Sideshow Freak or Wayseer – You Decide!!!

Described by some as “a voice in the wilderness” Garret John LoPorto is an American activist, best-selling author, speaker, entrepreneur, viral YouTube video artist and champion for rebels and revolutionaries everywhere. Garret John LoPorto claims that he wants to rally all of us to turn on to what we are, tune into our highest calling and drop out of unhelpful institutions to blaze a trail for what the world really needs. The following video called “The Wayseer Manifesto” is his “clarion call to all the world’s mavericks, activists, artists, visionaries and pioneers” that he has describes as “Wayseers” so that they can come together and claim their collective power. Listen and decide for yourself is this just a catchy song, the ranting of a mad man, media manipulation, spiritual propaganda or is it something else.

Below is a transcript of the video for those of you that would like to study the words more carefully. Enjoy, but don’t think to hard!

“By Garret John LoPorto on September 22, 2010

The Wayseer Manifesto

ATTENTION: All you rule-breakers, you misfits and troublemakers – all you free spirits and pioneers – all you visionaries and non-conformists …

Everything that the establishment has told you is wrong with you – is actually what’s right with you.

You see things others don’t. You are hardwired to change the world. Unlike 9 out of 10 people – your mind is irrepressible – and this threatens authority. You were born to be a revolutionary.

You can’t stand rules because in your heart you know there’s a better way.

You have strengths dangerous to the establishment – and it wants them eliminated, So your whole life you’ve been told your strengths were weaknesses – Now I’m telling you otherwise.

Your impulsivity is a gift – impulses are your key to the miraculous,

Your distractibility – is an artifact of your inspired creativity,

Your mood swings – reflect the natural pulse of life, they give you unstoppable energy when you’re high and deep soulful insight when you’re low,

Been diagnosed with a ‘disorder’? That’s society’s latest way to deny it’s own illness by pointing the finger at you. Your addictive personality is just a symptom of your vast underused capacity for heroic, creative expression and spiritual connection. your utter lack of repression, your wide eyed idealism, your unmitigated open mind – didn’t anyone ever tell you?! these are the traits shared by the greatest pioneers and visionaries and innovators, revolutionaries, procrastinators and drama queens, activists on the social scene, space cadets and mavericks, philosophers and derelicts, business suits flying fighter jets, football stars and sex addicts, celebrities with ADD, alcoholics who seek novelty, first responders – prophets and saints, mystics and change agents.

We are – all – the same – you know
‘cuz we’re all affected by the way –
We are – all – the same – you know
‘cuz we’re all attracted to the flame –

You know in your heart that there’s a natural order to life,
something more sovereign than any man-made rules or laws could ever express.

This natural order is called ‘the Way.’

The Way is the eternal substrate of the cosmos. It guides the very current of time and space. The Way is known by some as the Will of God, Divine Providence, the Holy Spirit, the implicate order, the Tao, reverse-entropy, life-force, but for now we’ll simply call it ‘the Way.’ The Way is reflected in you as the source of your inspiration, the source of your passions, your wisdom, your enthusiasm, your intuition, your spiritual fire – love. The Way takes the chaos out of the Universe and breathes life into it by reflecting divine order. The Way, when experienced by the mind, is genius, when perceived through the eyes is beauty, when felt with the senses is grace, when allowed into the heart … is love.

Most people cannot sense the Way directly. … But then there are the Wayseers. The keepers of the flame. Wayseers have an unexplainable knack for just knowing the Way. They sense it in their very being. They can’t tell you why or how they arrived at the right answer. They just know it in their core. They can’t show their work. So don’t ask. Their minds simply resonate with the Way. When the Way is present, so are they.

While others are blind to it, and society begs you to ignore it, ‘the Way’ stirs you inside. Neurological repression blocks most people’s awareness of the Way – censoring all thoughts and impulses from the unconscious is their prefrontal cortex – the gestapo of the brain – nothing which violates its socialized programming even gets through; but your mind is different. your mind has been cracked wide open to the Way – by some miraculous genetic trait, some psychotropic chemical or maybe even by the will of your very soul, your brain’s reward pathways have been hijacked – dopamine employed to overthrow the fascist dictatorship of your prefrontal cortex – now your brain is free of repression, your mind free of censorship, your awareness exposed to the turbulent seas of the unconscious – through this open doorway divine light shines into your consciousness showing you the Way. This is what makes you a Wayseer.

90% of human civilization is populated with those who’s brains are blocked to the Way. Their brains are hardwired to enforce the social programming indoctrinated since birth. Unlike you they cannot break out of this programming, because they have not yet experienced the necessary revolution of mind. These programmed people take social institutions and rules very seriously. Society is full of games programmed to keep peoples’ minds occupied so they will not revolt. These games often cause sick fixations on peculiar protocols, power structures, taboos and domination – all subtle forms of human bondage – This distinct form of madness is not only tolerated by the masses but insisted upon. The programmed ones believe in rules so forcefully they become willing to destroy anyone who violates them.

