George the Giant, towering over onlookers gathered to see performers swallow steel, hammers a 16.5cm nail up his nostril, rips a phone book in half with his bare hands and dangles a full bottle of Coke from his eyelids with fish hooks.
The world’s tallest sword swallower, at 2.2m, he was under strict doctor’s orders not to participate in the main event at the sixth Annual “World Sword Swallower’s Day” due to an unrelated injury, but remained intent on pleasing the crowd.
He was among performers on Hollywood Boulevard outside of Ripley’s Believe it or Not museum on Saturday for a death-defying show that would ultimately see 6m of metal swallowed simultaneously by some of the US’ best sword swallowers.
“Every time you swallow a sword you’re cheating death,” George said of the art he has practiced for the past two decades.
The longest sword he has swallowed was 84cm long and 3.8cm wide.
“It’s a rush to watch people as they watch you do these things that others can’t do,” he said.
As these professionals threw their heads back and “dropped sword,” the adrenaline pumped from the performers out into the Hollywood crowd as they excitedly cheered.
With preparations for yesterday’s Academy Awards show under way across the street, about 100 passers-by gathered with anticipation as the performers swallowed steel.
Amy Amnesia, a 32-year-old performer, told reporters this was her first public appearance. Explaining that the minimum requirements were for swords 35.5cm long and 1.3cm wide, she said her particular sword of choice is 48cm.
“You have to get your body used to this new paradigm of having a large solid object down your throat,” she said, explaining that she had only recently learned the art.
Ripley’s, which sponsored the event along with the Sword Swallowers Association International, has supported the sword swallowing community for 80 years, and such events have made contributions to medicine and science by raising money for esophageal cancer research.