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Old 05-15-02, 08:17 PM   #21
The Had Matter
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Ok well- several things to address

1 I apologise for sparking a huge debate on the subject of real - not real. I want to do the 4 nails because I personally think it looks neat (any tips on this one todd?).
I am somewhat mad - (been practiceing my kickflips and 180 board spins on the rola bola today) - I think I'm going to learn to do the glass walk both the "real" and "not real" way and then try to decide on which to do depending on how much I cut myself.

2 Just for the record - (sorry martin) I'm doing a Physics degree and you do just have to have faith in a lot of things - at the cutting edge some of it is just "well it works and we think it's coz... um...er...magic" gravity being a good example. it works. it's predictable but we're not sure how the force works - (I just really hope it never fails)

3 well said todd. I'm bored of the flame wars (even though I've tried to stay out of them all) - this place is (in my mind) for free exchange of ideas, tips and techniques within the busking/sideshow/general performer industry

4 17 swords - impressive! I've decided not to go down that route nor do I fire-breathe these days - I'm too bothered about what it does to me. (not wishing to cause offence here) I figure cuts, breaks and bruises heal sooner or later but parafin poisoning won't and my kneck is damaged enough already.

5 Ok stephon - thank you I found out that they're 20 a shot and still have sharp edges so that's that one out the window.


Ok - I've been thinking of smashing a sheet of plane glass then walking on that as I could do that on site without having to remove any of the pieces then thereby removing another part of the act that suggests that it's a trick. any opinions?

Thank you all once again - Keep throwing knowlege at me, I am learning slowly but surely.

<img src="graemlins/jester.gif" border="0" alt="[jester]" />
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Old 05-15-02, 10:30 PM   #22
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[quote]Originally posted by The Had Matter:
<strong>Ok well- several things to address
(been practiceing my kickflips and 180 board spins on the rola bola today)
<img src="graemlins/jester.gif" border="0" alt="[jester]" /> </strong><hr></blockquote>

REeeeeeaaaaallly?????????????
Kick-flips eh? I'd like to see that!
I've been working on board spins for years, I still
wont put 'em in my show 1. way too sketchy still and @. way too fucking scary.

I'll add that I agree that "Science" requires faith.
Science seeks closure, it seeks to answer questions but it only ever gives us probabilities. Science has not answered anything, only given best guesses that later become outdated when faith in new instruments replaces faith in old intstruments.
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Old 05-16-02, 12:29 AM   #23
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Matter...
Pane glass is a thousand times more dangerous than bottle(tempered) glass, but, if you can do it, I'm all for it! BTW, thanks for having the knowledge to say something I can never exactly get across!
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Old 05-16-02, 10:21 AM   #24
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Eric - I'm investigating a pane glass which i believe may be tempered - I've seen some broken and it looks more walkable than a bottle- I'll investigate some more and let you know. As to having knowlege - that's doubtfull [img]smile.gif[/img] Thank you for being so helpfull.

Scot - I'd be happy to show you if we ever meet up.
My thing is adrenaline stuff and balanceing (pref together) - it stops being scary really quickly.


Kickflips on the rolla are HARD - I have not got very far yet. The spins by comparison are a doddle.

I think if I can get enough spring in the board (old skate deck perhaps) then any number of spins and flips are possible.

My current fave trick is a 180 jump onto the rolla then continueing the spin with the board on the tube so that I do 360 in total - Looks impressive and didn't take too long to get.

Spinning the board underneath you when you jump into the air is trickier than spinning with it. It's mostly mind over fear - the worst that can happen is a few bruises. (I wear shin pads when practiceing as you will hit your self in the shins lots)

other tricks I'm putting in the show are:

Transfer from board to walking on tube and back again
various running and jumping mounts
A transfer from balanceing on tube to board having someone throw the board in.
perhaps ultimately unicycling on tube etc.

I'm kind of hoping to turn this sort of thing into a trademark act as It serves to seporate the stuff I do from everyone else.

That said - if you want to I'll e-mail you some more detailed instructions as I figure them out.