Wayseers are the ones who call their bluff. Since Wayseer minds are free to reject social programming, Wayseers readily see social institutions for what they are – imaginary games. Wayseers comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable. Helping those who are lost in these games and refuse to help themselves is a calling of many Wayseers. Since Wayseers are the ones who keep contact with the original source of reality – they are able to disrupt societal conventions and even governments to realign humanity with the Way.

The Wayseers are an ancient lineage. A kind of priesthood – carriers of the flame – ones “in the know.” There must always be Wayseers to reform the dizzying psychotic spinning gears of society – giant mindless hamster wheels obscuring the pure blue sky, keeping humanity shackled in a darkened cage – so Wayseers are called – to shed light on the madness of society – to continually resurrect the timeless transcendent Spirit of Truth –

Wayseers reveal this divine truth by devoting themselves to the birth of some creative or disruptive act expressed through art or philosophy, innovations to shake up industry, revolutions for democracy, coups that topple hypocrisy, movements of solidarity, changes that leave a legacy, rebellions against policy, spirit infused technology, moments of clarity, things that challenge barbarity, watersheds of sincerity, momentous drives for charity

We are – all – the same – you know
‘cuz we’re all affected by the way –
We are – all – the same – you know
‘cuz we’re all attracted to the flame –

This is your calling, Wayseer.
You’ve found your tribe.
Welcome home.”

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Jessica Joslin – Strange Nature

Portrait of Jessica by JARED JOSLIN

“Portrait of Jessica” by JARED JOSLIN

Jessica Joslin – Innovative Artist – Strange Nature

Jessica Joslin is a wonderful mixed media artist who turns animal bones and antique mechanical parts into a menagerie of unusual, yet magical creatures. Her artwork is, at the same time, both whimsical and macabre. Each of her sculptures starts out as a diverse collection of found objects that is reborn as a new life form. These curious creatures demand your attention with their contrast between life and death; engineered and natural; generalized and detailed; and mechanistic and organic.

Sideshow Freaks Jessica Joslin artwork14

Trained as a visual artist, with a strong background in photography, Joslin is also self-taught in taxidermy, animal anatomy, model making, prototyping, casting and carpentry. It is this eclectic array of skills that Joslin uses to create her fascinating art. She has pioneered new ground in the art world by following both her passions – art and biology.

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As a child, Joslin was interested in biology. Growing up in Boston, her father would take her to the Harvard Museum of Natural History where she studied the collections of articulated skeletons in their wooden cabinets. “In part, that really shaped my attitude toward working with bones, because I never saw them as macabre,” Joslin said. “I saw them as a beautiful thing left over from an animal. People tend to associate bones and mortality so they have an instinctual aversion to them. But for me, I’m coming at it from a long- standing interest in naturalism and osteology.” Encouraged by her visits to museums, Joslin also developed a passion for collecting seedpods, bones, seashells, and other objects of natural history. As a young girl, family hikes proved to be treasure hunts for Joslin.

Sideshow Freaks Jessica Joslin artwork 10

Joslin says that she has always loved the taxidermy displays found in natural history museums. After she began teaching herself taxidermy, Joslin’s artwork began to reflect elements of the craft. In 1992, Joslin built her first anatomical beast while still attending the Art Institute of Chicago. Although related, Joslin’s art, which is inspired by her interest in biology and anatomy, is not taxidermy. She works with animal forms and uses animal parts, like a taxidermist; but she only uses bones and not the animal’s skin so it’s not taxidermy; it’s more like osteology. Whereas taxidermy is primarily concerned with the animal’s exterior form; Joslin’s artwork focuses on the internal structure, which in turn reflects the animal’s external form.

Sideshow Freaks Jessica Joslin artwork 9

To date, Joslin has created over 200 of her amazing sculptures that range in size from an inch tall to nearly six feet high. Joslin devotes many hours to perfecting every nuance of a sculpture putting her heart and soul into her art. She typically works with found objects, such as antique chandeliers, jewelry, candy dishes, silverware, arcane industrial hardware, animal skulls, or the bones of birds and fish that are reconfigured into the appropriate anatomical forms. The found objects are carefully selected and then meticulously assembled using mechanical fastenings, such as miniature machine bolts, universal joints, or couplings, into intricate fusions of bone and metal that magically comes to life.

