Being a stuntman and daredevil has its perks and thrills, but your life is constantly on the line. Living life on the edge is Brad Byers, a world record sword swallower and juggler. He joins Mark Yuzuik and Yolanda Martinez in this episode to talk about the thrill and excitement on stage. Brad shares his memorable performances while emphasizing how real this profession is, how real the risks are, and why amateurs should never attempt it. Listen in as he goes into the details of how he makes sure every act is genuine. In addition to this, he also talks about having a tarantula as a pet. Learn information that most pet owners don’t know about as he tells the story of how he learned about it the hard way.
Listen to the podcast here:
The Genuine Life Of A Daredevil With Brad Byers
I want to give a shout out to my little friend who I remember when he was in the belly of Carrie and Jason. He’s Carson from Bakersfield, California. We used to do the Bakersfield Fair, we haven’t done it in years. He used to introduce me on stage, bring me up, and he never said my name right. I know it was, “Uncle Mark.” I remember one time we talked about Yolanda. He was like, “How come Uncle Mark calls her Yolanda? Her name is Blanda.” Do you remember that?
They have a great kid and they’ve got a great family. He missed them. He is a spectacular young man. If you want a model for a family, Jason and Carrie and their children are definitely that. They’re a superfamily from Bakersfield. I wish we can get back to Bakersfield, California. When we get there with Brad, they freak out. It’s too bad we couldn’t get him. We have a special guest, Brad Byers from America’s Got Talent. This gentleman is a real deal.
We do have somebody here who you will probably know. He’s done some crazy stuff and I’ve seen some of it.
Most of our audience is going to know who he is. When we first met this guy, he blew us away. I was thinking, “Is this an illusion? Was he born with something wrong? What is it? We can’t figure him out.” He would draw crowds that would double and triple the size of our crowds and we’re like, “Who is this guy? We’ve got to know him.” He has zero ego, a grateful guy, and he traveled all over the world. He’s been on America’s Got Talent and he’s been all over the world performing for people that he can’t even talk about on the way up high.
He’ll be able to tell us where he’s been, what shows he’s been on, and what he’s done. Let’s go ahead and introduce him. The stuff he does is amazing.
I’m telling you, you will be blown away by this man. If you have to travel 1,000 miles, it’s well worth it. Trust me. The first five minutes will blow you away. He became a friend of ours.
I’m sure if you got on YouTube, you will find some of his videos too.
He’s gotten viral. He’s a viral man. We call him Viral Brad. It’s about us bringing the A-people, the A-game, so we got him. He found it that he would do this for us. Even if he was busy, he would have found time in his schedule. That’s the kind of guy he is. He would have rearranged something. Please welcome our good friend, talented beyond belief, have been all around the world, and you’ve seen him. Give it up for Brad Byers, the crazy man.
Mark and Yolanda, it’s good to be here.
I still remember meeting with you. You’ve got to tell us some of the things you did and then we’ll tell some people out how we interacted our acts together, even offstage. How we got people to do things they never thought they would do and I never thought you would do the things you did. You still never cease to amaze me. You blow me away. Brad, what an honor. You know we love hanging out with you every chance we get. You live in Idaho. Is that correct?
I was born and raised in Moscow, Idaho, but I got married and moved 8 miles away over the state line into Pullman, Washington.
I lived in Washington for a while and I remember you and your beautiful wife came up and got to see us in Spokane. We worked together a couple of times and been in Salem, Oregon. I’m like, “Who is this Brad Byers guy?” We then did this show and I’m addicted to you. Every single show or video, it’s like, “You always had one guy at your show that blows me every single time.” There are still things you have done that have blown us away. How do you get on America’s Got Talent? You’ve got to have a talent and you’ve done it. You’ve got more than talent and a little craziness. You’ve got to take crazy pills to deal with some of the things you’ve done. It’s got to be an illusion. “This is not an illusion. You stick this down there. You’re going to find out what the illusion is fast.” I want to thank you for being here. You’ve got your looks still going on.
I don’t have any calluses like you have though.
I’ve still got two trees to take out. I’m going to cut one down and I’m going to jerk it out of my big 26-foot box truck. Yolanda wants a pool. I’ve got to make room.
We have 2 acres and he’s talking about one tree that he has to pull to make a pool.
You’ve been traveling all over the place. I know this COVID-19 affected all of us. I have many events booked. We’re going all over the place worldwide like Dubai, the Philippines back to Europe, and Canada. It all goes to stop. This big bridge comes up and says, “Do not pass.” How has that affected you in your performance schedule? What are you doing as far as being able to be Brad Byers still out there and keeping all your fans smile in amazement and puzzle? People that do your kind of stuff are usually tying it up, earrings, body piercings, and spike hair. You look normal and that’s shocking. You walk by and they go, “There’s a normal sales guy. What is he putting in his mouth? Call 911. This guy has gone berserk.”
