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Posts Tagged ‘Todd Robbins’

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

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Queen of Swords Natasha Versuchka on stage at new Luna Park, Coney Island. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i

Queen of Swords Natasha Versuchka on stage at new Luna Park, Coney Island. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i

On Saturday night in Luna Park, we caught the first sideshow performance of the season on the park’s free stage. Emcee and host Todd Robbins aka “Coney Island Todd” did the blockhead act (hammering a nail up one’s nose) and a bit of fire eating before introducing his guests. As previously reported in “Will Coney Island Host a Trio of Rival Sideshows?” (ATZ, May 17), Robbins has booked sideshow luminaries like Erik “The Lizardman” Sprague and Natasha Veruschka, the world’s only sword swallowing belly-dancer.

Saturday’s show featured MelissaMarie Wilhelm from Cirque-tacular and Queen of Swords Natasha Veruschka. We first wrote about Natasha a decade ago when this modern-day Scheherazade was entertaining high rollers in Las Vegas with a cabaret act torn from the pages of A Thousand and One Nights. “I always looked different from the other belly dancers. I performed differently,” Natasha says. The first time she danced with a balanced sword it felt so natural that the idea of incorporating sword swallowing into her act began to crystallize in her mind.

At Luna Park, Natasha swallowed seven 22-inch swords at once. The medallion around her beautiful throat is inscribed “Guinness World Record.” Her sixth and current Guinness World Record is for swallowing seventeen 22-inch swords at once!

Todd Robbins Performing at Luna Park Preview Event. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i

Todd Robbins Performing at Luna Park Preview Event. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i

Other acts on Luna Park’s summer schedule include Chris McDaniel, Champion Bullwhip & Trick Roper; Ravi the Scorpion Mystic, Contortionist; and sideshow legends Johnny Fox and Harley Newman. The free sideshows are on Fridays and Saturdays at 8 and 10:15 pm, beginning June 11.

Luna Park Coney Island, 1000 Surf Avenue, Coney Island, 718-373-LUNA (5862)

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John Strong Worlds Finest Shows Banner © John Strong

The on-again, off-again, on-again, off-again saga of John Strong’s Freak Show returning to Coney Island for a second season is on again! Or so we’re told…

After losing his bid to rent Thor Equities’ Grashorn Building and Stillwell lots, Strong says he’s now made a deal to set up on the north side of Surf Avenue across from the Cyclone. The lot, which is not owned by Thor, is next to the West 8th Street subway exit and was cleared at the beginning of the 2010 season for parking cars. Having met John last summer and covered this story since January, we can’t say we’re surprised by his unstoppable efforts to make a Coney Island comeback. It’s telling that the logo of his show is Atlas carrying the globe on his shoulders. It’s quite a burden since Strong will have to travel all the way from Bossier City, Louisiana, where he is playing the fair at Harrah’s Lousiana Downs.

If the deal is indeed a go, the surprising thing is that Strong’s show would be the first amusement business on the north side of Surf since the B & B Carousell closed in 2004. The north side has long been considered the wrong side of Surf to make money since it gets very little foot traffic. People who’ve come for carnival fun aren’t about to cross the street for furniture stores galore. But John Strong intends to prove them wrong. Here is an excerpt from an email that he sent us yesterday…

It is with pride and pleasure to announce that the John Strong World’s Finest Shows will return to Coney Island and open across the street from the Cyclone on May 28th. Todd Robbins will warm them up and I’m going to take their money home. We have a giant 200 x 100 lot across Surf from the Cyclone. The bannerline will be the largest and the most beautiful in the world stretching from the Cyclone to Little Russia… 200 feet. I don’t give up too easily. I’m one of the very few in all of showbiz that has enough experience, flash and knowhow to get the people to cross in the crosswalk at the corner of Surf and 10th to our ticket box a mere 25 ft away on a lot that nobody else could utilize except me.

We may put a bellydancing snake charmer on the bally. We may put a live two headed cow on the bally or the six legged cow on display for free photos. We may have six live human oddities on display. We may have the Chupacabra breaking out of a crate….

Since I’m at a casino, I will be taking bets on how many people we can get to cross the street this summer. My show will turn heads and turn the tip into the greatest freakshow on earth.

Sincerely,
John Strong World’s Finest Shows
World’s Greatest Sideshow Showman
Savior of Coney Island
Director of the Coney Island Morale, Welfare and Recreation Center
Proud Producer of the Greatest Sideshows on Earth

todd robbins

Todd Robbins Banner by Johnny Meah via http://www.toddrobbins.com

If Strong’s sideshow returns, Coney Island will boast a trio of sideshow operators come summer. Coney Island USA’s world-famous circus sideshow starring Donny Vomit, Heather Holliday, and Serpentina will be operating 7 days a week with the addition of a new girlie freak show. Tickets cost $7.50 for adults, $5.00 for kids, and are well worth the price. New kid on the block Luna Park will feature two free sideshow performances on Friday and Saturday nights starring sideshow luminaries like Erik “The Lizardman” Sprague and Natasha Veruschka, the world’s only sword swallowing belly-dancer. The Lizardman, who performed at CIUSA as a guest artist last August told ATZ, “I’m just happy that reports of Coney Island’s death continue to be greatly exaggerated and I am looking forward to working there again this summer, both at Luna and Sideshows by the Seashore.”

The Luna Park shows are produced by Todd “Coney Island Wonder Worker” Robbins, former president of the board of CIUSA and current “Post-Modern Master of the Sideshow.” When Strong writes, “Todd Robbins will warm them up and I’ll take their money home,” he is referring to Robbins’s show in Luna Park. But we think a free sideshow is more likely to cut into the receipts of ticketed attractions than send them customers. Mom to kids: “But honey, we already saw the sword swallower!”

When Strong came to Coney last year, the media played up the Battle of the Sideshows angle, just as they did years ago when Strong’s stepfather Bobby Reynolds had his show in the bank building on 12th Street and the tabloids wrote about “dueling sideshows.”

The more the merrier school of thought is that a concentration of sideshow talent is good publicity for Coney Island. The new Luna Park is expected to draw bigger crowds to the amusement area, too. It will be fascinating to see how this friendly rivalry plays out on the bally platforms and at the cash registers this summer.

New sideshow banners by Marie Roberts on Coney Island USA’s Building advertise this summer’s special guest freaks. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i

Sideshow banners by Marie Roberts on Coney Island USA’s Building advertise last summer’s special guest freaks. June 9, 2009. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i

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December 1, 2009: TLC’s Cake Boss Sweet on Marie Roberts’ Coney Island Sideshow Banners

May 29, 2009: At Cha-Cha’s of Coney Island, Squidling Rhymes with Ringling

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