Steel on the menu at sword swallowers' Hollywood sideshow

Sun Feb 24, 2013 11:26am EST
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By Dana Feldman

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - George the Giant, towering over onlookers gathered to see performers swallow steel, hammers a 6-1/2 inch nail up his nostril, rips a phone book in half with his bare hands and dangles a full bottle of Coke from his eyelids with fish hooks.

The world's tallest sword swallower, at 7 feet 3 inches, he was under strict doctor's orders not to participate in the main event at the 6th Annual "World Sword Swallower's Day" due to an unrelated injury, but remained intent on pleasing the crowd.

He was among performers on Hollywood Boulevard outside of Ripley's Believe it or Not! on Saturday for a death-defying show that would ultimately see 234 inches of metal swallowed simultaneously by some of America's best sword swallowers.

"Every time you swallow a sword you're cheating death," George said of the art he's practiced for the past two decades. The longest sword he's swallowed was 33 inches long and one and a half inches wide. "It's a rush to watch people as they watch you do these things that others can't do."

As these professionals threw their heads back and "dropped sword," the adrenaline pumped from the performers out into the Hollywood crowd as they excitedly cheered.

With preparations for Sunday's Academy Awards show under way across the street, about 100 passers-by gathered with anticipation as the performers swallowed steel.

Amy Amnesia, a 32-year-old performer, told Reuters this was her first public appearance. Explaining that the minimum requirements were for swords 14 inches long and a half-inch wide, she said her particular sword of choice is 19 inches.

"You have to get your body used to this new paradigm of having a large solid object down your throat," she said, explaining that she had only recently learned the art.   Continued...

Performance artist George the Giant attaches hooks into his eyelids to hold a soda bottle ahead of the sixth annual World Sword Swallower's Day celebrations outside the Ripley's Believe It or Not! museum in Los Angeles, California February 23, 2013. REUTERS/Adrees Latif