World’s Youngest Sword Swallower Reveals All

imageMy mother’s partially to blame for Heather joining the sideshow. Heather Ramon, my childhood friend and fellow Girl Scout, is now known as Heather Holliday, the sword-swallowing starlet of Coney Island’s freak show, “Sideshows by the Seashore“. Miss Holiday has mastered the art of effortlessly devouring 28 inches of cold steel to the very bottom of her throat. As she explains to her audience, “All you need is saliva, no lubrication required.” Of course, you’ll want to see the video.

I met the devout nine-year-old Mormon Girl Scout in third grade, back in 1994. (Heather still keeps most of the Girl Scout Codes of Honor, especially “citizenship.”) Today, this so-called freak is far from the girl with pins of honor on a green uniform;, in fact, she’s got safety pins and nails through her earlobes. It took her father over a year to discover that his Heather, then nineteen, had been sneaking swords (not pajamas) in and out the front door in a duffel bag that nominally meant for transporting sleepover supplies. One late night, Heather was performing live on a public access show wearing a leopard bikini (designed by her mother). Her father happened to be flipping through the channels when he caught a glimpse of a cute girl swallowing blades. Those dimples were unmistakable. It was indeed his darling daughter.

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Six months prior to this channel-surfing revelation, my mother had taken us girls to see the Todd Robbins freakshow at an off-Broadway theater in Tribeca. Robbins, a renowned sideshow artist, had a one-man gig. The first act consisted of sword swallowing, smoking a whole pack of cigarettes all at once, grinding light bulbs to a coarse glass dust with his teeth, and washing it all down with lighter fluid and a little flame. Heather loved it all, and after doing some research, she discovered the Coney Island Sideshow School, of which Mr. Robbins was the dean. This was senior year of high school, and Heather had yet to apply to college. But alas for the formal academy, she was accepted as a Sideshow student. She got straight A’s in contortionism, fire eating, and of course, sword swallowing.

Later, Ramon officially took on the title of Miss Heather Holliday, the fresh young face of Coney Island’s Freakshow. “Down the hatch, and without a scratch,” is her reassuring motto as she prepares to take down yet another dose of heavy metal, inch by inch. She’s made quite a name for herself, with hundreds of adoring fans, many bearing gifts. It’s not unusual for an audience member to grace her with a bouquet of flowers, a box of chocolates, and cash. “Sideshows by the Seashore” opened its doors for the summer season less than a month ago, and Heather’s already received her all-time favorite donation — the Book of Mormon, from a man visiting New York City from Utah.

Though our friendship dates back to Girl Scout uniforms in grade school and nipple/tongue piercings in high school, today we are different people. As Heather puts it so eloquently, “I’m way too nice, and you’re just a bitch. But if you and I were joined into one woman, we would totally be the alpha female.” This might well be true, except I don’t like to swallow.

Heather always was, and to this day remains, the Sandra Dee amongst our circle of friends. She’s even considering changing her stage name to that in order to drive the point home. At fifteen, Heather’s version of an after-school special was sex-ed self study at the local Barnes & Noble. One book in particular, The Penis, led us to Toys in Babeland, where we procured our very own phallic instructional device, i.e. a dildo. We practiced what we’d read. I failed miserably, but Heather is a quick study, and she quickly became the oral expert.

I’ve fallen into the young and single serial dater category. Heather goes through swords at the same rate I go through men. We get bored with what each one has to offer, always ready for something bigger, better, something more “challenging”. When the going gets dull, she takes her jagged 23-incher for a trip south to the esophagus.

Her collection has swelled to include swords of all different shapes and sizes. She’d started out with what she now considers a “modest” 15 inches. After three years of professional swallowing, she can down over two feet of steel. Recently she performed at the Box, the exclusive Lower East Side burlesque nightclub. Asked by one of the owners if she could replace her sword with a dildo before hitting the stage, she politely declined. Heather knew better. Twenty-eight inches of steel beats any dildo, at least in this context.

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In addition to performing at the sideshow every day of the week for seven hours, Heather freelances for Perrier and various private functions (call for rates!). She’s appeared on tattoo-reality show Miami Ink, and she graces the new label for Coney Island Lager. In other words, she’s yet to find a gig that’s too hard to swallow.

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