“Sometimes I pretend to be normal. But it gets boring. So I go back to being me.”—Ain Eineziz.
We’ve all known somebody who seems a little bit peculiar, be it in what they’re fascinated by, how they act, or how they choose to present themselves. But some people are just so strange that it can be hard to believe that they are real. But hey, we’re not judging—boring is normal anyway! This list might as well be titled “Facts About The World’s Most Interesting People!” With 7.53 billion people on earth, there’s bound to be a lot of fascinating oddballs out there, and we’re here to tip our caps to them for their individuality and creativity. Here are 44 curious facts about the strangest people in the world.
50. Barbers Hate Him, Find Out Why
A Vietnamese herbalist named Tran van Hay was known as the man with the longest hair in the world. Until his death at age 79 in 2010, he hadn’t cut his hair in 50 years, and had only washed it a few times. Now that’s what I call low-maintenance.
49. Keeping a Hand Up for Peace
In 1973, a holy man named Saduh Amar Bhirati raised his right hand in the air for peace, and never put it down. Before 1970, he was a normal, middle-class man. Then one morning he woke up and decided to leave it all behind to serve the Hindu god Shiva. Three years later, believing that he was still too connected to the pleasures of mortal life, he decided to raise his right arm and keep it raised—forever. 38 years later, it’s still up in the air.
48. The Fountain of Youth
Yoshiro Nakamatsu is a Japanese inventor with over 3,000 patents to his name; he claims he’s the original inventor of the floppy disc. For the last 40+ years, Nakamatsu has been conducting research on how to expand his lifespan, which is why he’s meticulously photographed, cataloged, and analyzed everything that he’s eaten since he was 42. In 2005, his investigations into the links between intelligence and eating habits earned him an Ig Nobel Prize—that’s the weird one.
47. Horrible Bosses
Speaking of the Ig Nobel prize—it may seem mean, like the Razzies or the Darwin Awards, but it’s actually awarded in good nature, and winners often appear to claim their prize. They’re given out in different categories, like the Nobel prize, and in 2018, the team who won the economics prize came up with a doozy. The team of researchers—who I’m nominating as a group here for the premise of this list—looked into whether it’s effective for employees to use voodoo dolls to get even with unfair or abusive bosses.
46. Odd Parts
Elieen Brown, a woman from Bolton, England, became a real-life Bionic Woman when she had all but two of her joints replaced to treat her rheumatoid arthritis. Her left elbow is now the only original joint remaining in her body.
Lindsay Wagner played The Bionic Woman in the ’70s
45. Plastic Surgery Gone Wrong
A Korean woman named Hang Mioku became addicted to plastic surgery in an attempt to bolster her career. After a large number of surgeries, she decided to take it upon herself and injected her face with cooking oil. That’s right, cooking oil. This self-procedure left her face disfigured for life, and eventually, she went on television to ask her donations to help her undergo corrective surgery. The surgery was a success, as surgeons were able to remove 60 grams of oil from her face, though she was still left completely unrecognizable.
44. Unicorn Woman
In 2015, an 87-year-old Chinese grandmother stumped doctors when she came to them with a large, curved horn on her head. According to reports, it started out as a black mole on her forehead, and then suddenly the mole split open and a horn started growing. The actual medical term for her condition is a cutaneous horn, which is a usual yet benign skin tumor.
43. The People’s Pope
In 1990, Daniel Allen Bawden was elected Pope in a papal conclave attended by six people, including Bawden himself and his own parents. He calls himself Pope Michael, and the conclave was called because Bawden believed there had been no legitimate Pope elected since the death of Pope Pius XII in 1958. As of 2009, he claimed to have 30 “solid” followers.
42. Surprise Sibling
Bhagat, an Indian man from Nagpur, always felt self-conscious about his big belly. One night in summer of 1999, he was rushed to the hospital with a stomach so swollen he could barely breathe. The doctors discovered the half-formed body of a twin brother who had never been born.
41. Time Warp
Hiroo Onoda was an Imperial Japanese Army officer who stayed at his jungle post in the Philippines for 29 years, refusing to believe that WWII was over. He survived on coconuts and bananas and would sometimes kill villagers he thought were enemies. Local authorities and military searched for Lieutenant Onoda, yet he evaded capture. Finally, a man named Norio Suzuki found and befriended Onada, but despite explaining that the war was long over, Onoda still refused to surrender. Suzuki traveled back to Japan and summoned Onoda’s former commanding officer, who personally flew to the Philippines to issue orders relieving Onoda from duty. He finally surrendered in 1974; his uniform, cap, and sword were all in good condition.
