Want a UNIQUE act that's FUN, FRESH, and DIFFERENT?
A CUTTING-EDGE show your audience has NEVER SEEN before, one they will NEVER FORGET?
Cutting Edge Innertainment presents
COMEDY SWORD SWALLOWER DAN MEYER
The act that WOWed the judges on AMERICA's GOT TALENT!
Cutting Edge INNERtainment
Flashy Entertainment with an EDGE
Piercing Program with a POINT!
Unique world-class entertainment - head-spinning, jaw-dropping, thought-provoking, mind-blowing, and loaded with audience participation!
Fresh, unique and cutting edge, yet FUN for everyone -
A show your audience will NEVER FORGET!
Through his unique blend of comedy and incredible feats, Dan will keep your audience on the edge of their seats with a show they will NEVER FORGET!
The TOP sword swallower in the world and the world's leading expert in the field of sword swallowing, Comedy Sword Swallower DAN MEYER presents unique Cutting Edge Innertainment that's jaw-dropping, head-spinning, mind-blowing, and downright UNFORGETTABLE!
A 10x World Champion Sword Swallower, Top 50 Finalist on America's Got Talent, President of the Sword Swallowers Association Int'l, multiple Ripley's Believe It or Not, 5x Guinness World Record holder, and winner of the 2007 Ig Nobel Prize in Medicine for sword swallowing research, Dan is an award-winning author, comedy entertainer, extreme performer, and inspirational speaker.
Presenting the most dangerous and bizarre feats with wit, charm and style, Dan not only engages the mind, but pierces deep into the heart to create the most personal and profound type of experience. Dan’s show features extreme feats combined with comedy and audience participation so everyone feels like they're part of the show. Instead of doing just tricks and illusions, Dan eats fire and swallows solid steel swords, bayonets, razors, hedge clippers, light sabers and other objects from 15 to 30 inches in length and up to 15 swords at once -- combined with a powerful message -- to create a profound experience audiences NEVER FORGET!
Dan has been featured on programs such as America's Got Talent, The Today Show, CNN, MTV, ESPN, in documentaries on Stan Lee's Superhumans, The Learning Channel, History Channel, Discovery Channel, in appearances on over 700 TV stations, 800 radio stations, 1000 newspapers and magazines, and seen by over 500 million people in 15 countries on 4 continents around the world.
Call him a comedy entertainer.
Call him an extreme performer.
Call him an inspirational speaker.
Ripley's Believe It or Not calls him
"…one of the TOP sword swallowers in the world!"
10x World Champion Sword Swallower
Top 50 Finalist on America's Got Talent
5x Guinness World Record Holder
Multiple Ripley's Believe It or Not!
Best known for swallowing swords UNDERWATER in a tank of sharks
Stan Lee's Superhumans swallowing a sword heated RED HOT!
Dan has been seen by over 500 million people in 15 countries around the world
President of the Sword Swallowers Assoc Int'l
Winner 2007 Ig Nobel Prize in Medicine
Featured Speaker World Peace Conference, PINC.11 Netherlands
Featured on hundreds of documentaries & TV programs
Dan is recognized as the world's leading expert in the field of sword swallowing
Dan's educational, motivational and inspirational shows can be customized for YOUR college, university, medical/science event, youth event, artist tour, festival, and or denominational event
"One of the TOP sword swallowers in the WORLD!"
-Bob Masterson, President, Ripley's Believe It Or Not!
"We LOVE your act... It's thoroughly entertaining!
You are obviously the BEST IN THE WORLD at what you do!"
-Piers Morgan, America's Got Talent
"You've obviously spent years mastering sword swallowing,
and it absolutely AMAZES me!"
-Sharon Osbourne, America's Got Talent
"Shocking, jaw-dropping and informative!
Like a cross between comedy and magic,
but it was ALL REAL and ALL AMAZING!"
-Wellcome Trust Foundation, London, England
DAN MEYER specializes in the extremely dangerous and very narrow field of cutting edge innertainment - Sword Swallowing!
After working several years in the music industry in Nashville Tennessee, Stockholm Sweden, and London England, Meyer shifted his focus from music to variety entertainment as circus clown, juggler, stilt-walker, fire-eater, and eventually, the most dangerous of all performance arts - Sword Swallower!
After being amazed while watching fire-eaters and sword swallowers, first at circus sideshows while growing up as a child in Indiana, and later witnessing Indian fakirs while serving as a missionary in India, Meyer became passionate about learning the incredible feats himself.
Hearing from a sword swallower in 1998 that there were "less than a dozen sword swallowers left around the world" led Meyer on his quest to locate as many of the surviving sword swallowers as possible while mastering the 4,000-year-old art. After three years of research, study, and daily practice, Meyer taught himself to swallow solid steel swords while networking the remaining sword swallowers into the Sword Swallowers Association International.
Described as a "David Copperfield” who combines real feats with a powerful message instead of just tricks and illusions, Meyer eats fire and swallows solid steel swords, blades, sabers, bayonets, and other objects from 15 to 30 inches in length, and up to 15 swords at once!
Meyer's show features REAL feats combined with light comedy and audience participation with volunteers from the audience so everyone feels part of the show! Meyer performs extreme feats such as fire-eating, the human blockhead, and sword-swallowing in a professional family-oriented show that's educational, inspirational, motivational, and UNFORGETTABLE with just the right touch of comedy.
In 2007, Meyer swallowed a 30 inch sword while submerged underwater in a tank of sharks and stingrays for Ripley’s Believe It or Not, a feat witnessed by over 40 million viewers on more than 400 TV stations around the world. The feat was immortalized in the Ripley's Believe It or Not book and cartoon syndicated in 43 countries, and in exhibits in several Ripley's Believe It or Not museums around the world.
In October 2007, Meyer was awarded the coveted Ig Nobel Prize in Medicine at Harvard University for his medical research paper "Sword Swallowing and its Side Effects" published worldwide in the prestigious British Medical Journal.
In 2008, Meyer wowed the judges on several episodes of NBC's hit reality show "America's Got Talent" where he advanced from auditions in Nashville to the Atlanta regionals, to the Top 50 in the Las Vegas Semi-Finals, and on to the live Finals in Los Angeles. He was also featured on The Today Show, Entertainment Tonight, and Jimmy Kimmel Live among other appearances.
