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Thread: Sword Swallowing

  1. #1
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    Sword Swallowing

    There's a few odd references to sword swallowing on this forum in our Martial-Arts-World-Records-and-Stunts and Sword-hotties threads among other places. But let's just start one here on sword swallowers. Maybe it'll shake loose my writer's block, which is all I every really do here beyond advertise.

    Meet One of the World's Only Female Sword Swallowers
    by Lindsay Schrupp
    Oct 6, 2015 6:00 AM


    Images courtesy of the Lady Aye

    We talked to the Lady Aye about learning to swallow swords while recovering from bulimia and why women get pushed aside in the sideshow business.

    When I told people that I was interviewing one of the world's only female sword swallowers, the reaction I got was similar to the reaction I imagine most ophthalmologists get when they blow puffs of air into their patients' retinas: surprised, confused, and with eyes open just slightly wider than normal. Some people looked like I had just told them they have glaucoma. Again: surprised, confused, but also a bit nauseated.

    The Lady Aye, whose real name is Ilise Carter, is an award-winning sideshow performer. She is a fire eater, escapist, and sword swallower who's not afraid to lie down on a bed of nails, tear herself free from a straitjacket, or swallow a 19-inch steel blade. While the sideshow industry may not be as male-dominated as it once was, there are still few female sword swallowers in the world. The Lady Aye has been involved in the sideshow business for a decade, though she didn't begin performing until her 30s, and training to be a sword swallower took something extra. Today, she talks candidly about the challenges unique to sword swallowing, including her own personal battle with bulimia and the sexual stigma that surrounds the act. We caught up with the Lady Aye over the phone to find out what it takes to be a sword swallower, how sexism persists within the industry, and how women can fight back from being pushed to the side in the sideshow biz.



    Broadly: How did you first get interested in the sideshow business?

    The Lady Aye: I got interested when I was a kid. I must've been like 11 or 12. The first place I ever saw fire eating was in the mid-80s. As a kid, my parents took me to see Penn & Teller off-Broadway, and there was fire eating. From that, I got interested in sideshow. It seemed really punk rock to me because it's so about being an outsider. It was so unusual. I was already interested in sort of goth stuff, weird things. If it was weird, if it was dark, I was interested in it.

    What about sword swallowing in particular interested you?

    Sword swallowing is sort of the ultimate sideshow skill. Almost everybody can learn everything else—people can pick up fire eating, and I've seen a lot of burlesque performers do the most basic job of picking up fire eating, and they're like, "I'm a fire eater now!" and there are one or two things that they go to: walking on glass or a bed of nails and stuff like that. Sword swallowing is just the next level of commitment. I always likened it to doing a split—either your body is set up for that, or it's not. I'll never be able to do a split, and no amount of training is going to change that.

    Right.

    And the same with sword swallowing; it's this weird relationship that's between your body and your brain, and there are some people who will train and train and train and still not get it because their bodies are just not set up for it.

    What was more difficult for you, training your body or your brain?

    They go together, but I'd have to say the brain because it took me about six months to start. I'm a recovering bulimic, and part of it was just the fear of triggering. I obviously have a very strong association with sticking anything down my throat. I was afraid that, well, what if I start and I re-trigger the purging, you know?

    How long are the swords you typically swallow?

    My favorite stage sword is 19 inches, but I can do stuff that's longer than that. I think I'm up to 22 or 23 depending on how thick it is.

    continued next post
    Gene Ching
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    continued from previous



    When I said I was writing a story on sword swallowing to my editorial team, they were confused as far as if I was actually talking about sword swallowing versus if I was talking about deep-throating. Does this come up a lot?

    The great thing about the way I perform, and about being a performer who talks, is that you are who you tell the audience you are. And I am very in charge of that room when I am on stage, and I don't conduct myself like, "Hee hee hee, isn't this silly?" giggly or anything like that. I'm there as a performer; I'm very in command. And you know, I'm not an unattractive person, but I'm also not there to be a sex object.

    Right.

    So I generally don't get treated that way. Which is not to say that I haven't been manhandled by audience members or been told the most obvious jokes. Actually, and I always say this, I get it more from women than from men.

    Really?

    Yeah, because when women feel a familiarity, they feel a kinship with other women. I know burlesque performers have that problem. [Women will] come up and grab you because they're like, "I'm a girl, you're a girl; it's no big deal." The times I've felt the most looked down upon or the most degraded was with other women because, I feel, they just feel freer saying it.

    I wonder if sword swallowing is something that is eroticized equally for women and men.

