Years ago, when I was still a teenager, my parents took me to a dance in London, UK. There were to be some magic tricks performed as the cabaret. But, they were unaware of the type of tricks which would be acted out in the name of entertainment and the trauma it would cause me over the next few years.
Initially, it was interesting when the Master of Ceremonies announced a man who would do some amazing 'physical' tricks. Only when my parents heard his voice as he talked to the crowd, did they recognise him as the man who had been taking lessons at their dancing school. They had been taking Ballroom and Latin American dancing and he was one of the students. He had never spoken about these special feats he did for entertainment, so they were as you can imagine, very shocked.
The dancing man had dressed himself like a 'Fakir' with his skin browned, some kind of stain, and wore small cloth garments. He prepared himself by deep breathing first, with a few moments silence. Then, after opening some exquisite cases, he drew out long swords, slowly waving them so everyone could see the size of them. They glittered and looked dangerous. He eased them slowly down his throat. One first, then a few swords in at once, I did not count. My eyes were involuntarily closing to hide this dangerous act performed in front of me. I realise sword swallowing is done quite a bit now, and possibly many people have seen it in the flesh, as well as on television. I knew the danger he was in. All he had to do was cough or gag and he could damage his trachea. It was scary, but it went well.
The swords were placed back in the cases and then the 'Fakir'took out a smaller case, lifting out some large thick needles, simialr to darning needles. He walked around asking people to stick these long needles into and through his skin, in various places on his body. He lifted areas of skin up for them to push the needles through. The audience was squirmish, and no-one would even hold a needle. So, he did it himself.
I remember particularly when he pushed it hard through and out the other side of his cheeks. I did not want to look, but I could not help myself. No blood trickled down. He moved the large needle around and people gasped. Then he walked around asking who would pull this out for him. Someone did, very slowly and still no blood was to be seen. I was amazed that there were no holes in his face, or anywhere else for that matter. I had been standing about twenty feet or less, away from him.
His next trick was to tie a chain around his member, and maybe the whole of his equipment, I did not look close enough to see that. He then put weights on the end of the Y shaped chain and straightened himself into a standing position as he stepped up onto a box. The weights swung, and he changed the direction with the movements of his hips. People were wincing, the women as well as the men!
When this was over, he did what I feel was the worst thing. He had medallion sized coins attached to another Y shaped chain, with smaller weights but they were still rather heavy. He placed these medallions inside his own upper and lower eyelids. As he started to raise his head allowing the weights to swing. Many had to look away. I was transfixed and although it could not have been possible to hear this, I heard the noise of squelching eyeballs. The Fakir's eyes watered as he took the medallions out of his eyelids. He made the eyes of most of the audience water. It was a horrid and impossible sight. The nightmares came to me for ages afterward.
I remember my parents saying how strange it was that this 'magical' man had appeared to be just an ordinary, nice guy. He was not a very good dancer however, and had two left feet. They were surprised at his modesty as he never commented about his 'tricks,' or rather, what he could do very well. However, he didn't have that much modesty when it cam to performing.
Ever since then I have thought it terrible that some people can risk injury, or even death, just to entertain. I know they get paid, but it would never be enough for the risk they take. Yes, it was incredible to see, but I would rather not have. I am sure this man will have ended up having injuries that were unexpected. Maybe even some kind of infections. I hoped he would stop doing it and find something else to do.