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Lady Aye, Sword Swallower. Photo © Rose Callahan

Lady Aye, Sword Swallower. Photo © Rose Callahan

Step right up, the “Sweetheart of the Sideshow” is alive and on the inside at the library! Today at 5pm, sideshow sword swallower and pain-proof girl Ilise “The Lady Aye” Carter is lecturing and performing at The New York Public Library. “Her story exemplifies how overcoming fears can make perceived failures into real opportunities – a skill everyone can benefit from. Live performances of traditional sideshow skills like walking on glass, sword swallowing, and human blockhead make this is a one-of-a-kind experience,” according to the listing.

The free event is at the Tompkins Square Branch of the library at 331 East 10th Street in Manhattan’s East Village.

We’ve attended sideshow performances in art galleries and museums but never in a public library. As far as we know it’s a first.

The Lady Aye, whose writings on sideshow, culture and performance have appeared in many publications, tells ATZ: “I’ve given these talks at places like the Gap and Innovate VA, where I use my experience going from stage-shy financial editor to the ‘Sweetheart of the Sideshow’ and how people can apply these principles of creativity to their own careers. I work with the Alternative Speakers’ Bureau and founder Noah Scalin’s book Unstuck to help people realize these changes.”

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Sword Swallower's Day

Ripley’s Times Square, Sword Swallower’s Day 2013. Photo courtesy of Ripley’s Believe It Or Not

Today at 2:22:14pm local time, sword swallowers at Ripley’s Odditoriums in Times Square, Hollywood and several other locations will simultaneously participate in the annual “Big Swallow” for World Sword Swallower’s Day. The free live show begins at 1:30pm.

“Because sword swallowing is so rare, sword swallowers usually perform solo,” says Dan Meyer, the president of the Sword Swallowers Association International (SSAI), which co-sponsors the event. “World Sword Swallower’s Day gives us a chance to work together to be part of something bigger.” The annual event promotes this ancient art, honors veteran performers, and raises awareness of the medical contributions sword swallowers have made in the fields of medicine and science.

At the Times Square Ripley’s, performers include Todd Robbins, Kyle Mertz and Jim Stileonis. Last year, Robbins’ 5-year old son, Phineas “Finn” Robbins, a Broadway and television actor who often accompanies his famous Dad to sideshow gigs, cutely performed with a toy sword.

Lucky Daredevil Thrill Show

Sword Swallowing Couple Tyler Fyre and Thrill Kill Jill of Lucky Daredevil Thrill Show. Photo Carlo Pizarro. August 3, 2013

Tyler Fyre and Thrill Kill Jill of West Virginia-based Lucky Daredevil Thrill Show will perform in Baltimore. The ravishingly beautiful Jill, who is currently 7 months pregnant with the couple’s third child, is billed as “The World’s Only Pregnant Sword Swallower.”

In St Augustine, Florida, 15-year old Haley Hall, “The World’s Youngest Sword Swallower,” will join multiple Guinness World Record holder Dan Meyer. For World Sword Swallower’s Day 2013, Meyer swallowed a sword and used it to pull a 3700 lb car out of Ripley’s Believe It or Not Baltimore.

At Ripley’s in Hollywood, performers include George the Giant, known as “The World’s Tallest Sword Swallower,” and Brett Loudermilk, who posted this artful and hilarious how-to-be-a-sword-swallower-video along with the disclaimer “DO NOT TRY THIS! ALL INSTRUCTIONS ARE FAKE.”

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October 6, 2013: Video of the Day: The Down Home Daredevils

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February 25, 2012: Video: Happy International Sword Swallowers Day!

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Jim Zajicek's Big Circus Sideshow

Jim Zajicek’s Big Circus Sideshow. Photo © Jim Zajicek

Jim Zajicek, Curator of the Unusual and Proprietor of the Big Circus Sideshow recently wrote a Help Wanted post on Facebook that grabbed our attention. His idiosyncratic slang called up memories of carnival ads from the dear, old Billboard, the Showman’s Bible…

The BIG ONE IS NOW LOOKING TO HIRE
for 2014 Season..

Can place Couple and or Individual/s…
WANTED: Freaks, Working Acts, Swaller, Blockhead, BON, Fire, Those that double, given preference, let us know what you can do?…
Chinese involved
We Pay REAL Money, and you must deliver the goods…Salary/Cherry Pie..
A good home to save money for right people…
Don’t misrepresent or get by with smut as the Mgr is a Old Showman…
Only Serious Inquiries Only…
NO Boozers, Chasers, Dopers, Funny Book Readers No Tats on Dome or Bones in noses…This show plays Church spots…

IF you walk upright and eat with a Knife and Fork this could be a Good opportunity for you…

Contact: Jim Zajicek..
Big Circus Sideshow.
curatoroftheunusual@hotmail.com

Or message Jim Zajicek on Facebook

Zajicek is taking applications for the upcoming season, which runs from mid-March through the first week of November. The Big Circus Sideshow plays mostly West of the Mississippi, he says. After starting in the circus business in 1979 with Franzen Bros. Circus, the showman started his own show more than a decade ago.

Here’s a video by Cris Siqueira of the show’s last three spots of the 2011 season at the Heart O’ Texas Fair & Rodeo in Waco, Texas; the Washington Parish Fair in Franklinton, Louisiana; and the State Fair of Louisiana in Shreveport.

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