Sideshow Freaks Jessica Joslin artwork 8

Sideshow Freaks Jessica Joslin artwork7

Joslin’s artwork provokes strong reactions from its viewers. According to Joslin, “People are either horrified or delighted. There isn’t a whole lot in between!” Those that found her work disturbing were mainly concerned about the animal bones used in the artwork. While those who found the artwork delightful felt a child-like sense of wonder for these magical creatures.

Sideshow Freaks Jessica Joslin artwork 7

We thank Jessica Joslin, a wonderful artist, innovator and amateur naturist for her beautiful contributions to the sideshow of life.

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Sideshow Freaks Jessica Joslin artwork 5

Jessica Joslin also has a book of her works, Strange Nature, published by Lisa Sette Gallery. she said. “I’ve heard so many lovely, wonderful things from people who have seen my work online and enjoy it, but can’t afford to be an art collector, so I wanted to do something. I am hoping those people will see the book and get a better idea of how finely crafted these pieces are, and it will get my work to a wider audience.” For more of Jessica Joslin’s work, go to:

Learn More About Jessica Joslin

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Andrew Ucles Catches More Than Wild Rabbits Using Snakes

This morning I accidentally can across the following video on YouTube that was made by a young Australian, Andrew Ucles, who epitomizes the modern day sideshow freak. After watching this video, I would describe Andrew Ucles as a young, wilder version of Steve Irwin mixed with a little bit of Johnny Knoxville and Michael Jackson. Take a look at the video – what do you think?

Catching Wild Rabbits using Snakes

I find his whole concept of using deadly poisonous snakes to catch rabbits as a survival technique to be more than a bit crazy. If you are going to catch venomous snakes as a survival foraging strategy why not just cut off their heads and eat the snakes. Why risk your life by putting the snakes down a rabbit’s burrow simple to get the rabbit to run out. The risk-reward equation is all wrong here.

However, after seeing this video I had to find out more about this guy, Andrew Ucles. Who is he? Why would he do this? And of course that was the real point of the video – to get your attention – and it works. Like a train wreck that you cannot turn away from, Andrew Ucles and his work has that quality that compels you to want to see and know more. Andrew, himself, is actual quite a good showman. He is likeable and confident and he has a boldness that I believe most people will find appealing. So who is this guy, anyway?

On his website, Andrew describes himself as a passionate, unique and eccentric 25 year old Australian wildlife adventurer with an insatiable curiosity for catching wild animals. He claims to be inspired by the likes of Steve Irwin, Donald Schutlz, Sir David Attenborough and Bear Grylls. Andrew has a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science, is currently studying for his master’s in Environmental Science and Animal Management and has indicated an interest in pursuing a doctorate in the near future.

Andrew describes his upbringing as middle class, and where family conversations revolved around financial gains and the importance of sustainability through one’s career. His parents had encouraged him to become an engineer or a miner as these were considered to be good stable careers. However, Andrew says that he was quick to develop a dislike for this line of thinking. Andrew recalls, “From a young age I perceived life differently; whilst other kids would be collecting basketball cards and hanging out at the skate park, I would be in the bush collecting venomous snakes and spiders, watching and studying animals to develop techniques to capture them.” He describes the story of his life as “one big close call with death”. Apparently, he has been bitten by venomous snakes that he would capture as a child, and more recently he was stung by venomous scorpions in the Australia outback. Andrew goes on to say “but the risks I have taken have paid off.”

I guess by that he is referring to the success that his 35 videos have found on YouTube. His YouTube channel has an audience of over 4 million and climbing rapidly. In August 2012, Andrew Ucles set off to Zambia, Africa to

walk the Zambezi River and document his journey. He journeyed across Zambia interacting with dangerous animals and indigenous people. On his unforgettable, three month journey, Andrew covered more than 350 kilometers. More recently Andrew returned to Africa and spent 10 weeks in Kenya. The footage from his African experience was compelling enough for Discovery International (i.e. The Discovery Channel) to cut a deal with Andrew that could have his documentary segment viewed by over 1.6 billion people later this year. Not one to miss an opportunity Andrew has created Ucles Entertainment Productions and is even developing a tour package for adventure travelers who want to “Experience a part of his passion, skill and love for wildlife and embark on a camping trip unlike any other.”

