Oofty Goofty, San Francisco's First Street Performer
Pictured above is an escape artist from Fisherman's Wharf which gives us a chance to talk about one famous San Francisco character. Oofty Goofty made his first appearance here in an 1880s Market Street freak show billed as 'The Wild Man from Borneo.' He was displayed, covered in tar and horsehair, inside an iron cage. His act consisted of eating raw meat, rattling the cage bars, and yelling, "Oofty goofty! Oofty goofty!."

Oofty gave up the act when the tar covering his body stopped his ability to perspire and required an unpleasant and extended hospital stay. He then turned to singing but his career lasted only as long as one song in Bottle Koening's Beer Hall before being throw off stage. It was then that Oofty discovered his real talent, he was insensitive to pain. For the next 15 years Oofty Goofty made a living by charging people 10 cents to kick him, 25 cents to hit him with a cane, or 50 cents to smash him with a baseball bat.

Although he occasionally appeared on stage at the Bella Union with Big Bertha, Oofty Goofty was best known for approaching strangers in bars and on the street asking, "Hit me with a bat for four bits, gents?" Oofty's career came to an end when boxing champion John L. Sullivan hit him with a pool cue and fractured his spine. After that Oofty walked with a limp and found he could no longer tolerate the pain from blows. Oofty Goofty died a few years later without anyone knowing where he came from or his real name.
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