Adelaide Fringe and the Space Cowboy

We had the pleasure of visiting the Garden of Unearthly Delights during the Adelaide Fringe Festival in 2007. I want to share with you a most unusual event that occurred during one of the performances.

Have you ever heard of the Space Cowboy and his mind-bending feats of magic? He’s actually very famous and has entertained around the world. 

Phil approached the ticket booth to many hoots of “how often do you get to see a real circus freak?!”,  and purchased 4 entries and we happily bopped inside the big top tent and found seats in the rafters.

The beginning of the show was Space Cowboy explaining to us that he was only one of 42 “living” sword swallows in the world. I know at many magic shows there’s usually a trick to sword swallowing and so I prepared myself to be disappointed that he would not really be swallowing a sword. As the act was setup and the magic trick progressed I realized that this guy WAS REALLY SWALLOWING A SWORD!!!!! I clapped and hooted with much merry. What an amazing thing to witness.

Space Cowboy setup his next trick. He claimed that this would be the most dangerous thing we would ever see. No pictures or video was allowed as we were assured we would never forget what we were about to see. I just love magic acts!

He picked a volunteer out of the audience and proceeded to show the items involved in this trick. A wooden board, solid with no trap doors, placed on a table. This board had 5 set peg holes that would hold the blade of a knife and he told the volunteer over and over again that it was very sharp. There were five Styrofoam cups, as big as a Big Gulp cup. The object was to pick one hole and set the knife blade in it and then cover all five holes with the cups so that Space Cowboy, through reading this volunteers body language, would guess which cup hid the blade. Once he felt he had a strong vibe from the volunteer as to which cup did not have the blade hidden beneath it, he would flatten the cup, the crowd would gasp and then holding the flattened cup for them to see, would applaud wildly!!

To do this he would raise the palm of his hand over the cup bottom and then slam his hand down with enough force to flatten the cup. Try this at home with a 20 oz. Styrofoam cup placed upside down. It’s no easy feat!

The first flattened cup lay at his feet on stage. Then he guessed another triumphantly! He was amazing!

The third guess he tried using the timbre of the volunteers voice to determine which cup hid the lethally sharp blade. The volunteer said “one, two, three” as Space Cowboy held his hand over each cup. He thought he had an accurate guess, raised his hand and WHAM!!!  He slammed his palm down on the cup’s bottom!!

I had been putting my hands over my eyes as each cup was smashed and removing them as the crowd gasped. As I removed my hands, smiling and applauding, I saw a gush of red spurt forth over his hand and I heard a crunch as the cup flattened and the knife pierced his real live flesh.

Space Cowboy reached down, removed the knife from his palm, as it was stuck all the way through, and grabbed a piece of black fabric from the floor and wrapped his hand. He was still smiling. I was enthralled thinking this was the best bit of special effects I had ever seen!

“Folks, what you’ve just witnessed was not part of the act. In fact, it is very bad. I apologize that I won’t be able to continue tonight and as you can see the medic is coming this way now. Thank you and good night.”

He exited stage right.

Impossible, I thought to myself.

I waited for him to whip the fabric from his hand and scream “Voila!”, but he didn’t come back. The house lights came up, security people were swarming the stage, patrons were standing and exiting, an announcement was made asking people to leave the tent quietly.

But it’s a magic act! He’s not hurt. He can’t be. He’s a magician. This is a trick. He’ll be back, This is just part of the show people!

Space Cowboy is not an “act”. He is the real thing. He truly uses his mind to read the volunteer in order to determine where that knife is hidden. As my husband so eloquently puts it, he flies without a safety net. He’s not a trickster.

I hope he’s okay. I liked him.

The ticket mistress used her bullhorn to let the patrons know they could get their money back. Our friend Phil made his way to the kiosk and asked that our entry costs be applied towards the Space Cowboy’s medical needs.

We hope to see him out and about and all healed someday real soon.

We fly through life everyday without using a safety net. Sometimes we successfully flatten the Big Gulp cup and sometimes it surprises us with the piercing pain of a knife stick. That’s never part of the act and it can be very bad. But we can get patched up by the medic and we can go on to do another show that will make people gasp in wonder and awe and applaud wildly.

Now, go out there and break a leg folks! The show must go on!

About Madeline Scribes

A writer with a sense of humor. If anyone can laugh at life, it's me.
This entry was posted in All kinds of Advice, Artsy and Poetic and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Adelaide Fringe and the Space Cowboy

  1. Regyna Longlank says:

    Wow. That is chilling. But you’re right, we do that every day in our own ways. I did a bit of reading about sword swallowing after watching a fellow get up off a chair and swallow the chair leg. Apparently you have to actually move organs aside in order to not die doing it. If someone makes you cough or laugh that could be the end of you. It is not a trick at all, and now that I know it’s way more scary to watch.


    • If you visit Space Cowboy’s website you’ll see photos of his bare chest. Notice the protruding riblets? I think he may either be surgically altered, or this may have been the result of a bad sword swallowing. At any rate, he is truly amazing and he holds the Guinness World Record for most swords swallowed in one sitting. I just love him and he’s a nice bloke too.


  2. Pingback: Adelaide Fringe Festival – Street Theatre Festival | Thomas Jupe

  3. Thank you for the kind words.
    I very much enjoy performing at the Adelaide Fringe and i will be there again next year.
    I am about to fly to the UK again for three months of performing, you can keep up top date with all my travels and shows on my website.
    I hope to see you all soon.
    By the way, about three weeks ago in Italy i broke my 10th Guinness world record. i was run over by 20 motorbikes while I lay on a bed of nails!

    Squashed by 20 motorbikes-Italian Guinness world record TV, 2011:


  4. Here are more of my videos for your interest….

    The Space Cowboy- Youtube links:

    The Space Cowboy on The Footyshow (2nd appearance) 2010

    The Space Cowboy on The Footyshow-Sword swallow/Black&Decker Digestion wrecker (1st appearance) 2009

    The Space Cowboy-Unicycle Chainsaw juggle on the Footy Show (3rd appearance) 2011:

    Australia’s got talent (Sword swallow weight lift)

    Australia’s got talent (swallowing a 2000volt glass Neon light)

    The Sideshow –ABC TV (Tall Unicycle)

    The Space Cowboy on Taboo – National Geographic TV:

    Eye pull-Guinness World Record TV (With sword swallow+XRay) – Italy 2009

    Stuck in a dingo trap: Sunrise Channel 7 TV 2010

    Full Street Show (Edited)- Toronto, Canada 2009

    Neon swallow ‘The Sideshow’ ABC TV

    ‘Black n Decker digestion wrecker’ –Sword swallowing stunt:

    Mind Bending:

    Street Performance World Champion:

    World’s First Underwater Sword Swallow:

    Flesh Hook Suspension:

    The Mutant Barnyard –Freak Animal Exhibit:

    Shep Huntly & The Space Cowboy-Bed of nails motorbike stunt:

    The Happy Sideshow at Woodford Festival

    Juggling a running chainsaw on a tall unicycle:

    Hat tricks:

    Upside down double sword swallow:

    Longest distance juggling on a unicycle-Guinness world record:

    the Human Chopping Block with a chainsaw:

    unicycle world record -Easter show:


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