Andrew says “I was born a dreamer, I am different.” And it is clear that Andrew is different and that he is following his dream and his passion. We wish him much success and admire Andrew Ucles for having the courage to take the road less traveled, a true sideshow freak on the stage of life, entertaining and inspiring the rest of us who have simply followed each other down the common path.
.   Andrew Ucles Catches More Than Wild Rabbits using Snakes

Andrew Ucles Website   Andrew Ucles Catches More Than Wild Rabbits using Snakes  Africa

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An Brief History of Sword Swallowing

sideshow freaks  history of sword swallowing   indian sword swallower

Sword swallowing, along with fire eating, fire walking, beds of nails, and snake charming is an ancient art having its origins in India about thousands of years ago. Developed by priests, known as fakirs or sadhus, the art was used to demonstrate the fakir’s connection with the gods.

sideshow freaks  indian fakir  bed of nails

Ironically, Native American (American Indian) Shamen independently developed a type of sword swallowing, although they did not have swords. Instead the Native American shaman swallowed either a long stick or an arrow, to prove their strength and endurance. This practice was also often associated with venomous snake handling and other ascetic religious practices.

sideshow freaks hopi snake dance  native american

Sword Swallowing is extremely dangerous and should not be attempted by amateurs or thrill seekers. Safely swallowing a sword comprises both great physical and mental control. The first obstacle in acquiring this ability is to overcoming the gag reflex. This can be achieved over time by accustoming the pharynx to touch. The art of sword swallowing can take many years to learn and even more to truly master.
sideshow freaks sword swallower  sword swallowing circus sideshow

From India, sword swallowing spread west to Greece and then to Rome and east to China and then to Japan. Like magic, drama, and music, all of which have their origins in religious practices, sword swallowing became a form of entertainment. During the time of the Roman Empire, sword swallowers entertained at festivals. Sword swallowing became popular in early Japan as part of an acrobatic form of theater known as “Sangaku”. Sangaku also featured tightrope walking, juggling, and other acrobatic skills. Later as sword swallowing spread across Europe, it was usually practiced mainly by traveling street performers who would perform in public squares and at festivals.

circus sideshow   sword swallower  sideshow freaks  sideshow poster

circus sideshow captain don leslie  sword swallower sideshow freaks Captain Don Leslie – Circus Sideshow Performer

In the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, sword swallowing found a welcomed spot in the sideshows of circuses and carnivals. During this time when the circus was the most popular form of entertainment in America, sword swallowers flourished and for many years their numbers increased. Since the 1950’s with the cost efficiency and popularity of mechanical rides at carnivals and the advent of the television, and now the internet, the golden age of the circus is gone. With the demise of the American Circus industry, the numbers of sword swallowers dwindled. Today there are perhaps fifty sword swallowers in the world. However, with the current revival of sideshow performances sword swallowing may also be making a comeback.

circus sideshow  dai andrews sword swallower modern farik  sideshow freaks

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Dai Andrews – World Famous Sword Swallower and Modern Fakir

sideshow freaks   dai andrews world famous sword swallower  sword swallowing

Dai Andrews called “The world’s greatest sword swallower” by the Los Angeles Times, has performed in more than thirty countries on five continents. Andrews has made over fifty television appearances, including the National Geographic and Discovery Channels, and holds four Guinness World Records.

Born David Matthew Andrews, (Dai is the Welsh diminutive form of David) Dai Andrews became interested in magic after receiving a Fischer-Price magic set on his fifth birthday. As a teenager he worked for a short time in a small magic shop and later he started performing magic acts. A quick learner, soon he begin adding fire and escape performances to his routine, as well as several other sideshow acts such as, bed of nails, human blockhead and iron tongue. In 1995, at the young age of 18, Dai added sword swallowing to his repertoire.

Sideshow Freaks  Dai Andrews Eating Fire

Like many teenagers, Dai had a passion to travel and explore the world. Speaking about the character, Ford Prefect, from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Dai once stated “His character’s job is to travel the universe on someone else’s nickel and drink and laugh and have a good time and just soak in as much as possible. His responsibilities are very few. He is my inspiration. I travel all over the world. I meet a lot of great people. I have a wonderful time and I love my job.” At nineteen, Dai first traveled to Europe, where he worked as a street performer. During his travels in Europe, Dai took the opportunity to further develop his craft by observing, working with, and learning from other performers that he met. Upon returning to the United States, Dai performed at corporate events, night clubs and renaissance festivals. Then he traveled on Carnival Cruise Lines for six years as a featured performer.

Later, Dai Andrews traveled the world learning secrets from yogis, martial artists, magicians and fakirs which have allowed him to develop the extreme physical control it takes to perform his mind-over-body feats. He journeyed to India to study meditation and Yoga with Sadhus in the Himalayas. He visited China to learned Kung Fu. Dai is the student of Grandmaster Huang Chien Lang and has been studying Xingyiquan, Baguazhang, Tai Chi Chuan and Tien Shan Pai since 2000. He traveled to Thailand to study under the renowned meditation teacher Acharn Luang Phor Tong and to study with several Muay Thai masters. Using these secrets and techniques from eastern martial arts, yoga and meditation Dai has perfected their arts in order to bring his audience a performance of unique feats and unusual mind-over-body abilities, many unlike any previously witnessed. Dai Andrews is not your typical sideshow performer. There is a mystery, an ambiance, and intrigue about him. Throughout history, there have been unique performance artists who push the limits of mind and body. Like Harry Houdini who was renowned for constantly pushing his own limits and expanding our vision of what is possible, Dai seeks to find these secrets so he can push the limits of the human body.