40. To-Do List
While we’re on the subject of strange people, Norio Suzuki was a bit of an odd duck himself. When he found Onoda, he was on a mission traveling around the world to find “Lieutenant Onoda, a panda, and the Abominable Snowman, in that order.” Suzuki later died in November 1986 in an avalanche, while searching for the abominable snowman.
39. Paranoid Parsons
Good-looking, ambitious, and brilliant, Jack Parsons was an American rocket engineer and chemist at the height of his powers in the 1940s, until he began exhibiting disturbing desires and bizarre predilections. Parsons started turning away from science and toward the occult, becoming involved in the infamous Aleister Crowley’s Thelema movement and then cavorting with Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard.
Parsons died in 1952 in a lab explosion that remains a mystery today—but those who knew him have suggested a disturbing possibility. Thought Parsons was paranoid at the time that the FBI were spying on him, two of his fellow Thelema followers believed it was a suicide. Others had even more bizarre ideas: they suggested it was a hit from Howard Hughes, as Parsons had previously stolen documents from the Hughes Aircraft Company. The police, however, ruled it an accident. Whatever the real reason, his death has never been satisfactorily explained.
38. Beware the Reptiles
Former Pro Football (Soccer) player and BBC sports presenter David Icke has been what he calls a “full-time investigator into who and what is really controlling the world” since 1990. He believes that the world is ruled by a secret group of reptilian humanoids known as the Elite, and that many prominent people such as former President George W. Bush and Queen Elizabeth II are descended from these humanoids.
37. Tall Order
The world’s tallest living man is Sultan Kösen from Turkey, measuring in at eight feet and three inches. That’s still not quite as tall as Robert Wadlow, who measured just under nine feet before his death in 1940. Wadlow consumed an average of 8,000 calories a day, wore a shoe size 37AA, had 32.4cm hands, and an almost 10-foot arm span.
36. Genuine X-Man
Alex Lenkei is a hypnotist from Surrey, England. Lenkei’s mesmerizing powers are so strong that in 2008 he underwent an invasive hernia surgery without the use of anesthesia, opting to put himself into a trance instead. Lenkei has hypnotized himself for surgical procedures a total of six times.
35. Not Dead Yet
In 1975, the Indian Government officially declared Lai Bihari dead—only Bihari was still very much alive. Bihari’s uncle, in a ploy to steal Bihari’s ancestral land, bribed the government to file his nephew’s death. Bihari tried everything from organizing his own funeral to signing letters “the late Lai Bihari” to prove that he was alive, but it still took 19 years to have his death annulled.
Actress Jalisa Thompson’s eyes literally pop right out of her head. She attributes her unusual ability to amazing muscle control, and is a two-time winner of Ripley’s “Great Face Off” contest, where people compete to see who can make the weirdest, funniest faces.
33. Wasting Away
In classic Hollywood, no one quite held a candle to the bizarre behavior of famed director Howard Hughes. He was famous for his movies, of course, but also for things like staying in his screening room for four months straight once, eating only chocolate bars, milk, and chicken, and wearing Kleenex boxes on his feet. Hughes was on a steady diet of Valium later in his life, and after taking a fall due to his addiction, doctors noted that the 67-year-old man now was in the condition of someone 20 years older. Only three years later, his kidneys would fail after years of phenacetin abuse, and he would pass away. When his body was found, Hughes was emaciated and weighed only 87 pounds.
32. Black Rapunzel
Asha Mandela has 55-foot dreadlocks, and calls herself the Black Rapunzel. It takes her two days to completely wash and dry her hair, and she has to wind the dreads in a baby sling when she leaves the house to prevent the hair from becoming trapped in doors or snagged on bushes. Despite doctors’ warnings that the weight of the dreadlocks could paralyze her, Mandela has no plans to ever cut them.
31. X-Ray Vision
Hailed in Russia as “the Girl with X-ray Eyes,” Natasha Demkina claims to have X-ray-like vision that allows her to see inside human bodies. Her diagnoses have often been more accurate than doctors, and she has developed a following of doctors, patients, journalists, and others who believe her powers are real.
