Sunday, March 1, 2009

My ISSAD at Ripley's Believe It Or Not in Times Square.

Yesterday (2-28-09) was the second annual International Sword Swallower Awareness Day (ISSAD). Last year, the day was largely ignored by most of the sword swallowers from around the world, mainly because of the lack of knowledge and organization. 

This year was a little different.

Sword Swallowers, this year, were encouraged to head for their closest Ripley's Believe It Or Not Odditorium, and many did. Sources say that there were about 15 sword swallowers around the world swallowing at precisely 2:28 pm (In their local time zone).

I happened to be in New York City at the Ripley's in Times Square, along with 9 others.

I got to the museum at 1:00pm and was led through a maze of exhibits and corridors by an employee and ended up in the break room there I met with Albert Cadabra (He's the main talker at the Odditorium) and Donny Vomit. We chatted for a while and caught up. 

Soon after I was wrangled by the marketing director of Ripley's and made to take photos with both a Ripley's Corporate photographer as well as the in-house photographer. That went well, minus the fact that I had to stand on a really high and narrow counter top and swallow swords.

Other blade glommers started showing up at this point. Lady Aye was one of the first to get there, then Fred Kahl and Keith Nelson.

I was then mic'd up for a film crew to interview me for a new sideshow documentary. For the interview we decided that the best lit area was sitting beside a wax Ubangi woman on a red pair of lips shaped love seat, I let her hold my swords.  The interview went nicely. 

I headed back out to the lobby where I met up with Heather Holiday, Todd Robbins joined by his baby boy, Phineas and Harley Newman. Then, all of a sudden Natasha Verushka showed up, she had just flown into the city from an exotic locale on a helicopter (It would have been a nice image, seeing her hair whipping about in the breeze). There was one other female sword swallower, Alison Cheevers, she's new to the game and I wonder what she'll do with her freshly acquired talent.

Then, I was pulled to the side by a Chinese news crew... Yes, thats right! They proceeded to interview me and a few others. 

The lobby of Ripley's was swarming with photographers and videocameras.

2:28 was coming up quickly, so we were all lined up outside in front of the place, roped off and we were surrounded by the pandimonious  press. Albert stood on his box and introduced each one of us, and gave pseudo breaking news announcements about the goings on of all the other participating Ripley's locations.

The countdown began.


Our swords were ice cold and everyone was trying to warm them up before the plunge.


Cameras were flashing away.


We began licking our swords, lubing them up to ensure a smooth decent. 




The cameras were going crazy, the crowd that was so large, it blocked 42nd street, was screaming and applauding, the street cops were clapping and we were suppressing our gag reflexes.

We removed our swords, took deep breaths and smiled and waved. Happily accepting our accolades.

All of us moved back into the lobby, posed for group shots, and did one last drop. We all then mingled with everyone as they got in line to see the inside of the museum, took photos with them and answered their questions.

All in all, it was a wonderful afternoon, spent with wonderful people. 

Now, I'm curious to see what the next International Sword Swallowers Awareness Day will hold.

*The photo above comes from the NY Daily News
(From left to right)
Harley Newman, Brett Loudermilk, Fred Kahl, [directly behind Fred] Todd Robbins, Heather Holiday, [directly behind Heather] Donny Vomit, Natasha Verushka, Lady Aye, [Not pictured] Keith Nelson and Alison Cheevers.