Giant hairball connects humanity at Oddities and Curiosities Expo

The Oddities and Curiosities Expo sign hangs July 20 at the entrance guests come in to see the marvels the expo has in store for them. Simons has attended the expo two years in a row.

By Ginger Simons

To say viewing the world’s largest ball of human hair with my own eyes was the highlight of my summer would be a dire understatement. The most hair I had ever seen at once I found in clogged shower drains or the backseat of my car after taking my corgi to the vet. Gazing in awe at a ball of hair nearly as large as myself was the opportunity of a lifetime.

It stood near the front entrance of the Oddities and Curiosities Expo at the Odeum Center, 1033 N. Villa Ave, Villa Park. Oddities and curiosities, there were.

Among them, taxidermied animals wore top hats and pinstriped suits. Jars of teeth lined the shelves, and jewelry made from skulls and bones sat proudly on tables.

A man in the corner of the vendor area was suspended in the air by only two hooks pierced through his shoulder blades moments before, blood dripping, patrons slack-jawed at the sight of a man testing the limits of human adrenaline and willpower.

But, no. Nothing compared to the hairball.

Standing well over waist-high and weighing over 120 pounds, the hairball was a sickly mixture of colors and textures, cobbled together from the heads of hundreds of willing donors. The ball was impressive enough in stature to be granted a name: Hauss.

Hauss was called into existence as the project of barber Steve Warden, providing a home for the extra sweepings he accumulated over the course of a working day, according to the Ripley’s Believe It Or Not website.

Now a breathtaking freak show attraction, the ball of human hair is a source of communal pride. Patrons of the expo could volunteer a lock of their own hair to contribute to Warden’s matted, ever-growing abomination of God’s will.

On July 20 I contributed to something larger and more important than myself. Cut from the nape of my neck, a piece of myself became one with the DNA of so many others. Watching as your own hair is placed on top of a gnarled mess of other peoples’ hair, it’s hard not to be overcome with a wistful appreciation for the power of community. 

The togetherness I felt with my fellow living things in that moment was grander than anything I have yet experienced, and I wonder if I’ll ever again feel as connected to the world I inhabit.

This hairball, in a way, acts as a metaphor for what we are each able to achieve in our lives. Alone, we are only able to put forth a few strands of hair in the effort of making the world a better place. However, together, our joint contributions to the greater good may just make a ball of hair weighing over 100 pounds, fused together with gorilla glue and a dream.