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Topic: Fire Eating
Message: Posted by: Beezer109 (Aug 9, 2005 02:39AM)
Any good resources on fire eating?
Message: Posted by: jennieprice (Aug 9, 2005 11:43AM)
Do a search here at the Café. There's a lot of info to get you started.

Message: Posted by: Slim Price (Aug 9, 2005 02:33PM)
The only "good" resource is a hands-on professional. And read this!
Beginning Sideshow Arts
I sometimes get mail asking about how to start learning sideshow arts. This is my answer,
First you need to analyze your self, and your reasons. If you want to learn to impress the guys at the bar, or your frat buddies, or to get girls, forget it! By and large, the acts are dirty, invoke some pain, take years to learn properly and you will find that “normal” people will look at you as something less than normal. The acts will probably cause you medical problems later in life, or immediately. It isn’t like magic at all, the damage you do to yourself can last for years. I often think that in our current media society, people think an accident (there will be some) goes away at the end of the clip, or movie… This is not true. An accident can take weeks or months to recover from, and can even cause you permanent disfigurement… The best (only) way to learn is with a pro teacher who has lived this life. I don’t mean the kid at 7/11 who sucks fire from a Bic. I mean a working professional. Learning from a book is the worst way to get this knowledge. I think I have read most of the books on the subject, and I am often appalled by errors, missed points, plain lies and oversights, all of which can bite you! Even when you know it all, a pro can see a lot of things you will miss, and might save you a lot of damage to yourself or others. Slim’s notes are overwritten to prevent as much of this as possible, but sometimes surprising interpretations slip in. I remember writing several additions to a note to clarify putting a Band-aid over a thumbtack...
Most of the people who chose to start learning sideshow acts are young, impressionable, frequently misfits, and are looking to make some kind of mark. “See what I can do!” This is understandable, but the fact is that there are a lot of better, easier, cleaner, and more profitable ways to make a living. Working at McDonald’s will earn you more, and you won’t spend most of your time looking for the next gig. Even the best performers have dry spells.
Although most of the acts however, dangerous, are simple, few initiates realize the need for learning to be an entertainer. This is really what separates the tyros from the pros in every field, not just sideshow work. Theater skills are what will make the money and work for you. If you are still in school take advantage of your theatrical options, acting, stagecraft, voice, costume, scripting, learn anything and anything you can. If you are a “civilian,” do the same. It’s an investment sure to pay off…
Don’t try to learn everything at once...There are dozens of nuances in any single act that can only be learned by exploration. Mastering one act and doing it well, (and adding your own persona) will always serve you better than “shotgunning” several badly done stunts. When you begin working a sideshow act, the first thing you will want to do is ‘push the envelope.” This, more than anything else will get you in trouble… Give your art a little time to nurture, until you really understand it… Above all, learn from a pro mentor.

An after thought :
Learn to stop calling what we do "Geek Magic." That is a term that real sideshow performers find very offensive. Geeks were the lowest form of sideshow performers, Low drunks and junkies who would eat the grossest things. Live snake heads. Live chicken heads, for example, just to get a fix... Jim Rose is not a good example of true sideshow work. Although he introduced a whole new generation to sideshow acts, his methods of presentation leave, for me, a lot to be desired. Sideshow work does not need to be presented in a gross, frenetic manner as he does. Why do I mention him? He is, I think the person most likely to have misused “Geek”, as in his claiming to do “Geek Magic”
Message: Posted by: drwilson (Aug 9, 2005 03:20PM)
Where to find a pro? Both Todd Robbins and Harley Newman have taught this in workshops.


Message: Posted by: Slim Price (Aug 9, 2005 05:22PM)
And Slim even makes housecalls! <G>
On the road Slim
Message: Posted by: MattTheKnife (Aug 10, 2005 12:22PM)
I've taught classes for circus schools and private lessons as well. So depending on your location and your schedule in relation to mine I could help you out.

-Matt (TK)
Message: Posted by: MetalBender (Aug 10, 2005 11:25PM)
I eat fire on stage seven nights a week in a proffesional theatre, and would also be willing to take students, provided they are serious enough, and realize the danger they put themselves in. Of course I would most defenitley defer to Slim on this one, only bother to find me if I happen to be closer.

Message: Posted by: MajesticWizard (Aug 16, 2005 12:23PM)
I suppose to each their own, but I can't even imagine trying this one. I'd be too afraid of missing my mouth and catching my hair on fire...like a bad soft drink commerical of a famous pop star. But I've seen it done...gives me the willies.
Message: Posted by: drwilson (Aug 16, 2005 12:29PM)

Of course it gives you the willies. That's why some folks do this in front of an audience. It gives lots of people the willies. It's fun!