In 2010, The History Channel's featured Meyer in their international documentary "Most Amazing SuperHuman on the Planet" for swallowing a RED-HOT sword heated to 1500 degrees!
A few weeks later, Meyer set 3 more Guinness World Records by swallowing swords UNDERWATER for Guinness World Record TV in Rome Italy. During filming, he punctured his esophagus, leaving him in the hospital for 10 days to recuperate.
As President of the Sword Swallowers Association Int’l, an avid historical researcher, collector of sword swallowing artifacts, and author of a year-long medical study published in the British Medical Journal that won him the 2007 Ig Nobel Prize in Medicine at Harvard, Meyer is recognized as the world’s leading expert on the ancient art of sword swallowing.
A multiple Guinness World Record holder, featured Ripley's Believe It or Not performer, and one of only a few dozen professional sword swallowers left performing around the world today, Meyer has been featured on programs such as CNN, MTV, ESPN, Daily Buzz, The Discovery Channel, Discovery Health Channel, Discovery Times Channel, Discovery Canada, Discovery International, Daily Planet, The Learning Channel, Documentary Channel, Travel Channel, History Channel, USA Network, Food Network, Armed Forces Network, Shocked and Amazed TV, Ripley's Believe It or Not, Guinness World Record TV, CNN Headline News, CNN Health, ABC News, CBS News, FOX News, NBC News, MSNBC, PBS, NPR, BBC, CBC, CMT, CTV, XLTV, NTV Russia, Univision, Telemundo, Superstation WGN, 48 Hours, 20/20, The Mancow Show, Rick and Bubba Show, Bob and Tom Show, Absolutely Alabama, Tennessee Crossroads, USA Today, Newsweek, New York Post, New York Times, Irish Times, London Times, British Medical Journal, Scientific American, Science Daily, Nature Magazine, National Geographic, Forbes Magazine, Wall Street Journal, Amusement Business, Road King Magazine, NADA Auto Exec Magazine, Christian Activities Magazine, The Lutheran, and hundreds of other radio, TV, magazine, and newspaper interviews around the world.
Meyer has performed on national tour with Brooks and Dunn's Neon Circus (Rascal Flatts, Trick Pony, Dwight Yoakum, Cletus T. Judd), on international tour with the award-winning Celtic pop/rock band Ceili Rain, opening for artists like Highway 101, Jeremy Camp, and DecembeRadio, at Ripley's Believe It or Not! and Guinness World Records attractions, and at corporate events, conventions, colleges, universities, science medical events, and other programs around the world.
Despite a close call resulting in a near-fatal injury while swallowing 5 swords at once, Meyer continues to amaze audiences with his skills. “I enjoy performing REAL feats that people think are impossible in order to demonstrate how incredible the human body really is…” Meyer explains.
* Sideshow Gathering (2002-2005)
* CNN with Jeanne Moos (2002)
* Shocked and Amazed TV (2002)
* Discovery Channel "Stomachs of Steel" (2003)
* Travel Channel "Travelling Sideshows" (2003)
* Armed Forces Network TV Commercial (2003)
* Upward Unlimited Church Youth Groups (2004)
* CNN Health with Sanjay Gupta "Life Beyond Limits" (2004)
* Discovery Health Channel "You Swallowed What?" (2004)
* Discovery Channel/BBC "I Survived Impaling" (2005)
* CMT Brooks and Dunn Neon Circus tours (2002, 2003)
* Ceili Rain Ireland tour (2005)
* Vanderbilt Stallworth Hospital (2005)
* TN State Fair Sideshow (2005)
* Food Network Unwrapped: "Food Magic" (2005)
* WGN-TV Chicago (2005)
* The Learning Channel "99 Most Amazing Self Inflicted Injruies" (2006)
* WAFF-TV Huntsville (2006)
* WDRM Huntsville (2006)
* USA Network 2nd Place winner of national "Show Us Your Character" contest (2006)
* Atlanta Jazz and Blues Fest (2006)
* ABC News, New York Times, London Times, BBC, Scientific American (2006)
* Absolutely Alabama/FOX News Birmingham (2007)
* Food Network "Unwrapped: Food Magic" (2007)
* Ripley's Believe It or Not, Ripley's Aquarium (2007)
* CNN Headline News, ABC, CBS, NBC, MSNBC (2007)
* Ripley's Believe It or Not Times Square Grand Opening (Reuters, Fox, A/P, Newsweek, MSNBC) (2007)
* ESPN First Take Live (2007)
* David Lipscomb University Impact (2007)
* Tennessee Crossroads (2007)
* Discovery Channel Canada Daily Planet (2007)
* 2007 Ig Nobel Laureate in Medicine at Harvard Univeristy (2007)
* Lecture and demonstration at MIT Cambridge
* CBC/NPR "As It Happens" (2007)
* ManCow in the Morning (2007)
* National Geographic, A/P, BBC, CNN, NY Post, AOL News, CNET, Boston Globe, others (2007)
* NTV Primetime Russia to over 150 million viewers (2007)
* History Channel Stan Lee's SuperHumans (2010)
Dan Meyer Swallows Sword UNDERWATER in Tank of Sharks and Stingrays
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MYRTLE BEACH, SC -- On Friday, May 18, 2007, sword swallower Dan Meyer made history by being the fir...MYRTLE BEACH, SC -- On Friday, May 18, 2007, sword swallower Dan Meyer made history by being the first person in America to swallow a solid steel sword while submerged underwater in a tank of live sharks and stingrays at Ripley's Aquarium in Myrtle Beach, SC.
Sponsored by Ripley's Believe It or Not!, the underwater event was designed to promote Ripley's Aquarium's "Pirates, Predators of the Sea" exhibit that educates visitors on the history of pirates, many of which frequented the Myrtle Beach area. The event occurred during Myrtle Beach's "Bike Week" which was also set around the pirate theme "Cruisin' the Coast", drawing over 300,000 motorcycle enthusiasts from around the world May 11-20. "We wanted to present an event to amaze and entertain Bike Week visitors while promoting our "Pirates" exhibit and making a connection between pirates and the undersea world," explained Ripley Entertainment VP Tim O'Brien. "Having a swashbuckling pirate like 'Captain Cutless' swallow a sword underwater was the perfect fit!"
“Captain Cutless", better known as Dan Meyer, is a professional sword swallower from Nashville, TN who has been featured in numerous documentaries, articles and medical studies for swallowing swords around the world. As the Executive Director of the Sword Swallowers Association International, Meyer is widely recognized as one of the foremost authorities in the world on the ancient art of sword swallowing.
