An Interview With Our World-Record Breaking Sword Swallower

An Interview With Our World-Record Breaking Sword Swallower

His jaw dropping performances have amazed audiences around the world, with a unique and exciting combination of contact juggling, fire juggling, acrobatics, contortion and of course sword swallowing. Holding over 15 world records, there is no doubt that he is one of the most unforgettable and pioneering performers of his kind! 

We take a step inside his world with this intimate Q&A to find out a bit more about his journey as a performer… 

Tell us a bit about your show…

I regularly switch between street performances and stage performances. 

My street performance has a big emphasis on juggling, before the contortion and the death defying sword swallowing finale. My street show showcases juggling crystal balls and fire torches, telling jokes and giving the best tricks I can. On the street, my show begins with the more traditional circus style skills before I move into the realm of sideshow, contorting my body and swallowing swords.

My stage show is a mix of circus, mentalism and sideshow. I have been performing Not Dead Yet, my solo theatre show, for the last couple of years throughout Australia. ‘Not Dead Yet’ is inspired by Vaudevillian jugglers, Shaolin Monks, and a handful of Daredevils. I designed it as the show for the 21st Century and the YouTube Generation and was described as ‘edgy, intense and terrifying’ after being shown at Fringeworld Perth in 2014. I’m definitely looking forward to developing more shows in the future, including one with my wife.
Where did your love for performance come from?

I have been performing for over 10 years now, and loved it from a young age. I moved from intense martial arts training into circus and hardcore sideshow, which just seemed like a natural progression for me.
You perform acrobatics, contortion, contact and fire juggling as well as sword swallowing. How did you first discover that you could swallow swords?!

It took a really long time to learn how to swallow a sword and it was a horrible thing to learn how to do. I really didn’t expect that I would be any good at it, especially as I learned on my own with nothing more than a few books and a child-size pool cue. When I was young, I wanted to be an Aerialist, but I had an accident which damaged a disc in my spine. I couldn’t climb a rope, or move enough to juggle, but I suspected I could stand still and straight enough to swallow a sword. Somehow sword swallowing just caught my imagination from there.
How do audiences react when they see your sword swallowing act?

It depends, as I have a few acts, but generally it falls into one of two categories: genuine fear or genuine amazement. I have had people become afraid of me just talking about sword swallowing. The best reactions come from people when they aren’t anticipating the Sword Swallow Backflip routine – there are usually a few screams when that happens! I have also had people come up to me and tell me that seeing the Sword Swallow Backflip is something they’ll never forget, which is nice.
Which of your 15 world records are you most proud of?

One of the Guinness World Records I hold is definitely the one I am the most proud of. In January 2015, I flew to Macau and was given the opportunity to break two Guinness World Records, including one for the Fastest Human Backbend Walk. The previous record stood at 20 metres in 10.05 seconds. I broke this record, and it now stands at 20 metres in 7.8 seconds. I’m proud of this record because almost anyone can do this trick if they try hard enough.
What is the most unforgettable / interesting event that you have ever performed at and why?

I have performed at some really awesome events, including performing at the Big Top at Glastonbury in the UK, but it’s the things that happen during or after the shows that are really memorable. Sylvester Stallone was in the audience one day when I was performing in London at the Sideshow Wonderground, which was pretty cool. I also performed after a Looney Tunes kids show at the Sydney Royal Easter Show, which meant Bugs Bunny was our opener – that was like a lifetime achievement!
Which do you prefer, stage or street performances and why?

As much as I love street performing, I prefer to perform on stage. My act has a much greater impact on stage and it’s where I see myself headed in the future.
If you hadn’t become a circus performer, what do you think you’d be doing?

Honestly, I have absolutely no idea. Circus and sideshow are my life and have been for such a long time. Although, I’m sure my hypothetical life would include far more Smeg appliances than I currently have…

You can check out his full page for more images, videos and info by clicking here.

__By Alanna Bestwick

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