Vanessa Neil, Sword Swallower, at Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Museum

As you read on Saturday, I went to Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Museum to see the sword swallower. This was the second year that they did it, and I thought Vanessa Neil was better than Riley Schillaci, last year’s performer. I can’t really explain what I didn’t like about Riley, but she just didn’t seem happy to be there. Vanessa was much more chatty, smiled a lot, and seemed happy to be there with everyone.

I was going to make some observations, but I thought the article in the Niagara Falls Review that I linked to yesterday got all of the main points. Also, you can read my tweets from Saturday as well.

You can see the 30-second video I took on YouTube. I forgot to bring my better HD camera, so the quality isn’t that great, but you still get a clear shot of her downing about a foot of sword in the blink of an eye. The sword was about two feet long in total.

I also took a few pictures. I couldn’t tweet, do a video, and take pictures at the same time, so I don’t have a still picture of her with the sword in her mouth. However, you can see her holding the sword, as well as the crowd that was gathered. You can also see the renovations that they are doing at Ripley’s.

You can see the pictures in the 20100227 Sword Swallower Vanessa Neil gallery in the Niagara Falls Image Gallery. As a side note, there are now 2,920 images in 238 categories in the gallery.

Sword Swallower Vanessa Neil at Ripley's Believe It or Not! MuseumSword Swallower Vanessa Neil at Ripley's Believe It or Not! Museum
Sword Swallower Vanessa Neil at Ripley's Believe It or Not! MuseumSword Swallower Vanessa Neil at Ripley's Believe It or Not! MuseumSword Swallower Vanessa Neil at Ripley's Believe It or Not! Museum
Sword Swallower Vanessa Neil at Ripley's Believe It or Not! MuseumSword Swallower Vanessa Neil at Ripley's Believe It or Not! Museum

20100412 UPDATE: As you can see by the comments below, last year’s performer, Riley Schillaci, took issue with my comments about her. Riley explained in her comments how she was feeling that day. I would also add that this was the first year that the local Ripley’s Museum had a performer. I sympathize with Riley, and hope that she has a successful sword swallowing career.

42 thoughts on “Vanessa Neil, Sword Swallower, at Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Museum

  1. You must understand that Vanessa has been performing for MUCH longer than I have, she is a veteran of sword swallowing. I had only been performing two years, when I represented at Niagara Falls. As for my demeanor last year: it was freezing and I only had thin pants and a corset on. I would like to see you swallow a 19” blade, that is ice cold. I also had to drive a lot farther than Vanessa, and had been in the car all morning. I did make sure to pose for pictures with some little kids from my hometown, that happened to be at the event. I was VERY happy to be there.

    Why not just say how much you enjoyed Vanessa’s performance, instead of talking bad about me. Sword swallowing requires a lot of relaxation, and it is very hard to relax when it is freezing out.

    Thanks for talking smack about me, jerk.

  2. Relax Riley. My general observation still stands. I never said you were rude to people. I certainly never said you were a jerk. I just said you didn’t seem too happy to be there. If you are trying to convince me that you were happy to be there, you probably shouldn’t be so rude in your comment.
    Regardless of how you seemed, it was still neat seeing you perform. I definitely couldn’t do what you do.

  3. I just think that instead of pointing out someone else’s downfalls, you should have just focused on Vanessa.

    Now that you know what was going on last year, would you please just take the part about me out of the article that should just be about VANESSA?

  4. It certainly isn’t inflammatory. I’m not going to change content of the original posting (the main part), but I’ll add an update/note at the bottom of the article.

  5. I would also add I don’t see anything wrong with comparing things. Niagara Falls has several wax museums. If I were to visit one that I felt was better than another, it is something I would share. I don’t see this sort of “attraction” as being any different.

  6. Wax Museums are usually owned by franchises and corperations, they are not people. If you talked bad about a private owner of a museum, that would be hurtful to them, as apposed to critiquing the museum. Making comments like “I can’t really explain what I didn’t like about Riley”, is very hurtful, and it is a personal insult.

    It’s very easy to be an armchair critique.

    1. People compare performers all the time. I like this musician, but don’t like that one. I like this movie star, but don’t like that one. It happens.

  7. The comment was in poor taste. Thank you for adding the explanation. Vanessa and Riley are both wonderful people, and professionals. We all have our bad days, it just sucks when someone posts about it online where future clients could see. There are only a handful of female sword swallowers in the world. It’s a tough, life endangering job, and they ALL deserve to be treated with respect, regardless of ‘a bad day’.

    Sia Synn

    1. If Riley is concerned about future clients then she probably shouldn’t react that way online where future clients may see. She could have contacted me with concerns without calling me a jerk. Clients will see what I have posted, but will also see the comments she has left.

      1. I understand what you are saying. Although that is indeed true, it’s almost a (who came first)chicken vs the egg situation . She wouldn’t have reacted so, had you not written so. Spicy tempers do not a bad sword swallower make.