Wim Hoff is a Dutch daredevil nicknamed Iceman for his ability to withstand freezing temperatures. He once submerged himself in an ice bath for nearly two hours. He attributes his abilities to meditation, exposure to cold, and breathing techniques.
29. Tree Man
Dede Koswara, an Indonesian citizen known as the “Tree Man,” had more than 13 lbs. of bark-like warts on his hands and feet; locals believed his condition was the result of a curse.
In 2008, he had surgery to remove the warts from his body, but the growths continued to return, and he ultimately died from a series of complications.
28. Snake Girl
Kajol Khan, a young Indian girl, calls deadly cobra snakes her best friends. She eats and sleeps with her scaly companions, despite having been bitten by them a couple of times. Her affinity for the creatures stems from crawling around with them as a baby, and she hopes to be a snake catcher like her dad when she grows up.
27. World’s Dirtiest Man
83-year-old Iranian man Amou Haji hasn’t bathed in more than 60 years because he believes that being clean will make him sick. His favorite food is rotten porcupine, and he likes to relax by smoking a pipe filled with animal faeces. He sleeps either in a grave-like hole in the ground or an open brick shack, and drinks 5 liters of water a day from a rusty oil can. He’s also single and reportedly looking for love, but hasn’t had any takers.
26. Bulking Up
Romario Dos Santos Alves is a bodybuilder from Brazil who went to extreme lengths to emulate the Incredible Hulk. He injected his arms with a potentially lethal combination of oil and alcohol, and nearly had his arms amputated as a result. His horrifically swollen muscles have earned him nicknames such as “Beast” and “Monster.”
25. Do You Have Anything Smaller Than a Zero?
German woman Michelle Kobke shrunk her waist down from 25 to 16 inches by wearing a corset 24/7. She’s not done yet, and is still hoping to get her measurements whittled to an even tinier 14 inches.
24. Gino Smash!
Gino Martino is a professional wrestler and strongman who has a superhuman ability to smash through things with his skull. His specialty is breaking concrete cinderblocks over his head with the help of an assistant. In 2011, Martino set a Guinness World Record for the most concrete blocks (45) broken on his head.
Eric the “Lizardman” Sprauge is an American sideshow performer known for his sharpened teeth, full-body tattoo of green scales, split tongue, and green-inked lips. He makes his living performing on television and in front of audiences around the world.
22. Monkey Man
China’s Yu Zhenhuan has hair on over 96% of his body. Because of his resemblance to an ape, he’s often called “Monkey Man.” Not one to let it hold him back, Yu is also an aspiring rock star.
21. World’s Biggest
Annie Hawkins-Turner, the woman with the world’s largest natural breasts, wears a bra size equivalent to an American 52L, and has repeatedly refused breast reduction surgery. As she explains, “I don’t want to mess with nature. As my breasts grew the muscles in my back developed and supported them.”
20. Taunting Death
Norwegian extreme artist Eskil Rønningsbakken travels all around the world to perform death-defying stunts. His feats include balancing acts at the top of canyons and cliffs and tightrope-walking between two hot-air balloons in flight. He first got into balancing at the age of 5, and continues to amaze and shock the world with his risky repertoire.
19. The Man Who Never Sleeps
Thai Ngọc is famous for his inability to sleep. The Vietnamese man claims that he hasn’t slept a wink after getting a fever in 1973.
18. The Nose Knows, and So Does Jepp
Tycho Brahe was an accomplished 16th-century Danish astronomer. Maybe he spent a little too long staring at the stars, because he was also something of a peculiar man. He believed that a little person named Jepp had psychic powers, so he always kept Jeppa close—as in, he paid Jepp to sit under his dining table. We hope he was paid well! Brahe was often shown in portraits with a weird looking nose. That’s because he lost it in a duel (which had started as a drunken argument) as a young man. He had a prosthetic nose fashioned out of silver or gold, and that’s why his nose often looks strange in portraits.
17. He’ll Eat Anything
Michel Lotito is famous for eating any number of bizarre objects ranging from bits of nails to nine tons of metal. As a child, Lotito suffered from pica, which causes people to compulsively eat non-edible items such as dirt and plastic. He turned his condition into a career and was known as Monsieur Mangetout (Mr. Eat-All) in his native France.
