CIRCUS ARTS

From sideshow secrets to incredible stunts, learn about the magic behind circus arts.
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How Sword Swallowing Works

Sword swallowing is an extremely dangerous trick that doesn't involve illusions. How can it be real? We'll show you -- with explanations and diagrams of the interactions between swords and the upper GI tract. But don't try this at home!

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  • 10 Amazing Circus Families

    10 Amazing Circus Families

    For some, being a circus performer is a job; for others, it is a way of life. Many circus families stretch back seven or eight generations. Who are some of the most storied circus families still under the big top today? See more »

  • 10 Epic Magic Trick Failures

    10 Epic Magic Trick Failures

    Magic's about making the impossible possible, but for these magicians the impossible remained out of reach – sometimes with deadly results. See more »

  • Defying Gravity: the Ultimate Human Cannonball Quiz

    Defying Gravity: the Ultimate Human Cannonball Quiz

    Blastoff! Human cannonballs are blood-and-guts bullets that get standing ovations at the end of every show. How much do you really know about these muzzle-scarred heroes? See more »

  • Do circus performers have special insurance?

    Do circus performers have special insurance?

    If you're a tightrope walker or fire breather for a circus, your insurance needs may be just a tad different than the rest of us. Read on to discover the kinds of insurance circus performers need. See more »

  • How a Flea Circus Works

    How a Flea Circus Works

    Tiny but mighty, fleas are capable of some pretty amazing feats. How is insectoid strength harnessed for human entertainment? See more »

  • How a Globe of Death Works

    How a Globe of Death Works

    Daredevils testing the laws of physics and the outer limits of bikes and bodies. That's what the Globe of Death act is all about. It's a breathtaking performance, no doubt; but how do they do that? See more »

  • How a Human Cannonball Works

    How a Human Cannonball Works

    A performer slides into a massive cannon barrel and is shot high into the air. She lands safely in a net some distance away, and the crowd goes wild. Who are human cannonballs, and who came up with shooting people out of cannons in the first place? See more »

  • How can adrenaline help you lift a 3,500-pound car?

    How can adrenaline help you lift a 3,500-pound car?

    Some mornings it seems to take superhuman strength just to haul yourself out of bed. So how did adrenaline help these folks bench-press a Camaro or fight off a polar bear with their bare hands? See more »

  • How can someone lie on a bed of nails without getting hurt?

    How can someone lie on a bed of nails without getting hurt?

    In circuses, sideshows and other venues, lying on a bed of nails is an expression of a performer's stamina, bravery and imperviousness to pain. In reality, it's a matter of pressure transference and has been practiced for years around the world. See more »

  • How can someone walk across broken glass without getting hurt?

    How can someone walk across broken glass without getting hurt?

    A magician or street performer walking barefooted across broken glass is a dramatic spectacle. Find out how people can walk across glass without hurting themselves. See more »

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