        It’s regretful that this had to be argued in a public forum. Regardless of who is at fault.

        Sia Synn

  8. I have seen Riley Schillaci perform, and I have come to know her on a professional basis. She has always been friendly and polite to me, but I can say without a doubt that she takes her sword-swallowing VERY seriously. Seriously enough, in fact, that I have yet to see her be able to relax before a show. She’s worried about if her act will go smoothly, if the audience will appreciate her skills, and if she will incur any injury. I’d say she’s got a lot on her mind at that moment! Give her a little time to unwind after her act, and she’s smiling and chatty just like anyone else.

  9. Thanks guys! Like I said, easy to be an armchair critique. I think my comments were appropriate. You can compare and contrast without being hurtful. and it is hard to be all smile when you are trying to do a dangerous stunt. Not a fan of blogging, because bloggers tend to be the worst armchair critiques. It’s easy to sit behind a computer and put your two sense in, but it’s harder to put your money where your mouth is and be a performer yourself.

  10. Wow, I’ll certainly have lots to consider when I book my next sword swallower.

    In all seriousness, and I’m sure I speak for many people, WHAAAT?

    1. Drafty: I just have a problem with armchair critiques. I speak for myself when I say this, but I think that all sword swallowers are GREAT! We all have our own styles and personalities, and while some incorperate their personalities into their acts, others choose two work with somewhat of an alter-ego. To each SwSw their own!

  11. And soooooo, I challenge you to come out to SUNY Fredonia (it’s not too far from Canada) on April 24th and watch a full show, participate in a workshop, and THEN put your two sense in.

  12. “This was the second year that they did it, and I thought Vanessa Neil was better than Riley Schillaci, last year’s performer”– that is fine

    “I can’t really explain what I didn’t like about Riley, but she just didn’t seem happy to be there. ” this is not

  13. Hopefully, I have 5 senses, but my 2 cents is that this is ridiculously overblown for a simple comment that you didn’t look happy. As for the invite, absolutely 0% interest.

  14. WOW! Who knew there could be so much politics over a blog.

    I know Riley personally, and I know that she like everyone else, has feelings.

    Just as performers can expect to be judged and critiqued, bloggers will be judged and critiqued as well. If you don’t want to be under fire, don’t blog.

    Sometimes she gets up in arms about things, but as a friend and a performer, you will have a hard time finding someone as loyal and honest, and dependable, than Riley. She tends to stand up for what she believes in, no matter what the everyone else is saying or doing. And it takes balls to stand up for yourself and what you believe in. I have also seen Riley get upset when she hears people talking badly about other performers, or other performers talking badly about their peers, or client. And she’s quite cute!

  15. Calm down Riley. But I do stand with you on this one! Who is this faceless blogger?

    I have been to a few of Riley’s show, and she has always been warm and inviting to everyone, even letting people into her personal work space at shows, and always be very hospitable.

    I totally respect the work that she and other performers do. I certainly would not have the guts to do what ladies like Riley and Vanessa do.

  16. Can’t someone have an off day without being judged? Shit Happens, and riley and graham both need to lay down their swords, per say.

  17. secondly, friends and fans are telling me that you are deleting their posts. What? don’t like ctiticism?

    1. Relax. The first time someone comments, it is held for moderation. You were commenting under your full name, and then switched to just your first name. Anyway, all the comments are up now. I haven’t blocked any of them, even the one with a “bad” word. Obviously I can take the criticism…

  18. Enough! Like Brian said “lay down your swords” and lets all be careful what we say…especially “online” or in Print….it is there for all to see, & judge you perhaps wrongly.This is for both sides of the “coin”.
    Also very well said Sia Synn.
    Grahm a simple sorry for offending Riley would do. and please will you be careful in the future when you put words out there “think of the bigger picture” and how it will effect others. Riley say sorry for name calling. Put this to bed.

  19. Sorry for calling you a jerk.

    I would have worded things something along the lines of: “I was there last year, and saw Riley Schillaci, and it just keeps getting BETTER every year.” or “It was even better this year”

    Thanks for the coverage last year.

  20. I never seen either act but I wish I did! Riley I hope you come back to Niagara Falls preferably on a warm summer day hehe, I would love to see ya perform! Maybe a chance for some redemption and Graham can blog about your new performance with an honest & fair opinion which I’m sure he would do!

    All the best! 🙂

  21. Well everyone, that sure did make for an exciting day! I like what StEC said… if you haven’t seen a sword swallower, it is definitely worth seeing. Definitely not something I could ever do, or would even try doing.

    Riley, all the best to you in your performing career!

  22. Graham, my invite still stands. Doing a show and workshops for a fund raiser at a college (SUNY Fredonia), on the 24th

  23. I haven’t seen anything like this since Mom and I critiqued Shoeless Joe’s at the Casino.

    ahhhhhh good times. I’m with you Niagara. BIG HUG!!!

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