Originally, this interview was sent to me last May, but several months of lacking Internet access did not allow me to fill it out at that time.
While I am very flattered to be featured on the site, I am quite disappointed with the lack of care that my interview received. Reading thru it, you will noticed that a lot of my sentences are cut off, and I really feel that this interrupts the flow of the article. Not to mention that it’s quite annoying.
Despite the fact that I brought this to the attention of the person who posted it, the error remains unchanged, and it’s hard for me not to feel as tho I wasted my time.
Here is the full interview the way it should have been posted. Feel free to leave comments on the article so that maybe someone will correct the mistakes.
*NOTE* – Decided to rework my answer for the costume question because I did not like what I wrote the first time around.
Classic Burlesque has become a huge phenomena lately, what about it first captured your interest?
In 2000, I was taken to a magical land called Coney Island, where traditional sideshow and burlesque were performed in a building that once belonged to the Dreamland Circus Sideshow. While I cannot pinpoint exactly when I saw my first real live burlesque performance, the very act of seducing the audience with carefully choreographed moves was definitely intriguing. Over the years I have seen a number of performances, and sadly many of them are reminiscent of scenes one might find at the strip club. There seems to be little respect for the classic art and the whole purpose of TEASE. Now it’s about how fast one can get naked, and the things one is willing to do once all the goods are exposed. One of my favorite and most memorable performances goes to the lovely Dirty Martini, a so-called ‘plus size’ dancer who received Miss Exotic World honors and can still make men drool. Certainly there are plenty of women who carry on the traditions of real burlesque, but sadly I feel the trend outweighs the art.
What first attracted you to sword swallowing?
Natural curiosity. Understanding that this was not a trick, my mind had numerous questions as to how one could easily slide a solid object into the body without being seriously injured. There is something undeniably sensual about the act, and the more I watched people do it, the more I needed to know how I could make this possible.
How did you learn to swallow swords?
Attending the Coney Island Sideshow School in 2002. Fred Kahl [aka the Great Fredini] was our teacher, tho Tyler Fyre let us look at his swords. Keith Bindlestiff and Red Stuart have also given me pointers in the past. Other than that, it was a whole lot of practice. The first object I ever deep-throated was a wire coat hanger bent in a ‘sword shape’, which took a month to overcome the internal gag reflexes. The first time I swallowed a sword was in August ’07 after half an hour of practice. My goal is to smash the Guinness World Record, which currently stands at 13 for a female, tho the official record is over 20 and has been held for more than a century by the very talented Edith Clifford.
At what kind of events do you perform?
Anywhere there is space, honestly. From seedy basements and grassy backyards to sandy beaches and the vast labyrinth of South Jersey forests, there is no event or venue too small. In fact, I much prefer more intimate settings, in order to be able to interact with the audience.
What’s it like performing all over and experiencing the different scenes?
Hard to describe, really. When I was touring with the carnival in 2005, work and business always came before pleasure. Between performing about 10-12 hours a day, set-up and tear down, we did not have a whole lot of spare time to socialize. However, being able to draw a crowd into a canvas tent and have every pair of eyes set on you is something that makes you understand that you a part of something big. The audience react in a variety of ways and I love every single one of them. At moments, it is what makes performing worth the effort. It is also enjoyable when people come and talk to me, even if they say “I don’t know what to say about that” in response to my sword swallowing. The fact that someone can take a minute to even pay attention to what I am doing gives me a boost of confidence.
The downside of the scene is what most people will never see and maybe do not even want to know about. In my opinion, it seems that who you know and not what you do gets you gigs. My life is dedicated to my art [in all its forms], and at the end of the day, the life time of memories and experience I have gained outweighs any sort of monetary reward or ‘being known’ in the scene.
Has anything crazy ever happened at a show?
No matter how well planned a show is, there is always the chance of the unexpected.
The worst thing that ever happened was back in 2004, during the midnite performance on the Wall of Death. My late friend Jon had constructed the track out in the Pine Barrens in South Jersey and we sold tickets to anyone brave enough to come witness the Death Defying Daredevil at his best. Riding at about 90MPH on a custom motorcycle, there must have been a loose board or fastener or something, and I watched Jon fly head first over the handlebars and skid across the wooden planks for a good thirty seconds or so. Everyone was in shock, and each second that ticked by as medics rushed to his aid felt like a lead weight in my stomach. While he was pronounced dead for a brief minute, Jon was able to walk away from the accident. However, the physical effects were permanent, and led to him retiring completely from show business.
Less tragic incidents include: cutting my foot on broken glass [at least the audience knows it is real] and bleeding on the floor for a moment, tho the injury was very minor; some guy deciding to whip out his member and urinate in front of the sideshow during its performance; and dealing with hecklers who do not quite know when to stop.
Are there any other creative mediums you work in?
Painting – mostly acrylics, water color and oil
Drawing – tattoo flash and pin ups
Writing – blogger for over a decade, created two magazines and currently finishing up a novel
Photography – self-portraits, urban decay, abandoned places and general natural scenery
Hair – hand made, one-of-a-kind wigs, pieces and accessories
Would love to make some organic body jewelry too.
What are your favorite types of outfits to perform in?
Carny Style is not something that comes pre-manufactured from an assembly line, but rather a careful evolution of personal aesthetics. It defies all scenes and subcultures, and most certainly is not going to be found on the racks of Hot Topic, nor can it be purchased in any form. My personal style takes cues from 50s pin-ups and Kustom Kulture, Victorian wares, American Circus and pretty much anything that is fun, exciting and comfortable to wear.
The idea is to separate stage clothes from everyday wear. Sword swallowing in a corset also adds a bit of danger, which is why I enjoy wearing them to perform this feat. Red, blue or yellow is incorporated into most of my outfits in one form or another, utilizing everything from fabrics to hair to make-up. Oh, and just once it would be fun to sword swallow while wearing latex couture.
What kind of music do you like?
Interestingly enough, there is a wide spectrum of things I listen to. Big band, swing, surf, doo-wop, rockabilly and lounge are definite favorites, particularly for uplifting moods or background music. Punk, metal, noise, industrial, hardcore and grindcore work for those times where aggression or anger need to come out. I have even formed a love for old school rap and hip-hop, as well as country and bluegrass, but not that pop crap that is all over the radio. Hank III, George Jones and similar veins is what I prefer.
What do you like to do for fun?
Supporting local bands, observing people in public, being visually obnoxious and random social experiments. A good friend of mine taught me that people are far more interesting when you take them out of their comfort zone, and I greatly enjoy doing this whenever possible.
Writer/Editor/Publisher – Alive On the Inside: magazine dedicated to preservation and education of American Circus & Sideshow history and culture; Aesthetic Evolution: magazine that strives to educate the public about body modification history and culture.
Finishing a novel that has been in the works for several years. Set in the mid 1950s, the fictional story takes place in an ocean side community that hosts a carnival, with a traditional 10-in-1 sideshow. The two main characters meet by chance during dinner in the city, and their first encounter stirs up all sorts of feelings and emotions that were once very dormant. The next few days are a blur of romance, passion and strange events that will constantly test their new relationship. He also has a dark secret, one that the lovely heroine knows from personal experience and will stop at nothing to uncover. However, once their past is unlocked, what can prevent the future from becoming very grim? A riveting tale of love and cannibalism.
Guinness Book of World Records title holder – recognized as #35 to swallow Thomas Blackthorne’s Sword of Swords.