    The act is as you present it. I don't present it... I present it... I mean, it's a sword! It's a big stainless steel blade. You know, I got called up by a talent agent once to say, "Would you swallow a *****?" and my first thought as a performer was, "That's not even clever!"

    I hate to do anything cliché! I'm a performer, I'm a writer, and my first thought was, "I'm not doing that! That's stupid!" I want to be a smart performer, and that's not smart.

    Why do you think sword swallowing is such a male-dominated field?

    Because it's a corner of show business that has been male-dominated forever. Generally speaking, men have owned the shows for a long time, and sideshow is a very rough business in the way it was traditionally set up—moving town to town and doing dozens of shows a day, I mean, it is very physically taxing. As the late great, Melvin Burkhart, the original human blockhead, put it: "It's a hard way to make an easy living." So I think the thought was just that men were more set up for that.

    Have you personally felt you've had any challenges in the business because of your gender?

    Yes. This goes for every aspect of show business, but if you're female it's not enough to be good. You have to be hot, too. And there are days when I lie in bed and think, Oh God, if I were younger and thinner, people would love me more, and I would work more. There are places where I am just not welcomed because I am the age I am and the weight I am, and you can't go down that rabbit hole for too long, but it's a reality! It's a reality of show business, and it's a reality of business-business. As a society, we're very oriented towards new, thin looks. I try my best to be the best performer I can be, the best writer I can be... But I'm still a female in this world, and there's a reality to that. I'm not resentful about it. I'm not bitter about it, but it is what it is. But I'm not so naive about it that I don't see it, either.

    Has your performance been therapeutic for you in any way?

    The "Lady Aye" persona I created and the big joke of it is, she's confident, she thinks she's awesome, she thinks she's sexy, and she's totally in control of it. She's sort of fearless and also a lot more affectionate than I am. I never talk to strangers. I never say, "Honey, sweetie, darling," but I feel comfortable doing that as Lady Aye. And to me, I see this persona as having everything that I was missing, and I was able to step into that. It's porous, and you can't help but pick up some of that confidence.

    That actually sounds incredibly empowering. I think a lot of people wish they could step into that alternate role.

    I always go back to drag queens, because that was another thing I was always obsessed with, and I'm obsessed with Drag Race and all that. I think that a lot of what Ru Paul is trying to explain is that you can pretend to be that person you want to be and it goes back and forth; the stage persona often lifts up what is missing in your own sense of self. That transformation is incredibly powerful.

    Has the art of sword swallowing or fire eating made you more in touch with your body?

    Yeah, to some extent. That's a battle I'm going to fight every day. I'm never thinner or more gorgeous than I am that minute I step off the stage after a good show. I'm like, "Alright! I rule! Woo! I crushed it!" The next day I'm like, "Is that a freckle? Are these pants tight?" I'm a more peaceful, happier person than I was, but it's not a cure.

    It's interesting, I actually just had somebody—we met and they wanted sword-swallowing lessons. And I don't teach, but I really felt I had to explain to her: It's not going to cure you. It's not going to make you feel any better. I know this sounds weird, but I often compare it to Dumbo's magic feather. You're handed this thing and they're like, "This will make everything perfect, and this will make everything alright," and if you believe that for awhile, it does help. But that's not actually what's helping you.

    I've been in the burlesque world for years, and when I started out I thought it was this feminist utopia. Now these women are like, "Yeah, I'm getting my boobs done and I'm working out all the time, I'm on a diet..." And I was just like, this is supposed to make us feel better about our bodies, not worse. But I can see how being in that world or being on that stage can do that to you. I also want to follow that up with: Anybody can do whatever they want to their bodies, surgery-wise.

    If you had any advice for people, and particularly young women, who wanted to get involved in the sideshow business, what would that be?

    This is going to sound very counter-intuitive, but one of my favorite burlesque performers, former sideshow performer Bambi the Mermaid, said something to me to the effect of, "I never have to be pretty when I get on that stage." And, consequently, I think she's one of the hardest, funniest, fiercest performers out there because it's one thing to put on the trappings, to get dressed up, and to look great or look however you want look, but I really want to see women get on stage with no apologies for who they are. I want to see women be unabashedly funny and smart and not need any approval for that. That's what I've always gone for. In order to do that, you need to give up the preciousness of needing to be approved of and needing to be pretty. And I think that's a very big ask. If you want to get on stage, that's what I want women to focus on—just being the most powerful woman behind the mic or on the dance floor, whatever it is.
    I confess I luv sideshows.
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
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    Sword swallowing....
    Psalms 144:1
    Praise be my Lord my Rock,
    He trains my hands for war, my fingers for battle !

