Freakshow Co-Star and Las Vegas Native is One Glassy Lassy

You know what they say about a girl who can swallow three swords at once, don’t you?

That she has an almost cavalier disregard for her own safety. What did you think we were going to say?

While you may spend upward of 80 percent of your day trying to keep pointy things out of your neck, Las Vegan Brianna Belladonna, 29, shows it’s nearly so simple a child could do it. (Parents: Try it on your kids. We’re sure it’ll work out fine.)

Belladonna (born Brianne Young) is the “Indestructible Woman” on AMC’s Freakshow, swallowing swords, breathing fire and eating glass—as one will do. She was drawn to sideshow performance when she saw a woman doing a bed-of-nails act on Ripley’s Believe It or Not! “I’m a masochist, so I thought that looked like it would feel pretty awesome,” she says.

She was 25, and before long would connect with the local Swingshift Sideshow, just in time for them to headline at the now-defunct O’Sheas casino as the Anthony Cools¬produced (and wildly underrated) Freaks. Shortly after that show shuttered in December 2009, Belladonna moved to Los Angeles to join the Venice Beach Freakshow.

For Belladonna, there came a sense of empowerment from the first time she attempted sword swallowing.

“It was terrifying while it was happening, and it was exhilarating after it was done. It was the most powerful feeling,” she says. “Your brain screams, ‘What the hell are you doing? We could die, we could die, we could die.’ I wouldn’t say I was afraid of it, but I had a healthy respect for it. When it came out, I was bouncing off the walls.”

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AMC’s latest foray into the people-with-exceedingly-weird-jobs reality subgenre is Freakshow—which should be familiar to those who experienced the short-lived Freaks at O’Sheas. While it’s a milieu that should lend itself to breezy high camp, it sometimes feels like spackle in the network’s schedule around The Walking Dead airings while we all wait for a new season of Mad Men.