He is one of approximately fifty sword swallowers in the world. However, Dai is much more than just a sword swallower, he is also a motivational speaker, director, producer, and martial artist/instructor, as well as the proprietor of two entertainment agencies: Dream Machine Arts and Unforgettable Entertainment. Andrews teaches the Xingyiquan style of Internal Kung Fu, as well as, traditional meditation techniques at his studio in Baltimore. In addition to teaching, Andrews regularly participates in the martial arts tournaments and fundraisers and continues to expand his knowledge of the martial arts. Dai Andrews often includes martial arts demonstrations, including Iron Palm Chi Gung and Iron Body Chi Gung, in his stage performances.

sideshow freaks  dai andrews chi gung  Iron Body Chi Guang

Chi Gung (also called Qigong) literally means energy cultivation and is the spiritual branch of Chinese medicine and martial arts. Physical and mental health are both improved by learning how to cultivate and manipulate Chi or energy, through controlled breathing, movement, and acts of will. Chi gung is generally divided into two types, hard and soft. Soft Chi Gung focuses on developing and preserving energy in order to ensure the good health and longevity. Hard or Martial Chi Gung is only taught to students of Kung Fu and includes Iron Palm and Iron Shirt/Body training. Iron Palm Chi Gung, (also called Tameshiwari in Japan) involves conditioning the hands to withstand heavy impact and to deliver powerful blows. Iron Shirt/Body Chi Gung involves conditioning the body to withstand tough hand-to-hand combat. This is done through various exercises, including a system of breathing exercises which can permanently pack concentrated air into the fasciae, or connective tissue, surrounding vital organs, which over time can make the body nearly impervious to injuries from blows received in hand-to-hand combat.

sideshow freaks dai andrews   Iron Body Chi Gung  Bending Spear

Dai demonstrates his Iron Body Chi Gung by breaking arrows, bending iron bars with his throat, having concrete blocks smashed on his body while lying on a bed of sharp machetes and using his hand in real animal traps. These are included in his most recent production called “Modern Fakir”. A fakir is an ascetic or mendicant who performs feats of magic or endurance. Modern Fakir is an exciting journey into the mind over body phenomenon presented by Dai Andrews, a living master of these ancient traditions. It examines the origins of these strange arts and the cultures from which they have emerged. But even more, it entertains and amazes audiences. This extreme performance presents marvelous demonstrations of incredible feats from Hindu Fakirs, Shaolin monks and world-class magicians. Modern Fakir provides a unique glimpse into the potential of the untapped human capability.

In addition to the Dai’s Chi Gung demonstrations like breaking arrows, bending iron bars and breaking boards, Dai Andrews demonstrates, escape artistry using straitjackets, chains, handcuffs, and ropes. The highlight of Dai’s escape performance is his famous 100 feet of rope challenge in which two audience members tie Dai Andrews up with 100 feet of rope. The challenge is that if he does not free himself in less time than it took the two audience members to tie him up then he will give the two audience members $1,000 cash. Finally in the ultimate test of fortitude and physical endurance, Dai wraps twenty feet of rope around his neck and then lets six audience members pull and tug on the rope as hard as they can. As the audience members engage in a tug of war, Dai’s neck is in the middle of the rope with his throat enduring many times the amount of pressure that would occur in a normal execution style hanging. To the amazement and thrill of the audience who witness this torture, Dai ultimately emerges from this brutal punishment unharmed. Currently, Dai Andrews is the only person in the world who performs this dangerous feat, which he calls “The Man Who Cannot be Hanged.”

Dai can do a wide variety of acts during his performance but he usually ends up with sword swallowing as the finale. Taking a sword over two feet in length, Dai slides the blade down his throat, tapping the hilt gently, until the entire blade of the sword has disappeared. After swallowing and disgorging several swords, Dai continues first swallowing a sword up to its guard, a second sword is swallowed, but not quite as far, and then Dai adds a third and a fourth until, ultimately he has more than a dozen swords in his throat. The audience gasps as he slowly takes them out one by one. And just to show the audience that he is not using fake props and that his performance is real, Dai the sword swallower may borrow a cane or other long object from an audience member and proceed to put it almost entirely down his throat. One of his newer sword swallowing feats is to swallow a red-hot, burning sword. Ouch!!!

