Tricks from his teeth! Hanging with the Iron Jaw, Amadeus Lopez

From the tightrope walkers to the acrobats, it’s hard to believe that the human body is capable of such feats. And just when we think we’ve seen it all, someone proves us wrong with another bold act. “Someone” is Amadeus Lopez and his act is The Iron Jaw.

Silk, belts and the iron jaw

Amadeus Lopez discovered his love for the circus as a young adult. His university offered a silk art course where he learned the technicalities and discipline of this suspended skill. And as his precision grew, so did his curiosity. He continued to discover new ways to improve his craft and eventually switched to pneumatic tires.

Once he got comfortable on this acrobatic device, he was constantly looking for ways to improve and other classic acts to try his hand (foot? mouth?). Amadeus learned of the historic circus act known as “The Human Butterfly” or “The Iron Jaw.”

A flying start above the circus

This nail biter of an act involves grabbing a piece of leather between the teeth and being lifted high into the air with a rope. A notable performer of the Iron Jaw, and arguably one of the very first, was the “Queen of the Antilles,” aka Leona Dare. Dare was famous for her stunts on the trapeze and hanging from balloons in the sky! In 1872 she was a member of the Joel E. Warner circus where she debuted with the Iron Jaw.

Not only was she lifted into the air hanging by her teeth, but many times she was also responsible for holding on to other performers this way! At a show that same year, she was first suspended under a hot air balloon, simultaneously lifting her husband off the ground and holding him by the waist with only her teeth. Miss Leona Dare’s daring deeds have certainly paved the way for other aerial photographers to follow.

Leona Dare Act

Newspaper ad for Leona Dare’s ascents from Crystal Palace in London

In 1926, 16-year-old Guy Blackburn joined the traveling circus of Christy Bros. While out and about with this group, he performed intricate acts high above the crowd in the tent tops. From the trapeze to the cloud swing to swinging ladders, he really knew how to take his acts to new heights with great power and showmanship. But perhaps the greatest spectacle, and perhaps the most physically taxing, was the Iron Jaw.

And as if the static part of the act wasn’t enough to make anyone’s heart skip a beat, Blackburn added a spin variation known as the “Whirl of Death.” This required an electric motor to be attached to the bit, causing it to spin up to 500 times per minute!

Amadeus and the Iron Jaw

Today, very few aerial photographers have perfected and chosen the dangerous gag, but Amadeus is focused on the extraordinary. Not only does he perform the Iron Jaw in its “simplest” – we use that term loosely – form, but he tackles the addition of combination tricks.

With his feet and hands he holds three rubber balls as he hangs under a basketball hoop. Two of the balls spin, balancing on his fingers. He secures the third ball between his foot and shin before heaving it through the air and into the hoop above his head – and remember, he does it all while hanging by his teeth!

Like those who came before him – the iconic Leona Dare – Amadeus brings other artists into the mix. Doubling on the daring and extraordinary, Amadeus also holds others with his Iron Jaw (although it looks more like a steel jaw) right in the middle of the act! Below you can see him next to her hanging aerialist Erin Blaire.

The most admirable thing about Amadeus is his perseverance and drive to improve. While many would choose to only stop at the Iron Jaw act, Amadeus is constantly looking for ways to develop his act, making each performance even more nerve-wracking and exciting than the last.

Take your own step Out of the box!

While the Iron Jaw or the hair hang up may not be at the top of your must-try list, there are limitless possibilities for what you can achieve next. Step Out of the box featuring more inspiring, eye-catching and motivational stories on the pages of Ripley’s latest annual, Out of the box!


Experience the stories of adventurers near and far, from a three-year-old mountaineer to hair-hangers and acrobats. Be inspired by incredible talents, breathtaking bucket list locations and curious discoveries, all from people just like you as you explore the pages of Ripley’s latest yearbook!


Source: Tricks from his teeth! Hanging with the Iron Jaw, Amadeus Lopez

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