16. Chronic Masturbator
Most people thought that King Christian VII of Denmark was pretty nutty, but that was mostly because he frequently threw food at his dinner guests. And then the masturbation started. For whatever reason, Christian became abnormally fascinated with his penis and started masturbating so often that it interfered with his ability to rule, and maybe his health too. He had enough sense not to do it in front of visitors, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t do other strange things. When somebody bowed before him he supposedly leapfrogged over them, and he would slap people in the face in the middle of a conversation for no apparent reason. Eventually, his personal physician pulled the rug out from under him and gave control of the kingdom to the Queen, with whom he was also having an affair. It seems like Christian didn’t care too much about any of this because he had what he wanted right between his legs.
Jill Price, an American woman from Southern California, has a condition called hyperthymesia: she never forgets anything. Since she was 14 years old, she’s been able to remember everything, even the most obscure detail. While it might seem like a gift, Price calls it a curse, claiming that never forgetting anything is a burden on her sanity and gives her no peace. At least she never needs Post-it notes!
Mexican lawyer Maria Jose Cristerna transformed herself into a vampire woman. She injected titanium horns into her head, formed her teeth into fangs, and covered her body in tattoos. Known as the Vampire Lady in her Mexican hometown, she spends her time assisting women who have suffered from domestic abuse.
13. Covering Up
Being covered in tattoos isn’t that uncommon nowadays, but getting them for therapeutic reasons may be, and that’s why Julia Gnuse, AKA The Illustrated Lady, appears here. In her mid-30s, she developed porphyria, a rare condition that causes the skin to blister whenever it comes in contact with direct sunlight and she was desperate for a way to stop the blisters. Eventually, she turned to tattoos. After getting a good amount of her body done, she realized it didn’t prevent the blisters, but it did hide her scars. So, she kept on getting her favorite illustrations and cartoons, and before she knew it, 95% of her body was tattooed. Sadly, she passed away in 2016.
12. Papa Smurf
After a decade of using a silver compound to promote rejuvenation, Paul Karason’s skin turned blue. Karason became an internet sensation, and claimed to see positive changes in his health. Despite this, he died at the hospital in 2013 after suffering a heart attack and a stroke.
11. Postmarked the Airport
Mehran Karimi Nasseri is an Iranian refugee who spent 18 years living in the departure lounge of Terminal One at the Charles de Gaulle Airport in France. Expelled from Iran because of his political views, he made up his mind to settle in England.
In 1988, the briefcase containing his refugee documents was stolen at a Paris train station, but he decided to board his plane to England anyway. The English Government sent him back to the French airport when they discovered that he had no passport but, having no documents, there was no country for immigration to deport him to. Time after time, he refused efforts to relocate him anywhere other than England, and insisted on staying at the airport. In 2006, he was hospitalized, and in 2007, transferred to a homeless shelter in Paris. His story was the inspiration for the Tom Hanks Movie The Terminal.
10. Caught Him on a Bad Day
It’s tempting to argue that the label of “eccentric artist” was invented purely to disguise the sheer insanity that was Hunter S. Thompson. The writer of Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas and creator of Gonzo Journalism was also known for not suffering fools gladly. When a potential thinkpiece for Rolling Stone written by Mike Peterson was sent to him for an opinion, he proceeded to write a rejection letter that can’t be repeated in polite company, but it involved Thompson lamenting that he didn’t have the time to personally murder Peterson for the insult of showing Thompson his writing.
Some people might still be tempted to laugh off some of Hunter S. Thompson’s wild antics, but for a man with no filter, things did go too far on several occasions. Thompson was friends with Jack Nicholson, and for Christmas, Thompson sent Nicholson’s young daughter a demented present. His choice of gift? A gruesomely detailed sculpture of a rat caught in a trap. To explain, he provided a note on which he’d written: “Dear Lorraine. This will teach you a lesson about trusting men which will be valuable later in life. You’re welcome, Uncle Hunter.”
56-year-old Bosnian Muhibija Buljubasic has such a strong magnetic force in his body that other magnetic objects stick to him. Other items such as iPhones and remote controls also find him irresistible. Buljubasic isn’t really sure what causes this, but figures he has a “special energy” flowing through his body.
8. Zombie Boy
Canadian artist and model Rick Genest was diagnosed with brain cancer at age 15; he had nearly half his brain removed to fight the disease. He got his first tattoo of a skull and crossbones on his arm at age 16, and today over 90% of his body is covered in ghoulish tattoos, making him look like a zombie. He became mainstream famous after appearing in a Lady Gaga music video. Genest tragically passed away in 2018 at the age of 32.
