Interesting, inspiring? It is not enough to describe the personality of Joanna Sawicka vel Anastasia VI. Her unique skill had been recorded in Guinness World Record.
She has got a power! And it is her hair…They can pull a truck and suspend a person solely from her hair, while hanging upside down. She moved to the UK when she was only 14 after her dad had passed away. She used to live with her sister and despite some language difficulties at the beginning she succeeded and ended up at University of Westminster, studying biochemistry. But one visit at the circus had changed her life forever. She joined The Circus of Horrors and since then she became one of the most recognisable star in the industry.
Hi Joanna, would you like to share your job description?
I’m a circus performer and my area of expertise is doing aerial performances suspended by my hair. I am currently working with the Circus of Horrors.
So, you work for circus, is it following your dreams from childhood or simply one off fantasy?
I have never seen a circus as a child. The first time I attended a circus was when I was 17 at Croydon Fairfield Halls and it just happened to be The Circus of Horrors. I loved it but it wasn’t something I planned as I was studying biochemistry at the time.
You came here to study biochemistry…how did you end up at the circus?
It wasn’t until much later I got offered a chance to run away with the circus as my boyfriend, now husband was a sword swallower. I was only going to take one year break from my studies but I enjoyed the experience so much I ended up staying indefinitely.
The things you can do with your hair are pretty amazing. Was it your idea to come up with such a unique performance?
It was originally Chinese men who used to do hair hanging and it is very much a ding art as it is so unpleasant to do. When I first joined The Circus of Horrors I was doing fire eating, the bed of nails and walking up a ladder of swords I than decided to look for an act that looked more spectacular on the big stage, which is where the hair hanging came in. It took a long time to work out what is the best way to tie the hair and there are certain elements to my routine that are completely unique and invented by me. Like the fire work in the finale. I am also the only person in the UK at the moment who pulls vehicles with hair.
In all honesty, even if I wanted to, my hair wouldn’t be strong enough to pull a rabbit. What are you doing with them to make them so strong, to be able to pull the truck?!
I go through a lot of conditioner a day- on average 2 bottles a day. I never dye my hair when actively performing and I never cut it.
Your amazing achievements are recorded in Guinness World Record. Is there anybody on the planet who has such a strong hair as you?
I hold a Guinness World Record for lifting the biggest weight with my hair. It is a great achievement to be included in the Guinness Book of records and it is an amazing feeling to know that you are the best in the world at something.
You took part in Britain’s Got Talent auditions. Tell us about the experience…
BGT gave The Circus of Horrors a great exposure, Amanda Holden said that we are ‘like Rocky Horror Picture Show on Acid’. Simon Cowell said he ‘Loved it and he is sure the Queen will love us too’ which is fantastic! The whole experience was very stressful and you felt like the whole of UK was watching your every move. I am pleased we have done it and I liked the challenge but would definitely not want to do it again.
Is there any special technique you use to pull things? Any special hairdo to make your hair stronger?
It takes 45 minutes and 2 men to plat my hair like a rope around a metal ring which is than attached to the rigging, this is to make sure that the tie is strong and wont came undone during the act. The hair needs to be wet and evenly brushed out so that the pull is equal on all the hair follicles. Any hair that is tangle up will pull out making the act more painful.
Pulling is not the only skill you have…
Yes, I can pull things with my hair, I can hung myself from my hair and I also do an act where fellow performers do a trapeze act suspended from my hair. It’s for this act that I received a Guinness World Record.
Actually, what is the Circus of Horrors? What can we expect from your performance?
Ever since it’s conception at the 1995 Glastonbury Festival, the show has toured the World achieving cult status and dragging circus screaming and shouting into the 21st century and beyond. From sword swallower’s to dare devil balancing acts, from hair hangers to demon dwarfs, from a pickled person to astounding aerial acts, all performed with a forked tongue firmly in each cheek by my an almighty cast & the devil driven rock n’ roll of Dr Haze & The Interceptors from Hell. If Quentin Tarantino had directed Cirque Du Soleil then you would be only half way there. Your skills remind me of Shaolin Temple warriors who can do amazing things with power of their brains. Is it the case with you? How do you control your body, any meditations, prayers, what makes you so focused and superhuman?
I have done hair hanging so many times now it no longer fells like pain but more as a sensation. There is no feeling of surprise- you know it is coming so there fore you can prepare yourself, if I would accidentally put my finger in the door ,I would be howling in pain. But as I know my routine it gives me time to prepare.
Hannibal Hellmurto- your husband, tore a hole in his windpipe as he tried to swallow the fully-lit electric powered neon rod, shortly after he was back on the show. How did you feel back then, did you think about changing your careers?
Something can happen to you at any time, even when crossing the road, so you need to live your life to the full. What we do is a calculated risk to reduce chances of an accident but things sometimes still go wrong, its part of the job. It is never easy when a loved one is in hospital and I hope it will never happen again.
You seem to be very original and brave couple. Do you think that you are going to stay at circus forever or you planning to change your jobs for example to raise children or simply stay in one place?
We don’t plan to have children but circus is not something you could do forever due to the strain it has to your body. We are currently starting our own beer company Legion13 and I always wanted to bring out my own brand of conditioner. There is no plans to leave the Circus of Horrors any time soon as we love being a part of it!
As you both are very ambitious and strong it might be sometimes difficult to have harmonious relationship… Do you argue a lot at home?
Most people will probably not believe me when I say we never argue. We complement each other very well, being together and working together comes very easily to us. Its like having your best friend with you at all times.
You probably have very strong personality and seem to be consistent, not giving up easily. Were you always like that or it took a while to build up your character?I read that you have already paid a price for your unusual job by suffering from regular headaches and migraines. Also skin on the top of your head seems to roughen up. How far would you stretch yourself to achieve your goals?
I probably push myself too far sometimes. It is important to know your limits, but rules were made to be broken. I don’t think there is much I am not willing to try.Have you ever had an offer from hair care industry to take part in advertising campaign of their brands?
I am talking with a brand at the moment…
Do you think that Great Britain is your place on Earth; would you like to stay, develop and spend your last days here?
I am extremely happy I made a life for myself here in the UK and this feels very much like home to me now. I could retire somewhere warmer, but for now I have no plans to move countries.