The contents of this section
are dangerous. More importantly,
misuse of this information may result in harm or death. Sideshow
World and it's Staff WARN you against and are not responsible
for any harm or death that may be a result to you
or someone else by using the information contained in Slim's
Manuscripts or on Sideshow World.
You should not attempt any of these Acts
without the direct supervision and training from a
responsible and trained professional.
I was eager, young, and
wanted to know it all! I was passable at fire-eating, loved
the snakes, had good hands as a magician, understood the
principals of the human dynamo act, was able to talk, (I loved
the mike) grind, and do a myriad of other jobs on the show,
but as a sword Swallower I was the king of the mediocre.
I never got good enough to
do anything but work the bally, and the fire-act was much more
dramatic. I learned the basics from a performer on another
show, named the “Mighty Ajax” a huge man who spoke broken
English. He gave me a bayonet, which was the only “sword” I
Often, I’m asked where does
the sword go by skeptics who would rather look for trickery,
than just to accept that what they see is true. The sword
enters the glottal chamber, passes the epiglottis, the
pharynx, and enters the esophagus, must be pushed (a little)
past the muscle that closes the stomach, and then as far as
you will allow it. You’ll know how far you can go into the
depth of the stomach once you first touch the inside of the
bottom of your stomach, and will never forget the feeling!
The thing that separates
sword swallowers from sane people is the ability to control
the “gag-reflex” put there by whoever designed our wonderful
bodies to prevent foolishness of this kind. Actually the
gag-reflex is part of our system, there to prevent the
ingestion of anything foreign. The first lesson then is to
overcome it, and maybe to learn some control over the muscles
that close the throat. No one can tell you how to open those
muscles. It’s one of those things like wiggling your ears, and
it’s also the secret of being able to re-gurgitate, another
whole act. At that time I was able to swallow and return to my
mouth fairly large objects. Excuse me for digressing, it
seemed to fit here. Back to the wonderful world of gagging..
The reflex can be dulled by
frequent abuse. Many times a day, you stick your finger down
your throat, use things like bananas and cucumbers to make
yourself choke, and anything else you can think of to set off
the reflex, until it just quits working, or nearly. It took me
about two weeks of trying until I finally was able to shove my
finger down my throat without much response. The old rule was
“seven times a day for seven days. By now, you have the idea
that this is something you really, really want to do! Along
with the gagging, you will also have a pretty sore throat.
There is also the possibility of infection, I realize now, but
then I was, of course, invulnerable. After all, I was in show
biz! (A tip for your sore throat: Our cure for anything in the
throat, like gagging, hoarseness or whatever was Horehound
cough-drops. They are very soothing...)
A note. You must take your
own responsibility for any damage you do to yourself. If you
do this at all it has to be at your own risk.
Much attention has to be
paid to whatever you stick down your throat. The slightest
irregularity, even a dust particle can cause you to gag, which
can at the least be embarrassing, and in the worst case fatal!
Quit now, while
you can, I lost two friends to accidents related to sword
You must cultivate a strong
habit of continually wiping the blade(s) you use. Stomach acid
is extremely corrosive and will cause pits in almost any
Any blade you use must be
impossible to separate from the handle, be smooth without any
etching, nicks, or filigree. The edges must be removed and
rounded, and the “point” must also be removed and rounded to
at least the radius of a five cent coin (a nickel) and ideally
more. Without exception, the blade must be nickel-plated.
Chrome plating is easier to get, but will peel and flake.
I learned much from Alec
Linton when I finally got out on the road. The man was pure
energy, and tattooed over nearly every inch of his body. He
would routinely do a “sword-sandwich” of six blades, all full
sized. There is a current performer who uses seven or more
blades in his performance, but the blades are skinny. Alec had
no such luxury. His feature was a trick he called the
“Shimmy-Shawabble” which was a plated layout pin bent into a
series of “S” curves, that made his Adam's Adam’s Apple
visibly go from side to side when he passed it up and down his
throat! One of the friends I lost was an East Indian named
Shumpert Eko, who swallowed one of the earliest neon tubes. By
the way, in spite of the claims that the whole
body shows the light, the
only place it shows is at the larynx... one of the most
elegant of today’s performers is Istvan Betyar,
who appears all over the
world... He has the feeling of the old days, with the flair of
Sooner or later, some one
will ask you what’s the trick. Ask them for a piece of dry
spaghetti out of their own box, and pass it down your throat.
It’s easy, proves that it won’t fold into the handle and makes
you look like a star, unless, like I did, you break it off in
your throat. I drank a lot of water that day...
X-ray of Istvan Betyar
Adam's apple go from side
to side in a manner not soon to be forgotten. Alec also used a
scimitar with a curved blade, arching his body to accommodate
Now, on to the
There is always the
potential for gagging. Reduce it as much as you can, first by
knowing THAT YOU CAN DO THIS.. Always keep a cloth at hand to
wipe the blade, before you drop the blade down the ‘chute, and
after to wipe the blade clean of stomach acids. Most pros like
to use a chamois (Shammy) cloth for this.
Line up your throat by
starting the blade into your mouth. and finding the opening.
It’s impossible to get the sword in the wrong place. Align
your body, push just a little, and the blade will go down. In
most cases, you’ll find that it will go as a result of its own
weight. The trouble most people have with swords is not
tipping the head back far enough. After you do it for a while,
you may discover that it will not go down far enough to suit
you. Give your self a break for a few days, and try again.
Don’t believe the tales
about swallowers dropping swords any longer than about 20
inches. Beyond this, you can get in real trouble.
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