As promised, before I fill you in on more of our story, I offered a bit more of the “don’t try this at home” stuff. So here we go:
This Asian gentleman is supporting his entire weight on five sharp-pointed spears (sorry the photo shows only 3 but you get the idea). We learned how to do some of this stuff (bending spears against our bodies, anyway) from our two Chinese friends, Li and Yao, built like tanks and kung-fu masters. To reach the level of this Shaolin monk takes years of intense training. Yao and Li can balance on one point on their stomachs, an amazing feat sometimes featured in these Shaolin monk touring shows. And therefore in our Circus Extreme, obviously.
Glass Eating: all this actually requires, apart from some considerable self confidence, is a good set of molars. The glass should be thin and resonably flat – a smashed light bulb is ideal, but NOT one of the coated ones because that stuff is poisonous. You introduce a piece directly to the back teeth, and basically grind it to a powder, which is essentially harmless to the gut. The way you swallow is important – it is good to take a huge gulp, like a bird swallowing a worm. You do see some performers bite into a light bulb with their front teeth, but this is exceedingly dangerous and can lead to some serious cuts. Just remember that, to cut you, glass (or anything else) has to have some weight behind it. Once ground to dust, there is only a tiny risk.
Here is a Chinese performer contemplating lunch. This one does use his incisors to scrunch the bulbs – not recommended, and the caption for this pic originally summed it up – YEEEUCH!
Knife Drop: here, the performer bares his or her abs and allows a partner to drop a knife point first on to them from a suitable height. Surprise: it bounces off. Well, it will provided it hits the right target – stretched skin over a tensed piece of muscle. Same principle as the bed of nails, really, only definitely more risky if the knife goes off target. It is performed either with the performer in a back bend or with them already stressed on a bed of glass, nails or swords… light knives are used: remember that force equals mass times acceleration and, if it is too heavy, it will go straight in.
Firewalking: I hate this, but I have done it. The fire needs to have been of wood and to have burned well down, almost to ash, but still to be glowing. It again depends on understanding the difference between heat and temperature: it is the transfer of heat that burns and, with practice, this is avoid by taking swift steps, lifting the spare foot well clear, walk fast but do not run, and chant in your brain to yourself “cool wet grass” with every step!
So why not combine fire and glass as they did in Taunton UK just recently
…you just need to take care not to set fire to your trousers.
I think we’ll leave out the guys and girls who like to push skewers through their bodies, and the more exotic stuff, unless there is a huge demand! We need to get back on track with our story, and I need to get back in a gym whilst Dave’s away up in Cumbria and I’m at a loose end with friends in Gloucester. In fact, they’ve recommended a great new place and we’re going to give it a tryout right now… if it is as good as they say it is, we’ll give it a plug.