tied around her head to prevent wrinkles, used onions on her doorknob to guard against infection, and believed that when leaves fall (especially from oak trees, which she thought England had too many of), the climate became unhealthy, so she would leave England until spring came. Upon her death, de Noaille endowed an orphanage for the daughters of clergymen. A set of rules accompanied the cash gift, including drinking plenty of milk, using phrenology to ensure "firm spirit and conscientiousness," and instructing that no girl under 10 should be taught math.
It would take away from valuable head-measuring time.
De Noaille truly leveled up in peculiarity when, at a Paris salon, she fell in love with a painting by Ernest Hebert. Upon discovering that Baron Rothschild had already bought it, she did the next rational thing: She purchased the model. Seven-year-old Maria Pasqua was bought from her father for two bags of gold and the promise that she would be raised as a Catholic and treated as an equal, which is a nice thing for your parent to ask for when they're selling you to a stranger.
"So are they priced by the pound or by the soul?"
De Noaille kept her promise, although Maria did not have the most conventional childhood, even for a victim of human trafficking. Kept in Grecian clothing (tight clothing was deadly, according to de Noaille) and allowed to drink milk only from cows personally selected by de Noaille (children brought up on milk were less likely to become drunkards), Maria received an education and a standard of living that were superior to what her parents could have provided. By all accounts, she left the comtesse's home a prosperous and happy woman ...
... whom we must assume always smelled of cow butt.
Claire Gordon recently graduated with a journalism degree and now realizes she should have gone to business school. She also interns at the Austin Chronicle and puts wigs on her bulldog more often than he would appreciate. Read her stuff here, then hire her.
Related Reading: Sometimes the craziest people were right all along. Take these nutjobs who accurately predicted Pearl Harbor, the NSA spying scandal and much more! If you prefer your crazy with a heaping dose of legal power, read about the most insane judges of modern history. More a fan of nutty athletes? We've got a list of them, too.