The public is horrified, an agonizing exclamation comes from people's mouths, some of them even look away to avoid the dreadful torture that the artist inflicts to her own body without showing any sign of pain.
These artists that thanks to their incredible will are able to force their body to stand tortures that could kill a normal person are called fakirs, and may walk on broken glass or fire, or stick sharp objects in their bodies, swallow swords, glass or fire, lie down on nails or be hung from hooks pierced on their skin. Fakirs emerged in India, where these characters, considered Saint Men, devoted their existence to crucify their bodies with severe penances to achieve their mystic targets.
Since the middle of the XIX century, some genuine fakirs or western artists that mimed their acts were introduced to the European and North American audience and during the first half of the XX century they acted together with deformed beings in small gazebos around the principal circus tent. Unfortunately, these artists, immune to pain, never were as famous as the artists of other more spectacular or glamorous circus disciplines, and their names were by no stretch of the imagination as popular as the names of the people that made their fortune showing them: Barnum and Ripley.
Currently, electronic means such as TV and Internet have evidenced to have special preference to show all the angles of human suffering, that is why modern fakirs have appeared in any kind of shows: talk-shows, musicals, tabloids and even scientific shows, and that is why artists like Fakir Musafar, Jim Rose, Zamora, Enigma and Lizardman are better known by the public in general than their colleagues in the olden days.
Another critical factor for the success of this way of entertainment has been its underlying eroticism; after all, a show that presents torn skin must exhibit as much nakedness as possible, and since traditionally an erotic show is the interrelation between the male public and a beautiful woman on stage, pain resistance acts performed by women such as Natasha Verushka, Lucifire, Katzen, Camanda Galactica, Miss Behave, Brianna Belladona, Grace Lafleur, Viola Lala Mia, Vivid Angel or Insectivora are much more attractive, not only because of the underlying eroticism but for the fascination to see a feminine body, traditionally considered as something fragile and weak, capable to endure these terrible tortures.