After several increasingly difficult sword swallowing feats, Dai really shocks his audience by bringing out a sword with a scythe-looking blade. The sword was almost 120 degrees in its curve. Dai first began to use the curved sword in his performances after meeting Wasp Boy, a member of England’s Circus of Horrors. They traded sword swallowing secrets with Dai sharing his kris blade secret with Wasp Boy. The Kris, or wavy blade requires Dai to shift his Adams apple from side to side as he extends the serpentine blade through his throat and into his stomach. Dai, ever the master showman, stares at the curved blade, as if he is not certain that he can perform this unbelievable sword swallowing feat. After requesting the audience to remain silent, Dai slowly lowers the scythe-like curved blade into his mouth, down his throat and ultimately into his stomach. This unbelievable, mind over body feat requires Dai to bend his body slightly forward and to the side in order to accommodate the curved blade without it piercing his body. After Dai removes the blade the audience breathes a sigh of relieve and usually shouts out with nervous excitement. A marvelous finale for an amazing and impressive performance by a true Modern Fakir. Dai Andrews is a skillful magician, a world-class martial artist and an amazing escape artist, but it is his incredible sword swallowing feats that seem to thrill his audience the most. Andrews holds four world records for sword swallowing, including the following:

Official Guinness World Record™ Largest Curve in a sword swallowed. On September 12, 2009 at Pimlico Race course in Baltimore, MD USA, Dai Andrews swallowed a sword that was curved 120 degrees from point to hilt.

Official Guinness World Record™ Most Swords Swallowed Simultaneously. On Friday August 30, 2002 at the 2002 Sword Swallowers Convention in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania USA, nineteen Sword Swallowers including Dai Andrews, (who swallowed eleven swords at once) swallowed 50 swords simultaneously.

Official Guinness World Record™ Most Sword Swallowers Swallowing Swords Simultaneously. On Friday August 30, 2002 at the 2002 Sword Swallowers Convention in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania USA, nineteen Sword Swallowers including Dai Andrews, (who swallowed eleven at once) swallowed swords simultaneously.

Official Guinness World Record™ Single Sword Swallowed by the Most Sword Swallowers. A sword known as “The Sword of Swords” and made by Thomas Blackthorne in 1994 to symbolize solidarity between an otherwise solitary sword-swallower community, was swallowed in September 2002 at the first Sword Swallowers Association International Sword Swallower’s Convention in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania USA, by Dai Andrews and twenty other sword swallowers.

If you are interested in having Dai Andrews perform at your event or just want to learn more about this amazing man go to (click on photo):

Sideshow Freaks  Sword Swallower  - Dai Andrews

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Piano Across America

To some the term “freak” may have a negative connotation. And the fact that this website is called Sideshow Freaks may suggest that the people here are being portrayed in a negative or demeaning way, but that is not at all our intention. Recently we ran across a man who exemplifies what Sideshow Freaks is really all about and we hope that understanding him will also help you understand our intentions. His name is Dotan Negrin and he has been traveling across America playing an upright piano, that he carries in the back of his truck, on the streets of more than 53 cities. Mr. Negrin is a true sideshow freak. He is a man who has chosen to do something in his life that is both different and interesting. He has not won a Nobel prize. He has not made a billion dollars. However, he has chosen a path that is different from that chosen by most of us and in his own way is he changing the world.

In April of 2011, Mr. Negrin started with a simple plan – a traveling project with his dog, Brando, and an upright piano. The plan was to cross America while performing with his piano in public places along the way. Since he started his trip Mr. Negrin has played on the streets of more than fifty cities and logged over 15,000 miles. He has appeared on television a number of times. He has been written about in a number of magazines and newspapers. And most importantly, he has touched the lives of thousands of people, who he probably would have never met if he had not taken the path less traveled. We believe that Dotan Negrin should be an inspiration to all of us. We can all make a difference in at least some little way if we are not afraid to step out and follow our dreams and passions.

Mr. Negrin playing in Guatemala City____________ Mr. Negrin Playing Piano in Guatemala City, Guatemala

After traveling through the United States and Canada, Mr. Negrin is now traveling in Central America. He has an outstanding blog that documents his travels and discusses some very insightful life lessons that he has learned over the last several years. The TV news video below gives a good overview of this man’s story, but we highly recommend that you also read his blog. We have put links below to several posts on his blog that we found most insightful.

Piano Across America Links:

Greatest Fan Mail I’ve Ever Received!

The Craziest Day I’ve Ever Had Playing Piano in NYC

Improvise Your Life: Finding Freedom Within Your Life

Teach Yourself Anything You Want for FREE!

There is No Such Thing as Overnight Success

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Sideshow Freaks – Sounds Of Terror

Sideshow Freaks – Sounds Of Terror

See the link to Sounds of Terror on our “Links to Interesting Websites” page.

Sideshow Freaks is all about the unique, the unusual, the exotic and the rare. Sounds of Terror offer unique and unusual high quality sound effects, as well as, the ability to watch free classic horror movies or listen to free haunted stories on their website. Visit the Sounds of Terror website. It is a unique and special experience.

