Also known as the “impalement arts,” throwing knives at a human target dates back to the 1st century and has been commonly seen in vaudeville acts, carnivals, and circus sideshows. This great art is still practiced today. The Great Throwdini is currently the fastest and most famous impalement artist in the world!
A common myth about impalement art is that the knives really aren’t being thrown and are instead hidden under the knife thrower’s sleeve as a rigged board springs up with knives along the human target. This is actually false. Knife throwers are really throwing those knives and there is definitely some real danger involved. Typically, the one in danger is a beautiful woman:
But that’s not always the case…
Anyone who has ever watched “Wonder Showzen” will be familiar with this cute little cherub-faced girl having knives thrown at her in the intro. This footage comes from a 50’s knife throwing act where Louella Gallagher, a Texas mother, would throw knives at her 5 and 2 1/2 year-old daughters: Connie Ann & and Colleena Sue. This newsreel of this 50’s knife throwing family is a great vintage gem.
The Gallaghers weren’t the only child-target impalement art acts, there was also Florence Shufflebottom, who not only practiced knife throwing, but also sharpshooting and snake charming.
If you’re a fan of vintage carnivals, this BBC documentary, which features an interview with Florence Shufflebottom (damn that’s a great name) is terrific! It has loads of great carnival footage and history.
Until next time Bizarros!
17 days until Halloween!
Time for a bit of weird history and the sad tale of a stinky vampire by the name of Cuntius…
Via Alpha History
In 1582 residents in a village in Silesia complained of visitations from a bad-breathed vampire named Cuntius. Before joining the ranks of the undead, Johannes Cuntius had been a respected citizen and aldermen in Pentsch. In February 1582 Cuntius was fatally injured after being kicked by one of his “lusty geldings”. Before expiring Cuntius lingered for several days, complaining of ghostly visions and feeling like he was on fire. According to one witness, at the moment of his death a black cat entered the room and jumped onto his bed. As befitted his civic status, Cuntius was entombed near the altar of his local church. But within a few days several townspeople reported receiving visits from the dead man. All described a “most grievous stink” and “an exceedingly cold breath of so intolerable stinking and malignant a scent as is beyond all imagination and expression”. A whole litany of annoyances and harassments was attributed to the vampire, including accusations of:
“…Galloping up and down like a wanton horse in the court of his house… Miserably tugging all night with a Jew [and] tossing him up and down in his lodgings… dreadfully accosting a wagoner, an old acquaintance of his, while he was busy in the stable [and] biting him so cruelly in the foot that he made him lame… [Entering a] master’s chamber, making a noise like a hog that eats grains, smacking and grunting very sonorously…”
The people of Pentsch tolerated these nocturnal visits until late July, when they resolved to exhume Cuntius’ coffin and deal with his wandering corpse. They found that his:
“…skin was tender and florid, his joints not at all stiff but limber and moveable… a staff being put into his hand, he grasped with his fingers… they opened a vein in his leg and the blood sprang out fresh as in the living.”
After a brief judicial hearing Cuntius’ body was thrown onto a bonfire and burned, then hacked to pieces and crushed to ashes. As might be expected, the spirit of Cuntius ceased its nocturnal visits. By coincidence, the village of Pentsch became the town of Horni Benesov – the ancestral home of US Secretary of State John Kerry.
Source: Various inc. Henry More, An Antidote against Atheism (Book III), 1655.