Stabbed tongues and swallowed eyeballs: was the Amazing Johnathan's terminal diagnosis his greatest trick?

the Guardian | 11/7/2019 | Hadley Freeman


It is dark outside and I am sitting alone at home, a silent phone to my ear. I had been promised that I would finally get to speak to the man known to his fans and friends as the Amazing Johnathan, but the minutes tick past and the streetlamps come on outside my window. In his heyday, the Amazing Johnathan was earning $3m a year and had a stage charisma as outsized as his tricks, which included appearing to snort an entire jar of cocaine, and seeming to plunge a spike through his tongue. But tonight, as the PR tries frantically to put my call through to him, there is only silence at the other end of the phone. The Amazing Johnathan has disappeared.

“Yeah, welcome to my club,” laughs Ben Berman when I tell him about my failure to speak to the man born John Edward Szeles. Berman is the director and co-star of The Amazing Johnathan Documentary, which has already been compared to Catfish and Exit Through the Giftshop, which is pretty impressive, given this is Berman’s first feature-length movie. But perhaps the most impressive thing is that he was ever able to film the Amazing Johnathan at all.

Times - Film - Vegas - State - Day

“There were so many times when I was supposed to film in Vegas, or we’d agree to be in this state on that day – and then it turned out that he and his wife were out of town that weekend. It was really hard,” Berman says. Yet he spent two and a half years with the Amazing Johnathan. How could he bear being toyed with like this?

“I like his sensibility, all that darkness and irreverence. There were many problems caused by him, and as painful as it was, I knew it would be valuable for my film,” Berman says.

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(Excerpt) Read more at: the Guardian
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