Much has been made about circus acts of the past, particularly sideshow performers, but the majority of the attention lands on those born with genetic abnormalities. Those who had to train themselves to become performers tend to get lost in the pages of history. Fortunately for fans of vintage circus acts, io9 has a great article featuring some of the famous female sword swallowers from the 1800s, as well as a more recent video (below) showing a 1930's sword swallower gulping down long flourescent lights.
Pictured here is Kitty Fisher, who worked alongside her husband and eventually learned how to swallow up to a dozen short blades at once. Of course, when it comes to sword swallowing, practice doesn't make perfect and Fisher did suffer from a few accidents including puncturing a vein in her throat at one point and once having a dagger break off inside her gullet.