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The Knife Thrower

Knife Thrower Sideshow Freaks

One of the classic acts of the circus sideshow is the Knife Thrower.

Knife throwing is part of a group of performance arts known as impalement arts. Impalement arts include knife, axe and tomahawk throwers; bullwhip crackers; archery marksmen; and sharpshooters.

Although many knife throwers break balloons, pin a playing card, or cut a cigarette in half; the most famous knife throwing stunt is called “The Wheel of Death”. This knife throwing stunt involves strapping the knife thrower’s assistant, usually an attractive girl, to a large wooden wheel, which is then spun around. The knifes are thrown as the girl continues to spin on the wheel.

sideshow knife thrower   in Marisa Mell in Masquerade (1965



Knife throwing has its roots in prehistoric times when early man used throwing sticks to hunt animals. The throwing stick, widely considered one of the first weapons used by prehistoric man, is similar to the boomerang used by Aborigines in Australia. After man begin to make metal objects the technology was soon used to make deadlier weapons, including metal knifes. Throwing knifes almost immediately became a practical, supplemental weapon and warriors began to carry them into battle as backup weapons.

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During the 19th century, the sport of knife throwing began to grow in popularity. Competitions were designed to find out who had the most skill and accuracy. Soon circuses began to feature knife throwing acts. Knife throwing performances continue to this day as a popular form of entertainment.

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Cabinet Card of Unknown KnifeThrower with Conchita by GINTHER of Buffalo, NY circa late 1880s.


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The Evolution of Aerial Performances

Barnum Bailey Circus Poster Sideshow Freaks

The spotlight shines brightly on a young woman twisting and twirling on a silk threaded to the high ceiling. The crowd gasps with each feat, and when the woman flips to the floor, the crowd roars into a standing ovation. Although the techniques she uses on the aerial silks to literally dance in the air are modernistic, the concept and practice behind air performances are not.

As early as 2000 BC, Minoan culture featured depictions of acrobats in art and on murals. The feats did not take place in a circus tent with a high ceiling, but rather, on the backs of running bulls. Similar depictions can also be found in Greek and Egyptian art. However, rather for performance sake or entertainment sake, these feats were predominantly part of religious festivals.

The earliest acrobatic troupes are documented as being established in China around 500 BC. By the onset of the Han Dynasty, acrobatics had transformed from dangerous displays on the backs of running animals to rope walking, pole climbing, and cultural performances, such as fish turned into dragons, and five tables. These troupes were often compiled of everyday people and peasants who incorporated tables, chairs, ladders, jars, plates, and bowls into their acts. However, these troupes performed, as they traveled through towns, on street corners and in town centers, not in an official building.

The beginning of modern circuses can be traced back to Roman times, such as the Circus Maximus in Rome. Originally, a circus was a building used for exhibition performance. These large buildings often featured chariot races, equestrian shows, jugglers, and acrobats. During this period of Roman superiority, the Roman roads and controlled environments under the Roman Empire made it possible for families of performers to travel throughout Europe and display their skills. At this time, the classic idea of circus skills being passed from parents to their children was also developed, and it paved the way for family-centric circuses of today. Acts such as juggling, singing, trained animals, and dramas were added into medieval performances.

In the late 1700s, the first modern Three Ring Circus evolved under Philip Astley, a circus owner who introduced a ring into his tent to circumscribe the area in which an equestrian and their horse could perform their tricks. Today’s modern ring is 42 feet wide, which is the area a horse needs to comfortably gallop. However, this was also the time when aerial aerobics began to develop past their ancient ancestors and new events such as suspension on ropes, slings, and ribbons, as well as the trapeze joined the classic tightrope acts. Without question, the trapeze was the jumping point for most aerial acts after its creation. Originally made from rope with a wooden or metal bar, the trapeze and the fear of falling combined with the audience’s excitement quickly paved the way for later developments, such as the flying trapeze.

First invented by Jules Leotard, a Frenchman, Leotard developed the popular idea of handing two trapeze bars several feet apart and taught himself to jump and swing between the bars. He practiced this technique over a swimming pool in his father’s gymnasium, and was ultimately invited to perform at the Cirque Napoleon in Paris, France, in 1859.

Leotard’s innovative flying and swinging system quickly led to progressively more brave and dangerous acts, where performers were suspended in the air by their hair, plaster casts set into their mouths, or even by their own strength as they were pulled into the air holding onto two rings, and then proceeded to flip and maneuver high above the crowd.
Aerial performances have since been dominated by the United States, beginning with the Philadelphia Circus in 1792, which was created by John Bill Ricketts. Ricketts circus churned out new ideas such as using a canvas tent for performances. Quickly following Ricketts success, PT Barnum and William Cameron Coup introduced a sideshow, a train system to transport their show from town to town, and the three ring circus.

