This charming man

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You know what they say -- once bitten, twice shy. That didn't hold much water with Ali Khan Samsudin, 48, a snake charmer who until a few days ago was known as Malaysia's "Snake King." He claimed to have been bitten 99 times in his life while performing his act. 100 times, it seems, was a charm.

How does one earn the moniker "Snake King"? In Ali's case, he lived 12 hours a day for 40 days in a room with 400 snakes. Keen to outdo himself, in 1997 he acquired the name "Scorpion King" by shutting himself in a box with 6,000 of the nasties for three weeks. (Hmm, I wonder if there's a Boy Scouts merit badge for that.)

So why was the 100th bite fatal? Apparently, Ali was so unperturbed by the wound that he didn't even bother to seek treatment. Two days later he felt bad enough to go to the hospital, but by then it was too late. In addition to getting himself killed, Ali has also been setting a bad example for the kids. In 2002 his daughter, Nur Malena Hassan, proclaimed herself "Scorpion Queen" after spending 36 days in a glass box with 6,069 scorpions -- while suffering 17 excruciating bites. (And they say American families are competitive.)

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December 4, 2006 - 8:27am
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