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Old 05-16-02, 11:08 AM   #25
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Ouch! Were we having a debate about (supposedly) dangerous tricks or about debates itself? Why can't we just stick to the matter, even if it's not peanut butter?
Speaking about peanut butter or peanut oil: will olive oil have a similar effect? At least it smells better. And don't worry, I'll try it out anyway.
And about real and not real: ofcourse we aren't superhumans. I'd be the last one to state that. And ofcourse, most tricks are relatively easy to learn. And ofcourse one has to do his or her best to really get hurted. Ofcourse it's the show that makes the impression.
But that won't take away the fact, that some of the tricks mentioned in this thread are potentially dangerous. And with an attitude that says 'I can't go wrong, it's just the performance' you are very likely to hurt yourself sooner or later, just because you are ignorant about what you are doing. How many people get hirt in the easy trick that we all perform on a daily basis: walking? If you don't look were you walk, you might trip over...
I don't care about how many times someone performed a (supposedly) dangerous trick. Any time the trick is performed, the performer should be just as aware as he or she was the first time. Much of the danger is about the dangerous assumption that the trick is performed so many times, that you hardly can get wrong. Because you still can.
Gradually, you overcome your fear and step by step, you come closer to the edge and if you are confident enough to cross the line, you will fall down. And particulary in the case of fire: it's an animal, an beast that you may try to tame, but if you show your back, it will bite. For sure.
Too many performes, pyrotechnicians etc. get ignorant over the years and sooner or later they will make a fatal mistake.
The show may get better when you look for the edge, the thin line between hurting yourself and not. I found myself coughing blood from the pneumonia I suffered twice from firebreathing. It was my own bloody mistake, but it felt more real than I ever expected. Firebreathing is relatively easy, but there are definately some real aspacts regarding health and fire-hazard not to be dismissed.

How easy the trick may be, always stick to a certain awareness of the potential dangers...
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Old 05-16-02, 05:39 PM   #26
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Because I'm sick of studying protein synthesis, I'd like to point out the great popularity of the Monty Python / Spanish Inquisition / Comfy Chair bit. Sure, there's great money to be made in pain. Witness rolfing, BDSM, stilletto heels, and Ouchy the Clown (www.ouchytheclown.com).

If the risk / pain is your thing, fine, have fun with it. Some people will pay to watch you bleed, others will be disgusted and leave. If you don't like hurting, DON'T. Do a show where, with great lead-up and to-do, you walk COMPLETELY BAREFOOT across a patch of GRASS. (You can sprout sod in a lightweight foam base; they use it for rooftop gardens.) Or do glass, but use safety glass. Hell, use sugar cubes, use a thermoplastic polymer. (If an eight-year-old with an attitude runs across it, set him on fire, shouting, "You want real?? How's that!? That real enough for you?!" It'll give the brat character.)

Half the people out there are going to think you're faking no matter what you do and the other half are truly impressed when you manage to juggle five balls while standing on only one foot*. Don't do something you're not comfortable with "for the audience," regardless of whether your discomfort comes from its being too dangerous or too safe. Find whatever it is that you enjoy doing and give a good show around that. If you can't, you're in the wrong business.

*Actual percentages may vary from those given.

I'll stop ranting now.
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Old 05-17-02, 12:34 PM   #27
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I've learned alot from Steve Rigatz on the nature of Net forums, and so I usually limit myself to 2 replies to a given topic, but I just had to ring in one last time.

Hive Queen, nicely said.

And Eric, why not discuss it here? To my mind we were having a constructive discussion on this topic. One that we can all get something from. Sure you can belittle my idea that we should be using the net for an exchange and debate of ideas as a dry "semantics" lesson, but I posted that because you branded my help as "Hooey" and then hid behind the very wimpy defensive argument of "It is my opinion stop picking on me"(not your words). I was also ,in my opinion, posting something to help as well, and was told it was "Hooey". I simply wanted to discuss the "super-human" or "performer" theorys of entertaining.
Again, if you dont want your ideas challenged, then dont post them.
For everyone else, I'm sorry if my long winded posts have annoyed.

Matter, I'm glad your question sparked this dicussion, so thanks for bringing it up and good luck on getting your bed of glass together.