These constant changes and upgrades, as well as the family-centric circus system encouraged families, such as the Wallenda family, to peruse aerial fame. Perhaps one of the most progressive performers, Karl Wallenda began performing aerial tricks in his teens. In 1922, Wallenda created his own act, which featured his brother and future wife. The Wallendas shot to fame by performing a high wire stunt at Madison Square Garden in New York, but did so without a net since theirs had been lost in transit.

Karl performed until his death, which resulted from falling off a high wire in San Juan, Puerto Rico, during as an exhibition, but his death was avenged when his son, Rick Wallenda, later completed the walk. Not to be outdone, another one of Karl’s family members, Angel Wallenda, lost her right leg and pieces of her lungs to cancer, and made history as the first tight rope walker to perform with an artificial leg. Members of the Wallenda family still perform today. More recently, increasing concern for animals working in circuses have forced owners and performers to turn to new acts to maintain their audience, hence, the continual development of aerial acts, such as those famously performed by Cirque Du Soleil and Cirque Noir.

Today’s performances have greatly evolved from the balancing acts of the past. The latest addition to aerial performances is aerial silks. The silks are anchored by ball bearings to the ceiling to prevent binding while still allowing the performer to twist and turn as needed. Although the acts originated with safety nets and wires, the act has transformed into a display and strength and agility while dangling in the air and always having the possibility of falling to your death.

Aerial silks have even progressed from circus performances and Vegas shows to a workout that is available for beginners through classes. From adventurous bull-riding to the invention of the trapeze and tight rope to aerial silks, the evolution of circus aerial performances have transformed and recreated what we thought humans were previously capable of, while inventing leotards, circus tents, and a new workout method on the way.

About the Guest Author
Elyssa May Szkirpan was born in Webster, Texas in 1993. She spent most of her childhood between Chicago, Illinois and Tulsa, Oklahoma. She is currently a Professional Writing major at the University of Oklahoma and has aspirations of becoming a language teacher after graduation in 2014.

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Mike the Headless Chicken Festival in Fruita, Colorado

Last weekend the good people of the small town of Fruita, Colorado celebrated the 15th Annual Mike the Headless Chicken Festival on May 17th and 18th. Why have they been celebrating Mike for the last 15 years and what is so special about a headless chicken anyway – there are plenty of headless chickens in your grocery store and they are not named and nobody is having a festival in their honor. Just what is so special about Mike the headless chicken? Mike was a Wyandotte chicken, a dual-purpose breed originating in the United States in the late 1800s and kept for their brown eggs and for meat. managed to live for 18 months after his owner chopped off his head with an axe. Not only did he live for 18 months, but he grew from about two and a half pounds to nearly eight pounds and he traveled across the United States from Los Angeles to New York on exhibited as a sideshow “Wonder Chicken”. Mike was even written about in Life and Time Magazines and is a world record holder in the Guinness Book of World Records. Not too shabby for a small-town chicken.

On September 10, 1945, Lloyd Olsen, Mike’s owner, chopped off Mike’s head with an Ax. Lloyd’s wife, Clara had planned on serving Mike for dinner that evening, but Mike had a different idea. Ol’ Mike decided that he would just go on living without his head rather than being served up for the evening dinner. As far fetched as this may sound this is a true story. And I guess this makes Mike the Headless Chicken pretty special and worthy of having an annual festival in his honor.

Mike the Headless Chicken a sideshow freak

The Annual Mike the Headless Chicken Festival was dedicated to the story of one chicken’s amazing will to live and in 2013 the festival hosted events such as a 5k Run, Bike Poker Ride, Disc Golf Tournament, eating contests,and many games and other activities, including “Pin the Head on the Chicken”, the “Chicken Cluck-Off”, and “Chicken Bingo”. The Mike the Headless Chicken festival, as with any good festival, also had live music, delicious food and artisan booths for all to enjoy. Admission was free and this year’s theme was “Mikeritaville” (i.e. island music, sand volleyball, sand castle building, a tiki bar and limbo contests).

So if you missed the 15th Annual Mike the Headless Chicken Festival, you can start making plans now to be at the 16th Annual Mike the Headless Chicken Festival, next year on the third weekend in May. But if for some reason you can’t make it to Fruita, Colorado next May, then at least stop and think about Mike the Headless Chicken, an inspiration to us all!!!

Mike the Headless Chicken a sideshow freak photo in Life Magazine
Photo As It Appeared In The October 22, 1945, Issue Of LIFE Magazine

Fruita, Colorado is also known for its fossils and the town has an interesting dinosaur museum.

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