Tricks of the Trade | A Portfolio of Talent

Fire & Steel

FIRE & STEEL is the name that is driving audiences all over the nation wild! This show will shake every bone in your body, including that funny one. First Philip clears his throat with 25 inches of cold steel, and while the audience shivers he heats things up by breathing fire at over 1000 degrees Fahrenheit.

Having studied the ancient art of sword swallowing, Philip crafts his performance around this serious art adding a twist of comedy. Then Philip takes you on a comic adventure as he juggles everything from body parts and knives to torches. You could be catching just about anything, except a cold during his show. Don't miss Philip DePalo as he performs FIRE & STEEL!!!

This show is intended for a mature audience.

Fire and Steel Fire and Steel

Sword Swallowing

Sword Swallowing originated thousands of years ago in India by fakirs and shaman priests who developed it, along with fire-walking on hot coals, snake handling, and other ascetic religious practices, as demonstration of their invulnerability, power, and connection with their gods.

Fire and Steel

Encyclopedia Britannica (Sword Swallowing)

A magician's trick dating back to ancient Greece and Rome, involving the swallowing of a sword without bodily injury. Capuleius, in his Metamorphoseon, tells of seeing the trick in Athens, performed by a juggler on horseback. In reality, sword swallowing is not an illusion or trick. Those who practice it must first overcome their reflex gagging at objects touching the back part of their mouths. Long practice controls this reflex. The pharynx must also be conditioned. Objects introduced here cause much pain, and only after several trials can they be passed without great discomfort. The stomach is conditioned in a similar manner. Sword swallowers employ slightly varying methods. While one may swallow a sword without using any intermediate apparatus, such as a gutta-percha tip, another will take this precaution.

The majority of sword swallowers employ a guiding tube which they have previously ingested, and hence their performances are less dangerous. The tube is 45-50 centimeters (17.7-19.7 inches) long and is made of very thin metal. With a width of 25 millimeters (a little less than an inch), the tube permits easy entry of flat-bladed swords. Exhibits of sword swallowing, beyond their entertainment value, have helped to further medicine by demonstrating to physicians that the pharynx could be habituated to contact, thus making experimentation and exploration of the involved organs possible.

Webster's Dictionary

Websters Third New International Dictionary of the English Language, Unabriged defines a Sword Swallower as "a performer who pretends to swallow a sword or some other ridgid object."

I am here to disprove the above definitions. It is a skill which not many have tried, few have accomplished and some have died.

From India, sword swallowing spread to China, Greece, Rome, Europe, and the rest of the world. Sword swallowing was often seen at festivals throughout the ancient Roman empire. Swordswallowers are mentioned in 410 AD during the Teutonic fight for Rome. The practice of sword swallowing travelled north from India into China.

Sword swallowing was popular in Japan in the 8th century and was often seen as part of an acrobatic form of entertainment known as Sangaku, which also featured juggling, tightrope walking, contortion, and other related skills. This type of performance art was "street theater" and the performers traveled throughout Japan. Sangaku, like other forms of drama popular in Japan prior to the 11th century, traced it origins to southern China and India.

Sword Swallowing

The Dervish Orders of the Sufis reflect the meeting of Islam and Hindu thought in the 8th century. Dervish is Persian for "beggar." Some Dervish orders wander, others beg alms, and others live in Sufi monasteries. Some are religious entertainers hired to chant the zikr dirge, and some only perform Dervish ceremonies on special occasions. Dervishes are known for working themselves into frenzies and committing great feats of strength (this is where we get the term "Whirling Dervishes"). One of the Dervish orders founded in 1182 was the order of Rifais who eat glass, walk on hot coals, and swallow swords.

Sword swallowing spread north from Greece and Rome into Europe at the hands of medieval jongleurs and other street performers who performed in public areas. In the Middle Ages, sword swallowers, like magicians, jugglers and other entertainers, were often condemed and persecuted by the Catholic Church. Still, in most places they were popular by the common folk, and the tradition of the wandering entertainer remained strong. By the mid-17th century, performers wandered more freely and became common sights on street corners and at festivals across Europe. Sword swallowing began to die out in Europe in the late 1800s, and in Sweden in 1893 when variety shows were formally outlawed.

"Magic: Stage illusions and Scientific Deceptions"

(New York, 1897) by Albert A. Hopkins:

The Individual comes out dressed in a brilliant costume. At one side of him are flags of different nationalities surrounding a panoply of sabers, swords and yatagans, and at the other a stack of guns provided with bayonets. Taking a flat saber whose blade and hilt have been cut of the same sheet of metal, the blade being from fifty-five to sixty centimeters in length, he introduces it's extremity into his throat, taps the hilt gently, and the blade at length entirely disappears. He then repeats the experiment at a single gulp. Subsequently after swallowing and disgorging two of these same swords, he causes one to penetrate up to it's guard, a second not quite so far, a third a little less still and a fourth up to about half it's length...

Fire and Steel

Pressing now on the hilts, he swallows the four blades at a gulp and then he takes them out leisurely, one by one. The effect is quite surprising. After swallowing several different swords and sabers, he takes and old musket armed with a triangular bayonet, and swallows the latter, the gun remaining vertical over his head. Finally he borrows a large saber from a dragoon who is present for the purpose and causes two-thirds of it to disappear. As a trick, on being encored, the Sword Swallower borrows a cane from a person in the audience and swallows it almost entirely.

To this day there remains fewer than 60 sword swallowers in the entire world...
Philip DePalo is one of them!

Fire & Steel

Some of the above information has been obtained from


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