Thursday, November 6, 2008

This Sword Swallower's Got Talent - Dan Meyer on 'America's Got Talent'

Sword Swallower Goes from Tennessee Renaissance Festival to "America's Got Talent"

Performing at Tennessee Renaissance Festival
The Tennessee Renaissance Festival has featured something a little different the past couple of years when sword swallower Dan Meyer (of "America's Got Talent" fame) performed portions of his incredible program for the amazed onlookers who have seen him do the seemingly impossible. Last year I watched a nurse I know pull the sword out of his mouth, and this year, Her Majesty, the Queen (of the Tennessee Ren Fest) pulled a steel sword from Dan Meyer's throat. Dan's career has burgeoned this past year with appearances at Ripley's Believe It or Not, the Guiness World Book of Records, and "America's Got Talent," and I was able to hear some of the details first hand!
Early Skepticism about Sword Swallowing
Growing up as a child in Indiana in the 1960s, Dan Meyer saw his first sword swallowers and fire-eaters at circus sideshows with his father. Dan recalls, "Like most others in the audience, I was very skeptical, and I remember thinking, 'There's NO way that guy really swallowed a sword for the measly 50 cents we paid to get in this sideshow!'
Convinced by Sword Swallowers in India
"Later, when I was living as a short-term missionary, I encountered Indian fakirs, snake charmers, fire-eaters and sword swallowers performing as "golewala" street performers on the streets of India where sword swallowing first originated 4000 years ago," Dan Meyer states. "These guys did not have any fancy props, and since I could stand just a few feet away from them, I could see first-hand that they really DID swallow their homemade swords. That convinced me that sword swallowing really was real."
Career in Music Industry
Dan did not immediately take up the sword, but chose instead the pen, computer, and telephone. He also became a Celtic musician. However, after working in the music industry for several years in Nashville, Tennessee, Stockholm Sweden, and London England, he shifted his focus from the field of musical entertainment to variety entertainment becoming a circus clown, juggler, stilt-walker, and fire-eater. Dan Meyer ultimately conquered the most dangerous of all sideshow acts - sword swallowing - in 1998 after hearing from a sword swallower that there were less than a dozen sword swallowers left around the world who performed the 4,000-year-old art.
Begins Sword Swallowing Career
"After three years of research, study, and daily practice 10-12 times/day, I finally swallowed my first sword successfully in February 2001," Dan Meyer states.
Awards and Honors
Dan Meyer has won several prestigious awards for his sword swallowing and has been on television numerous times swallowing swords. He is the co-author of an article published in the British Medical Journal, "Sword-Swallowing and Its Side Effects." Dan won the 2007 ig Noble award in medicine at Harvard and appears in both the 2008 editions of "Ripley's Believe It or Not" and "The Guiness World Book of Records" where he is a multiple record holder.
"America's Got Talent"
Dan's most recent claim to fame, however, was making it to the Quarter Finals of 2008's "America's Got Talent" where millions of viewers watched Dan Meyer thrust different bladed and flaming instruments down his throat and live to tell the tale, to the awe, delight and occasional dismay of the fans and celebrity judges.
"Fantastic! Wow! That it was incredibly... Scary! If you were to film everybody at home watching this, half of America would be going 'AAAAH!' " exclaimed David Hasselhoff of "America's Got Talent" after watching Dan Meyer swallow his sword.
Sometimes Dan's sword swallowing talent can be a hard act to swallow!

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