This past Saturday the winter seemed to give way to spring. It was a short reprieve but the skies could not have been clear on a better date. It happened to be on my new favorite holiday.
I began trying to sword swallow in 2007 at the Coney Island sideshow school. It was the last year that Todd Robbins taught the class. Little did I know I was in the company of others who would become performers in their own right. Mike Vitka I know was working for the World of Wonders as well as stumbling in to him in Salem Massachusetts on my honeymoon. He was running a museum show my wife and I visited. Tony Gangi wound up writing an amazing book Carny Sideshows: Weird wonders of the Midway, describing the trials of learning his skills. It was amazing meeting and furthering my knowledge of sideshow with these great people. The thing is, I already knew some of the basics, blockhead and quite a few strongman stunts. The real aim was swallowing swords. With the least amount of damage to my body as possible. It would take longer than I thought.
Last year was my first experience swallowing for the crowds in front of Ripleys. If your keeping count it took me about six years to learn the art. I became a member of the SSAI (Sword Swallowers Association International)that day. I feel as though I was inducted into a group of people unlike any other. Almost a secret society of amazing people stupid enough to shove sharp pointy things down their throats for applause.
This years Sword Swallowing Day I again spent the day at Baltimore Ripley’s. Baltimore being my home town and all. James Taylor of Shocked and Amazed was there to offer his insight to the weird and wonderful. Nora the general manager as always was pleasure to work with. I had the opportunity to perform with Tyler Fire and Thrill Kill Jill from the Lucky Daredevil Thrillshow. They are a sword swallowing sideshow duo that is due to have more members soon. Right now Jill is pregnant with their third child and is still dropping blades. Yes she is the first pregnant sword swallower. I took the stage for a half hour strongman demonstration. Ripping decks of cards in half and rolling up frying pans and the ilk.
Of course when 2:22 came it was time to perform the big swallow. This is the moment when sword swallowers around the word drop their blades all at once. The curious get a chance to see something live that they would have only seen on YouTube. Trust me it’s much more impressive live.
written by Christopher Scarborough
•Hollywood 11 SwSws swallowed 25 swords totaling 511 inches or 42 feet of steel – including the World’s Tallest Sword Swallower!
•New York Times Square 13 SwSws swallowed 22 swords for a total of 437 inches – including 5 female sword swallowers!
•Atlantic City 1 SwSw swallowed 1 sword for …a total of 19 inches… while sandwiched between TWO BEDS of NAILS!
•Baltimore 3 SwSws swallowed 3 swords for a total of 63 inches… and one of them was PREGNANT!
•Myrtle Beach 1 SwSw swallowed 1 sword for a total of 16 inches
•Gatlinburg 3 SwSws swallowed 11 swords for a total of 253 inches
•St. Augustine 5 SwSws swallowed 15 swords for a total of 327 inches – including the World’s Youngest Female Sword Swallower at 15 – and they traveled the MOST MILES – 7693 miles – from Vermont, Indiana, Georgia, and all the way from Bavaria GERMANY!
•Key West 1 SwSw swallowed 1 sword at 25 inches – This was the most SOUTHERNMOST sword swallow of the day!
•Branson 1 SwSw swallowed 1 sword at 24 inches
•Dallas Grand Prairie 3 SwSws swallowed 6 swords at 134 inches – Including one sword swallower balancing on a high unicycle!
•San Francisco 1 SwSw swallowed 1 sword at 16 inches
•Arizona Science Museum Ripley’s Exhibit 1 SwSw swallowed 1 sword at 22 inches – to an audience of about 400!
•Genting Hills Malaysia 1 SwSw swallowed 1 sword at 18 inches – the most EASTERLY location from the US!
44 Sword Swallowers swallowed 76 swords totalling 1517 inches or 126 feet of steel at 18 Ripley’s museums
Total for World Sword Swallower’s Day 2014:
45 Sword Swallowers swallowed 89 swords totalling 1865 inches or 155 feet of steel at 13 Ripley’s & 1 Science Museum