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    More on Lady Aye

    What a very talented lady.

    VIDEO: The sword in the stomach
    The ancient art of sword swallowing requires an extreme level of bodily control
    By Ryan F. Mandelbaum | Posted February 14, 2016

    Sword swallowing is unsettling and awe inducing, but is far more than a snack of saber souffle.

    Sword swallowing dates back to India 4,000 years ago, and only a hundred or so people in the world practice it today. What all sword swallowers have in common is a mastery of their gastrointestinal anatomy that allows them to slide a 16-inch sword — or longer — all the way into their gut.

    “People liken the process to doing a split. Some human bodies are set up for it, some human bodies are not,” said Ilise S. Carter, 42, a professional sword swallower and sideshow performer using the stage name The Lady Aye. She performs frequently, and recently discussed the history and anatomy of the skill to a crowd of about 100 in a dark basement at Brooklyn’s Morbid Anatomy Museum, which features wax medical specimens, taxidermies, and a library with books on the macabre.

    Learning to swallow a sword is a mental game of controlling involuntary bodily functions. “What was extraordinary to me was how much time and effort the sword swallowers put in to being able to do it,” said Brian Witcombe, a British radiology consultant whose sword swallowing study published with Dan Meyer in the British Medical Journal won him an Ig Nobel prize in 2007. Carter fits this mold exactly. She recounted her apprenticeship as “brutal,” spending two years practicing, developing a routine, and incubating a mental relationship with her involuntary reflexes, where the secret lies.

    Today, Carter splits her time performing and as a freelance journalist, but she wasn’t always a sword swallower. As a teenager in Manhattan, she was inspired by the punk rock attitude of freak show performers, but ultimately began working as a financial editor because “that was a job that paid money.” Carter didn’t begin swallowing swords until around eight years ago, beginning her training after receiving a pep talk from artist and fellow sideshow performer A.V. Phibes.

    The training process starts with the performer suppressing the gag reflex and opening the upper esophageal sphincter, a muscle that acts as a seal to open and close the esophagus. They then shift their bodies in order to straighten their esophagus, allowing the sword to pass the bend around their heart. Finally, they must open their lower esophageal sphincter to allow the implement to enter their stomach.

    To the layperson, controlling the upper sphincter is at least logical, since this is where the gag reflex lives. However, controlling the lower esophageal sphincter is what really impressed Abraham Khan, a gastroenterologist at New York University’s Langone Medical Center. Khan explained that the lower sphincter has about a third of the pressure of the upper sphincter keeping it shut. However, it only opens when the body swallows, and its functions are completely involuntary; Khan did not know how one could control the muscle. Carter didn’t quite know how she controlled it either, aside from intense concentration.

    The lower esophageal sphincter is closely linked to acid reflux, an ailment Carter said afflicts some older sword swallowers. If the muscle is weakened, acid can seep out of the stomach and irritate the sides of the lower esophagus. Long term, this can cause Barrett’s esophagus, a condition in which the normal esophageal cells have been replaced with tissue similar to that of the intestine. The disease can lead to an increased chance of contracting esophageal cancer.

    No studies have been done to link sword swallowing to esophageal cancer, and most deaths seem to stem from missteps during performances, like a dropped sword causing internal bleeding. As for Carter, she doesn’t suffer from heartburn. She initially suffered from stage fright, which seems to be where most difficult part of her performance lies. “Once you’ve mastered sword swallowing, it’s the least stressful part of the act.”

    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
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  5. #5
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>

  6. #6
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    copy cats?

    Ever try swallowing something like a sword? It's difficult to copy. The gag reflex is a major preventative here.

    Britain’s Got Talent cleared over sword-swallowing after dozens of complaints

    Watchdog says ITV warned viewers about Alexandr Magala’s act and it was unlikely that they would be likely to try to copy it


    Alexandr Magala on Britain’s Got Talent: attracted more than 40 complaints. Photograph: Tom Dymond/Syco/Thames/ITV
    Mark Sweney @marksweney
    Monday 25 April 2016 06.13 EDT Last modified on Monday 25 April 2016 10.52 EDT

    Britain’s Got Talent’s sword-swallowing act has been cleared by the media regulator after complaints that it might be copied by children.

    The stunt by Moldova’s Alexandr Magala, described by some as the most dangerous act to ever appear on the talent show, left the judges squirming and at times almost unable to watch the series of feats.

    Magala, who won the Russian version of Simon Cowell’s talent show and also appeared in the opening ceremony of the Sochi Winter Olympics in 2014, combines sword-swallowing with an acrobatic routine.