To stretch the boundaries of the art, Meyer swallowed a 30-inch long solid steel sword while submerged 15 feet underwater surrounded by more than 80 sharks and stingrays in 85,000 gallons of salt water.
Of course, there are the obvious dangers in attempting a feat like this -- Sword swallowing can cause serious injury and even death. "Swallowing a solid steel sword is incredibly dangerous enough as it is on dry land," Meyer explains. "Last year while swallowing five swords at once, I ended up in the hospital with a serious injury that almost killed me - a punctured stomach that caused pleurisy and fluid around my heart and lungs. The pain was incredible, and I couldn't swallow solid food for several weeks!" he recounted.
This time the dangers were multiplied with additional challenges besides the obvious risks of cuts, punctures and perforations. "The worst injuries occur when trying to swallow a sword when the throat is tender and swollen. I was really worried because I've had a 'sword throat' with swelling that had me really concerned and almost made me call it off this morning.” Meyer said. “Then when I got in the tank, it was much more difficult to lean my head back and open my mouth fifteen feet underwater and surrounded by 85,000 gallons of salt water. When I opened my mouth to swallow the sword, the air rushed up out of my lungs. Not only did I have to focus on swallowing the sword correctly without impaling myself, but I had to contend with the sharks and stingrays not bumping into me while concentrating on not drowning," Meyer explained. "…And to top it all off, I managed to do it within 29 minutes after eating a full meal!"
The historic feat occurred on Friday, May 18th at the Ripley's Aquarium Myrtle Beach in the 85,000 gallon "Ray Bay" exhibit that is home to over 80 sharks and stingrays. In 2006 "Crocodile Hunter" Steve Irwin was killed on the Great Barrier Reef when a stingray stabbed him in the heart. "We didn't take any chances," explained Peter MacIntyre, General Manager of Ripley's Aquarium. "We had divers in the water guarding Dan, and an ambulance with trained EMTs was standing by in case of emergency. Fortunately, everything went according to plan and we didn't need to use their services!"
Meyer swallowed two different sized swords during the feat - a smaller sword first, followed by a longer 30-inch sword with 24-inch long blade. The viewing audience included local and national media, Bike Week tourists, and a class of students who were visiting the aquarium on a field trip. "I thought it was really cool because nobody else could do that," said student Miller Long. "When he swallowed the little one, I wasn't scared," said Hannah Ferguson. "But when he did the big one I was kind of scared!"
Why would anyone want to attempt a feat this dangerous? "I've enjoyed performing stunts like sword swallowing for audiences around the world for several years." Meyer explains. "I also swam with sharks and stingrays when I lived on an island in the Bahamas for several years. I knew I could do each of them separately. It just seemed natural to put the two challenges together," Meyer explained. "The big question was: Would I be able to do BOTH of them at the same time and survive? I'm glad to be able to stand here afterwards and say I did!"
The feat makes Meyer the first person in America to ever swallow a sword underwater. "I'm so relieved everything went so smoothly and without a problem. I'm especially excited to have made history with Ripley's Believe It or Not!" Meyer beamed with a smile. The feat is being considered for inclusion in the next edition of the Ripley's Believe It or Not! book and will be featured in a Ripley’s Believe It or Not! cartoon in the popular cartoon series that runs daily in over 200 newspapers in 42 countries.
The art of sword swallowing started over 4000 years ago in India, and requires the practitioner to use mind-over-matter techniques to control the body and repress natural reflexes in order to insert solid steel blades from 15 to 25 inches down the esophagus and into the stomach. There are currently less than a few dozen full-time professional sword swallowers actively performing the ancient but deadly art of sword swallowing around the world today.
The Sword Swallowers Association International (www.swordswallow.org) is based in Nashville, TN and is comprised of sword swallower members from around the world. Ripley Entertainment Inc. (www.ripleys.com) is based in Orlando, FL and manages over 60 Ripley's branded attractions around the world drawing over 13 million visitors annually.
Media can request satellite feed, B-roll footage, and high-res photos of the event. Meyer is available for media appearances and interviews through Cutting Edge Innertainment. Contact us immediately to arrange satellite feed, B-roll footage, high-res images, and to schedule appearances.
Media Contact - Appearances/Interviews:
Sword Swallowers Association Int'l
Cutting Edge Innertainment
Dan @ swordswallow.com
www.swordswallow.com (General Info)
www.sonicbids.com/HalfdanSwordSwallower (Electronic Press Kit)
Media Contact - Print/Broadcast:
Satellite Feed, B-roll Footage, High-res Photos
Ripley Entertainment, Inc.
obrien @ ripleys.com
Cutting Edge Innertainmet - A Hard Act to Swallow... Never a Dull Moment... Impossible to Forget!
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"Absolutely unbelievable! Wowie, wow wow wow! I've never seen anything quite like this in my life!..."Absolutely unbelievable! Wowie, wow wow wow!
I've never seen anything quite like this in my life!
Those were real knives...
My Lord, that was almost disturbing!"
--Paul Konrad, WGN-TV Morning Show, Chicago, IL
"Wow! ...That's dangerous stuff!"
--Dan Miller, WSMV TV4 Anchor, Nashville, TN
"That was absolutely amazing!...
(WGN Anchor) Robin Baumgarten couldn't watch it...
She put the entire Chicago Tribune over her head!"
--Dean Richards, WGN-TV Morning Show, Chicago, IL
"I've seen a lot of incredible things in my life,
but I've never seen anything like this before!"
--Pat, Cameraman, Oprah Winfrey Show, Chicago, IL
“I was shocked and excited when I finally witnessed it...
Hearing about it is one thing,
But seeing it is another!”
--James Davis, Producer, The Learning Channel, Los Angeles, CA
"This is by far the coolest story I have ever worked on!"
--Chris Rattican, Food Network Unwrapped, CO
"That was the most fantastic show I've ever seen in Nashville! It was awesome!"
--Suzanne Holmes, VP Documentary Channel
"In my position with Ripley's Believe it or Not, I am always on the lookout for unbelievable acts. Dan delivers just that! His poise and humor, along with his boyish smile and amazing talent really holds the attention of his audience... along with putting swords down his throat and pounding nails up his nose! Believe It or Not!"
--Tim O'Brien, VP Ripley's Believe It or Not!
