NatGeo's Humanly Impossible: "Human Blockhead" Jason Rydelek Hammers 4-Inch Nail Into His Nose

Jared Rydelek has a rather unusual talent: he can hammer a 4-inch nail into his nose without hurting himself or even sneezing.

In National Geographic's two-part special Humanly Impossible, Jared explains:

When I was a kid, I became infatuated with magic. I wanted to be a magician and bought all the magic sets at the toy store in an attempt to be the next Houdini. I loved coming up with new routines and performing for my friends and family. However, I always hated the fact that I had to keep secrets from them. People would ask me how I did a trick and I would have to say "it’s magic" or "it’s a secret;" they'd get mad, I'd feel like a jerk and everyone would be unhappy.

The blockhead act was ultimately what solved this problem for me. While watching a variety show on TV (in search of magicians of course) I saw a man named Todd Robbins perform the blockhead act. I was caught up into his presentation while doing this act; it was almost like watching a magician perform a trick, only better. I was immediately taken in by the idea of being able to perform something that is seemingly impossible, but is in fact a skill, rather than a trick; the great thing is that if someone asks how it’s done, you can explain it and it only gets more interesting.

So I started watching sword swallowers, fire eaters, escape artists, etc... and found my new love called "sideshow.” But I was still much too young to try any of these very dangerous stunts on my own, so I researched the sideshow and impatiently performed magic until I was old enough to learn. At the age of 20, I moved to New York City and was trained at Coney Island by Todd Robbins himself. I was taught all kinds of amazing stunts, but I have always had a soft spot for the Human Blockhead act.

The blockhead act itself involves overcoming the sneeze reflex. It’s a pretty ugly thing to learn. When you stick something up your nose your body will try to reject it; this amounts to extreme discomfort, watery eyes, sneezing and pain. Your nose is simply not meant to have things stuck in it. But if you trigger this response over and over again, eventually your body will accept the object and you'll overcome the reflex. Before anyone starts thinking that doing this act is a good idea (which it’s not, for the love of God get a teacher if you are serious about learning it), it should be said though that this act, simple as it is, is very dangerous. In the past I have scratched the back of my nasal passage and had the horrible experience of coughing incessantly for days until it healed. But worse than that, there is also the very real possibility of getting sinus infections. And if someone trips while doing this act... it would be very, very bad, to say the least.

Danger aside, I am proud to be a blockhead, as this simple stunt is what first inspired me to trade in my cards and pick up this crazy profession. I am a full-time circus sideshow performer and contortionist right now, which in my opinion is a good thing, and I wouldn't have been able to get here without this stunt.

Links: NatGeo Humanly Impossible | Jared's MySpace page | Human Blockhead carnival sideshow act at Wikipedia

Previously on Neatorama: 10 Things That Are (Almost) Impossible To Do With Your Body

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I tried this as a kid. And did it again a few years ago, to see if I still could. Both times it was quite easy and painless, I was able to get a big damned nail pretty much the whole way in..

Of course, I've had chronic congestion for as long as I can remember. Wonder if there's a connection?
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This stunt is much less impressive than it seems. In the absence of nasal congestion, allergies, etc virtually all adults can accommodate the passage of a Q-tip, a nasogastric tube, an endoscope... or a nail... without much difficulty. Mr. Rydelek may have taught himself to suppress his sneeze reflex, or he may have surreptitiously wiped or sprayed the nasal mucosa with a little lidocaine before the demonstration.

The "dangers" of sneezing out the nail are similarly exaggerated; the reflex inhalation would be oral rather than nasal, and the expulsion of the nail would be straight rather than angled through the nose as they show.

I'm surprised this was sponsored by NatGeo. Seems like something prepared for a network television program.
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