The contents of this section are dangerous. Misuse of the material can cheapen an art form or at the very least make you look stupid. More importantly, misuse of this information may result in jail time or death. Do not attempt any of these tricks without the direct supervision of a responsible professional.



One of the first books I ever read that got me interested in secrets of the strange was Feats of Torture, written by Joseph Ovette. This book is now out of print, but it was so influential to me that I’ve included his experiences in this chapter. I’ve also added a few experiences of my own.


Branding Oneself with a Hot Iron

It will be well to mention that the main qualities in any of these feats are nerve and pure guts, and plenty of both. That is putting it plain. Only a person with plenty of nerve should consider tackling this type of work.


All you need here is a common electric soldering iron properly connected and working, and your arms bared. Hold the iron in your right hand and gently

but lightly place the iron on the skin, searing it.


IT WILL BURN, but not much, if the branding is lightly done. Be sure the iron is HOT. An added effect can be had by smearing the spot to be branded with Vaseline. Then when the iron touches the arm it will cause a hissing sound. This lessens the danger of burning, but watch for persons who faint!


Needle Jabbing

Use long surgical needles and be sure they are sterilized well. Extend your arm. Tell someone to grasp a bunch of skin and to pull it up. With the needle in your right hand jab it through the skin.  The only pain you will experience will be a slight sting. Several needles can be so inserted. Draw out the needle slowly and the blood will not flow and thus you can also demonstrate the stoppage of the blood. The needles can also be run through the cheek, from cheek to cheek, or through the loose skin under the neck.


Note: A firm pressure before inserting the needle practically anesthetizes the area. This is known as “pressure anesthesia,” and is frequently used by dentists before inserting their needle. Only a sharp sting is felt.


Fangs of Lucifer

A variation of the above was marketed by me as the Fangs of Lucifer. In this the fakir demonstrates his ability to render his body immune to common place injuries. Long heated needles are deliberately thrust through various parts of the body and permitted to cool. They are  then withdrawn and no blood flows from the wounds, nor is there any sign of pain.


Principle and application are the same as the preceding torture. But since the explanations given are fuller we will expand them here. No preparation is

needed, although rubbing the arm with a strong salt solution before the test will prove beneficial. Warm needles. That is, heat them, but do not get them red hot since that may blunt the points. Insert needles with a firm, steady push, either fakir or an assistant holding up the flesh (pressure anesthesia).


A slight pain will be experienced as the needle goes through; after that no pain with the possible exception of a throbbing due to the excessive heat of the needle. Several needles may be inserted, then permitted to cool. In drawing these out, do so quickly, since the needles will tend to stick as the flesh may be seared or the cooling blood coagulate.  To finish, dab the punctures with peroxide or iodine and upon retiring, place a dab of carbolated Vaseline on the wounds. In a couple of days all signs of the experiment will disappear.


In using surgical needles, you will find them very thin, the thinner the better, and sharp. The genuine fakir uses hatpins which, by the way, are not very sharp nor strong. You, though, should sterilize your needles, the heat in most cases being ample.


There are some who, to make the effect more gruesome, break the needles off or suspend weight from their ends. A dab of Vaseline can add to the effect since it will hiss and sear like burning flesh when touched with the hot needle. This is not a pleasant sight or effect, to be sure, but there are many who have found that they can sit and grin and shove needles into their skin at will.


The Trap Trick

This has been a very popular effect with magicians and still is because it presents such an unusual effect.


The performer sets a steel trap and then places his finger in it to set it off, the jaws crashing against his finger but no damage is done. The type of trap to use is one of those steel double-jawed traps generally used for catching foxes and other wild game. These have a round pan and are easily set.


Do not use a rat trap. That is the kind that breaks a rat’s neck; whereas this style of trap is made to hold the animal and not to kill.


With the trap set, extend your finger and place it straight down on the pan and release the latter. The trap will spring and the jaws come against the finger at the joint near the knuckle. There will be no pain, just a sharp rap. Traps, as stated above, are made to hold the animal, and this fact is not generally known. The spectators see the jaws crash and they will think your finger is gone.


Try it with a stick at first and then a heavy glove if nervous or if it is necessary to work up courage first. Don’t try to jerk the finger out or put it in sideways. Do it slowly and quite deliberately, for you will soon learn there is no harm to this feat if properly done.


Drinking Acid

The fakir exhibits a small whiskey glass and a bottle of carbolic acid, which may be examined. He next fills the glass and drinks it, much to the amazement of the audience.


Secret: The fact that a small whiskey glass is used serves to convince the audience that the acid is deadly, but fakir really drinks only water. The glass is a special glass, a little taller than usual with a mirror division. Mirror is firmly cemented in. The side into which the acid is poured further connects with a double bottom hidden by a design in the glass or a band painted on. Thus the acid poured into the glass runs into the secret compartment and remains there even when the glass is tilted to pour the water out. The water side is filled, the water being suitably colored if necessary to match the acid.


The glass is picked up and shown apparently empty and filled with acid. Hand covers most of this action and glass is reversed in the process showing now a “full” glass.  The acid is placed back on the table and the fingers slid down to reveal the “full” glass held at fingertips. After some dramatic display, glass is lifted to lips and “emptied,” the mouth being held wide open so “acid” will not splash.


Editor’s note: Carbolic acid (phenol) is a deadly caustic, and even a spilled drop or two proves quite painful. The handling of such materials even by the fakir, or examination of same by the audience, is certainly not to be recommended.


Putting Fingers in Hot Lead

This remarkable test outclasses many stunts of the fakirs. A pot of genuine molten lead is exhibited and performer asks audience to choose a finger from his hand that he shall insert in same. He places this finger into the hot lead and withdraws it without seeming ill effect.


Secret: This feat requires great care and greater nerve. The hands must be devoid of all moisture. They must be perfectly dry. This can be done by ”washing” the hands with dry sand. Anything that will tend to dry the hands will help, for the chief thing to remember and have is dry hands. The hands may be “fireproofed” if desired, but this is not necessary.  When putting the finger in the lead, it is placed in straight and withdrawn in the same direction.


Motion is not swift nor too slow but deliberate. The hot lead will not have time to burn, and since it will roll off a dry surface it cannot cling and inflict injury.


To the audience this is convincing demonstration of superhuman power (and nerve).


The contents of this section are dangerous. Misuse of the material can cheapen an art form or at the very least make you look stupid. More importantly, misuse of this information may result in jail time or death. Do not attempt any of these tricks without the direct supervision of a responsible professional.

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