8 QUESTIONS WITH The Great Gordo Gamsby

8 Questions With: Extreme stunt specialist Gordo Gamsby has pulled car with his tongue

-- ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN
-- ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

This is one of nine Guinness World Records held by the Australian sideshow daredevil

Extreme stunt specialist The Great Gordo Gamsby was first introduced to the world of circus and sideshow acts in secondary school.

"I first learnt to juggle when I was 14. A little circus group would come and teach us how to juggle, ride unicycles and stiltwalk," says the Australian, who is based in Melbourne.

The performer, who did not want to give his real name, found juggling so fun and became so skilled that he started teaching along with the group from the age of 15.

The 30-year-old, who is not married, is now a master of not just juggling, but also death-defying acts, which includes sword swallowing, the human cannonball target and the cranial corkscrew.

His extreme stunts stems from a "complete fascination with all the different art forms".

He began his career juggling anything from balls to clubs to knives. He then progressed to the human blockhead, where he hammers a spoon or nail into his nose. "Once I learnt the blockhead, that was my introduction to sideshow acts and I was intrigued by what was possible with the human body," he says.

"I get bored pretty easy, so I like to learn lots of different things to keep myself interested."

His latest gig is playing a half-man, half-beast character, Animal, in a new stage show, Jack's Nightmare Circus, at Universal Studios Singapore's Halloween Horror Nights 4 this year.

He will act as one of Jack the killer clown's prized possessions, trained in feats of resilience and torture. He will perform his popular acts, including lifting a big metal ball with his tongue, and swallowing a sword and juggling three fire clubs at the same time.

He quips: "Halloween is fast becoming one of my favourite holidays. I heard it's huge here and I can't wait to see it all."

He has earned nine Guinness World Record titles. They include the most weight pulled by a tongue - he pulled a 1,056kg car with a hook in his tongue. He also broke his earlier world record of smashing the most number of concrete slabs on his stomach while lying on a bed of nails.

He has complete confidence that nothing will go wrong during his hair-raising performances. "I do a lot of research and make sure I know as much as I can before I try out any stunt. I rehearse a lot too."

His passion for sideshow and circus acts is what keeps him going and he plans to add to his list of acts. He says: "I absolutely love what I do and wouldn't rather be doing anything else."

1 How did you come up with your stage moniker?

Gordo and Gamsby are my parents' last names. Gordo is my dad's while Gamsby is my mum's, so I have both in my stage name. Great was added by my fellow performers.

2 Have you ever been seriously hurt?

I take very calculated risks, but I have been hurt here and there over the years.

When I was 15, I had a fire- breathing accident and ended up in a coma for a week, but I learnt my lesson from that.

3 Do you have a pre-show ritual?

I have to calm myself and get into a meditative state. If I'm going to perform a sword-swallowing act, I have to slow down my heartbeat because the sword passes 2cm from my heart.

4 Which is your favourite act to perform?

The cranial corkscrew. It's something that not many have seen and it's really hard to comprehend what's actually happening. You can see it, but your brain doesn't really grasp it.

5 What's your most memorable experience during a performance?

I performed in a show with The Dirty Brothers, a sideshow act, in France a few years ago. They had to send the riot police to the town of Libourne because the people loved the show so much. They climbed atop a building and the police were scared that it would collapse. The organisers had to call the police to clear the area, so that was pretty exciting.

6 Is this your first time in Singapore?

Yes it is, in fact, it's my first time in Asia. I have travelled mainly to the United Kingdom and Europe so far. It's pretty warm in Singapore, but everyone is very lovely here.

7 When you are not performing, what do you like to do for fun?

I like to learn things. I watch a lot of documentaries. If anything interests me, I will research it.

My favourite pastime is going to the park with some friends, take the whips down and crack them, have a barbecue. We might juggle or play a game of bocce.

8 How would you like to be remembered?

That's probably the hardest question you have asked me. I would like to be remembered as someone who found the joy in everything, and who liked to have a good time and spread that joy around.

gurveenk@sph.com.sg