I get that a lot when I’m traveling. They’ll send a car from the studio to pick me up and they’ll say, “You don’t look like a sword swallower. You don’t look like you do that kind of thing. You look like a businessman.” I get that all the time.
You happen to use entertainment and sword swallowing and other things as part of what you do, and that’s what I love about you. You’re truly a great businessman, an artist, and a gifted human being. If I was ever stuck somewhere in the wild, I would get with you because you’d figure out one way how to make something to survive. How do you keep in touch with your fans, Brad? How do you deal with this COVID thing? I know we’re doing it through StreamYard and we’ve got a lot of our shows. We uploaded seven terabytes and got another five terabytes of shows online on Vimeo so people can enjoy them. That’s some of the things we’re doing to keep our fans happy and get off the mind of, “Let’s watch the news.” “Forget the news. Let’s find something that’s entertaining and can help us to grow.” What do you do? How do you get there?
I’m still contributing videos on my YouTube channel. Although with the COVID crisis, some of them are just in my front yard. I’m active on Facebook too, but I’m working on some new acts so I’m not performing. I’m getting new props and working on new things. One of the newest things is I managed to put my hands on a giant straight razor and I put a new video where I shaved with the razor and then swallowed the blade.
Don’t you get hair in yourself?
I try not to do that when the swords are in place.
Is this an illusion? Is it a trick? It’s a real deal. People think, “It’s a trick sword.” How many people think you’re that?
A lot of my acts, people think it’s an illusion but I’ve had X-rays taken which have appeared in national publications, medical journals, and on TV shows around the world to prove that everything I do is genuine. I don’t do any sleight of hand, no magic, no illusion, nothing like that.
You even sell some of your props. I found out that you turned it into a business. When you start crushing things, you offer it to the audience as a signed souvenir, which is great to get to take part of Brad home with them. You have another person in your act and I don’t know if it’s male or female, but hairy. You allow some of the people in the audience, if I’m not correct, to hold. Is it a him or her or you got a couple of each?
She’s a beautiful girl. Beautiful ladies. How many ladies have you got?
Her name is Cruella. She’s not only hairy but she has eight legs.
Do you still have her?To prove that the sword is real, get an assistant, the TV show host, or somebody to push the sword down. Click To Tweet
I still have her. I have about ten tarantulas in my spider room.
I’d love to spend the night at your house but I would freak out and run, and I’d have nightmares.
My guest room is converted to a snake room.
You have snakes too?
We have about 12 or 14 snakes or something like that.
Are there any scary ones or poisonous ones?
I don’t keep venomous snakes but I had some good-sized snakes. Unfortunately, we had to put her down. She got a respiratory infection but I had an 8.5-foot red-tailed boa constrictor, then I have gotten down to small like rosy boas. We have lots of different varieties of snakes that vary in size. I never figured out how to put them in my show yet. I just like snakes.
We have a difference of opinion on snakes. What I loved about your show is because I would do a show and you do a show, and people would always say, “Is hypnosis real?” We would say, “You think the spider is real?” “Yes.” “Do you have a fear of spiders?” “Yes.” We would instantly get people over the fear of spiders and you allowed people to hold a spider in their hand. Do you remember Brandon?
You never paid him and he held that spider. People got over the fear right then and there. They realized through the power of your mind. I remember you saying, “Don’t drop her. I don’t want to hurt her.” Because they’re a beautiful little insect and they don’t weigh anything. The illusion of what a spider or tarantula is in our mind, and if you hold that beautiful spider in your hand which people are going to comment on, they don’t realize that it’s a life. Do you remember when your spider got hurt? You glued it and did surgery on your spider to keep her alive. I still remember that story.
I came home one day and she was in her tank. She had a split in her abdomen, the back section of the tarantula, and it was right on top of the abdomen and that’s where the heart is. The tarantulas have an open bloodbath circulatory system, so they don’t have veins and arteries. It’s just fluid and the heart was pumping it out in big drops, and I knew she was going to bleed to death if I didn’t do something so I took the liquid bandage and I painted up the split, and she lived a long time after that.
You would think it’s just a spider but you like your spiders.
If you ignore what you’ve seen in the movies and TV shows, documentaries will sensationalize dangerous spiders. If you put that aside and you learn about them, they’re endearing cute creatures. I love my tarantulas.
Are you allowed to fly in the airlines with your tarantulas? Is it a service tarantula?
