A fire eater is an entertainer, often a street artist or part of a sideshow. The performer places flaming objects into their mouth and extinguishes them by cutting off oxygen. They also practice controlling and transferring the flame.
A famous fire eater from the 18th century was Robert Powell who allegedly not only swallowed fire but also red-hot coals, melted sealing wax and even brimstone. He performed, often in front of British and other European royalty and nobility, for nearly sixty years and was awarded in 1751 a purse of gold and a large silver medal.
Although not the earliest, the first to attract the attention of the upper classes was an Englishman named Richardson, who first performed in France in 1667. His methods were subsequently made public by his servant.
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