by The Victorinas


1. Learn to swallow swords by hynopsis. (Regarding Punkrot Smith, who had a mouth like a catfish and a neck like a crane: Through hypnosis Smith became an oustanding student until he accepted a wager to swallow an umbrella in Showbegan, Maine. He was successful until the "new-fangled press-the-string-and-it-flies-up sort of rain catcher" opened unexpectedly. Had he lived he would have proved a marvel.)

2. Learn from a professional; start by swallowing a sterling silver chain.

3. Use a peacock feather dipped in oil to tickle the throat, which helps you become familiar with the sensation.

4. Secretly swallow a rubber tube before the performance -- when the sword is later swallowed, it will be encased in the tube.

5. A similar method but using a metal scabbard.

6. The Chinese way, by first eating opium to dull the sense of touch so the sword will not be felt; this should never be tried by any other than those of the Mongol race.

7. An herb solution used by the Llamas of Thibet to combat the retching reaction.

8. Placing an article down the throat regardless of consequences and acquiring further ease of habit by force of will. (From three to five years' practice in this manner will usually prove sufficient.)

9. A sword with a detachable handle -- the handle is placed in the mouth but the blade goes down the performer's sleeve.

10. A sword with a telescoping blade, which retracts into the handle.

11. A blade constructed of clock-spring metal, which coils up the mouth.

12. An imitation sword made out of licorice covered with tin foil or aluminum paint. The licorice sword is swallowed and a real one produced from behind the back, giving the impression the sword has passed entirely through you.

13. A method to dilate or enlarge the throat by use of apparatus constructed from wire. This allows for easy access in swallowing the sword.

14. Dilation by drinking huge quantities of water, which opens the throat and allows for the introduction of the blade.

15. Hire somebody to do it for you as it may save you much annoyance, and though more expensive is very satisfactory in the long run.

16. The Javanese way: As it is impossible to give you a correct translation of the original text without destroying the delicate humor and pathos of the original author, the great Tana Shisavino himself says in the fourth line of his incomparable demonstration:

which is without question a statement none can contradict.


an excerpt from the book
"Learned Pigs & Fireproof Women" by Ricky Jay