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By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

12/2/2012 (2 years ago)

Catholic Online (

Man had grown up in foster care due to abusive dad

For a man who grew up in foster care due to his abusive dad, a reunion with his birth mother has come as something as a shock. His mom turned out to be a world-famous bearded lady! But family is family and love is love, and the two have since forged a close bond.

Richard Lorenco was in 'complete shock' when he found out that his mom, 64-year-old Vivian Wheeler, was in fact a famous circus performer, who held a Guinness world record for her 11-inch beard.

Richard Lorenco was in "complete shock" when he found out that his mom, 64-year-old Vivian Wheeler, was in fact a famous circus performer, who held a Guinness world record for her 11-inch beard.


By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (

12/2/2012 (2 years ago)

Published in Marriage & Family

Keywords: Bearded lady, Bakersfield, son, mother, sideshow, reunion

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - From Kansas, 35-yerar-old Richard Lorenco was abandoned by his father in a motel room when he was four years old. Moving from foster home to foster home, he nourished the idea that his mother was a world-famous rock star.  

Lorenco was in "complete shock" when he found out that his mom, 64-year-old Vivian Wheeler, was in fact a famous circus performer, who held a Guinness world record for her 11-inch beard.

After the shock wore off, Lorenco thought it was "really cool" when he found out his mom had spent her life as a famous side show performer under the stage name Melinda Maxie.

"I had a loving mother the whole time," he explained on a recent episode of the TV show "Shocking Family Secrets."

His mom told him how when he was a child, the two of them had escaped from her abusive husband. He finally tracked them down and abducted him.

Lorenco, in spite of his difficult childhood had chosen to focus on the future and building a new life with his wife and two young daughters.

Lorenco decided the time was right to find out about his biological parents after he suffered a back injury and his family's medical history was needed.

Six weeks after filing his request with the Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services, Lorenco received a letter saying his biological mother was a Wheeler of Bakersfield, California.

Both his mother and his maternal grandmother had been born with a condition known as hypertrichosis, or "werewolf syndrome," which meant that even as children they had facial hair.

There was even more unusual news: the letter also stated that his mother had been born a hermaphrodite, with both male and female reproductive organs, although as a baby the male genitalia had been removed because the parents wanted a girl.

If Robert Lorenco had a traumatic childhood, it pales in comparison to his mom.

Wheeler stopped shaving her beard entirely in 1990 shortly after the death of her mother.

"I let it grow back to be myself," she said. "Without my beard, I'm not me. I'm pretending to be someone I'm not."

It is now two years since Lorenco and Wheeler were reunited and they have gone on to build a kind and loving relationship.


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'

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Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for October 2015
That human trafficking, the modern form of slavery, may be eradicated.
Evangelization: That with a missionary spirit the Christian communities of Asia may announce the Gospel to those who are still awaiting it.


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