Without anyone to mentor her, she just started practicing and figured it out herself. “So you do it with feel and also the headstrong idiocy of youth where the concept of death isn’t really that real to you until you actually have a brush with it. It took me about three years to learn…it was sort of trial and error with your internals,” says Miss Behave.
Amazingly, there were few errors although one night, when performing at the Royal Opera in her native UK, she didn’t realise it at the time but when she woke up the following morning “whiter than paper” and took herself off to hospital, she had actually nicked her stomach lining and nearly bled to death.
“Now, a sensible person at that point would have stopped,” she laughs, “and here I am!” Instead, as the only female sword swallower working at the time that she knew of, and one of only a handful worldwide now, that novelty meant she was busking in pubs but also appearing on TV, “which was a very surreal way of doing it”. Since then, she’s added many other freakshow skills to her repertoire and has spent the past decade touring with La Clique and La Soiree, taking in cities such as New York, London, and Montreal. She has performed in Sydney and Melbourne, although the last time she was in here was six or seven years ago but she’s back now for the 2014 Melbourne International Comedy Festival, hosting the Wonderland Carnivale …Simply Spiegelicious shows at the Wonderland Spiegeltent in the Docklands, located under the Melbourne Star Observation Wheel.
Miss Behave describes herself as being like “a live cartoon with a late night attitude.” Dressed in a very tight rubber dress, she will swallow not just swords but also table legs. “I neck pints of beer, I play with the audience and lick people’s heads, I put cigars out on my tongue – it’s all quite self-masochistic in some ways, but it doesn’t hurt me, honest guv,” she says.
Joining her throughout the festival will be a rotating lineup of comedians, such as Lehmo, Mick Molloy, Bev Killick and Ian Bagg, with a range of circus acts as well. Miss Behave, who also hosts similar types of variety nights in the UK, says, “This will be an evening variety show for adults” meaning she’ll be “supplying the naughtiness”.
She promises the shows, which only happen on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, will be entertaining as opposed to the “gross freaky side” of sideshow tricks. “So you’re kind of spending an evening with a slightly eccentric madam, who can drink any one of you under the table, who’s going to make sure you have a good time and throw her arm around you and will show you some rather bizarre tricks and also some fantastic acts”.
BY JOANNE BROOKFIELD