"Watching Dan swallow a sword is like driving past a horrific car accident...
You don't want to look, but you can't take your eyes off it!"
-- Paula Sanning, Jefferson, MO
"The sword swallower was freaky!
My husband said it made his whole body tense up!
He was unbelievable!"
-- Susan Crisafulli PhD, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN
--Bob Mueller, WKRN TV2 Anchor, Nashville, TN
"That was awesome! I was blown away!"
--Phillip List, Huntsville, AL
"Dan presented a professional top-notch show that appealed to all ages...The kids and adults laughed, oohed, and awed with equal enthusiasm!"
--Clayton Owen, First Baptist Church, McKenzie, TN
"Dan's sword swallowing is amazing on its own,
but his sword swallowing mixed with a positive message is revolutionary!"
--Pastor Les Jones, New Song Family Church, Decatur, AL
"...like a Christian David Copperfield,
but instead of just doing magic tricks,
Dan combines incredible real feats
with a powerful message
in a show that is impossible to forget!"
-- Jürgen Beck, WAFF-TV, Huntsville, AL
"Absolutely Alabama is about people who are of, about or unique to Alabama;
Dan certainly qualifies because he is not only absolutely Alabama, but he's also absolutely amazing!"
--Fred Hunter, Absolutely Alabama, Fox 6 News, Birmingham, AL
"Dan's performance was one of the main reasons we raised a record $30,000 for our American Cancer Society Relay for Life in our county of only 6000.
Nobody had ever seen a performance like that before...
And people are still talking about it!"
--Mike Carey, American Cancer Society, Trousdale County TN
"I was a little nervous that bringing a sword swallower to our church might turn into a circus... However Dan not only entertained us, but he taught our youth (and adults) valuable lessons in faith, and turned his performance into a meaningful experience focused on Christian values and a faith walk with Christ."
--Ashley Jordan, Youth Director,
Archer's Chapel United Methodist Church, Frog Jump, TN
Dan Meyer - Back Page Man
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Dan Meyer is an extaordinary horseman - not to mention world traveler, fire-eater and sword-swallo...
Dan Meyer is an extaordinary horseman - not to mention world traveler, fire-eater and sword-swallower. He has accomplished more than most ever attain in an entire lifetime.
After working in the Nashville music industry for several years and in Europe for a while, Dan Meyer jumped ship. He took the leap from musical to variety entertainment. He became a circus clown - juggling, stilt-walking, fire-eating and eventually sword-swallowing his way into the limelight.
An odd career change some might say, but his destiny was determined long ago. As a child growing up in Indiana, Dan was struck by the skill of sword swallowers who caravanned through the Midwest in circus sideshows. Many years later, he was no less impressed by Indian fakirs performing fire-eating and sword-swallowing feats which he witnessed while living in India as a missionary.
Then came his calling. In 1998, Dan heard from a sword swallower that there were "less than a dozen" of their kind still practicing worldwide. The news of the dying breed on the brink of extinction led him on his quest. First, to locate as many surviving sword swallowers as possible, and second, to master the 4,000-year-old art himself.
Today, Dan finds himself in some of the most exotic places on earth swallowing solid steel swords as long as 30 inches. He brought his new family of sword-swallowers together under the tent of the Sword Swallowers Association International.
Described as a "Christian David Copperfield", Dan is not about tricks or illusions. A two-time Guinness world-record holder, Dan has toured with Brooks and Dunn's Neon Circus and internationally with the Celtic Christian pop/rock band Ceili Rain. He's been featured on CNN, CMT, and the Discovery Channel among numerous other programs.
With the world as his stage, Dan is quick to qualify that his heart is at home, with his horses. "Nothing compares to the loyalty I feel from my horse," he shares. He and his wife Lisa live in Nashville, Tennessee and Hartselle, Alabama where they raise Arabian horses. Visit them at www.ANSA-Arabians.com.
High Octane – Hard To Swallow
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NINE SWORD SWALLOWERS gathered in Wilkes-Barre, PA to set a new world’s record – swallowing a tota...
NINE SWORD SWALLOWERS gathered in Wilkes-Barre, PA to set a new world’s record – swallowing a total of 52 swords at one time. The record breakers were both veterans and newbies. Travis Fessler, who lowered two swords down his gullet, was thrilled. “The old record, that I wasn’t part of, was 50 swords. The new record that I am part of is 52. Even though I only swallowed 2 swords, I feel like my participation really helped put us over the top!”
Red Stuart swallowed 52 swords, a new individual record. “The closest any one person has come to swallowing that many swords was when Edith Clifford was reported to have swallowed 20 swords in 1900,” says Dan Meyer, Sword Swallowers Association International director. “What an honor it was to be standing next to Red and watch him make history by breaking a 105-year-old record!”
Michigan City Native Helps Set a Sharp Record
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FROM STAFF REPORTS Just after midnight on Sept. 3rd, nine sword swallower members of the Sword S...FROM STAFF REPORTS
Just after midnight on Sept. 3rd, nine sword swallower members of the Sword Swallowers Association International broke the 2002 SSAI and Guinness World Records by swallowing a total of 52 swords at one time at the fourth annual Sideshow Gathering and SSAI "Big Swallow" in Wilkes-Barre, PA.
The man behind the event was Michigan City native Dan Meyer.
The previous world's record for multiple sword swallowers had initially been set during SSAI's first "Big Swallow" when 19 sword swallowers simultaneously swallowed 50 swords in 2002.
Sword swallowers who broke the world's record this year included Red Stuart of Philadelphia who swallowed 25 swords, and Natasha Veruschka of New York who swallowed 11, along with Meyer and six other sword swallowers.
During the event, Meyer set a personal record by swallowing seven swords at once, with blades measuring 16 to 25 inches in length and 3/4 to 1 inch in width.
Stuart also set a personal record by swallowing 25 swords at once -- a 32-inch broadsword along with 24 other swords measuring at least 18 inches long by one half inch in width.
SSAI regulations require the blades to be at least 15 inches in length and one half inch in width.
Meyer, the founder and executive director of the Sword Swallowers Association International, is the son of Dave and Mindy Meyer of Michigan City. He graduated from Rogers High School in 1975.
After working in the music industry for several years in Nashville, TN, as well as Stockholm, Sweden and London, England, Meyer shifted his focus from musical entertainment to variety entertainment as clown, juggler, stilt-walker, fire-eater, and eventually sword swallower.