No, I used to fly my tarantulas in every place I went, just sneaking in my luggage but since 9/11, I can’t do that anymore because they find them as poisonous insects. I always have them in sealed containers. There’s no way they could hurt anybody. I can’t imagine hijacking a plane or being a terrorist with just a tarantula. Nowadays, I have to work with strange tarantulas. I remember one show I did in Lima, Peru, in one of my tarantula act, I said, “I can’t bring a tarantula with me anymore, so we’ll have to go to the pet shop and get one.” They said, “We’ll take care of it.”
When I got there, they had some deli cups. When you buy tarantulas, they’re often in deli cups and then you take them home and put them in a bigger, more suitable container. We were in the office at the studio and I said, “You went to a pet shop and got these tarantulas.” She said, “No, they don’t have tarantulas in pet shops here.” I said, “Where did you get them?” They said, “We went to the jungle and caught them.” I haven’t looked it up but the last I knew, there were 800 known species and I’m familiar with the common ones in the pet trade and these species I’d never seen before. It was fast.
What I did was I cracked a little open on the first deli cup in the office there, and look in and see what the tarantula was like. The tarantula was a female guarding her egg sack. I pry the lid open a little bit to look in and she immediately tried to attack me. It’s understandable because, in nature, everything wants to eat the babies so she’s going to protect them. I slid the deli cup over after I closed the lid and said, “This one will not do.” They said, “We have a second choice for you.” I opened the lid and peeked in. This one had a big some kind of insect. I couldn’t tell quite what it was. It was growing outside of his abdomen. I said, “I would not put that in my mouth.”
You put the tarantula in your mouth. They don’t realize that.
For people who don’t know, I put a tarantula in my mouth and while the tarantula sets on my tongue, I blow bubbles. One of my world records is most bubbles blown with a live tarantula sitting in your mouth. The reason for the blowing is it can evoke a fight or flight response. Tarantula’s main sense is touch so if they feel air disturbance, they’re going to head for their burrow or they’re going to fight and bite. To prove that I’m blowing, I blow ordinary bubbles or the children’s bubble solution with water and walk around with blowing on a tarantula.
They showed me the third choice. As soon as I opened the lid, it went out of there. I opened a crack and it was big. Before I could close it, it ran across the counter down the leg of the desk and headed for a filing cabinet. It was one of those kinds that are up on legs. If you find all that tarantulas, I’ll never get it. I quickly took the deli cup with the lid off and turned it upside down. I made it dive and I caught it underneath the deli cup before it got underneath all that equipment against the wall or the furniture. I open up the lid and I slid it underneath and when she’s underneath, she had to walk on the lid, and then I was able to close it. I said, “That was a close one.” I turned around and everyone had left, except for two secretaries and they were standing at their desks. That one was used in the show and that was the best of the three.
You’re not a fan of exterminators, I take it. Have you ever got bitten by one? Can the tarantulas bite you?
They can bite, and depending on the species, some of them have more potent venom than others. Depending on your reaction, some people react more severely than others. If you get bitten on the arm or the leg, that is not nearly as dangerous as being bitten in the mouth, which unfortunately has happened during a television show.
The spider is camera-shy. They didn’t want to be on TV.
I had a TV show down in LA and the same thing, they had to provide tarantulas, so here are some weird tarantulas I never worked with. There’s a big impressive looking tarantula that comes from Honduras and for obvious reasons, they call it a Honduran curly hair. The Honduran parts are obvious but the curly hair part isn’t. They have long, blondish curly hairs and they get good-sized. We had a rehearsal and I did it fine in the rehearsal. I came out and it was time to do the show and the host was interacting with me. When I put the tarantula in, it was swirly, it turned upside down in my mouth instead of resting on my tongue as they normally do. While she was upside down, she bit into my upper gums behind the last molar.
Did you feel it?
Yes, I felt it. It started out as a severe ache and I thought, “I just got bit,” but I didn’t even flinch. I’ve got a video of the show. If you saw it, you wouldn’t even know I got bitten. I went ahead and blew bubbles. Usually, I open my mouth and I push the tarantula out with my tongue if they’re not willing to come out. I was going to do the same thing with this tarantula, but as soon as I opened my mouth, she was happy to get out of there. She darted out and climbed up the top of my head. I had to reach up and try to grab her to capture her again and put her away.
It was a recorded show. It’s vascular in your mouth and that’s close to your heart, brain, and everything. Immediately after the show, I started to get swelling in my trachea and I could even feel swelling in my sinuses and in my ear. Not to mention, of course, my throat is getting harder to swallow. My wife’s got a medical background. She’s a pharmacist. She wasn’t there but I called and she said, “You’re going to have a reaction. You won’t be able to breathe. They have to intubate you and you need to get medical attention.”
