Today I witnessed the grittiest performance I’ve ever seen. And I’ve seen a few.
I went to the Seaport Village Spring Busker Festival today and enjoyed a number of excellent, very entertaining acts. But the one that really stood out was performed by Murrugun the Mystic. He’s one of the stars of the AMC television reality show Freakshow.
While in a great deal of pain, Murrugun was first in the world to shoot a flaming arrow out of his throat! Let me describe his entire act…
Unfortunately, I filled up my camera’s memory card midway through his fire eating, just before he got to the really big stuff. At the end of some more conventional (but great) fire eating tricks, he really wowed the crowd. He filled his throat with a large quantity of kerosene combined with light gasoline, then produced two MASSIVE fireballs from his mouth. You had to see it to believe it! These balls of flame must’ve measured 6 feet in diameter. Oh, man! It was a bummer my camera ran out of memory! Afterward, he promptly rinsed his throat out with mouthwash and then water, because the flammable mixture is highly carcinogenic.
Next Murrugun balanced his entire body weight on a demonstrably sharp samurai sword. He leaned over the horizontal blade and supported himself on his stomach, lifting arms and legs from the ground.
Next came the bed of nails. I was volunteered, along with five other guys in the crowd, to help Murrugun wow the gathered audience. Each of us tested the nails, and while they weren’t sharp as pins, they were definitely pointed. Murrugun lay on the bed of nails, placed a board over his torso, and four of the guys, weighing a total of about 910 pounds, stepped up onto the board! I and another fellow helped to balance the four. Ouch! While this sort of thing has been performed for thousands of years, and the many nails effectively support a whole lot of weight, I wouldn’t want to be sandwiched between them and the combined mass of four guys!
Now the show got interesting in an alarming way. Murrugun used a very long pole to support “The Knives of Death”. I believe that’s what he called them. These five long knives faced downward from a ring, and should they topple down from the top of the pole, they’d probably impale poor Murrugun. I’m not sure how his act was supposed to proceed. The knives were balanced atop the pole. Suddenly down came the knives from on high and Murrugun lay flat on his back. The knives mostly missed him. But one sliced his leg. A good three inch gash was visible, and blood. He seemed stunned. He very gingerly hobbled to the back of the stage area, checked himself, and it looked to me like he then decided to tough it out. The audience didn’t seem to know how to react. Like them I just watched, astonished.
He was obviously hesitant and in pain. He told us he’d now perform a world’s first. He’d shoot a flaming arrow from his throat.
I could see his hands visibly trembling while he tried for a few seconds to piece two slender hollow rods together, which formed the shaft of the arrow. He gradually composed himself. He lubricated the long shaft, which was possibly two to three feet long, lit the pointed end, then proceeded to swallow the unique arrow. He bent over, and after attaching the arrow end to a slingshot-like device, shot the arrow out of his throat and through the air! He missed the balloon in the bullseye, perhaps 10 or 15 feet away, but not by much!
I know that street performers–and circus and carnival sideshow performers–have a difficult profession and can endure a lot of hardship. But what I witnessed this afternoon was truly heart-rending and impressive. It seemed no amount of pain could slow down Murrugun’s showmanship and passion for his art.
Murrugun the Mystic noted that because Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus have decided to eliminate elephants from their show (the news just out), perhaps there’s a chance the circus sideshow will make a comeback. That is Murrugun’s wish and personal mission. Can you help make that happen? Here’s his Facebook page.
Thanks, Murrugun, for privileging me to be a tiny part of busker history! Good luck!