Chao

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Old 05-17-02, 03:56 PM   #28
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"Why not post them here?"
Because that's not what Matter asked for, and it is his thread. Stop getting abusive Todd, you're acting like a fool. I have no defense, because I am not defensive. I have no reason to justify or defend my comments to you, and I won't have the argument here because I have heard it a thousand times before, and it is extremely boring. Especially for those not involved. If you want justification, then come see my show sometime, otherwise feel free to continue thinking that you are RIGHT. and I am WRONG. I never "hid" my statements about anything, and you were never told that you're statement's were hooey, because I was talking to matter. And, I was being nice when I said that, because immediately following my first perusal of your post, the first thing I said was "That's the biggest load of washed up carny bulldrek I have ever heard in my life." I meet those guys all the time, and if you want to waste that much time preparing for a stunt that can be done impromptu, then so be it. I personally think that if you are that scared, then you just shouldn't leave the house at all, but, then again, that's my opinion. Which, by the way, is not a defense, it is a realization that quite a few stubborn and arrogant people never really have. I do not argue with anyone that believes A) in the new flat-earth society known as "science" (try reading up a little on consensus reality, and where the scientific method fails miserably) or B) that they are "right". And, once again, no offense, it's just a road I have walked down before (typical magician attitude) and I prefer not to do so again via electronic posts. The nature of these bullettin boards leads quite easily to hurt ego's (yes, mine included) flame wars, and mindless sniping. All without ever having to see the other person's face. So, I say again, I would like to meet and talk with you, as I have respect for any self-respecting performer, I would like to see your show, and have a good time doing so, and if necessary, I would like to drag this argument down into the dirt for hours with you. I would just prefer to do it in an environment where, instead of just mindlessly insulting each other every couple of days, we could talk face to face and leave each other's presence with a warm feeling of mutual friendship. So don't bait me, because I have nothing to prove to you and it is completely immature and unprofessional. Just wait my friend. We can hash this stuff over and over again face to face.
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Old 05-17-02, 04:37 PM   #29
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wow... all this theory... wow, i say.

fyi ~ thom britain does a really nifty glass walk routine... i'm suprised that he hasn't logged in his input yet.

to both todd & eric... you both are amazing performers (todd's show was one of the first variety acts i EVER saw... one that made me interested enough in the art to badger brian 'broon' howard into teaching me something about fire eating ... eric's troup is one of the most realistic & well reputed shows in nola... btw, eric... sorry i missed the show last nite - i had a date.) with different perspectives.

personally, i will always take the 'safe' route to anything... but, i admire anyone who really puts themselves in danger for the entertainment of ordinary people (who couldn't do the stunts either the safe or dangerous way.)

as a fire eater - and we all know that once you figure out the 'science' or 'gimmick' to it, is about as dangerous as drinking a hot cup of coffee - i agree with todd in saying that showmanship is key in any performance... you can stand on stage and pick your nose (which i've done) and, as long as you present it with style and stamina - your crowds will eat it up... (not the booger... ewwww.)

brooke hall (a man that i rarely credit with having taught me anything about performance) once said something really brilliant to me... it was: 'we are the giants in this world.'
meaning - we have to be larger than life, superhuman... the audiances don't give a sh*! about the 'science' behind fire eating, glass walking, sword swallowing or anything else we do on stage... what they care about is that they are seeing someone who is entertaining performing an stunt which they PERCEIVE that they, themselves, cannot do.

in the end - this is what makes me choose the safer gimmicked ways of doing my stunts... because, if my audiances really don't care if i'm in danger of hurting myself - why take the risk? (kudos to those who do...)

just call me 'wimp'girl -- if you must.

and, martin! i'm gonna have to try that peanut butter thing... tho' i've developed a strange love of the taste & smell of coleman... sort of an acquired thing... like enjoying martinis... (something else that brian 'broon' howard taught me...)

just my two cents...
~firegirl

btw ~ eric, you never answered my question about the sword swallow... do you know anyone who could help me learn this?

[ 05-17-2002: Message edited by: firegirl ]</p>
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Old 05-17-02, 06:01 PM   #30
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You asked a question about learning to swallow swords? I'm sorry, I didn't realize...
I hate it when people ask me this, because just recently a few of my friends hurt themselves seriously doing this. I'll tell you the horror stories first, then a quick lesson.
Two different friends of mine (who ironically, don't even know each other) were swallowing swords, one was highly experienced, the other new to the trade, but taught by Zamora the Torture King. Both, at one point or another, gagged on their swords, and both got serious infections deep in their throats, neither can swallow swords anymore, and one had to have a rather large cyst removed from her throat. The problem is, you don't find out that you messed up until much, much later, and if the infection has gotten far, it's possible that your life will be in danger.
Now, in my opinion, the best way to learn is to tie a button to a length of string, and swallow and bring it up 7-10 times a day. Give this at least two weeks to insure that each and every gag-reflex (as I hear, there are multiple gag buttons on the way down) is effectively conquered. DON'T rush yourself. Please. You can get hurt real bad and not know it (this is the bad part, getting hurt and knowing it is no big deal usually). I would also have a metal worker teach you how to properly care for a sword, as they are a bit tough to keep from rusting, plus, same metal worker can file that sucker down for you and make it real smooth. Now, as far as teachers go, Todd Robbins' sideshow school at Coney is a good place from what I hear, and Zamora is always willing to teach pretty girls how to sword-swallow(this is a thinly disguised warning btw...). And there are a few Swallowers on this board who can probably help also.
By the way, Frack is now working with us, and he is great, full of vinegar and self-taught. But the way he gags on that sword scares the hell out of me. Please all, wish the best for Frack.

One more thing. I apologize to Todd for my previous message coming off as a bit meaner than I intended it to be, I have no doubt of Todd's abilities as a performer. What annoys me is the unrelenting want of "backing up" of opinions, and the egotistical need for credentials. I've never asked for anyone else's, and I resent being asked for mine. It's childish. When I see someone post, I assume they are a performer, and at least have the slightest bit of a clue. I would ask for the same in return.

And, as to the reality debate, my personal theory is that you should believe in the things you do, or else they come off as soul-less(and, in reality, are empty and devoid of meaning). I don't think everyone should do dangerous stunts, and I have no problem with people who want to stay safe. But, art is a form of communication, not a mindless display of "Look what I can do". I do not consider the things that I do to be super-human, I just think that the human body is capable of anything that people set their minds to. My performance tries to convey to the general public my thoughts on consensus reality, and this is also consistent with the history of Fakirism and Sufism. More important than the "how" of these things is the "why".

In my opinion.

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Old 05-17-02, 06:31 PM   #31
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[quote]Originally posted by Doctor Eric:
<strong>...Both, at one point or another, gagged on their swords, and both got serious infections deep in their throats...</strong><hr></blockquote>

Curious - Are such sword-swallowing infections generally due to actual scratching of the esophagus, or deep bruising, or what?
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Old 05-17-02, 06:36 PM   #32
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Deep esophagus scrapes and scratches, then because of all the nasty's that live in your throat, they get seriously infected, both of these friends had to have surgery, and neither of them knew what was wrong at first. They just felt real tired and sick and groggy, then they went to the hospital and weren't allowed to leave for a week or two. Scary stuff. But, I think the button swallowing method is harsh enough on the gag-reflex to conquer it completely.
Actually, HiveQueen, I was just talking to Frack about this, and was wondering what sorts of things would be good for him to drink on tour that are natural antibiotics, vinegar was my only solution. I've gotten the impression that you know a bit about herbs and stuff, do you have any suggestions?

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Old 05-17-02, 08:24 PM   #33
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[quote]Originally posted by Doctor Eric:
<strong>Deep esophagus scrapes and scratches...get seriously infected... I was just talking to Frack about this, and was wondering what sorts of things would be good for him to drink on tour that are natural antibiotics, vinegar was my only solution. </strong><hr></blockquote>

Disclaimer: I am NOT a doctor or even an herbalist; I read and studied a lot of this during my training in eastern medicine and medical massage therapy, but my license specifically excludes diagnosis and treatment of infectious illnesses, except as specifically prescribed my a medical professional. If you think you may have an infection, see a doctor; even if you're uninsured, most communities have free or low-cost medical services available if you ask around. By reading this post, you are agreeing not to sue me or beat me up even if you suffer health problems and/or death as a result of my advice.

That said...

Right-o about the nasties in the esophagus infecting scrapes. Most important thing is to drink a glass of water after you eat anything, EVERY TIME, for at least 10 days after your last swallow. That should at least help to rinse any scrapes a bit cleaner.

Avoiding spicy foods, cigarettes, eating large meals right before bed, etc. will also help. (Yes, I KNOW the cigarette smoke goes down a different tube... where it screws up your ability to heal quickly.)

As far as what to drink, vinegar sounds sensible - I recommend apple cider vinegar, (BRAGG's is a good brand for this; look in health food stores if you can't find it elsewhere). Not sure what kind of concentration you need; I'd try a tablespoons or three in a glass of water (?) - again, after you eat anything, and also right after the sword swallow. Don't want to be dumping too much vinegar into your stomach, though, so maybe vinegar just after a swallow, and after eating for 10 days after a gag; water after eating other times... Thoughts, anyone?

A tablespoon of salt in a glass of water is also good for gargling if you've got oral piercings or scrape the entrance to your throat, but you probably don't want to drink it; not good for you and might make you vomit.

Another thing I've heard recommended is myhrr extract, found in health food stores - a dropperful in a glass of water. This is definitely antibacterial, but it tastes like floor polish and may not be so good for you to take regularly, might end up being worse for you, plus it's pretty harsh -DON'T use it straight. Ask around if you're thinking of trying this, and you might want to limit use to only after gags; not as a regular thing. If you use it, try coating your tongue with oil first and drinking some minty tea after.

Of course, if you're fire-breathing, I'd imagine the fuel you're swallowing is going to kill anything in its path; so sword-swallow first, fire second. Don't intentionally drink fuel or rubbing alcohol or any of that; if you've got a death wish, there are much easier and more pleasant ways to get there.

Also, I really really urge you to practice safer oral sex. Sure, it's a lot less fun for everyone. So's oral gonorrhea. You can catch most STDs orally, and esophogeal scratches are just going to up your chances. At the very least, don't swallow and try to make sure your partners are clean. Really, though, your best bet is latex (or one of the new non-latex options) regardless of if you're going down on men or women. For men, use condoms (without spermicidal lubrication, tastes icky) - they're available in all sorts of colors and flavors. For women (or rimming), use dental dams (squares of latex) - also available plain or flavored, and they even make these clever little garter things to hold them in place if your hands are busy elsewhere. If you don't have a dam, cut a condom lengthwise or use saran wrap. If you live somewhere without a lot of sex-positive shopping options, or you're shy, buy 'em over the internet (or request a print catalog) from Good Vibrations (the bay area's favorite clean well-lighted place for safe and fun sex) at www.goodvibes.com (go to their online store and do a search for whatever you need. (If you're looking for flavored condoms, just search for 'condom' and browse; searching for 'flavored' misses a few.) Or go to your local Planned Parenthood location and tell them you want to be safe and responsible, they'll be proud of you and give you all sorts of free goodies.

Can you tell I grew up in Berkeley, where they make sure we learn all these things in school?


Other things:


See pictures of your esophagus at http://www.gicare.com/pated/eieg0001.htm

Make sure you're taking your vitamins, and getting your RDA of Zinc. (Promotes faster healing of this kind of thing.) Don't OD on this stuff, though.

Make sure your sword is CLEAN. Wash it with antibacterial soap, dry it, keep it clean, don't let the public smear their grubby little fingers all over it. If you need to pass it around for reasons of verisimillitude, wipe it off with a vinegar-dampened paper towel afterward - it'll add to your show, make the trick look truly dangerous.

If you're prone to oral candidasis (yeast in the throat, called thrush in infants - signs include itching in the throat, white spots in the throat or white fur on the tongue) treat it; it makes your throat & esophagus much more likely to get hurt. Acidophilus helps - look for live culture yogurt, or actual acidophilus in tablet or liquid form (in milk base or various vegan bases; apple and carrot and stuff). It's also good to take if you do screw up your throat and have to take antibiotics, especially if you're female. Diflucan is an oral treatment (for candida) that works pretty well if you've got health insurance or scads of cash- the 150 mg dose is marketed as a "single dose treatment" so they can only prescribe one at a time (and charge you for each one), which may work fine if this is a rare infection for you, but if you've got a chronic problem with it ask your doctor to prescribe you 9 of the 200 mg pills, which aren't marketed as single dose so they'll only hit you with the copay once (check this with your own insurance people). Take one a day for three days, then one a month for six months, and cut as much sugar and simple carbohydrates and yeast-promoting foods (mushrooms, beer, wine, chocolate, cheese, everything worth eating) out of your diet as you can. Start eating lots of butter, though, or you'll lose way too much weight.

For other herbs and gargles, make friends with someone at a health-food store or herb store who seems to know what they're talking about (hint- if they talk about the vital living energy of the herbal extracts, take anything they say with a really big grain of salt.) Careful with drinking random herbal concoctions, though - being made from herbs doesn't mean they won't f*ck you up if you take them wrong.

And I like Jim's idea of getting a tiny little camera in a clear plastic tube and swallowing that - just like breast self-exams, keep track of your esophogeal health through regular self-checks.

Good luck.
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Old 05-17-02, 09:44 PM   #34
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...thanks for the advice eric... will have to further investigate this sword-swallow thing...

thom gave me a weird contraption that is supposed to emulate a sword that he was given to practice with... looking at this behemoth of a thing & considering the button string method - i opt for the smaller of two objects to start with. as the first couple of times i tried to swallow thom's contraption - i nearly threw-up...

(oh - just shut up... i know what you all are thinking.)

damn - i didn't know frack was going to be there last night... i would have ditched my date to meet the infamous frack...

as far as throat remedies are concerned... my voice teacher always had me gargle with warm salt water whenever i had infections... also, tea and honey are soothing - stay away from spicy foods, ciggarettes and dairy products... i do not know if these will work for sword swallowing... but, they sure as hell help restore the voice after you've strained it or been sick...

hope that helps? thanks again...
~firegirl
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Old 05-17-02, 09:59 PM   #35
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btw ~ just reading hivequeen's post...

re: ingesting fuel ---&gt; i ALWAYS do the following things before and after a day of fire eating/blowing...

1.) drink lots of water before, during and after the show...(as it will help flush out the toxins from your system)

2.) eat bread if i feel i've injested too much fuel (as it will absorb the toxins and prevent severe poisening... only you can tell what your limits are - ususally i know if i've injested too much fuel if i get a really bad headache immediatly following my show. by immediate i mean - within minutes... as if you are just starting doing fire, you'll have some sort of reaction to the fuel until your system builds up a tolerance to it... like you'll feel high, or sick to the stomach or have a mild headache... but, better safe than sorry.)

3.) i drink a large glass of choclate milk after every show... again - it coats the stomach... helps to prevent your system from absorbing too much fuel... plus, choclate milk is yummy.

4.) DO NOT DRINK ON SHOW DAYS! before, after or during a show... as booze will dehydrate you... so will coleman... your body will not be able to process the two toxins & you could end up REALLY sick! (i didn't believe this until i experianced the effects of three beers, five 30 minute shows and being in the sun all day at the louisiana ren. faire this fall - i was one sick firegirl)

5.) know the number for poison control by heart. the average fire eater injests between 1/4 & 1 TEASPOON of fuel per show... that's at the outside maximum - doing between 5 & 7 shows/day, less than 1/2 a cup... if you inadvertantly injest anymore than this amount - you could die. really. i had a friend who took a mouthful of fuel to do a blow & someone startled him - he swallowed it & ended up in icu for three days... the effects of this poisoning was similar to a stroke... you don't want that - even if his tips were very good for that show (his partner passed the hat after the emt's took him to the hospital... true story!)

6.) DON'T EVER PURPOSFULLY SWALLOW FUEL... EVER!

there are probably other saftey measures that i've over looked... but, these are just things i suggest...
~firegirl
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Old 05-17-02, 10:31 PM   #36
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Since the topic is starting to revolve around fire eating/breathing I figured I would share my thoughts on something very few fire performers seem to know about... Chemical Pneumonia.
It sucks.
Horrible.
Nasty.
The most painful thing I have ever dealt with (and remember, I'm the guy that deals with pain negation on a regular basis).
DON'T GET IT.
And here's how...
I always hear fire eaters/breathers talk about swallowing fuel, which is the LEAST of your concerns. Lamp oil is inert, just passes straight through, just like olestra. It may make you feel a bit nauseous, but no big deal. Chemical Pneumonia is what happens when you inadvertently inhale the mist you make when you blow fire. Any good fire blower can make a very fine mist, so the better you are, the more danger you are in. My experience actually came from the fact that I had a sudden small leap in skill. I had been blowing for about 8 months, and one day, I tried to sustain a flame without the torch in front of my face, and it worked. Woo-hoo I thought, and started making myself into a fire-fountain, blowing straight up, with the torch out to the side (no longer contacting my stream), sustaining the flame for a good 15-30 seconds. Wow, real cool I said. What I didn't think about is that when you sustain like that, the flame peters out rather than just disappearing when you stop and pull the torch away. Which means that for half a socond or more, you are misting without burning it. Which means you are standing in a cloud of lamp oil mist. It was only a matter of time before I didn't back away enough before I inhaled, and about 10 minutes later I felt a sharp pain in my side. What ensued was a month of the worst experience of my life. My whole world was pain, the most painful thing I could do was try to lay down, of course movement was pretty close in pain factor, I was hallucinating madly, and couching up a mason jar full of glow in the dark green goo daily. Right now inhale the smallest breath you can. That's how much air I could take in before it felt like someone was hitting my lungs with a sledgehammer from the inside. Had my case gotten any worse, I would have suffocated. Plus, once you get it, you have a weakness to it. The smell of petroleum products makes my lungs hitch to this day (three years later), I no longer blow fire, except on special occasions.
If you do get it, go see an herbalist, because doctors can't help you. Mostly, you just have to hope you live through it. The only thing that helps, and only a little, is quite odd. A cold-coffee enema. From what I was told, it is like opening up the drain pan on your liver. All the poisons just drop out.
And with that pleasant image, I leave you.
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Old 05-18-02, 03:34 AM   #37
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Jim, I would like to vote the past few letters by HiveQueen, Firegirl and Eric into the library. Maybe under the heading "General Fire Eating and Sword Swallowing FAQ" or something similar. Great stuff!
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Old 05-18-02, 05:41 AM   #38
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I also found those posts very informative and they sound quite reasonable. I have had chemical pneumonia once quite badly - coughing up blood - and I was close enough to feel totally wracked a couple of times. A friend of mine has suffered a collapsed lung from this.