The producer came up and said, “How are you doing?” I said, “I got bitten. I’m starting to swell.” They put me in a car and I went to Cedars-Sinai, where they treated me for that swelling. They wouldn’t let me leave until they could make sure that I was able to breathe and swallow. I thought, “I’m good to go then.” They gave me some stuff for the swelling and they said, “You’d be good.” The next morning, I had to fly back to Washington State. As soon as I sat up in bed, and when I went to stand up, I couldn’t straighten my feet. They wanted to point down towards the floor and I couldn’t bend my ankle so I could stand on my feet. The reason why is I was having a severe muscle spasm.
In fact, when I finally did stand up, I found out I couldn’t take normal strides in my walk, or I couldn’t reach my arm beyond just a little bit of movement or it would trigger these muscle spasms. I had to get on a plane and fly home. My wife picked me up at the airport and she said I was walking like Tim Conway. He’s an old man. She could make it to the emergency room here in Poland. That’s the second visit to the hospital. What happened was a little-known fact. I’ve said it a lot about tarantulas and their bite, and this information is not available to the average pet owner. Their venom is known to cause severe muscle spasms.
You can imagine the pain and the inconvenience of the muscle spasms but what I didn’t know is when you get those charley horses constantly down the muscle, it puts chemicals into your bloodstream that damage your kidneys. I had to take medication to treat that. They didn’t keep them from spasming, but it helped it. I had some kidney damage. Fortunately, it all cleared up and people asked me, “Do you still perform it?” Yes, I still perform it but that was scary. Even in my sleep, I’d find myself saying, “Don’t turn over.” Because if I change position in my sleep, it would trigger the muscle spasms and it will start all over again.
Never give up and get back on that horse again. That’s what they say.
I still perform it. That’s the only time I’ve ever been bitten though. If I could have brought my own tarantula, it wouldn’t have been nervous and turned upside down in my mouth. It would have never happened.
Now you know what it’s like to get bitten. You’ve once bitten, that’s good. It’s a sword-swallowing. You could have swallowed swords after the tarantula bite for a day or so. How do you even get entertaining in sword swallowing? It’s like, “How do you wake up and want to be a hypnotist someday?” Back when I started doing it, they say, “How do you wake up?” I go, “What do you want to do?” “I don’t know. I thought maybe swallowing some swords looks interesting.”
From my earliest memories, I’ve always been attracted to anything unusual. I didn’t like anything common and that was in school, any subject, sports. When I became a teenager, I thought, “Maybe there’s something that I have an aptitude for that I’m not getting exposed to in ordinary life.” I started out juggling as a hobby and I enjoyed it. In fact, after high school, I started touring with circuses full-time with my juggling act. I soon found out that I wasn’t cut out to the circus. I didn’t care about circus life. I wanted TV shows, fairs, colleges, and types of events I’m doing before the COVID crisis hit.
I remember that my grandfather, who was alive at the time, told me a story that when my dad was a little boy, he took them to a show in their little town in Idaho. They had a sword swallower there, so I asked my grandpa, “Was it real?” He said, “I couldn’t tell you for sure. All I know is it looked real.” Moscow, Idaho and Pullman, Washington are just 8 miles apart and they’re both university towns. I was talking about this to a friend of mine who is a student and she said, “I’ve got an anatomy book. Do you want to check it out?”
I studied the anatomy book and I decided, “If I could swallow a sword, maybe I would open doors for me. I get away from the circus and would make my juggling act even more in demand if I do TV shows.” Armed with my measuring tape, I went down to my local Army Navy store because, in the anatomy book, it said about how big the esophagus is, which by the way is about the diameter of your thumb, and about the length of your average esophagus and throat. I started measuring swords in the Army Navy store and I found one that seemed to fit all the dimensions.
I looked at the price tag and I was the only one in the store. It occurred to me, “What if I pay all this money for this sword? I can’t swallow it.” I thought to myself, “I wonder if I can try it first.” I didn’t mean to, but apparently, I muttered it a little bit aloud. I heard this voice behind me say, “I guess so.” I turned around and the clerk was coming up to help me. I didn’t see him coming and he said, “I guess so,” so I must give it a try. I took the blade and I laid the point flat on the back of my tongue and I depressed my tongue like a doctor would do with the tongue depressor and look down your throat. Once the tongue was pressed, I raised the handle up, and to my surprise, it slid down easily.
It was a cold blade and it wasn’t finished well. It hit some jagged edges and it didn’t do a good job. I had a sore throat for about a week afterward. The guard went clank on my teeth. That was the first time I ever attempted swallowing a sword and I thought, “The sword swallowing is for me.” I went through the sword and I laid it on the counter. I told the clerk, “I’d like to order a couple more of these,” and he just stood there in awe.
