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Kar-Mi (Victorina)

Energetic and Inventive Vaudeville Showman

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Kar-Mi Victorina Troupe Poster

Kar-Mi Altered Poster

  • 1872-1956
  • Real Name: Joseph Hollingsworth
  • Birthday: ?
  • Birthplace: United States
  • Buried: ?

Variously known as "Kar-Mi" and "Victorina", Joseph Hollingsworth was one of the hardest-working acts in vaudeville in the early years of the 20th century.

Constantly reinventing himself and his show, Hollingsworth changed his professional name a number of times over the years. Starting as "Joseph Hallworth", he found that name too plain for the spectacular show he promoted. He became "Joe van Victorina", then "Victorina", then "Prince Kar-Mi", and finally "Kar-Mi". Hollingsworth was thrifty, too- having spent a small fortune on a supply of beautiful lithographed posters advertising his "Victorina Troupe" show, he saw no reason to waste the supply when he changed his name to "Kar-Mi". He simply pasted the "Kar-Mi" name over "Victorina" on the posters, and he was ready to go!

A performer of many skills, he honed his show down to a fast-paced and breathtaking fifteen minutes of quick magic illusions, sword swallowing and sharpshooting tricks. His show was certainly memorable, with several signature tricks that he invented himself, including "Selma", an illusion that involved cremating and reviving his female assistant, and "Shooting a Cracker from a Man's Head", a sharpshooting trick.

If that wasn't enough, Hollingsworth also learned the art of tattooing. Between his shows, he would set up a temporary tattoo parlor, and earn extra money etching the skins of eager customers.

Because of his choice of names, and his reuse of his posters, there is some confusion about Hollingsworth and his career. "Victorina" is not the woman shown in the colorful "Victorina Troupe" poster. "Victorina" refers to Hollinsworth himself. Also, the "Selma" illusion was not named after his wife. "Selma" is the name of the illusion, a word Hollingsworth used because it sounded Far Eastern and mysterious. Finally, "Kar-Mi" and "Victorina" are the same person; some sources mistakenly report that "Kar-Mi" was a magician who stole "Victorina's" posters and simply pasted his own name on them.

Hollingsworth retired from vaudeville during the mid-1930s, when he was in his 60's. He lived a long life, passing away quietly at age 84.

Kar-Mi Cracker Poster

Kar-Mi Selma Poster