"During the early days with the Barnum show, my costume was the subject of a controversy which would today be regarded as ridiculous. The display in public of one's limbs in those mid-Victorian days drew down upon the innocent offender all sorts of censure. We had not yet gotten over the excitement caused by the "Black Crook" and the "British Blondes," who, although severely criticized, drew liberally at the box office.
"Of course the requirements of my hurdle act would not permit me to use any but a specially designed riding costume. Because of the danger of fire, gauze, lace and ribbons were barred. I had to dress for the act as short and as close to the figure as possible. So I designed a neat, tight-fitting, jockey costume. In these days it would not be considered immodest. But in some localities at that time the ladies plainly showed their disapproval.
"It was Mr. Barnum's custom to have the women performers of his show come into the pad room before appearing in the ring to pass judgment on the costume. This was 1879. He expressed satisfaction with them all until he came to me.
" 'Miss Jeal,' said Mr. Barnum, 'you are the only one I find fault with. Your costume is a little too short. Some of the women criticize it severely and you know I have to study my public.' I wonder what Mr. Barnum would say if he could see the costumes the women of today have been wearing on and off the stage."
Culture The Circus Scrap Book was an American publication that collected together old articles and newspaper clippings about big top entertainment. The contents of these are in turn being digitised by the Circus Historical Society and that includes the October 1930 issue which has a short profile of Linda Jeal, popularly known as "The Queen of the Flaming Zone". She worked for PT Barnham and fell foul of his sensibilities: