Imagine swallowing 24 inches of cold, hard steel. One false move could spell instant death. This is real and it's deadly.
Stomachs of Steel is an intriguing insight into the lives of sword swallowers, practitioners of the most mysterious and dangerous of all performance art. It follows the story of one man who aspires to join this elite subculture, and by using state-of-the-art x-ray technology goes deep inside the bodies of the fearless men and women who risk their lives for their art.
Even among carnival people it's regarded as closer to stupid than brave. "Fire-eating, the nails in the nose, those are things that, when done right, can be safe," says swallower Tom Robbins. "However sword-swallowing is stupidly dangerous."
So why do they do it? And how do they survive? To find out, Stomachs of Steel ventures deep inside both the sword-swallowing sub-culture and the performers themselves. This once-in-a-lifetime journey, using a minuscule camera attached to a sword and full motion x-ray fluoroscopy venture inside the bodies of those who perform this bizarre and dangerous act for a living.
Among the artists we meet are Natasha Verushka the exotic belly dancing sword swallower who almost bled to death after an accident in 2002; Dai Andrews, one of the few people in history to swallow a curved blade; Johnny Fox who has swallowed an incredible 15 blades at once; and Alex Tomaini a member of one of America's greatest carnival dynasties and who, at 14, aims to become the world's youngest sword swallower.
Most intriguingly, Stomachs of Steel discovers the humor, determination and passion that compels these fearless few to overcome pain and risk their lives, to keep their audience happy and to keep a dying art alive.
Warning: Sword swallowing is a life threatening activity. Many deaths and serious medical complications have arisen from attempting this most dangerous of performance arts. Sword swallowing should only be undertaken by a skilled, trained professional. If you are considering sword swallowing, don't!
NTSC 4:3; Total Running Time: 50-minutes
Produced by NHNZ for Discovery Channel
(c) 2004 Natural History New Zealand Ltd
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