In 1998, Meyer had heard there were "less than a dozen sword swallowers left around the world", which led him on a quest to locate as many of the surviving sword swallowers as possible while mastering the 4,000-year-old art.
After nearly three years of research, study, and daily practice, Meyer taught himself how to swallow solid steel swords, blades, sabers, bayonets, rapiers, cutlasses, and other objects ranging from 15 to 30 inches in length while networking the remaining sword swallowers into the Sword Swallowers Association International.
Meyer has been featured on tour with Brooks and Dunn's Neon Circus and Wild West Show, on tour in Ireland with the Celtic Christian pop rock band Ceili Rain, and on CNN, Superstation WGN, the Discovery Channel, Discovery Health Channel, Discovery Times Channel, the Travel Channel, the Food Network, and Shocked and Amazed TV.
Meyer and his wife Lisa live in Nashville, TN and Hartselle, AL where they raise Arabian horses.
The Sword Swallowers Association International is based in Nashville, TN and includes sword swallower members from around the world. For more information, visit www.swordswallow.org.
Sword Swallowers Set Multiple World Records
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Sword Swallowers Set Multiple World Records WILKES-BARRE, PA, September 5, 2005 – At midnight in...Sword Swallowers Set Multiple World Records
WILKES-BARRE, PA, September 5, 2005 – At midnight in a small sleepy town in upstate Pennsylvania, nine sword swallower members of the Sword Swallowers Association International (SSAI) broke the 2002 SSAI and Guinness World Records by swallowing a total of 52 swords at one time on September 3, 2005 at the 4th Annual Sideshow Gathering and SSAI "Big Swallow" in Wilkes-Barre, PA.
The previous world's record for the mass sword swallow had initially been set during SSAI’s first “Big Swallow” at the first Sideshow Gathering and Sword Swallowers Convention on August 30, 2002 when 19 sword swallowers simultaneously gulped down 50 swords before an audience of sideshow industry experts, historians, performers, fans and media. The feat was certified by Guinness World Records in London as an official Guinness World Record in early 2005. This year’s record increased the number to 52 swords swallowed, a feat made even more amazing by the fact there were fewer sword swallowers participating than in previous years.
Some of the participants who broke the world record this weekend were veteran sword swallowers, while others have been swallowing swords for only a few months. “I’m proud to have been part of this historical record-breaking event. Just being on stage with legends like Natasha Veruschka, Red Stuart and Keith Nelson was very humbling. To actually be part of helping break a world record was the event of a lifetime,” beamed Travis Fessler who set his personal best by swallowing two swords. “The old record that I wasn't part of was 50 swords, the new record I am part of is 52; Even though I only swallowed two swords, I feel like my participation really helped put us over the top!”
The sword swallowers who broke the world’s records were Red Stuart of Philadelphia, PA swallowing 25 swords, Natasha Veruschka of New York city (11 swords), Dan Meyer of Nashville, TN (7 swords), Keith Nelson of New York (3 swords), Travis Fessler of Florence, KY (2 swords), Roderick Russell from Vermont (1 sword), Matt “the Knife” Cassiere of Rhode Island (1 sword), John Metz from Iowa (1 sword), and Charles "Crispy" Knight who swallowed one sword after making the long drive from Denver, Colorado for the event. The number of swords and swallowers was audited by a local accounting firm, witnessed and verified by veteran sideshow owners Chris Christ and Slim Price, former sword swallowers themselves, and confirmed by sideshow historian James Taylor.
During the event, Dan Meyer of Nashville, TN set his own personal record by swallowing 7 swords at once, with blades measuring at least 16 to 24 inches in length and 3/4 to 1 inch in width. New York Belly dancer Natasha Veruschka swallowed a whopping 11 swords, and was ready to add two more to match her 2004 Guinness World Record of swallowing 13 swords at once. But sideshow veteran Red Stuart of Philadelphia, PA topped everyone by setting his own personal record and swallowing 25 swords at once -- a 32 inch broadsword along with 24 other swords measuring at least 18 inches long by one half inch in width. SSAI regulations require the blades to be at least 15 inches in length and one half inch in width.
Stuart’s accomplishment will also be submitted to Guinness World Records as an individual world record. “The closest any one person has come to swallowing that many swords was when Edith Clifford was reported to have swallowed 20 swords in 1900...” explains SSAI Director and historian Dan Meyer. “What an honor it was to be standing next to Red and watch him make history by breaking a 105-year-old record!”
On Sunday afternoon, September 5, 2005, Travis Fessler set another personal record by cracking a bull whip 17 consecutive times while swallowing a sword to set a new SSAI record for "Whip Cracking While Sword Swallowing". Besides being recognized as an SSAI World Record, this record will also be submitted to Guinness World Records in London for consideration as a new Guinness World Record, as well as be sent to the Alternative World Records in Leipzig, Germany to be added to their record books.
At Sunday morning's awards brunch, veteran sword swallowers Count Desmond, Red Stuart, and Natasha Veruschka were honored with SSAI Lifetime Achievement Awards. An SSAI Certificate of Appreciation award was given to Franco Kossa in appreciation of his dedication to supporting and promoting the art of sword swallowing and other sideshow arts by sponsoring the Sideshow Gathering over the past four years.
The art of sword swallowing began over 4000 years ago in India and the Middle East, and requires the practitioner to use mind-over-matter techniques to control the body and repress natural reflexes in order to insert up solid steel blades from 15 to 25 inches down the esophagus and into the stomach. With the demise of the traveling circus sideshow over the past thirty years, there are currently less than forty full-time professional sword swallowers actively performing the ancient but deadly art of sword swallowing around the world today.
The Sword Swallowers Association International is based in Nashville, TN and is comprised of sword swallower members from around the world.
For more information:
www.swordswallow.com (General Info)
Sword Swallowers Association Int'l
# # # # # END # # # # #
Meetings on the Far Side
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____________________________ MEETINGS on the Far Side BY DAVE KOVALESKI Association Meetings...
MEETINGS on the Far Side
BY DAVE KOVALESKI
Association Meetings, Aug 1, 2004
DAN MEYER IS YOUR AVERAGE, EVERYDAY-LOOKING GUY.
He's married, lives in Nashville, and works for a company that provides Internet access to some 1,900 schools in Tennessee. But he stuck out like a sore thumb last year at the Inkin' the Valley Tattoo Convention and Sideshow Gathering. Strolling among tattoo aficionados adorned with body art and strange piercings, Meyer overheard a comment about his group, the sword swallowers, who occupied the other side of the exhibit hall.
