Episode 8: Sideshow - Past & Present

Frank checks back in with the Curioso crew to take a stab at the history of sword swallowing, fire blowing, and most of all, sideshow.

Frank's Thoughts

Before I sat down with Christopher Scarborough and Joseph Taylor to talk about Sideshow, we filmed Chris performing a few of his sideshow acts. He performed these acts outside, on the balcony at History at Risk headquarters. Jacquie, my producer, and I were no more than three feet away from Chris while he performed.

Needless to say, it was very up close and personal.

He started by swallowing a sword. We cringed some, but we knew he is a professional, so there wasn’t need to worry. Then he did a strongman feat, ripping a deck of cards in half with just his hands. That was fun to watch. Next, Chris proceeded to set of an animal trap off with his bare hand. Jacquie and I winced some, but hey, he seemed fine.

Then the climax came.

In hindsight I wish we had a camera on Jacquie and me when he was doing the actual glass eating. It’s one thing to see it in this episode, but being there, three feet away, while a human being starts chewing on a lightbulb is just beyond words. Jacquie and I both held visages of horror and concern, starting before the sickening pop of the lightbulb first breaking under his teeth, all the way through to the end, when he washed the glittery saliva down with some water.

That’s the power of sideshow. It doesn’t matter that a lot of the techniques that Chris is using have been performed for centuries, because when you’re placed in front of a person chewing real glass, every survival instinct in your body takes over and screams for it to stop, but yet you just keep watching.

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