He knew it was a real sword. How old were you when you did that?
I was about 20 or 21.
Does anybody ever assist you in pushing the sword down?
One of the things that I do to prove the sword on is real is I get an assistant, the host of the TV show, or somebody to push the sword down. I start with the sword in my throat and I have someone hold their hand out flat on the top of the sword handle and push the sword down. I give them instructions beforehand because I can’t talk during.
Don’t try anything, avoid what he’s saying at home. Do not swallow a tarantula. Do not go and put a tarantula in your mouth.
Don’t even swallow the tongue depressor.
Before I finish telling you about this incident, I do want to point out there have been recorded deaths of sword swallowers and other acts that I do. There is definitely a risk. Anyway, I was hired to do it, of all things, at a shopping mall grand opening. There was a developer of shopping malls all over the country and he would have me be there for the grand opening. Normally, I pick a woman out of the audience and have her push the sword down. I even put her hand on flat on the sword and pushed it down.
The reason I ever put her hand flat is because I’m afraid if they grip on the handle, they might try to steer it. I want to point a downward pressure and I guide it with the movement of my torso. This particular time, there was a guy standing there who looked like a nice guy and I never had picked a man before but I thought, “Why not?” I said, “Sir, would you like to come up and assist me?” He seemed eager and came right up but as he got close, I noticed he was shaky. He was nervous and I felt sorry for the guy. He was a good-size man too.
I explained to him, “I was going to kneel on one knee. I would get the sword point started in my throat like I always do. Hold your hand out flat and push the sword down.” I tell them, “When the point of the sword, which is my stomach, you will know that feels a certain stop. I will give you a hand signal, which means quit pushing or I’ll have to mend a hole in the seat of my trousers.” I came in with those instructions and I thought we’re good to go. I started putting the sword down my throat and he put his hand out flat as I asked. He started pushing the sword down following my instructions and I felt the point reach my stomach. I gave him a signal, but he kept pushing.
It had 3 to 4 inches left to go and he took his other hand and started pushing with both hands. The sword went further than it ever went before. I had to reach up, grab his wrist, and pull his hands away from the sword handle. I withdrew the sword and the way I checked for injury is I look for blood and there was no blood on the sword. I thought, “I narrowly escaped injury.” I put it back on my stand and then I went on with the show.
Afterward or the finale, often is I swallow a whole bunch of 10 to 12 swords. One at a time, I put them all down. I reach up, give them a twist, take a bow, and out comes all the swords. I did my usual finish but it was a delay in action. When I pulled the swords out, all twelve swords were covered with blood. I threw a towel over and laid them on a table nearby. I thought, “Hopefully, nobody noticed.” I made my closing remarks and thank the audience for being a good audience except for one person who was in the front row. He came up to the stage and he said, “Was that blood on those blades?” I’m like, “No, it’s just a little bit of saliva,” and I had a show the next day.
That’s why it makes me cringe every time I watch your show. I’m like, “Don’t do it.”
Did it do any damage?
I didn’t get hospital care. It healed. It was just a scratch that bled badly. I remember there are two things. One, I’ve been a performer for many years and that’s the only time I’ve had an inner bad injury.
Besides the spider bite.
Yes, with the sword-swallowing.There have been recorded deaths of sword swallowers and other acts. There is definitely a real risk. Click To Tweet
We won’t count the spider bite. Now it’s not the injury.
Do you remember the glass walking?
I would tell you how I got burned putting a blowtorch on my tongue once either. Two things I wanted to mention was one, that’s the only time it’s ever happened with the sword swallowing in many years. Two, I don’t use such a long blade now.
How many countries have you been to? You’ve got to be in a lot of countries.
I’d have to count them up. It’s maybe 26, 27, or something like that.
You’ve been on a lot of TV shows? What were some of the favorite ones?
I’d have to say the top two are The Ellen DeGeneres Show, which I did before the Coronavirus shut everything down.
Thank you for letting us know you’re on it.
I’m known for my sideshow acts, but I have available three completely different one-hour programs in my repertoire. In addition to the sideshow, which I can perform up to an hour, I have a juggling, balancing, unicycle show and I have a record for bouncing a $1 bill in my nose. I crease it up the middle and bounce it on my nose. Ellen wanted me to do that of all things. Not my sword swallowing and not my hook.
How many records do you have? You’ve got to have a bunch of world records.
I’m up to 73 world records.
What’s the most memorable one?
The most memorable one of all is the last time I was on America’s Got Talent. I made it to the final rounds, the live round where the audience votes, and it was broadcast live from Radio City Music Hall. Before the show, we had a conference call before I flew to New York and they said, “We want to pull out all the stops for these final rounds. We have people with us tuning in and we have props. We’ve got all kinds of staff for calling in. If you had any big dream, something you’ve always wanted to do, we want you to think big. This is going to be an all-out effort.” I said, “I’ve always wanted to lay down on a bed of nails and have somebody drive over me with a four-wheeler.”
