The fifth annual World Sword Swallower’s Day took place this past weekend. Organized by Sword Swallowers Association International and Ripley’s Believe It or Not! who hosted sword swallowing performances at their museums all over the world.
How Stuff Works has a great article on sword swallowing. They cite Harry Houdini himself reporting on contemporaries who swallowed metal tubes ahead of time. But, the article continues, in the real practice, which began in India 4000 years ago, the “trick” is getting extraordinary control over your body and putting the immense danger out of your mind.
Sword swallowing involves deliberately conditioning your body to do something its defense mechanisms prohibit, so it’s not surprising that it’s a dangerous activity. It’s also not widely studied in the field of medicine, perhaps because there are so few sword swallowers.
Matthew Bouvier (aka Molotov) has been swallowing swords, walking on nails, eating glass, and (consensually) throwing knives at lovely ladies for many years with the likes of Circus Redickuless and The Yard Dogs Road Show amongst other Bay Area and national acts. Currently he’s performing a knife-throwing act with Hubba Hubba Burlesque Revue and at the monthly Baxtalo Drom cabaret at the Amnesia bar.