“Those people over there are weird,” said the man covered from head to toe in tattoos. Meyer, the executive director of the Sword Swallowers Association International, had to laugh.
“I thought that was the funniest thing — the pot calling the kettle black,” cracks Meyer, who launched SSAI two years ago and is also known as “Halfdan, the Human Dipstick” and “Belteshazzar, the Blade Glommer.” He is currently organizing the third Sword Swallowers Convention at the Inkin' the Valley Tattoo Convention and Sideshow Gathering, to be held over Labor Day weekend in Wilkes-Barre, Pa.
It just goes to show that even in the world of “alternative” association meetings, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Indeed, while mainstream professional societies and trade associations constitute the well-known face of the convention industry, there are thousands of groups getting together annually who are united in their unusual, off-beat, or just plain wacky interests — from women in red hats celebrating middle age to earnest believers in ghosts. It's a world reflective of the incredible diversity of American culture — and one where meeting planning faces its own set of challenges.
SWORDS AND STIGMA
One challenge for the sword-gulping group, for instance, is getting their props to the annual event. Swords are not exactly airplane carry-on items. That's where an SSAI membership card comes in handy. “It kind of helps convince them to let me on the plane,” explains Meyer, although his crate of swords must fly in baggage. All performers are responsible for bringing their own props, whether they're swords or a bed of nails.
Meyer's biggest challenge — outside of getting a 24-inch blade down his throat without killing himself — is rounding up a select group of performers to attend the convention. As executive director of the SSAI, Meyer is in contact with all the active sword swallowers in the world, who number about 40. But to get them to come to the convention, Meyer found that he needed a hook, not a sword.
So he organized "The Big Swallow", a midnight performance during the convention at which all the sword swallowers in attendance would attempt to set the record for most swords ingested at once. Since it had never been done before, setting the record the first time would be easy. The first year, 2002, 19 people swallowed a total of 50 swords to set the record. This year, Meyer and his associates will be looking to beat the 2002 record, which was not broken last year.
Getting publicity for the feat was an added bonus as CNN, The Discovery Channel, Shocked and Amazed TV, and the Travel Channel, have all done features on the Big Swallow. This year, the Big Swallow will be held at midnight on Friday, September 3.
While some off-beat groups seek out the spotlight, others, perhaps unfairly, have a reputation that precedes them. For Starfleet International Inc., an association for fans of “Star Trek,” the science fiction television series that spawned movies and spinoff series, the biggest meeting planning challenge is overcoming the “stigma of the Trekkie,” according to Michael Malotte, a volunteer who heads up the association and whose official title is Commander, Starfleet.
“People sometimes don't take you seriously,” he says. “Fighting the stigma of the geeky person that lives in their mother's basement and has never been kissed is kind of a standard thing for the Trekkie.” Indeed, Starfleet has raised its fair share of eyebrows when booking hotels over the years. “We have people that look at you and say, ‘Oh, my God. What have I walked into?’ and other people who say, ‘This is pretty cool.’” But after 30 years, the Starfleet group has become less of a novelty. Some hotels, like the Kansas City (Mo.) Airport Marriott, where Starfleet has held its convention three times, get into the spirit of the convention by having staff wear Spock ears.
Each year, the convention destination is selected based on a theme. Last year it was held in Charlotte, N.C., in honor of the 100th anniversary of the Wright Brothers' first flight. This year, as we went to press, the convention was to be held in Birmingham, Ala., at the end of July. The theme: “Journey to the Land of the Vulcan.” No, not that kind of Vulcan, but the Roman god of fire and forge, whose statue overlooks the city.
The Birmingham Marriott is hosting the meeting, with attendance expected to be between 200 and 300, which is about average. The guest speaker is Lee Shackleford, a professor at the University of Alabama and former writer for “Star Trek: The Next Generation.” William Shatner (James T. Kirk), and Patrick Stewart (Jean-Luc Picard), two Star Trek captains, have not yet made appearances at the group's annual convention, but actors such as Leonard Nimoy (Spock) and George Takei (Sulu) have attended over the years, Malotte notes.
A volunteer-driven, nonprofit association, Starfleet boasts 4,000 members and 250 chapters around the world. More than half of the chapters donate to local charities, and this year proceeds from the national convention will benefit the Ronald McDonald House, says Malotte. “You pretty much name the charity and someone's probably raising funds for it.” They also have a scholarship program for up to 10 members (or their families) each year to offset the cost of college tuition.
“We have our reality-challenged members,” concedes Malotte, who, when he is not at the Starfleet helm, is technical support manager for Gateway Computers in Kansas City. While some fans do show up in full Klingon regalia and other costumes, many are more subdued and go for the camaraderie.
“It's more of an association of friends,” he says. “People who have been brought together with a common interest.”
Common interest is sometimes not so common. Take, for example, the American Ghost Society. Founded in 1995, the organization boasts more than 600 members, mostly ghost hunters and ghost enthusiasts. Troy Taylor, ghost hunter and author of 33 books, including his most recent, The Ghost Hunter's Guidebook, put together the society's first conference in 1997 in Decatur, Ill. He has since moved it to his home base in Alton, Ill.
Originally, the conference was to be held at a local hotel, but plans fell through so the meeting was moved to his bookstore, which turned out to be a great location because it not only reduced overhead, but the old building, with a haunted history, provided the perfect atmosphere.
“I never really believed it [was haunted] even though this is my business,” Taylor admits. “It seemed too good to be true, until things actually started to happen.” At a conference reception a few years ago, he recalls, people were conversing in the back when all of a sudden, books started flying off the shelves.
Then there's Bill Washell, founder of Maine's Paranormal Research Association, based in Lewiston. Washell, who specializes in voice phenomena — he records spirit voices electronically — has been bumped, heard chains rattle, seen apparitions, and had a sleeper sofa slide across the room toward him in his experiences as a ghost hunter. He got into the field at the age of 18 when his recently deceased mother appeared before him in his bedroom to tell him everything would be OK.
At the group's inaugural conference, the 2003 New England Ghost Conference held in Salem, Mass., Washell had a close encounter of a different kind. “While we were doing our conference, this little old lady was walking up and down the hall, blessing the hall,” he says. “She would follow us everywhere we'd go and bless that spot.”
