With all the negative news that we're hearing from all over the USA and around the world, it's refreshing to find a story in the news that can serve as a diversion.
Yesterday the Jewish Daily Forward featured a story and video about the only Jewish female sword swallower in America. Yes, it's a real 19-inch-long stainless steel sword, not the one referred to by 12-year-old Josh Orlian in his stand-up comedy performance on America's Got Talent.
As Martyna Starosta reported in the Forward,
“For me a lot of the skill is not so much in shocking the audience — it’s in building the suspense,” explained Ilise S. Carter, a professional part-time sword swallower in New York who performs under the name “Lady Aye.”
And it’s true. Most of us react with shock and amazement when we see someone sticking a sword down his or her throat. But the spectacular part only takes a couple of seconds. Most of her time on stage, Carter tries to connect with the audience and create the tension that will turn her working act into a memorable experience.
Lady Aye is a minority within a minority. Based on my research, she is the only female and Jewish sword swallower in the U.S. (But it’s difficult to confirm the exact numbers of such an offbeat occupation.)
Carter grew up in a “nice Jewish family” on the Upper East Side. (Everybody in her family is a doctor, which might come in handy). Growing up she never felt “a great physical connection” with her body. “I had a lot of body issues,” she said, “for a long time I wished I could just be a brain in a jar.” But “becoming a sword swallower for me was very self-esteem building because I have this relatively rare skill that’s the result of great discipline.”
Carter was hesitant to tell me how exactly she learned to swallow a sword. The only detail that she was willing to reveal was that she consulted with a gentleman named Ward Hall, King of the Side Shows and his partner C. M. Christ on a trip to Tampa. After her return she still had to overcome months of fear before she could even start rehearsing. The rest is a trade secret.(A SPECIAL NOTE FOR NEW EMAIL SUBSCRIBERS: THE VIDEO MAY NOT BE VIEWABLE DIRECTLY FROM THE EMAIL THAT YOU GET EACH DAY ON SOME COMPUTERS AND TABLETS. YOU MUST CLICK ON THE TITLE AT THE TOP OF THE EMAIL TO REACH THE JEWISH HUMOR CENTRAL WEBSITE, FROM WHICH YOU CLICK ON THE PLAY BUTTON IN THE VIDEO IMAGE TO START THE VIDEO.)