Magazine article The Spectator

Is It OK to Hire a Dwarf?

Magazine article The Spectator

Is It OK to Hire a Dwarf?

Article excerpt

Is it ever OK to hire a 'little person'?

You're planning a party. You've hired the vaults of a former bank, Le Caprice is doing the catering, and a celebrity DJ will round things off on the dance floor -- but you want that little bit extra to give your fashionable, jaded guests something to remember. What about a dwarf? It's a curious fact that even people who think of themselves as modern and caring feel quite comfortable laughing at dwarfs.

Type the words 'dwarf' and 'rent' into a search engine and you'll be amazed at the number of websites offering to 'supply a little someone' for every occasion. Just click 'dwarf' and 'add to cart'. One online agency boasts: 'If you require the midget to perform and dance... or if you would like our mini man to be handcuffed to a specific person this can be arranged.'

Fun-loving party-people seem oddly keen to be handcuffed to dwarfs. One video, with thousands of 'likes' on Facebook, shows a male dwarf standing with his face at groin-level, handcuffed to a man using a urinal. A comment reads: 'I want one of these at my hen night!' Other photos show middle-aged men on stag nights, posing with a dwarf dressed in nothing but a nappy, astride their knee. It's surprisingly popular.

Some friends of mine recently attended the party of a beautiful socialite, where canapés were served by naked dwarfs. Why would intelligent, privileged women pay people with a genetic disorder to serve them food? And why nude? Does being naked make being short funnier? It must certainly make it more humiliating for the poor dwarf.

The term dwarfism covers a number of syndromes, the most common being achondroplasia, a genetic condition resulting in shortened arms and legs. Spondyloepiphyseal dysplasia congenital (SEDc) tends to result in more proportionate limbs. If you consider that two people with dwarfism starting a family together have a one in four chance of their baby inheriting the gene from both parents and dying within days of birth, it's not unreasonable to feel that bodies that characterise this condition aren't all that funny.

And yet... I spoke to the actor Warwick Davis recently (star and co-writer of the comedy Life's Too Short and co-founder of Little People UK), who showed me another side of what had seemed to me a pretty straightforward story. …

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