The association's second annual conference will be held August 6 to 8 at the Parkwood Inn, Brunswick, Me., and is open to the public. “The goal for our conference is to bring something different and unique into our area,” Washell says.
That strategy has worked well for Taylor's American Ghost Society, which Alton now welcomes with open arms, after some initial apprehension. The local Holiday Inn, the biggest hotel in town, even blocked rooms for the event this year for the first time.
“We kind of went from being that oddball thing that nobody talks about to being embraced by the community,” says Taylor, who was surprised to win an award from the tourism board in Alton. “I think they finally woke up and said, ‘Hey, these ghost people are spending a lot of money in town.’”
SPECIAL NEEDS FOR SPECIAL GROUPS
Sandy Brown — the festival director for the volunteer-managed International Jugglers' Association — knows all about juggling several tasks at once. That's because Brown, for 17 years, was a professional juggler who went by the name of Sandy Brown, Juggler Renowned. That was then. Now she is a licensed physical therapist in Kansas City who doubles as the person in charge of putting on the annual convention for a 2,000-plus member organization that is anything but ordinary.
IJA's 57th annual convention, held this summer at the Buffalo (N.Y.) Convention Center, attracted about 1,200 members. “It's a very colorful festival,” says Brown. “Things are flying through the air, people are on unicycles. You just see some unbelievable things.”
As one might imagine, very high ceilings are a necessity to accommodate the shows, competitions, workshops, and demonstrations that make up the bulk of the program. And because the group puts on a variety show every year, access to a performing arts center is mandatory. This year, the world-famous Flying Karamazov Brothers were the guests of honor, performing at both the convention center and a nearby theater.
One of the group's most unusual requirements is that IJA members must have 24-hour access to the center. “People will be in there throughout the day and throughout the night,” says Brown. “Juggling never stops. Jugglers don't sleep.”
The special needs of some groups have nothing to do with entertainment — and everything to do with social change. “There are lots of things we have to look for in a hotel that most meeting planners don't have to look for,” says Maryanne Bodolay, executive director and meeting planner with the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance, based in Sacramento, Calif.
The 2,000-member organization was founded in 1969 to fight discrimination and serve as a support group for fat individuals, which, the organization is proud to point out, is not a four-letter word. With a focus on activism and education, the organization holds an annual convention that consists predominantly of workshops and seminars that look to raise community awareness, promote movement and health for people of every size, and help children and adults cope with diet and weight issues, explains Bodolay.
The theme of this year's convention — held in August at the Newark (N.J.) Liberty Airport Marriott Hotel — is “Dream Big,” with a program designed to encourage members to follow their dreams and not put them on hold. Attendance is expected to be about 400.
Bodolay looks for a hotel that is self-contained because members spend 99 percent of their time at the property. But the hotel can't be too big because some members have mobility issues. The group also requires an accessible pool with steps as opposed to ladders, adequate-sized bathrooms in the guest rooms, and pre-determined meeting space so that hoteliers can't shuffle sessions based on head counts. Historically, she has found that airport hotels generally fit the bill. “The hotels love us because once we're there, we stay there,” she says.
Once the destination is selected, Bodolay does a lot of pre-con work with hotel staff on sensitivity training. “We go into a lot of detail about what's acceptable and what's not acceptable,” she says. Many of the members are bilingual, so she lets hotel staff know that slurs made in other languages are often detected and not tolerated. Incidents are rare, but when they do occur, Bodolay insists that the employee be sent home.
“I'm ferocious when it comes to protecting the attendee, and I pretty much will go though anything to do that,” she states. “These six days need to be a time where they can be safe. They're paying a lot of money to be safe, and I go through a lot of trouble to make sure of it.”
MEET THE RED-HAT NATION
When British poet Jenny Joseph wrote the poem, “Warning,” she probably didn't imagine the phenomenon that has become the Fullerton, Calif. — based Red Hat Society. The speaker in the poem is a woman who celebrates her aging by wearing a purple dress and a red hat, drinking brandy, and making up for the temperance of youth.
Sue Ellen Cooper, founder and “Exalted Queen Mother” of the Red Hat Society, was so inspired by the poem that she decided to give her women friends a red hat on their 50th birthday as a rite of passage, explains Matthew Reekstin, vice president of finance, meeting planner, and Cooper's son-in-law. “The idea was to have fun with aging, to reach the plateau with fun and laughter rather than dread,” Reekstin explains.
Four years ago, a small society of 20 women was formed to do just that, and largely through word of mouth and some magazine articles, the group has grown like wildfire. Today, there are 25,000 chapters, primarily throughout the United States and Canada, and approximately 600,000 members, with chapters popping up around the world. “It's pretty much gone from a little family business to a big family business,” with 50 staff members, including a CMP, Reekstin says.
The first convention was in 2002 in Chicago, where 425 women showed up in the uniform of the society: red hat and purple dress. This year, 2,500 people attended the “Red Hat Rodeo” at the Gaylord Texan Resort and Convention Center near Dallas. The convention featured a barbecue, a trip to a rodeo, guest speakers, and a performance of “Menopause, The Musical.” Red Hat gatherings are designed to be low on formality and high on fun, and are based each year on a theme, Reekstin says.
“Meals aren't just meals, they are events, like the pajama breakfast, the gospel brunch, or high tea. Hotels love having the group because they are so outgoing and colorful,” Reekstin says. “Other guests are always peeking in on their events out of curiosity.”
To attract the Red Hat Society, a destination must possess an important attribute: “It has to be a fun city, with an interesting draw,” Reekstin says. The 2005 event will be held in Las Vegas at the MGM Grand and has been dubbed “The Big Deal.”
“We pride ourselves on serving members and making them feel important,” he says. “It's really all about them.”
PACK LIGHT FOR THIS ONE
Site selection is relatively cut and dried for the American Association for Nude Recreation, based in Kissimmee, Fla. It's either at a clothing-optional resort or it's not an option. Fortunately for the AANR, there are 267 nude resorts in the United States and Canada, including Glen Eden Sun Club, Corona, Calif., site of the 2004 convention.
AANR expects about 1,000 people to attend the annual convention in August, says Carolyn Hawkins, public relations coordinator at AANR, so the resort has to have the meeting space to accommodate a fairly large group and have adequate recreational facilities.