A few remarks, though:

When it comes to this subject, everybody seems to know what to do and what not, everybody is an expert so it seems. But hardly anyone ever, points to a reliable source for his information, many times, it's 'what people said'. Again, those posts sound very reasonable, and I think they are mostly true, but it won't be a bad idea, if they are included in the library, to mention that reality may be different...

The building up of tolerance for fuel firegirl is talking about may exist, but sometimes I have the idea that I'm getting more sensitive to oil, as Eric describes.

Milk can give some relief, indeed, and I prefer chocolat milk as well. But I also have been told, that milk may actually help your body taking up the toxins, instead of getting them out. I should do some research to back this up, though.

I also breath long flames, and don't exactly get the mist-problems Eric describes. It's dangerous to inhale the mist, indeed, but I don't fysically understand what he means.

AS DANGEROUS, or even more, as the mist, is the smoke that comes from your torches, NEVER inhale this smoke and prevent your audience from it as well, by wrapping your torches in a wet or impregnated cloth. The smoke is basically vapourised oil, so it may cause chemical pneumonia as well.

Another story I heard from different people, and that needs some research to back it up, is that swallowing fuel may lead to pneumonia as well. The theory is this: a small part of the oil, will dissolve in your blood, where your body cannot do anything with it. The only way for your body to get rid of it, is through the lungs. When it builds up there, it may lead to pneumonia as well.

And another tip that was not in the posts: if you would ever swallow oil, NEVER try to vomit it out. You are very likely to get at least a little amount of oil in your lungs when you do so, that will leave you with a pneumonia as well.

Firegirl and Eric, thanks for sharing your info. If it's ok with you, I'd like to bundle the information into one comprehensive article for the library. And if you have any more information to share, please share it, so that it can be included.

Take care all of you...

[ 05-18-2002: Message edited by: Pyromancer ]</p>
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Old 05-18-02, 11:15 AM   #39
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[quote]Originally posted by Pyromancer:
<strong>...When it comes to this subject, everybody seems to know what to do and what not, everybody is an expert so it seems. But hardly anyone ever, points to a reliable source for his information, many times, it's 'what people said'. </strong><hr></blockquote>

There are toxicology studies out there for pretty much every chemical on the market... I'll have access to some medical databases (and free time) after Wednesday and am happy to do some research, see what turns up. Could people let me know exactly what fuels you're using (brand name, manufacturer, and ingredients if possible; anything you can find on the label.) Also best estimates of how much you're swallowing, absorbing through skin, and inhaling per show, how many shows per day or week or month....


Also, http://www.aapcc.org/ is the American Association of Poison Control Centers, they have a search-by-area link to find your local Poison Control Center. The nationwide Poison Hotline is 1-800-222-1222, if you go to http://www.1-800-222-1222.info/jingles/home.asp you can download the Poison Help theme song (it's really catchy!)
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Old 05-18-02, 01:19 PM   #40
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this is all very helpful information... never heard of chemical pneumonia... never even considered it...

two things i'd like to address that haven't been mentioned yet - this is probably redundant for those who've been working with fire for a while - but, for those who are reading this forum to learn about the arts - it's important stuff:

1. the differences in fuel that are used by fire manipulators (fancy name... ) -- the two most common used fuel types are: kero (lamp oil, pariffin) and 'white gas' (coleman, zippo lighter fluid, etc...) the differences between these are simple, yet very important.

kero is used primarly for doing blows and on poi and juggling torches. it cannot be used for mouth tricks (transfers, suspends, etc...) it is thicker in viscostiy and will not effectivly sustain a flame in your mouth. (tho' if you're in a bind - you can use it to do simple extinguishes) i believe that eric is correct in saying that kero is much like olestra. and, if injested in small amounts will just pass through your system with the only real side effects being nausea and possiable mild diarreah.