7. Profound Coincidence
Syd Barrett was the original frontman for Pink Floyd, and his personal eccentricities contributed greatly to the creativity on the band’s first few albums.
After writing most of the songs for Pink Floyd’s first album, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, and contributing one song to their second album, A Saucerful of Secrets, Barrett became increasingly unreliable. Due to the combined effects of mental health issues and heavy use of LSD, Barrett withdrew further from the band. In response, the other members of Pink Floyd kept Barrett at arm’s length, bringing in David Gilmour as a guitarist to replace Barrett. Roger Waters, meanwhile, took over as frontman, and Barrett officially left the band in 1968.
One day during the recording of “Shine On You Crazy Diamond,” a tribute to their former member Syd Barrett, Pink Floyd were visited by an overweight, bald man with shaved eyebrows. He behaved strangely, even brushing his teeth during the session. After a while, the band realized that it was none other than Barrett himself. Roger Waters was reportedly so overcome by Barrett’s physical transformation and sudden appearance that he began to cry. For his part, Rick Wright found it “disturbing” that Barrett had picked that day of all days to come visit his old band. Barrett, meanwhile, seems to have thought little of it; he quietly left later that day when the band was preoccupied with a celebration for David Gilmour’s wedding. It was one of the last times they ever saw him before his death in 2006.
From left to right, Roger Waters, Nick Mason, Syd Barrett and Rick Wright
6. The Incident
He’s a huge Hollywood star known for choosing bizarre roles and just generally being a big weirdo. I didn’t say his name, but he popped into your head, didn’t he? It’s Nicolas Cage. We could do an entire list about this #1 Hollywood oddball (oh wait, we have!), but here’s just one fact about the lovable star. Cage was once woken up by a disturbed, naked, homeless man sucking on a Fudgesicle. The man was arrested but Cage did not press charges. A similarly disturbing incident occurred on set. Cage was stalked by a Mime who appeared on his movie sets and followed him everywhere.
Fame ain’t easy.
Speaking of Hollywood weirdos, there are few directors more bizarre in look, demeanor, and output of work than John Waters. The most shocking scene of Waters’ film Pink Flamingos, where the character played by Divine eats a piece of dog feces, wasn’t faked—the poop was real and Divine genuinely ate it. Soon after, she called the emergency room saying that her child had eaten dog poop to make sure that there weren’t any harmful effects. Thankfully, the hospital told her that her “child” was going to be fine.
4. Vicious Streak
Artists are pretty weird as a rule, and few artists were as strange as the Surrealists—after all, it was basically their job to be weird! But among the Surrealists, the most bizarre was Salvador Dali. Many know about his prolific career, but few remember his dark side. When he was about five years old, he allegedly noticed that the safety railing was missing from the bridge he and his friend were crossing, and he decided to throw his friend off the bridge. His friend fell about 16 feet onto the rocks below and was seriously injured, but Dali showed no remorse and sat quietly smiling and eating cherries while the boy’s mother took care of him.
3. Something Stinks
One of the internet’s favorite spooky stories is of the dying woman brought into an emergency room whose blood smelled so putrid it poisoned the air around her and made several doctors sick. To this day, no one knows what was wrong with Gloria Ramirez. Or so the story goes. In reality, Ramirez had tried to self-treat her cervical cancer with dimethyl sulfoxide, a popular – though unapproved – alternative medicine. When the dimethyl sulfoxide interacted with the large amount of oxygen given to Ramirez, it created dimethyl sulfate, a literal chemical weapon.
2. Don’t Touch Me
Nikola Tesla is infamous for his eccentricities and his brilliant work with AC electrical current—but few people know about his even darker history. Tesla once experimented with creating a particle gun, which he believed could be weaponized to wield enormous destruction. He also developed disturbing paranoid habits, especially later in his life: he refused to touch another person’s hair, and was reportedly once convinced that a white pigeon was trying to communicate with him.
1. A Little Crowded in There
In 1999, Karen Overhill began finding herself in strange places with no idea about how she got there. She also found bookmarks further into books than she remembered reading, heard voices at night recapping her day, and ran into people who she didn’t know but who knew her. She discovered that she was suffering from an extreme case of multiple personality disorder, and had been living with 17 distinct personalities. She was eventually able to get rid of them all, and can finally be alone with her thoughts.