They said, “That’s what we’re going to do.” I said, “You said, do I have a dream? I didn’t say I could do it. I’ve never even tried it.” They said, “That’s what we’re going to do on the show.” They flew me out there and I brought my bed of nails and they introduced me to a gentleman who was the prop guy. He said, “You don’t have to worry about a thing. I’ve worked with Criss Angel. For the four-wheeler to get up on top of you, you’re high so we’ll have to build a ramp. I will make this ramp fixed like arches, so it will support the weight of the four-wheeler.”
I said, “I appreciate your efforts but I am not a magician. You’re used to working with a magician. Everything I do is for real.” He said, “This is going to be too dangerous. We can’t let you do it for real.” I’m already there in New York and I said, “You don’t understand. I agreed to do this bit and I’m going to refuse to do it if you don’t let me do it for real.” We had a meeting, and he came back and said, “We’re willing to compromise. We’re going to have two tracks for the tires to go up on. We will rig one fixed and one you can support on your weight. That way, we’ll cut the weight of the four-wheeler in half.” I said, “That’s still an illusion. I want the weight. All the ramp should do is allow a four-wheeler to drive up on top of me. I want it to be collapsible, so all the weight is resting on me or I’m not doing it.”
Logically speaking, it’s America’s Got Talent, not America’s Going to Kill You type of thing. This is something you’d never done so it’s not like you’re building up to it.
It was a dream.
There’s another complication. The staff, the people who run Radio City Music Hall said, “We’re sorry, but we do not allow gas engines to be operated inside the building. In fact, the only way you can bring an engine in is if it’s empty of gas. You can’t run it.” They started frantically calling around and they found an electric four-wheeler. They said, “We can go ahead with it. We found a four-wheeler that’s electric that they will allow us to operate. The bad news is because of the batteries, instead of 500 pounds, this four-wheeler is going to weigh 1,000 pounds. Are you sure you want to do this for real?” I said, “I want to do it for real.”
They said, “We’ll let you do it for real but we are not supplying the stunt driver. We don’t want to be responsible. You are supplying a stunt driver.” I told my wife, “What the heck am I going to do? Who am I going to get dragged by this four-wheeler?” She says, “How about your brother? He can drive anything. He drives motorcycles, snowmobiles, and forklifts. Get him.” He’s never been in show business, never assisted me in any of my acts, and never been on television, but I had to get somebody.
I called him up and I asked him, “Do you want to do this?” He was all for it. He came out and then they wanted to have a rehearsal. I said, “I’m not rehearsing it.” They said, “What?” I said, “Here’s why. Because when I start the show, I take my shirt off and I show them my back, then I do the act. When I get up, I show my back and you’ll see the nail marks in my back. If we rehearse it, I’m going to have nail marks when I show my back before I get on. It’s going to ruin the act.”
You’re thinking, Brad. It’s making sense to me now.
Who’s better to be able to do it? When it came time to do it, my brother drove up the ramp and paused that 1,000-pound four-wheeler and then went down the other side. Afterward, they asked my brother backstage, “What was it like driving over your own brother with a four-wheeler like that?” My brother said, “It’s something I’ve always wanted to do.”
Also, your brother’s weight on top of the 1,000 pounds.
They gave me a world record for that not just because of the amount of weight but its weight in motion which is dangerous.
Did it hurt? Did you break a rib or anything?
I slept on my stomach that night.
I don’t think the word ‘dangerous’ doesn’t cross your mind when you’re thinking of these things.
Do you remember when he used to pull things with his nose?
Yes. I can’t watch your show.
They used to pull people. I remember you walking across glass and all these crazy things, somebody’s like, “When will this guy ever quit?” “No.” I saw you on Facebook juggling with some stun guns and then you stepped on the water. That wasn’t enough.
That’s the most dangerous juggling I ever devised. Although it’s thousands of volts while I’m standing in the tub of water.
I’m watching you juggle these things and I’m like, “If one of those lands on his hand, he’s going to be on the ground,” and then you casually stopped and stepped in the water. I’m like, “I can’t watch this.”
I’m glad you are not blind and I don’t want to give you ideas. Don’t blindfold yourself. Although, this I would not advise you.
I want to tell you a short story about the hook. I have a world record with the hook. The narrower the rod that it’s made from, the less the pressure can be spread out. Narrower is more painful and more dangerous. This is only 3/16 of an inch. I set a world record and I had to have an audience. There was a little town in my area that had a celebration and they asked me if I would do something for them. They had an outdoor basketball court where they held their celebration and put this hook in my head. Do you know what a pedal surrey is?
