CALGARY — Some people wince at eating soup that’s a smidgen too hot. Carisa Hendrix held a flaming torch — fire side down — between her teeth for two minutes.
Let that sink in.
She swears she’s not insane — she jokes her mom had her tested — but it’s easy for people to think she’s slightly crazy when she explains the trick.
“The full torch is engulfed in fire, but because underneath the fire, it’s slightly cooler, you try to hold your face as close to horizontally underneath the torch to avoid the worst part of the flame, and you roll your lips back to try to not burn and blister them,” she said about “The Torch Teething Duration.”
“The idea is to try to withstand the full heat of the fire torch in your teeth without it burning up your mouth.”
The 25-year-old Calgary woman started fire-eating nine years ago, after seeing it performed during a volunteer event.
She admits back then, she wasn’t the epitome of cool.
“It was the way that I dealt with bullying and put up with the weird pressure from home,” she said. “I had this cool thing that I did that none of my friends could do. It made me feel special.”
Soon, she was a magician’s assistant and travelling the world showing off her skills.
From the age of 16, she was self-sufficient with money from her shows and lessons, paying for rent and putting herself through college.
She got a call from a friend earlier this year about an Italian TV show where people attempt to break world records.
Initially, she believed the world record for the torch teething duration was only around 30 seconds, before being told by Guinness two weeks before the taping that it was actually 92.75 seconds.
“When the record got changed … basically, everyone said if you come back with nothing, we don’t blame you,” she said. “But that just spurs you on more because of how amazing it would be to get that record.”
In April, she flew to Rome for the taping.
She admits there were three times she wanted to yank out the flaming torch, which almost looks like a marshmallow on fire. Each second seemed like an eternity.
Two minutes and one second later, she had her own Guinness World Record.
“It’s painful in a way that’s so odd, that at least for me, my brain can’t understand it,” she said. “It feels like there is another person inside my head screaming ‘stop, this is the worst, stop it, stop it’ — the fight or flight reaction in my brain.
“I have to forcefully keep my hand down so it doesn’t reach for the torch, because at a certain point, I want to forcefully rip the torch out of my mouth.”
The show finally aired last week in Italy, although most of her friends already knew the result.
When you come back from a world record opportunity with a big smile on your face, it’s easy to decipher she accomplished her goals.