Vase Girl makes show of herself

PEOPLE queue for hours to visit the 'Gallery of the Grotesque' and see Vase Girl, 20-year-old Liang Xiaoping, advertised as standing just 45cm tall in a box that houses her 'deformed' body.

Xiaoping is the main attraction of a freak show that also features a four-legged duck, two-headed snakes and chickens, and ritual Tibetan whips and goblets made from human skin and skulls.

Xiaoping's 'box home' is on show at Wuzhou's Sun Yat Sen Park, in southern Guangxi province.

Her plight is reminiscent of a 19th century imperial tale that says the Empress Dowager Ci Xi had a rival concubine's limbs amputated and her body stuffed into a Ming vase which she kept at the Summer Palace and taunted as if her victim were still alive.

The show, which has toured Shanghai and Guangzhou, draws up to 1,000 people a day.

'We discovered Xiaoping six years ago in her home town of Hefei, Anhui province,' her manager, Ah Hoisai, claimed.

'Although her head is perfectly normal, her body is deformed and limbless.

'Everyone thought she was useless, just another mouth to feed, but then it was discovered she had a beautiful singing voice. Would you like to hear?' After Xiaoping breaks into song the 'singing head' forces a smile and chats with the crowd.

'Are you really just a head?' asks one visitor.

'No, but my body is so small I'm ashamed to let anyone see,' replies the Vase Girl.

'Are you married?' 'Who would marry someone like me?' she answers solemnly, then adds: 'I'm just happy to be alive.' But this answer is perhaps the most unbelievable part of the whole rehearsed story, for Xiaoping is ultimately a prisoner of her own hoax.

Her act involves spending seven days a week, 10 hours a day cramped inside her '3-D trick' wooden box.

Unable to move, she is forced to lie on her stomach, neck bent back, as her chin rests precariously on the lip of the vase.

She is never allowed to venture out after the show lest someone recognise her face.

'Whether you believe it or not, everyone wants to know how it is possible,' said Mr Ah.

'But if people knew, then we'd be out of business.'