Johnny Fox

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Johnny Fox
Born1953
Minneapolis, Minnesota

Johnny Fox (born 1953 in Minneapolis, Minnesota) is a professional sword swallower and sleight of hand expert.

Biography

Fox grew up in Hartford, Connecticut, and saw his first sword swallower at the Eastern States Exposition in West Springfield, Massachusetts, when he was eight or nine years old. At approximately the same age, his father gave him a book about Harry Houdini that inspired Fox—substituting spaghetti—to recreate the magician's trick of swallowing a key on a string and then regurgitating it.

Fox began performing magic and comedy while working as a waiter in Saint Petersburg, Florida. He learned sleight-of-hand in the 1970s from Tony Slydini. In his early twenties, Fox was performing in Boulder, Colorado, when he heard that his act had been stolen by a competing magician. He was inspired to begin swallowing swords in order to have "an act people couldn't copy easily". It took him eight months to master the technique, although he has injured himself on a few occasions. Fox estimated in 1999 that he was one of twenty professional sword swallowers in the United States, noting that this was many more than when he began.

Fox has appeared at venues including comedy clubs (such as Caroline's), casinos, and tattoo conventions, as well as special events such as an Aerosmith album release party. His television appearances include the Late Show with David Letterman, a 1992 Jonathan Winters television special, and a Maalox commercial in which he swallowed light bulbs. He was featured in the 2003 documentary Traveling Sideshow: Shocked and Amazed by Jeff Krulik.

Fox is the resident sword-swallower at the annual Maryland Renaissance Festival in Crownsville, and has performed there since 1981. He has performed at the Sterling Renaissance Festival in Sterling, New York since 1997. He occasionally works as a consultant for other sideshow artists.

Fox married his wife, Valeria, an Argentine dancer and photographer, while they were atop elephants in Annapolis, Maryland, in 2002. They reside in Connecticut.

Freakatorium

In June 1999, Fox opened the Freakatorium, El Museo Loco, a museum of side show curiosities, on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. In the face of low numbers of visitors and rising rent, the museum was closed in January 2005. Fox was partly inspired to open the museum by his childhood visits to Hubert's Museum and Flea Circus in Times Square. His collection of oddities includes narwhal tusks, an elephant's-foot liquor chest, a two-headed turtle, a vest owned by General Tom Thumb, and the glass eye of Sammy Davis, Jr.

References

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