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Profile of Braaainz
The last time I sword swallowed in public was probably around 17 years ago in North Carolina. I was at a juggling convention (I think it was University of Chapel Hill's or Virginia Tech's) and it was after the Saturday night public show, the time when people migrate outside of the theater to do the really dangerous stunts.

I laid out a rope on the ground to keep people a specific distance from me and gathered a small crowd. This one professional clown finished doing a fire eating/breathing act. I think his name was Bill. He was a professionally trained clown from Ringling Bros school. I owe him my life.

I started to do my sword swallow. I got it about halfway down when a drunk came stumbling up towards me out of the crowd... slurring his words as he yelled I was using a gimmicked sword. He crossed my rope line and made to grab my sword from me. I was desperately pulling my sword out before he got to me, but I wasn't going to make it.

Luckily for me, the clown I mentioned intercepted him and delayed him the short time I needed to extract the sword before he tried pulling it out of my hands. The drunk stumbled off, mumbling and cursing.

I started to chase after him but the clown stopped me and helped me calm down. I owe him for that too. I hesitate to think what I would have done if I had caught that drunk.

After that incident, I never sword swallowed in public again. I did it a couple of times after that for friends, but after my close little encounter, it just wasn't the same. I learned that night that you might be able to control yourself, but you can't really control others. I didn't/don't want to die over a sword swallow, pure and simple.

In recent years, I've only used the skill one other time, when I needed to have an endoscopy (tube down the throat). I told the gastroenterologist about my history and had the scope done without anesthetic. I found out that my gag reflex had returned in full with my stopping my practicing... but that I was able to control it easier and faster than my first time.

I do own a gimmicked sword now, but I don't use it in public either... I think it cheapens what sword swallowers really do. It's more that my old sword was something I just didn't want to keep around. I didn't want to get over my fear and have it lying around to pick up again. The gimmicked sword is just a mere souvenir/reminder from that period in my life.

Has anyone else had similar experiences from spectactors/drunks? How did you handle it?
Harley Newman
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Profile of Harley Newman
Drunks and audience participation do not mix well. They hurt us, though few of them wish us ill.
“You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus” -Mark Twain
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Profile of Rotten
I have had punks say "I wonder what would happen if I pushed him?" while I was performing on a street. I just looked him square in the eye with the best stink look I could muster. I always have a woman standing next to me to as I do the stunt to help discourage such stupidity. Crowd control is an illusion created by crowd management.
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of Hell because I've made
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Profile of thegreatnippulini
I owe thanks and a torn nipple due to a stagestruck and/or drunk audience participant. I'va also had idiots in the audience yell things like "Rip!"... I once had a clown in the audience heckle me, funny story how it ended up.
The Great Nippulini: body piercer, Guinness World Record holder, blacksmith and man with The World's Strongest Nipples! Does the WORLD care? We shall see...
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Profile of Lurchenstien
Some woman (I use the term loosely) tried pushing me off my giraffe unicycle at a festival I was working one year. I managed not to fall, I had a security guard escort her off the site for being a liability to herself and others, and they had her searched for drugs of their own accord.
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Profile of Steve_Mollett
I once had a drunk in a nightclub try to strangle me during a rope escape. Fortunately I had a BIG guy as my stage manager to stop him.
The absurd is the essential concept and the first truth.
- Albert Camus
Rev Tommy Gunn
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Hollywod, CA
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Profile of Rev Tommy Gunn
I am sure we are ALL in agreement that having an extra hand about to watch the crowd is a necessity!
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