Tough to Swallow
Regurgitating Act Comes to Buffalo Saturday Night
Stevie Starr, famous for swallowing and regurgitating unusual items, will be performing a free show at UB this Saturday at 7 p.m. in the Student Union theater.
"The Regurgitator" has been featured on Britain's Got Talent, Ripley's Believe it or Not, Howard Stern, and in the Guinness Book of World Records, and will now showcase his extraordinary talent for UB students.
The Spectrum had a chance to speak with Starr prior to his performance.
The Spectrum: Where are you from?
Stevie Starr: I'm from Scotland.
TS: How did you realize you had this talent?
SS: I used to hide my pocket money as a child and bring it up again. I mean, I didn't realize I'd end up doing it for a living. Just as years went on, I realized I was able to control and separate things and bring them up again. As a kid, I would swallow a marble and a coin and I would go to school and ask them, "Hey, what one do you want up?"
TS: Were you ever worried about choking?
SS: I think at that age you don't really worry about danger. As years go on, I started doing larger objects, like the pool ball. I just kept trying different things all the time and ended up making it into a one-hour show.
TS: How do you prepare for your performances?
SS: I actually don't prepare: I just go in and do it. There's absolutely no preparation whatsoever. I mean, I do it all the time. I'm in Canada at the moment and I'll be waiting in a shop and I'd cough the money up to pay for a bottle of Coke or something; I love the reaction from the people. I've always done it as a kid and I don't think I'll ever stop. I went through the tollbooth the other day and it said $1.25. So, I went up, rolled the window down and coughed the money up to pay the lady. She just stuck her head out the booth and said, "What the hell?"
TS: Which shows have you been featured on?
SS: The first one I ever did in America was called That's Incredible about 20 years ago. We did The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. We did Letterman, Howard Stern, Ripley's Believe It or Not. I'm in all the Ripley's museums; I just opened a new one in London, England for them. Oh, and Guinness World Records.
TS: Do you have a particularly memorable experience?
SS: As a kid, I would swallow a bumblebee from the tree, take it to school, cough it up in a classroom and it would fly away. Misspent childhood.
TS: What's your toughest act?
SS: Of everything that I do, probably I would say the Rubix Cube because it's square and I have to turn it once it gets inside. When I did the Guinness record, I had to swallow 10 half dollars. Each coin had a different date and I had to bring back whichever coin they asked for. As long as I can memorize them and see them before they actually go in and I know exactly where I put them, I can control and select which one to bring back again - a bit like a supermarket.
TS: What's been your favorite performance?
SS: I couldn't really say I've got a favorite. I like everything. I'd say about 85 percent of my work is at universities all over the world. The rest would be television. I've actually only got two shows left in America, then I'm going to the United Kingdom, then Paris, then Germany, then the Middle East and Denmark. I do a lot of rave nights and discothèques in Ireland. It's funny watching them because, as you know, they can drink at 18 over there. You've got 2,000 people watching you swallow beer bottles and putting cigarette smoke into soapy bubbles and they just stand there like, "Oh, my God."
TS: What do people typically ask you to swallow?
SS: People come up with things like, "Can you swallow my key ring; can you swallow my lighter; can you swallow my money; put my name on it and say that you swallowed it for me," things like that. Mostly jewelry or small objects most people just [carry] around with them.
TS: Do you use your talent in everyday life?
SS: Yes, it's more of a pocket than anything else, really. A lot of times I'll do it unconsciously. I'll buy something, I'll get the change and I'll automatically just swallow it. It's just a lot easier than putting it in your pocket.