Swordswallower Dai Andrews

by David London

Dai Andrews holds four Guinness World Records. He has performed in over 40 countries in five continents, made over 50 television appearances, and has traveled the world seeking hidden knowledge and forgotten arts. He can swallow swords, eat fire and glass, walk on hot coals, drive a nail up his nose, escape from a straight jacket, and demonstrate amazing abilities of mind over body. Dai has also been a proud Baltimorian for over 20 years.

Last week, Dai returned to the area after an epic 18 month adventure to India, Vietnam, Thailand, Laos, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, the Philippines, Cambodia, and Burma. And though when we caught up, he was still readjusting to the Western world, he is back in business and ready to once again share his unique art in the States.

 

His interest in the mystery arts began when he was just five years old. Like many thirty-something’s who discovered their interest in magic and mystery at a young age, it was the Fisher-Price Magic Kit that got the ball rolling on his lifelong love of the mystery arts. In his early teens, Dai’s interest in magic led him to explore escape artistry. “When I discovered escapes,” say Dai, “I was deeply fascinated by the fact that it was real. I like the reality of getting out of handcuff, as opposed to the tricks of magic. And soon I began wondering what I could do that was also real.”

Combined with a long held passion for the martial arts, especially Kung Fu, Dai found himself transformed, and slowly transitioning out of magic, and into demonstrations of genuine human ability. His passion for secret and hidden knowledge soon became driven by an interest in discovering the limits of just what the human body could achieve, as a result Dai has traveled far and wide in order to learn the ancient and sometimes lost arts of mind over body from traditional cultures around the world that he combines into one amazing performance.

 

In 1996, Dai traveled to Europe where he worked as a street performer. Here, Dai would find himself perfecting his craft under the most trying conditions. Aside from performing, he also embraced his travels as an opportunity to do research, observe as well as work with and learn from other performers and practitioners of strange feats and demonstrations. Here, he not only deepened his understanding of the tools already in his toolbox, but also learned new skills that he would continue to hone over the years. While in Europe, Dai’s act met with great success; he was photographed for Time magazine, performed for television as a part of the prestigious “Commedia del Atre.”

Upon returning from his first international voyage, Dai brought his finely honed act to night clubs, corporate events and renaissance festivals and would later bring his art form to casinos, festivals and colleges. He was even a featured entertainer for Carnival Cruise lines for six years.

Once he got rolling, there was no stopping him, and this latest adventure was just one in the lifelong adventure that Dai has undertaken. His unique art form has taken him all over the world, from Baltimore to Barcelona, Johannesburg to Tokyo.

 

At every turn, he has taken the opportunity to better develop his craft, and expand his repertoire of amazing abilities. He has studied with Yogis and Martial Artists, Magicians and Fakirs, learning and perfecting their arts in order to push the limits of human capabilities and bringing his audiences a performance of strange feats and unusual abilities unlike any previously witnessed. He has successfully produced many shows, which explore a wide range of mystery performance. This includes his one man show, “Modern Fakir,” and a theatrical seance “An Experience in Spirit Theater.”

Between his performances on the international stage, Dai Andrews studies and teaches the Xingyiquan style of Chinese Kung Fu. He also enjoys restoring vintage cars and motorcycles, gardening in the Asian style, and creating sculpture in metal and other works of fine art.

Travel is an integral part of Dai’s life, as he embraces the each opportunity overseas to collect mind over body performances and put them into his show, which not only examines them as a group but also explores their history. When I met up with Dai, we spoke mostly about his latest year-and-a-half trip. He excitedly explains the trip was much like a homecoming, where he got to witness many of the skills he has learned, which are still practiced across India and South Asia as part of spiritual tradition.

First Dai spent six months riding the trains around India. Then, while in the Himalayas, a Sadhu taught him Yoga Kriya including regurgitation, an act he is quite excited to work on for his show. “I also spent quite a bit of time among Fakirs and Sadhus, as a result I learned Meditation and Yoga on the banks of the river Ganges,” which he sites as a highlight of the trip, “and studied Yoga and other body control techniques in the Himalayas.”

The next nine months of his journey were spent riding a motorcycle across South East Asia. He spent several months living at Wat Chom Tong in Thailand, studying meditation under Acharn Tong, one of Buddhism’s most renown meditation teachers.

Traveling in Thailand, Dai took the opportunity to study Muay Thai with masters across the country. He even found time to volunteer to teach English and slight-of-hand magic to underprivileged children at Phare Ponleu Selpak in Battembang, Cambodia. Throughout his most recent journey around the world, Dai also learned to scuba dive, and eat a variety of exotic and strange foods, including snails, dried frog, grilled rat, grilled snake, barbecue dog, fried crickets, and fried meal worms.

Now back in America for less than two weeks, Dai has already started integrating his new experiences into his show. He has several events lined-up, a possible television show, and plans to return to India very soon. For now, if you wish to see Dai in action, head over to What Weekly’s FritzBall, THIS Saturday (Sept 15, 2012) at Geppi’s Entertainment Museum.