'white gas' - the fire eater's friend - is where you run into poisoning risks. thinner in viscosity, it is easily absorbed by the body. when amounts over 1/4 to 1/2 a cup of this chemical is absorbed into the body in a short amount of time (less than a week, i'd guess) you run the risk of severe poisoning. symptoms including: dizziness, nausea, severe headache, vomiting or diarreah. and, in more severe cases, hallucinations and a possiable coma like state.

a novice fire eater should expect to experiance some physical reaction when beginning to work with either fuel... as, i mentioned before - the body will build up a tolerence to the addition of small amounts of toxins over a long period of time. i really have no concrete scientific proof to back this up. i just have my own experiance and my vauge knowledge of the theory of immunization. (for example - i used to suffer 'digestive issues' and a mild headache after any amount of fire eating/blowing... now, four years later - i don't.)

my advice is: if you feel you're experiancing SEVERE symptoms of posioning (lasting longer than a 24 hour period of time) - get thee to a hospital. better safe than sorry.

you can see my previous post for more information on ways to combat some of this. but, for the most part - you kind of just have to suffer through it until your body gets used to you putting posion into it. i know this sucks (i just recently started doing blows as a regular part of my sets & had to go through the whole schpeil again w/kero...) but, you gotta suffer for your art. (i guess.)

'white gas' (in my opinion) should NEVER be used to do blows. as it is lighter in weight - burns hotter and quicker than kero & presents the very likely possiablity that your blow will 'back up' on you. causing severe burns and possiable death. (if you doubt me on this - i believe that both todd's better half & kevin the uncanny can speak with experiance and authority on this subject.)

another thing - some fire eaters who work in club settings will swear by the use of grain alchohol for use on torches (151, 190... new orleans performers should be very familiar with the existance of such substances.) i discourage this practice. as in my experiance, alchohol burns hotter than any other fuel (due to the sugar content.) and, even when every saftey precaution is taken - use of grain alchohol WILL result in minor to severe burns on the hands, mouth and tounge. (i speak from experiance on this - as i ran out of fuel while doing a bar show on bourbon street & decided to use 151 - i couldn't taste anything for weeks... and those were minor burns.) also, using grain alchohol, the flame tends to be small, hard to see and pretty unimpressive overall. not to mention - if you use it through out your show - you will likely end up pretty inebrieated... hence opening a whole new spectrum of safety issues.

for more information on fuels, torch construction, trick technique and safety - excellent articles are avaible on the web, authored by two giants in the world of fire manipulation: mephisto the magnificant (a tome of nearly 200 pages - very helpful to beginners and advanced eaters/blowers) and peter bendell (uk - shorter - but has excellent diagrams for torch construction.) you can find this (and, other) information on the web by doing a general 'google' search on the topic of 'fire eating.'

2.) along the lines of the topic of injury and illness: something that most fire manipulators don't think about - lung burn. lung burn occurs when you inadvertantly make the error of slightly inhaling while doing a mouth/torch stunt. what actually happens is a mystery to me - whether you inhale some of the fumes, part of the flame or what not... the result being that you mildly damage the lung tissue causing a condition which will feel like you have a very bad chest cold. (in more extreme cases, of course, inhaling the flame or fumes can cause immediate death.)

i do not know how to tell people to avoid this. other than, do not inhale while doing extinguishes, transfers, suspends. [tho' some inhalation is necessary to perform some of these tricks - but, if you'll excuse the comparison - it should be inhalation like in that of smoking a joint. where you take the smoke (flame) into the mouth... but, hold it there and do not let it progress past the back of the mouth... using what a singer would call a 'glottal stop' ... unlike smoking pot, where you hold it there for a moment and then inhale deeply... stopping nothing... not that i'd know anything about that... [img]wink.gif[/img] ]

if you should sustain a case of 'lung burn' - my advice is to treat it exactly like you would a severe chest cold. bulk up on vitamins, decongestants (as the lungs will tend to fill with fluid when injured,) juices, fluids... get extra rest. and, in a couple of days (2 to 5 in the cases i've experianced) you'll be fine. as the lungs are amazing regenerative organs and have a rapid healing capacity... given you take care of yourself.

* a short disclaimer: i am not a chemist, doctor or any other kind of professional opinion on the aforementioned subjects. all the information presented in this post has been passed on to me through publications on the subject i've read -- or, my own personal experiance. i hope the information is helpfull & somewhat informitive. that being said, happy fire eating, folks!

~firegirl

btw ~ pyromancer - that is a incrediable photo in your sig line... what an amazing fireball!

[ 05-19-2002: Message edited by: firegirl ]

[ 05-19-2002: Message edited by: firegirl ]</p>
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