Message: Posted by: Beezer109 (Aug 21, 2005 11:35PM)
Don Drivers actually going to be helping me on this one. Unfortunately hes out on a trip pitching. Def. when he gets back though!
Message: Posted by: Kondini (Aug 22, 2005 06:43AM)
Taurus Magic (Derek Lever) Has a very good audio tape on the subject,,, listen and learn then get someone who can do it properly to go through it with you.

Message: Posted by: Professor Piper (Aug 22, 2005 08:21AM)

Bravo and Thank you for such a wonderful lecture on learning "the other arts".

I've been performing fire for over 12 years (Eat it, Breath it, Juggle it, Spin it).

I am constantly bombarded by folks (usually males between the ages of 15-23) who want to learn to eat fire for the thrill effect. Or to be able to wow their friends at parties.

I think the first and most important prerequiste to learning this, or any other extremely dangerous act, is to ask yourself: "Why do I want to do this?"

Again, thank you for your wisdom and stating the facts so clearly.


Prof. Piper

P.S....I also take on students, occasionally, when the right ones cross my path...So if you are in the neighborhood, look me up and we'll chat about it.
Message: Posted by: jonthewierdo (Aug 27, 2005 12:50PM)
If you are based in the Uk then PM me and I could arrange a days personal training for you with me and me dad.

My dad was the only Speciality Act in the World to ever work Belle Vue Circus for three Consecutive Seasons and was always the act they featured on the TV Promos for the Circus TV Xmas Specials in the 60's.

He's worked The Three Ring Circus in Paris and practically every major circus you can name around the world as The Amazing Etna and if he can't teach you the safe way to do fire eating (as safe as it can be) then nonone can.

Same goes for bed of nails, Ladder of daggers, Dancing on broken glass and other similar feats.

If there is enougn interest I could film me dad teaching and explaining all this and release as a DVd Set?>
Message: Posted by: Harley Newman (Aug 28, 2005 03:19PM)
Jon, there may be interest for it, but do you really want the responsibility for the screwups that will happen because the people didn't learn it personally?

Apparently, you learned from your dad. This is a good thing. And it didn't happen overnight, but over a long period of time, right? Did he teach you fire, for example, when you were at the height of adolescent craziness, and most likely to get hurt showing it off? I doubt it.

I've seen a number of "how-to" publications. None does the job right.

Todd has been approached to do one. So have I. So what? That some publisher thinks (s)he can make money off it, doesn't have anything to do with responsibility and safety. Nor does it allow for a teacher to help the student through their individual quirks.

There are a number of people around who will brag about how much they know, and how they can tell you everything you want to know. Would you trust them to teach you, if their goal was just to brag? Would you want to be one of them?

Think about it. This is a transmission of knowledge from one person to another, about skills that may not be as complicated as they sometimes look, but which can hurt you badly with even a little waver of attention.

In a DVD, the attention is not a mutual thing, and never can be.
Message: Posted by: DonDriver (Aug 28, 2005 04:54PM)
Hey guys,
Just so you pros that have posted on this thread don't think I've lost my mind..
I know Beezer 109 from buying one of my pitch tapes.For thoses that don't know me I worked sideshows under canvas for several years.
When Beezer first posted this I was on my way to work the Wisconsin state fair pitching Svengalis with David Walker.I told him I'll get back to him when I got home.
My advice to Beezer and anyone else who thinks they want to learn fire eating is go to a pro and lean it "hands on".
I have yet to read or watch anything on fire eating that would do anything but get some poor guy burned,and maybe bad.
So unless I can teach hands on I'll have to back off 100%.Anybody out here that is a REAL pro fire eater will tell you the same thing,and if anyone out here tells you they can teach you from emails or a video has to be a real amateur and out of their mind end of story!
I know Beezer lives not too far from Todd Robbins...thats where I'm sending him.
Now you all know where I stand on this and what I had in mind when I told Beezer I would help him on this.
Beezer trust me on this one buddy...I like you too much to get you hurt(or anyone else)
Message: Posted by: Harley Newman (Aug 28, 2005 06:43PM)
Good words, Don.

Welcome back from your tour. I hope the money flowed into your pockets.
Message: Posted by: Professor Piper (Aug 28, 2005 10:14PM)
I'm with the other Pros in the know...

I've performed with fire (Eating, Breathing, and juggling) for 12+ years...

There simply is NO other way than to learn it hands on (which is how I learned it myself).

It's as others here have said...Sure, you can write about technique, but you can NOT help when the fledgling eater is working on their placement (for example).

You HAVE to have someone there that knows what they are doing and talking about to learn it the RIGHT way.

Otherwise you are going to end up with 2nd or 3rd degree burns on the inside of your mouth (bad)...Bacterial Pneumonia from inhalation of fuel fumes (worse)....OR Dying because you breathed at the wrong time (End of story).

Think about this before you decide to jump into an art that is admittedly a Beautiful thing when performed correctly.

(Note the qualifier in that sentence: Performed Correctly).

Peace and Stay Safe:

Prof. Piper