Aerial Manx - An Awful Lot of Vaudeville - LAST SHOW
Red Bennies uncovers some unknown truths behind the Sword-Swallowing Contortionist Extraordinaire.
When and how did you realize you could contort the way you do?
I started training my back flexibility when I was about 13 which helped me learn how to do Martial Arts Acrobatics. The flexibility in my legs was a bonus to practicing a lot of Ju-Jitsu. My body essentially knows now that when I tell it to bend and stretch, it obeys, quite naturally.
I also used to be an Aerial Dancer, however my shoulders began to weaken and they became too unstable to continue with this. I ultimately chose to use this weakness to my advantage and I now use my hyper-mobile shoulder sockets to allow me to contort through Tennis racquets and Straight jackets…
How did you learn the Art of Sword-Swallowing?
Well, years ago I damaged a disk in my spine and spent three months barely able to move. Throughout this period I began studying and reading everything I could about performing: Mind over Matter, and traditional Sideshow techniques.
I was able to perform many sideshow stunts and had already attempted to slide my toothbrush down my tongue in an effort to learn to control my gag reflex.. Not such a pleasant experience, however, being barely able to move or train any other skill I had to start somewhere. I was aware that good posture was vital in sword swallowing, and I knew that if I could perform this technique with a spinal injury, then essentially I would have an act that I could perform for the rest of my life! So, I moved beyond dedication to becoming quite obsessed with the stunt, and now I just do what I do…
When did you first start performing?
I started performing in nightclubs throughout the Goth Circuit in Melbourne when I was about 19. I was mostly performing Aerial Dance, Tissue, or Lyra, but was also juggling and contorting. My career has taken me so many places now that I struggle to remember them all, or even where it all began!
How many world records have you broken?
Presently I think I hold around 12 with the Sword Swallowers Association International (Unlike the Guiness Book of World Records, The SSAI hold all the information and records on sword swallowing).
A few years back the World Record for the most weight lifted off a swallowed sword was 20kg, this moved up to 22.5 kg. It was then broken by an amazing Sword Swallower, Thomas Blackthorne, bringing the record up to 25kg!
In January of 2011, I broke that record by lifting 31 kilograms from my sword.
The rest of my stunts are original twists, or variations on old stunts. I'm an artist and honestly not that interested in beating other people, but rather in doing something that has never been done before! I have based my career around this. The original stunts I am probably most proud of are the Sword Swallow Back-flip and swallowing 2 neon tubes and sliding a sword between them.
What do you say to people that haven’t seen you perform live and think the sword is fake?
To be honest, I am not all that fussed. I regularly stab my sword into the dance floor and stage hard enough for the audience to see the sword is real. If people are still skeptical after this, then they always will be and it would only lessen the quality of the show if I were to try and demonstrate this fact more.
What is your favorite thing about performing at Red Bennies?
Aside from the fact that Red Bennies is the greatest Nightclub Cabaret venue in Melbourne, the vibe and atmosphere is always abuzz!
Any hints Aerial?
Fire. Lot’s of fire!