    Broadcasting regulator Ofcom received 33 complaints from viewers about the act, broadcaster ITV another 10 or so.


    Alexandr Magala on Britain’s Got Talent

    Ofcom said that it had assessed the complaints about Magala but said that there was no reason to launch a full investigation as ITV had adequately warned viewers about the nature of the act.

    “We assessed a number of complaints about a sword-swallowing act in this popular ITV programme, but will not be taking the matter forward for investigation,” said an Ofcom spokesman.

    “The repeated warnings and clear references to the inherent danger of the act meant it was very unlikely that audiences would attempt to copy it. Also we found the content was in line with audience expectations.”
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
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    Alexandr Magala risks his life on the BGT stage | Britain’s Got Talent

    Gene Ching
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    Alex Magala is back with added danger | Semi-Final 2 | Britain’s Got Talent 2016

    Gene Ching
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    Some facebook vids

    This one is on topic:

    https://www.facebook.com/GuinnessWor...4561955049032/

    Guinness World Records was live.
    February 18 at 8:42am ·
    Dai Andrews joins us LIVE to attempt to swallow a sword that's curved 120 degrees from point to hilt. We're in Baltimore, USA - your sharpest questions are welcome.
    107K Views
    2.9K Likes 438 Comments 197 Shares
    This one is slightly off topic, but had to be posted here somewhere...

    https://www.facebook.com/GuinnessWor...4572488969032/
    Guinness World Records was live.
    February 22 at 7:33am ·
    LIVE: Sideshow artiste Daniella D'Ville (UK) is a multiple record holder who's here to attempt the most rotations of a sword balanced on a dagger in one minute. Cheer her on in the comments - your questions for Daniella are welcome.
    157K Views
    3K Likes 655 Comments 309 Shares
    Gene Ching
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    Johnny Fox

    Coney Island's beloved sword swallower dies at 64



    Johnny Fox, 64, had appeared on the “Late Show with David Letterman” and a Maalox commercial in which he swallowed light bulbs. He died of liver cancer. (NORMAN BLAKE)
    BY ANDY MAI
    STEPHEN REX BROWN
    NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
    Sunday, December 17, 2017, 8:39 PM

    His death is hard to swallow.

    Coney Island’s sideshow community was reeling Sunday from the death of a legendary and beloved sword swallower to liver cancer.

    Johnny Fox, 64, had appeared on the “Late Show with David Letterman” and a Maalox commercial in which he swallowed light bulbs. He was so revered at the Maryland Renaissance Festival in Crownsville that its main stage was named after him. He’d performed there since the early 1980s.

    “He was one of the finest examples of a sideshow virtuoso as well as being a celebrity within our own culture,” said Patrick Wall, general manager at the nonprofit arts organization Coney Island USA.

    “We lost one of the best ... He had a dynamic stage presence and just a complete love and commitment to what he did.”

    Fox, who grew up in Hartford, Conn., ran the Freakatorium on the Lower East Side, showcasing sideshow culture, from 1999 to 2005. He also had performed at the Coney Island Freak Show.

    “When it came to actually dropping the blade and doing the extremely dangerous acts, he was one of the best,” said Dick Zigun, founder of Coney Island USA.

    He recalled that Fox was a dedicated collector of sideshow memorabilia.


    Fox was so revered at the Maryland Renaissance Festival in Crownsville that its main stage was named after him. He’d performed there since the early 1980s. (NORMAN BLAKE)
    “If you hung out with Johnny, he would pull out Sammy Davis Jr.’s glass eye!” Zigun recalled.

    Magician Todd Robbins called Fox “one of the greats.”

    “I used to joke I wanted to be Johnny Fox,” he said.

    In 2016, Fox received a grim diagnosis and then took a fall that resulted in him slipping into a coma for several days. He chose not to go to hospice and instead sought treatment at a facility in Arizona specializing in alternative medicine.

    He recovered enough to perform again this year at the Maryland Renaissance Festival. His fans and fellow sideshow freaks started a fund-raiser for him called “A Hard One 2 Swallow.”

    “Gratitude and optimism and being content have gotten me through so much of my life, and if I can share those things with others and help each other out ... we’re all in this crazy world together,” he told NPR in October.