Recreation is indeed the focus of AANR, which was established in 1931 and boasts 50,000 members, so ample swimming, tennis, volleyball, horseshoes, hiking, horseback riding, and other amenities are a must. But there is also an educational and business component to the meeting, says Hawkins, and yes, these indoor sessions are clothing optional too. “If it's chilly, like an air-conditioned room, then some prefer to have a T-shirt on, but basically these folks are nudists and they want to be nude,” says Hawkins. “Nude when possible, clothes when practical.”
While the resorts have rooms, space is limited so some guests of the annual meeting must stay at nearby hotels, where clothing is required for all guests. The AANR has yet to run into any problems at local hotels. In fact, says Hawkins, they are very receptive and usually give the association special group rates.
One of the TOP sword swallowers in the world
[+ Show ]
"One of the TOP sword swallowers in the world!" -Bob Masterson, President, Ripley's Believe It... "One of the TOP sword swallowers in the world!"
-Bob Masterson, President, Ripley's Believe It Or Not!
Available Acts for Set List
Sword Swallowing -
22" Short sword
Giant Straight Razor
Garden Hedge Clippers (that's right!)
24" Medium sword
27" Curved saber
30" Long sword with volunteer removal
30" Serpentine sword
Hiltless sword - blade only
Multiple sword sandwich
Glowing light sword glows through neck
Sword whipped from throat by whip from 10' away!
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. What kinds of swords do you swallow?
A. I swallow solid steel swords, blades, sabers, bayonets, rapiers, cutlasses, scissors, and other long, sharp and pointed objects between 15 and 30 inches long
1907 WWI bayonet
8 sided Middle Eastern sai
19” forceps, scissors
22” curved single-edged saber
24” double-edged Renaissance sword
24” basket hilted rapier
24” single-edged cutlass 1.5”-2” wide
24” curved Persian shamshir
24” serpentine Flamberge rapier
40” Scottish broadsword
The most swords I have publicly swallowed simultaneously was 7 swords at the same time on September 3, 2005. I successfully swallowed 8 swords at once in a private video shoot on January 2, 2006.
My sword collection currently numbers over 100 different swords, including a historical collection of swords that belonged to other sword swallowers, both past and present, from the early 1900s to date.
I am currently working on writing a book on the history of sword swallowing entitle “To The Hilt: The History of the Art of Sword Swallowing”, and hope to one day open the Sword Swallower’s Museum and Hall of Fame where I can display the swords, photos, costumes and props of sword swallowers of the past.
Q. Why do you swallow swords?
A. "My doctor said I needed more iron in my system, and this is the quickest way I know to get iron in my system..."
Seriously, when I heard from a sword swallower in 1998 there were “less than a dozen sword swallowers left around the world”, I decided to take up sword swallowing, for a number of reasons:
Because sword swallowing is real, authentic, not fake - unlike magicians who do "tricks" or "illusions" to deceive their audiences, I enjoy performing juggling, stilt-walking, fire-eating, blockhead, and sword swallowing because they are REAL feats, not tricks or gimmicks.
* Because it is extremely DIFFICULT – Sword swallowing is one of the most difficult things I have ever done in my life. It was a personal challenge that took over three years of dedication and perseverance before I finally managed to overcome the difficulties and swallow my first sword successfully. I like to demonstrate how incredibly awesome the human body is, and the extremes it can be pushed to if you just put your mind to it.
* Because it is extremely DANGEROUS – Sword swallowing is the deadliest of all performance arts. Because it is so extremely dangerous, the field of sword swallowing is made up of an extremely elite fraternity with very few living sword swallowers left actively performing the ancient art around the world today.
* Because it is a DYING ART – Since there are only a few traveling circuses and sideshows still touring today, there are only a few dozen full-time professional sword swallowers left actively performing sword swallowing around the world today. As one of the last in the great tradition of sword swallowers, my objective is to help preserve and promote the ancient art of sword swallowing.
Q. How did you learn to swallow a sword? Were your parents with the circus?
A. I had learned fire-eating in 1978, and had worked with small circuses as a circus clown and juggler in the late 70s and early 80s. I have been performing fire-eating and fire-breathing for over 25 years, and learned unicycle riding, elephant riding, stilt-walking, club juggling, and fire juggling along the way. In the 1990s I began researching and studying sword swallowing on my own. In 1998, while talking with a sword swallower, I heard that there were ". . .less than a dozen sword swallowers left in the world. . .” It was then and there that I became even more passionate and dedicated to learning and preserving the ancient art of sword swallowing.
It took several years of research and over three years of practice every day, 10 times a day, before I finally managed to successfully swallow my first solid steel sword. Reaserch shows that it can take some sword swallowers from 3 to 7 years to learn to swallow a sword, and some people NEVER manage to learn it, even with several years of training and practice.
Q. How do you swallow a sword?
A. Swallowing a sword is a matter of "mind over matter" in order to repress the involuntary reflexes in the human body.
In order to swallow a sword without hurting myself, I must relax my throat, repress the gag reflex, slide the blade over my tongue, flip back my epiglottis, slide the blade down my esophagus, repress the peristalysis reflex in the esophagus, slide the blide behind my pharynx, between my lungs, nudge aside the cardiac muscle of the heart, relax my esophageal sphincter, repress the retch reflex in the stomach, and insert the tip of the blade deep into the pit of my stomach.
Q. Isn’t it dangerous? Have you ever injured yourself?
A. Yes, I have injured myself - I've cut myself a few times in the throat, and once in the stomach. One injury occurred on Friday, September 13th, 2002 while filming a TV commercial for the Armed Forces Network, which required me to do multiple swallows over a 10-hour day. My worst injury occurred while swallowing 5 swords at once at a restaurant on Friday, October 13th, 2005 when my stomach retched causing a perforation in my lower esophagus at the entrance to my stomach. This injury put me in the hospital and I couldn't swallow solid food for about 4 weeks.
Many other sword swallowers have died from injuries caused by perforation of the esophagus and stomach, from massive bleeding and infections such as peritonitis caused by cuts and punctures, from swords with burrs that snagged in the esophagus, and from neon tubes bursting inside of them. If you have an accident while sword swallowing, they can't just reach in and put a band-aid on it... Sword swallowing is EXTREMELY dangerous....
Q. How can I learn to swallow a sword to impress my friends?
A. DON'T! It is extremely dangerous and can kill you!
PDF RiderSword Swallower Dan Meyer Stage Tech Rider
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