Sunday, April 02, 2006

Memiors of a Sword Swallower

Memoirs of a Sword Swallower is a cheesy peice of shit book. It's written by a guy who worked as a Carny in the late forties.

He worked with an actual freakshow that traveled with the Carnival.

Here is a review and description of it, I'll tear it apart shortly.


(Memoirs of a Sword Swallower is Daniel P. Mannix's autobiography as a sword-swallower with a traveling sideshow, illustrated with photos from the 30s and 40s taken by the author.

An example of Classic Americana, this book offers a portrayal of a vanished world of working-class performance artists who earned a living by their unique bodies and imaginations.

Stars include the Fat Lady, the human beanpole, the Ostrich man who ate broken glass, and many more.

The "tricks" behind eating fire and swallowing swords are explicated with clarity and candor. This book will appeal to all who speculate about the outer limits of pain, pleasure, and revulsion.

Mannix went on to become the supreme noir historian of the 20th century, penning Those About to Die (about the Roman games in the Colosseum), a biography of Aleister Crowley called The Beast, The Hellfire Club (about an upper-class British secret society), and many more.

Mannix was sent a membership card from Anton LaVey's Church of Satan, although like Marcel Duchamp and Groucho Marx he was not a joiner, preferring to remain staunchly independent.)



Mannix did travel the circuit for awhile, three seasons I think, but his book is mostly romanticised bullshit in my humble opinion.

I believe a lot of the facts, though there is some doubt as to whether he actually swallowed swords.

He was a fire eater for sure, and the facts and the way he describes how he learned it are true.

Sword swallowing takes a long time to learn though, I know a couple people who do it, it's no easy feat to learn, and I highly doubt Mannix was around the show long enough to actually learn it.

His book is a quaint romanticised version of what Carny life was like in the forties and it's bullshit.

I'll tell you why.

Most of the people were treated and payed like dogs, even worse than they are nowadays, so I highly fucking doubt that the characters he describes in his book felt all that romantic about it.

They were just barely surviving , and I'm willing to bet that they would rather have been doing something else, but they were misfits, and couldn't last at anything else in the normal world.

I'm not just talking about the freaks in his book, I'm also talking about the other Carnies too.

Hollywood and the public don't give a shit though, they want romanticised stuff, not the truth.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Sword swallowers don't live long enough to get around to writing memiors.

Who Cares? said...

Touche my friend.