From the podcast:
"Chang and Eng Bunker... The original Siamese twins.
The brothers were born in the fishing village of Mekong, Siam (now Thailand) in 1811, and their original nationality (Siamese) eventually became the medical name for the birth defect in which two persons are physically joined together- Siamese twins. Their homeland also gave a name to the Siamese cat.
Chang and Eng were not what you would call traditionally "handsome," but neither had any physical deformities except for a thick but pliable 9-inch band of flesh connecting them at the chest. Their livers were connected through the band, and only at the middle of the ligament did they share any sensation.
So unlike other Siamese twins you may have read about in the past who share various body parts, these brothers functioned separately over 99% of their respective bodies.
During childhood that fleshy band became stretched enough to allow them to stand side by side with relative freedom of movement. As a result, the boys grew up as normally as possible (considering their situation), and, even though the Siamese were traditionally superstitious people, the brothers were gradually accepted by their fellow villagers who originally viewed their birth as a harbinger of doom.
In 1829 a couple of merchants persuaded the twins to go abroad with them as a traveling freak show. Their travels led to America, and eventually put them in contact with P. T. Barnum who was able to increase the twins' exposure exponentially. With Barnum's help, they drew large crowds wherever they went, performing feats of strength and dexterity.
Cheng fathered 11 children. Eng fathered 10. None were twins, but a handful were either blind and/or deaf. There was one article that said that 2 or 3 of them died in a fire, but with the rest of shit going on in these guys' lives, I didn't feel the need to investigate whether or not that potential tragedy was true.
Back to the 21 kids. These two were married to two different women and had 21 kids, but were joined by the chest.
Assuming they didn't have a kid every single time they had sex, that means there were probably dozens of times when one brother had to either read a magazine (at the tamest) or maybe masturbate (at the wildest), while his brother had sex with his sister-in-law 9 short inches away.
Nine inches is overwhelming when it's your first night in prison, but it's really nothing when trying to create a halo of safety for yourself while your bro is hammering away.
Some guys are built for the threesome life, I suppose, but that is one tough road to hoe. I would like to think I am close with my brothers, but the idea their fluids hitting my skin is enough to make me want to burn this studio to the fucking ground.
As their families grew, the twins found it necessary to establish separate residences. In 1846 they moved to nearby Surry County, where they built two houses about a mile apart on the same tract of land. The families of each of the twins stayed at their respective houses, while Eng and Cheng took turns visiting every three days.
They followed this pattern for the rest of their lives… Or more specifically until 1873.
That year, on a trans-Atlantic boat trip, Cheng suffered a stroke and partial paralysis. He recovered, but from then on his health began to decline inexorably. In early January 1874, Cheng was stricken with severe bronchitis. The condition grew worse, and he died in his sleep not soon after on January 17th.
Although there was nothing physically wrong with Eng, he was horrified upon waking up to find his twin dead. A doctor was summoned to try to perform an emergency separation, but Eng died before the doctor arrived.
An eventual autopsy concluded that while Cheng had died of a cerebral blood clot brought on by the previous stroke, Eng was literally scared to death when he woke up next to Cheng's connected corpse... The official cause of death on Eng's death certificate is "fright."
Eng was 62 years old at his time of death, but I am unable to find any records of just how old Cheng was... I will keep looking."
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