Hartselle sword swallower gains worldwide attention
Clif Knight, Hartselle Enquirer
Sword swallowing didn’t come easy for Dan Meyer of Hartselle. He had more than his share of “sword throat” during the three years he spent perfecting the art. But it paid off last month when he gained worldwide fame as co-author of an article published in the British Medical Journal.
Meyer, executive director of Sword Swallowers Association International, and Dr. Brian Whitcombe of London, England, a practicing radiologist, teamed up to write an article on sword swallowing and the treatment of injuries resulting from its practice. It appeared in the medical journal’s December 22 issue and generated immediate, widespread attention for Meyer.
Meyer can identify with them. He was swallowing five swords for an audience at Cahoots Restaurant last year when his stomach retched and cause the swords to cut into his esophagus and stomach.
Meyer said the Journal article accomplished two important things for sword swallowers: (1) It dispelled the illusion that sword swallowing is an illusion and (2) it educated medical practitioners on the steps that needed to be taken to treat sword swallower’s injuries.
Meyer said he wanted to become a sword swallower as long as he can remember but it took a chance encounter with a 7-3 sword swallower in 1998 to get him started.
Meyer spent three years perfecting his technique and successfully swallowed his first sword in front of an audience on Dec. 12, 2001.
Since then he has performed for audiences in a wide assortment of venues and has become one of the foremost authorities on sword swallowing in the world. His allocates include swallowing seven swords in 2003 as he and eight other sword swallowers set a Guinness Book record by swallowing 52 swords at the same time. The feat was filmed on CNN and the Disney Channel. In 2002-03 he was featured as the opening act for the Brooks &Dunn Neon Circus tour of shows and in 2005 he opened for the Ceili Rain Celtic Christian Rock Band on tour in Sweden and Great Britain.
Meyer’s collection of swords (125) and pictures of sword swallowers (500) is considered one of the largest in the world. His collection includes several that were used by famous sword swallowers from the past.
On the local scene, he performs for church youth groups and community events and is in the process of putting together a Celtic Christian band called “Celli Mist,” featuring bagpipe, fiddle and accordion musicians.
When Meyer married Lisa Littrell of Hartselle in 2003 he had been working in the music industry in Nashville for 25 years.
In addition to sword swallowing, Meyer drives a spike up his nose to entertain his audiences. He said it is particularly popular with young viewers.
Meyer is never far away from his swords. He even takes them to Honda of Decatur where he works a day job as a car salesman. To cap off a sale he invites his customers to watch as he swallows a sword or two.
Meyer can be seen performing on the Food Network Channel Monday, Feb. 26, on the evening “Food Magic Show.”