Performance artist Donny Vomit pulls a nail out of his
nasal cavity ahead of the sixth annual World Sword
Swallower's Day celebrations outside the Ripley's Believe
It or Not! museum in Los Angeles. REUTERS/Adrees Latif
George the Giant, towering over onlookers gathered to see
performers swallow steel, hammers a 16.5cm nail up his nostril,
rips a phone book in half with his bare hands and dangles a
full bottle of Coke from his eyelids with fish hooks.
The world's tallest sword swallower, at 2.2m, he was under
strict doctor's orders not to participate in the main event
at the 6th Annual "World Sword Swallower's Day" due to an
unrelated injury, but remained intent on pleasing the crowd.
He was among performers on Hollywood Boulevard outside of
Ripley's Believe it or Not! on Saturday for a death-defying
show that would ultimately see 6m of metal swallowed
simultaneously by some of America's best sword swallowers.
"Every time you swallow a sword you're cheating death,"
George said of the art he's practiced for the past two
decades. The longest sword he's swallowed was 84cm long and
3.8cm wide. "It's a rush to watch people as they watch you do
these things that others can't do."
As these professionals threw their heads back and "dropped
sword," the adrenaline pumped from the performers out into
the Hollywood crowd as they excitedly cheered.
With preparations for Sunday's Academy Awards show under way
across the street, about 100 passers-by gathered with
anticipation as the performers swallowed steel.
Amy Amnesia, a 32-year-old performer, told Reuters this was
her first public appearance. Explaining that the minimum
requirements were for swords 35.5cm long and 1.3cm wide, she
said her particular sword of choice is 48cm.
"You have to get your body used to this new paradigm of
having a large solid object down your throat," she said,
explaining that she had only recently learned the art.
Ripley's, which sponsored the event along with the Sword
Swallowers Association International, has supported the
sword- swallowing community for 80 years, and such events
have made contributions to medicine and science by raising
money for esophageal cancer research.
According to Ripley's General Manager and new sword
swallowing trainee Andrea Silverman, the best way to learn is
to first start training with a wire coat hanger.
"The average person takes six months to get comfortable and a
year before their first performance," she said.
Brett Loudermilk, 24, first learned to swallow swords when he
was 15 years old, saying he "started out with a cake spatula
and then moved to a wire coat hanger."
Why does Loudermilk perform? "It's great providing people
with a sense of wonder."