No, I don’t.
Pedal surrey is often available at resorts and things, but the best way to explain it is it’s a four-wheeled bicycle. They’ll have bench seats in a canopy and they also make matching trailers behind them. I knew a guy that had a great big one. It was two bench seats and he had the matching trailer, and we loaded it up with seven passengers. It was short of a ton. I tied it up to the hook and I pulled into that basketball court and they gave me a world record for that too. One of the things that are interesting is my original hook was not heat treated. I practiced that in training before the actual record-breaking attempt, then the hook bent. Inside my head, it was too much weight for the hook. I had a hard time getting back out and so I had to have one custom made. It was heat-treated that could take all the weight.
Have you ever got it as a joke? You pull one of those and you go to the hospital and like, “How do I get this out?”
I used to have a day job and I worked at the University of Idaho. I was asked to participate in a safety video. The safety department was there making a video and what they wanted me to do was come into the office and tell the secretary I have a cut. She was supposed to demonstrate the proper use of a first aid kit. I was supposed to come in, hold my finger, and say, “I’ve been hurt.” She was supposed to do the appropriate first aid actions. I left the room and I was waiting for my cue. For people who are reading this, they may not know I also do an act called the human toolbox where I hammer spikes into my head. This is a version of it where I drill into my head through my nose. It just happened to have a nail and a hammer nearby, so I hammered the nail into my head. I said, “Action. Come on in, Brad.” I said, “I’ve been hurt. I need help.” I have the nail head sticking out of my nose of 5-inch long spikes sticking out.
What did she do? I would have screamed if I would have seen you with that.
The guy from the safety office wasn’t at all happy with it. He didn’t think that was funny.
When you swallow swords, don’t you cough or gag reflex, and put them through your nose? I have a hard time squirting things like sinuses. I couldn’t do the hook thing, the nose, nail, screwdriver, pulling, or glass walking.
That’s why you’re not Brad.
I’ve got a callus though. I can pull out tree stumps.
I can’t hypnotize people either. The natural reaction is to cough, gag or in the case of the human toolbox, to sneeze. You have to suppress those reflexes in order to be successful. With the sword in place, if you allow yourself to have a cough, you’re going to draw blood. It’s a serious injury. The esophagus has to be relaxed to allow the sword blade to go down. The other thing is right at Adam’s apple is the epiglottis. It’s a little valve because where you breathe and where you eat meets there. They say you cannot swallow and breathe at the same time for that reason.
When you try to put a foreign object down, it automatically closes off the trachea to not allow it to enter. I have to consciously override involuntary reflex to make the epiglottis open up so I can ease the blade down my throat. In my case, I’ve gotten to the point where it won’t seal off the trachea while I’m swallowing swords. A lot of sword swallowers hold their breath while they’re swallowing the swords but because I can breathe at the same time, it allows me to put the swords down one at a time, which is considered the most difficult and dangerous way possible. I can put large numbers of them because I can breathe while I’m doing it.
That’s a good thing. I’m glad that you’re still breathing. That’s an important fact, a see-you-tomorrow type of deal.
It’s a goal I always strive for.
People can watch you online. How do they see some of your stuff? I always love hanging out with you. You’re fascinating. Getting together with you is more than just entertaining. It’s fun. We hang out together.
We’ve had some good times, that’s for sure. Go to my website, BradByers.com.
I want to get them on YouTube and all that and they can watch your stuff on Vimeo. Is that possible where they can see that?
You can google Brad Byers. I’ve got on just about every video channel you can think of. I’ve got over 200 videos on YouTube. The stun guns we talked about, the hook, drilling my head with a drill, sword swallowing, and all that stuff. I’m always putting new videos on.
Don’t try any of this stuff at home if you’re watching, kids or anybody. Whatever you do. Don’t go to your neighbor to do it.If you have any big dream, something you've always wanted to do, you need to think big. Click To Tweet
Some of the things I do, there have been performers who died attempting it. I always caution people not to attempt it. It’s strictly for their entertainment, not to try it. The risk is real.
What’s the most number of views you have on some of your YouTube?
I don’t know. I’d have to go and look. Maybe thousands.
Which is probably the video that’s been watched the most that you know?
One of the most popular ones is the first season I was on America’s Got Talent. I went there drilling into my head with an electric power drill and they went crazy about that. I have some imitators, but I have a record for originating that drill act. If you see any other performers crazy enough to do it, they got the idea from me.
How many times have you been on America’s Got Talent?