    “There’s love, and there’s fear,” he said. “I choose love.”
    "His death is hard to swallow." srsly?
    Gene Ching
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    LEAK: Sword Swallower Alex Magala Performs Scary Death Drop - America's Got Talent

    Gene Ching
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    Don't try this at home

    Boy pushes a 7-inch pencil down his throat as he tries to 'imitate Kung Fu masters swallowing swords on TV'
    The seven-year-old in China swallowed the sharp pencil while doing homework
    His parents rushed him to a Henan hospital after the boy confessed the incident
    X-ray shows the 7-inch pointy object lodged across the young patient's stomach
    The school pupil has recovered after surgeons removed the pencil from his body
    By EMILIA JIANG FOR MAILONLINE

    PUBLISHED: 09:41 EDT, 26 August 2020 | UPDATED: 09:58 EDT, 26 August 2020

    A Chinese boy has had a 7-inch pencil removed from his stomach after he swallowed the pointy object while doing his homework.

    The seven-year-old was rushed to a hospital in China’s central Henan province after he confessed to his parents about the incident.

    The child claimed that he was trying to mimic the sword-swallowing actors he had seen on Kung Fu TV shows.


    A Chinese boy has had a 7-inch pencil removed from his stomach after he swallowed the pointy object while doing his homework. An X-ray shows the pencil lodged in the patient's stomach

    The incident was brought to light when the boy’s parents took him to seek medical attention at Henan Provincial Children’s Hospital in the city of Zhengzhou on Friday.

    The school pupil was doing his homework in the morning when he felt bored and became distracted, said the hospital in a report.

    The boy suddenly remembered watching actors passing swords down their throats on TV and decided to imitate the stunt himself – with the 7-inch pencil in his hand.

    After pushing the entire pencil down his throat, the child eventually confessed to his mother about the dangerous act.

    The horrified parents immediately rushed their son to the Henan hospital upon hearing the news.


    The incident was brought to light when the boy’s parents took him to seek medical attention at Henan Provincial Children’s Hospital in the city of Zhengzhou, Henan Province on Friday

    While conducting an X-ray scan, doctors saw the pointy object lodged across the young patient’s stomach.

    ‘He was lucky because the pointy side of the pencil is facing upwards,’ a chief medic told reporters. ‘It could possibly puncture his stomach and digestive tract if it was facing downwards.’

    The child is said to have recovered after surgeons performed an emergency operation to remove the foreign object.

    The brand-new sharp pencil measured 18 centimetres (7.09 inches).

    'It is the longest foreign object that I have removed since I started working as a doctor over ten years ago,' the medic added.

    He urged parents to educate their children about the danger of swallowing toys or tools.

    The news comes as a five-year-old Chinese girl has had 190 magnetic beads removed from her stomach after she swallowed them while playing.

    The toy balls had been stuck inside the child for two months before she was taken by her parents to a hospital for examination.

    Medics were shocked to discover the tiny beads all bundled up inside the little girl's body while conducting an X-ray scan.
    This is totally inappropriate but the pen is mightier than the sword.
    Gene Ching
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  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by GeneChing View Post
    This is totally inappropriate but the pen is mightier than the sword.
    WOW! That is extremely dangerous. I hope the performer will be safe during that performance.

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    My former girlfriends nickname :Sword Swallower:

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    Six Flags Sword Swallower

    Entertainment company denies sword swallowing was behind medical call to Six Flags



    The performer was working for magician Aaron Radatz' production company Saturday night, according to a Six Flags spokesperson.

    Author: Scott Broom
    Published: 5:04 PM EDT October 31, 2022
    Updated: 1:54 PM EDT November 1, 2022

    BOWIE, Md. — A representative for the company staging a Halloween magic performance at Six Flags America in Bowie says an emergency call that medics described as a serious injury caused by sword swallowing was caused by an “unrelated medical condition.”
    The call for help came from Six Flags in Bowie between 9:30 and 10 p.m. Saturday evening.
    “It was not for an accident during the show but rather for other unrelated health conditions…,” reported Josh Bowren, the Production Manager for Aaron Radatz Productionz which staged the show according to Six Flags officials.
    Bowren did not name the actor, who he described as “our sword swallower," and authorities have not released the name of the injured person. The performer was a 59-year-old man who was in serious but not life-threatening condition when he was transported to Capital Region Health Hospital in Largo Saturday night, rescuers said.
    Rescuers described the weapon to medical workers as "a haunted house sword" and said it occurred during a "Halloween show."
    A spokesperson for Six Flags said the company's “thoughts and prayers are with the performer and his family.”
    According to the company's website, magician Aaron Radatz, 47, and his wife April are featured performers who also produce productions with casts at locations throughout the U.S.
    The couple posted live on Facebook from Six Flags America in Bowie on their Facebook page about a half hour before the time of the Saturday night accident.
    Prince George’s County police report officers responded to the accident because they at first feared a stabbing or cutting attack.
    And how was your Halloween?

    Sword-Swallowing
    Happy-Halloween!
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
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