Episode #209 — Sword Swallower Cyrus Pynn

Some could say that the United States is divided into two types of people: those who attend Renaissance festivals and those who do not. Sure, the news is filled with coverage of more differences than that, but this might be a particularly essential difference. Even households are divided. You may be ready to head to the shire, decked out in your latest blousy linen shirt and pirate pants while your boyfriend shakes his head in judgement and returns to his marathon viewing of “Downton Abbey.” (He’s more of an Edwardian cosplayer.)

Beyond the Princess Bride-esque outfits, there’s lots to experience at a Renaissance festival or fair. (We’re not going to write “faire” or “fayre” because we’re not that type of person.) There are all sorts of culinary delights, goods to be purchased, and royal courts to pay homage to. And let’s not forget the grumbling historians wandering around complaining about how historically inaccurate it all is. They’re not wrong, but they must learn to let go — these fairs have been going on for far too long to change now.

Happily, there’s room in the world for people who practice their accents before heading to the nearest festival and those who prefer staying home to watch grass grow over attending. And this week’s guest is a special someone who can bridge the divide to make everyone exclaim, “Wait, what?!” Cyrus Pynn is a sword swallower, knife thrower, juggler, and all-around spectacular circus artist who performs at Renaissance festivals, events, theaters … basically anywhere he can surprise and amaze audiences.

Our main question for Cyrus gets straight to the purpose of our podcast — why sword swallowing? While the short version is because he can, Cyrus also elaborated on how he discovered an aptitude for this particular skill. And just to clarify right off the bat, he doesn’t use trick swords, illusion, or any sort of chicanery. These are real swords going down his gullet and into his stomach. To that end, Cyrus explained his process for learning how to swallow swords in the first place. He broke down the mechanics, all the way to how many gag reflexes a person actually has.

As for what’s in the path of the blade as it moves through his body, Cyrus filled us in on which organs need to get out of the way … and whether they actually do or not. If you’re wondering what physical sensations a professional sword swallower feels during the process, you’ll find out. (And for those of you who are a little squeamish about descriptions of swallowing metal, don’t worry. Cyrus’s was detailed enough to paint a great picture but vague or euphemistic enough that you won’t feel like someone’s describing a horror movie.)

What kind of reactions does Cyrus get from the audience and do they want to see him fail? We learned whether his audiences, in general, are empathetic or blood thirsty. Cyrus also shared his knife-throwing process, because sometimes you need to keep sharp objects outside your body. You’re going to want to see him in action, so be sure to check out Cyrus on his website, Facebook page, and Instagram. Whether you’re the type who wants to watch the spectacle with your eyes wide open, half covered, or completely covered, you’ll definitely want to watch him perform. Nothing brings people together like appreciating a skill not many can execute. And if you can eat ye olde turkey legs and waffle fries while watching the show, so much the better!


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