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Open Up and Say AHHH!

Aired September 3, 2002 - 11:54   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: Brace yourself for this next story. It's about the first annual sword swallowers convention.
Our Jeanne Moos found out, this is a profession where if something goes down wrong, it can not only leave you down in the mouth, but it can also keep you from getting long in the tooth.

Here's Jeanne.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Are you the type who has trouble swallowing a big pill? Better keep your mouth shut. At the sword swallowers convention, swords are finger-licking good.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I lubricate it just to make it go down a little bit smoother.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Now that doesn't hurt, or it hurts? It was the first ever such gathering.

MOOS: Three, two, one, swallow.

Out of fewer than 50 sword swallowers still performing worldwide, 19 made their way to a Ramada in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. The sword swallowers convention coincided with a tattoo convention, not to mention a gathering of sideshow performers. Talk about tongue-tied. The main thing sword swallowers want to get across is that what they do is real. What's it taste like?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tastes like a fork. It has absolutely no taste. It's just steel.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It often feels cold. You can feel it going down cold. You can feel it sometimes nudging your heart as it goes down.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bon appetit.

MOOS: Swords weren't the only thing on the menu. Johnny Fox will swallow just about anything with a handle, then ask you to pull it out. No, no, I don't want to.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You didn't want to, but you did a great job.

MOOS: Johnny once appeared in a Maalox commercial, swallowing light bulbs. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you occasionally eat things that don't agree with you?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MOOS: Swords don't always agree with you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I almost died. I lost 53 percent of all of me blood.

MOOS: Nine months ago, a guy trying to put a $500 bill in Natasha's waistband bumped her while she was swallowing three swords.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And the swords scissored.

MOOS: She ended up in intensive care. No wonder paramedics were on hand.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're ready.

MOOS: Natasha's other specialty is swallowing neon. If you either breath wrong, or get frightened, your throat muscles will crunch it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All without even smudging her lipstick. Dai Andrews swallowed 11 swords. He's learned how to control his gag reflex.

MOOS: This isn't something you learn in an afternoon.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It takes about two years to be able to gain the sort of proficiency, to slide it down about halfway, and hold it there, just using your esophageal muscles.

MOOS: But even Dai's girlfriend sometimes averts her eyes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it's absolutely disgusting.

MOOS: Most disgusting was lizardman, with his split tongue and pierced earlobes, and stunts too gross for TV.

Sword swallowing has come a long way since it started in India around 2000 b.c. Now, they swallow everything from dipsticks...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Still half a quart left.

MOOS: ... to spoons, to the curved sword that requires the swallower to bend his body.

The conventioneers set a world's record for most swords swallowed by multiple sword swallowers. Nineteen performers swallowed a total of 50 swords. The scissors didn't count. Didn't your mother tell you to chew before you swallow?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She told me not to run with them in my mouth.

MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN, Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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