Needles and pins

Yesterday was an incredible day for me. So much so, that I am still fairly fizzing with energy. As part of my ongoing commitment to training, learning and growing as a performer, I attended an event organised by headhacking (www.headhacking.com) training a group of fellow mystery performers in the art of sideshow skills. We were a small number, huddled around a strange and compelling collection of gin traps, staple guns, mousetraps, nails and nail beds, buckets of broken glass and syringes on a bright but breezy Derbyshire morning.

Sideshow has always fascinated me, and I remember many years ago watching the Enigma and Jim Rose as well as performers in Covent Garden and being stunned, delighted, shocked and surprised about what these people could do. Our tutor for the day is a seasoned performer Tristan Stothard and I have to compliment him on an excellent series of workshops building in complexity and challenge to the final pinnacle of the ‘Human Pincushion’ act. Basically, piercing yourself with needles which is something I never thought I would do as up until yesterday I had a phobic reaction to needles, syringes and anything pointy and medical-looking. I still have a healthy respect for said items but already I feel different about them. We weren’t exactly achieving the state that I’ve seen in Asia with penitents at Thaipusam, but it was a profound step for me, to get to know myself a little better and understand that there is so much more to us than we think.
In one of the morning breaks, I even broke a chopstick between my palms in an ‘iron palm’ moment! I shall try the neck next!

The video above shows a few highlights, and I don’t really want to talk about specifics other than to say that having laid on a bed of nails, on broken glass with someone standing on my head, washing with glass and stapling my arm, I am excited as I have ever been and already am looking at integrating elements of my new learnings into a new show.

Sideshow: a staple of mentalism!