Kids used to dream about running away to join the circus.
Neil E Dee, a Vancouver-based daredevil who pays the bills by touring small and medium-sized venues throughout B.C. and Alberta, actually did it.
There are no regrets.
“Sure I could get a nine to five job,” he said in an interview during a recent stopover in Princeton B.C., fresh from an engagement in Nelson.
The 42-year-old former skateboarder and musician enjoys traveling and entertaining.
“I love it. I feel free. I love performing for people.”
Dee is one of just a handful of professional sword swallowers in Canada, and can make a Kris blade – 20 inches long and 1.5 inches wide – disappear into his mouth.
“That was probably the most difficult thing I ever learned to do,” he said.
The sword goes down the esophagus, between the lungs and actually moves the heart.
“You can feel everything and the body kind of panics.”
The art of sword swallowing is approximately 4,000 years old, and originated in India.
“People have been doing weird things for a long time.”
Dee can walk on broken glass, and has rested on a bed of nails while someone ran over him with a motorcycle.
The Danger Thrill Show is promoted as “good times and bad ideas.”
In Princeton the performance ended with the star inviting members of the audience to attach money to his exposed skin using a staple gun.
Dee feels pain, but has learned to process it differently than most people.
“I have my own form of meditation…and you learn a lot about your body and anatomy.”
He mastered his first sideshow stunt – the classic Human Block Head – about 20 years ago. That trick involves using a hammer to drive a large spike up the nose.
Everything he attempts carries risk.
“There is a real element of danger if you do things wrong.”
When asked if he’s ever been injured, he extended a finger and displayed a small cut he recently sustained while demonstrating how to light a cigarette using a grinder.
Dee also performers regularly in Vancouver.
Fans can follow The Danger Thrill Show on Facebook and Instagram, and the artist said he is always ready for new bookings and venues.
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