I made it to the last round I was telling you about with the live round votes at Radio City Music Hall. That was in season eight. I was on season four with my drill and that was the token sideshow act on that one. In season eight, I swallowed a bunch of swords and put them in my throat behind a fluoroscope so you could watch that it was the real deal. They had me back with the hook and I pulled my wife, Dr. Scare, and the host of the show at the time, Nick Cannon on a cart run on stage. I also take a propane blowtorch and I turn it up the flame as high as it will go. I extinguish it on my tongue and I did that on America’s Got Talent.
That does hurt.
The problem is the flame shoots out far and there’s a point where I have to pass my face through the flame to get my tongue to the end of the nozzle to extinguish it. When you run the flame across your face and your lips, it’s easy to get burned.
I thought I was macho because I ate fire a couple of times, but not with gas. It was lighter fluid.
I call it extreme fire eating, the blowtorch.
You don’t want any aftershave lotion on when you’re doing that. You’ve got all your hair. You look normal on the outside, but when we open your brain, we might find some interesting characters in there. We love hanging out with you. We have a lot of good times and a lot of memories. We know a lot of weird people in our profession. I’ve got you. Bubba Blackwell, that motorcycle jumper, the guy shooting out of a cannon. We’ve got a joggler and ventriloquist down there. We know a variety of people. Our circle of friends is all in a weird way. That thought of judgment if we fail isn’t going to be there because we all had to fail sometimes to get where we’re at. It’s a pleasure to be able to hang out with you and get to know you. People got to check it out. You don’t need any more promotion at the same time. It’s such a pleasure to have you on our show.
We have to do this again because I’m sure you’ve got tons more stories to share.
After the COVID crisis is over, I sure hope to work with you again.
That would be fun.
All our events are canceled up until September 2020. We might be in Spokane if they have that fare there and maybe act. I might be able to jump in those. In South Carolina, we usually go to Charleston at Matson County Fair. Those of you who might do, I’m going to talk to, hopefully, get you in and work together again. We’d make a great team together. With your act and my act, what else do we need? We’ve got it all.
We’d make a great team, plus we’ll have a blast off stage too.
That’s where the nuts are. That’s where we get crazy. Our jobs are easy but when we get off stage, that’s crazy. Brad, thanks for being here. Make sure you check out BradByers.com. Check him out.
Go to YouTube and look up his name. You’ll find a lot of videos on there and he’s on Facebook too. I was watching some of his videos.
Speaking is my applause, Yolanda. Thinking is my standing ovation.
I want people to share this video as much as possible and get people out there. If you run across his name, if you have to fly within 1,000 miles or 2,000 miles to see his show, it’s well worth it. You will leave going, “Whoa.” You won’t want to eat a lot after seeing his show. If you’re on a diet program on how to lose weight with Brad Byers, attend the show. You’re a phenomenal entertainer, an awesome and incredible man, businessman, and friend. You’re a great guy. Thank you for taking the time on your schedule to be here. There’s so much more of us that nobody knows. It’s an hour and it’s hard to get everything in there knowing your act. We’ll have to get you back as a guest. People I know will love to have you back on and maybe you can do a sword swallow next time or something. Who knows?
I’d be happy to.
We’ll have to do that next time then.
Share the video, show your love and support, give us your comments, and let us know.
Go tend to your horses. Thank you for giving us time on your day to sit here, share your stories, and make us laugh. It was great seeing you and talking with you and hopefully, we’ll do this again.
You’ve got to check out his show. If you have not seen the show, it’s incredible. Honestly, it’s funny and queasy. When we were at his show, I was like, “Brad, why don’t we get some of the audience to overcome their fear and things like that? I can use hypnosis to help them so they’ve got to hold the spider, they get the Candy Crush kid and all kinds of crazy things. The things we got to do with Brad were an amazing motivation for people following the show to realize that they can get further ahead in life through that. All the things we think that are harmful to us because of television and things like that like the tarantula, when you hold it and it feels neat in your hand when you put a different meaning to it. It’s light like a little angel.
It’s like a hairy piece of paper on your hand. That’s what it felt like.
It’s like putting your hand on my chest, the hairy piece of thing down there. If you go to Hypnotize Me Mark, check out all the videos. We’ll have two special guests on for our cooking show. Thank you for joining us.
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About Brad Byers
Brad Byers is a world-renowned sword swallower and extreme sideshow artist who has been entertaining audiences of all ages with his unbelievable and genuine daredevil acts for over 40 years. He has been featured on America’s Got Talent, Late Night with David Letterman, Cirque du Soleil, Ripley’s Believe It or Not, Germany’s Das Supertalent, Stan Lee’s Superhumans, and Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus. His performances have taken him to 25 countries for countless television shows and other venues. Brad’s international reputation led the country of Grenada to picture him swallowing swords on their official postage stamp.
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